Being gay in high school has to be one of THE most difficult times to go through. Especially with everyone being judgmental and not accepting YOU for who YOU are. You feel like everyone looks down on you because you’re different, because you’re gay, transgender, bisexual, etc.
Don’t feel down, this is just a small speed bump in your life. AFTER HIGH SCHOOL, EVERYTHING gets better. People open up, people listen, people understand you. Even now in high school there are programs for gay/bisexual/transgender people to help you out.
Just remember it is a small speed bump. EVERYTHING will be better afterward, people WILL understand you.
Growing up and figuring out who you are is difficult enough, but when the person you cannot help being is the very same person who gets taunted and picked on every single day, that makes it immeasurably more difficult. That was precisely how it felt for me through most of, not only my adolescence, but also my childhood.
I had known that I was different for quite some time, so none of the bullies were telling me anything that I did not already know. That did not, however, stop their words from hurting. I never let them see the pain they caused me, because I somehow thought that if they weren’t getting a reaction out of me then they would stop. That was not the case at all.
In time, I learned to channel that pain, anger and frustration into something healthy. Their words were actually a big part of what helped me to find my own voice. It was a big part of what taught me that I had been given a gift, which up until then had been somehow hidden from me. I had this voice inside of me, and once I learned to use it I could stand up, not only for myself, but for others who could not do it on their own.
To anyone going through these circumstances now, I have this to say: You are beautiful, and you were put here for a reason. Don’t let the world around you take your light away. Don’t let the hatred and fear of the unknown get under your skin. It may sound easier said than done, but if ever you feel alone in your fight, there will always be one person out there somewhere who cares. One person who has an open heart, an open mind and an open ear, and that one person is me.
Matthew Shepard’s death was a defining moment in my life.
For those of you who’ve been around my blog long enough, you know I’ve blogged about him and about co-directing Laramie Project at my school.
But when I think of Matthew Shepard, I immediately flash back to graduate school at Iowa State and hearing about the death of this college student and HOW he died. And I remember finding a picture of him and taking it into class and handing it out and asking students to look at it without saying anything for a minute. No one knew who he was from that picture. But then I told them. This had come after a language analysis assignment wherein some students had written hateful things they’d heard in relationship to the word “fag.” I nearly cried talking to the class about the power of language and how language hurts.
It wasn’t language that killed Matthew Shepard. It was cold and violence. But, as noted in the play, violence occurs every time someone is called a fag or a dyke.
I got my MA and got a full time job at a small college in Iowa. And I started a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance (GLBTA) with the criminal justice professor, whose son is gay. We had one declared member. But, it was our idea that anyone in need would know that we were there. It was in class there that students thought you could ‘catch’ gay by touching someone.
I always knew I was different. Even growing up, I knew I didn’t fit the norm for what a girl should act like. I wanted to play with the Tonka trucks, not the flimsy Barbie dolls. You were more likely to find me covered in mud than in a pretty pink dress.
Like so many others before me, I grew up in a religious home where homosexuality was a sin. Even thinking sexually about the same gender was frowned upon, and to this day, my parents still don’t know that I’m bisexual.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. Just as I finally came to grips with my sexuality, we moved to a town where my parent’s views were only strengthened by the highly religious people that were our new neighbors. And I stood out like a sore thumb. My mom actually told me I was an embarrassment to the family because I didn’t want to wear makeup. She was mortified when I went to church one Sunday in ripped jeans and a t-shirt.
I went to high school in a fairly large city in Ontario, Canada from the years 1996 – 2001. Looking back now, it feels like a lifetime ago. When I was 13 years old, I confessed to my two best friends that I had feelings for girls, but thought I might be bisexual. Two short years later I came out as a lesbian in my grade 9 year. I started with just my closest friends and when it was well received (and I met and started dating my first g/f) I started to make it public knowledge. At some point along the way I came out to my parents (separately, they’re divorced) and to my surprise, there was no crying, no yelling, no anger – just love and understanding. My mom was happy that I had found someone who made ME so happy and my dad was glad I was honest but admittedly a little freaked – freaked? Freaked, I could deal with!
It wasn’t until second semester of grade 9 that the rumors and hateful gossip started spreading around my high school. Boys would yell things at me and corner me when I was alone and ask me disgusting/personal questions. Girls would gather together and follow me off school property and beat me up. In the cafeteria I had food thrown at me and hateful messages were painted on my locker. After one entire year of this (and struggling with depression) I tried to commit suicide. Thankfully, it was a failed attempt but definitely illuminated the damage done by bullying and teasing. I admitted the horror I had been facing in my school and pleaded with my parents to move me to another area high school. I met with the first school where the Vice President denied my request for transfer based on the fact that “Kids are kids anywhere – what makes you think people will be ok with you being gay here?”
I was outed at fourteen and tossed out like trash at barely fifteen, after being literally locked in an upstairs bedroom for WEEKS. Tossed into the foster care system in 1970, there weren’t many homes willing to take a homosexual child except those who believed that their religion was strong enough to ‘cure’ me. Harassed at home and at school persistently, I tried to remain closeted. I was the kid who never spoke until spoken to and was teased mercilessly in the halls of school based only on speculation. They didn’t really *know* about me, but presumed it and ran with it.
In the middle of my sophomore year, I joined some activists I had met at a picket line in Downtown Seattle. We were picketing the offices of the Chief of Police, demanding answers for the brutality that uniformed officers were visiting on gays and lesbians. Yes, uniformed police officers. They would sit across streets from our bars and wait for one or perhaps two people to walk out unescorted, jump out of their cars and beat the individuals bloody, leaving them bleeding on the sidewalk. We wanted answers. What was Chief Tielsch willing to do to stop the senseless and illegal violence we suffered at the hands of those we are supposed to rely on to protect us? The chief refused to see the leaders of our protest, and threatened arrests if we didn’t clear the sidewalks. A few of our number went to jail. I was shirked off by responsible leaders and protected, as I was the youngest of the participants. Thank heaven for those people.
I’m not lesbian, gay, trans-gender. I might be bi, I don’t know, I’m 32 and decided I don’t need to know, yet.
In high school, I got treated badly because I was a “SLUT”, shudder, gasp. I thought I was being open about sex. In reality I was using sex as a weapon and armor to keep from getting hurt emotionally. I had been abused, mis-treated, and hated by my “parents”. These people I wouldn’t trust with fish, much less raising three young girls. Both were alcoholics and hateful when drunk.
My step-father sexually abused me when I was 10, my mother was jealous of me from that time on and admitted to it. She constantly told me I was “too fat” to wear something, “too stupid” to understand my classes. She kicked me out when I was 15, for smoking cigarettes.
I lived through that and more, to become a happy, healthy, loved and loving adult. I feel for the youth who are cast out of their “loving” families. I wish I could help. I would love to mentor, listen, just be there. Everyone needs someone. Everyone should be able to trust someone to care “just because”.
I hope every person eventually gets this.
As growing up in a small community in the smallest province in Canada, we didn’t have very much diversity at all. When I was just young, I’ve always known in the back of my mind that there was something different about me. Once I reached nine or ten years old, I realized that it was my sexuality. I couldn’t really relate to anyone from around here, because it was something unheard of. I didn’t even know anyone that was openly gay. It made it harder to understand what I was going through since I didn’t even know anyone that’s already been through it.
I lived completely in the closet right up to 17 years old and was hanging out with my girlfriend. She invited over three of her friends and then tells me that they were gay. At this point, of all people, I didn’t know how to act around someone that was gay. Again, I was just like everyone else around home and very naive about everything. So I just acted like they were one of the guys and got to talking to them and asked a couple of questions. By the end of the night, we were all good friends. A couple of weeks later, the relationship with my girlfriend ended and we stayed really good friends. Approximately a month later, in May 2005, I woke up at about 4:00am and couldn’t sleep. I just kept thinking about the guys.
We had a good time and they weren’t scared of anyone beating them up or making fun of them. I was very intrigued by the positive attitude they had even if they were gay. So after thinking about it for about ten minutes or so, I just clued in and thought, “Why would I want to live the rest of my life denying my sexuality and be miserable when I can be happy…” After a couple of minutes, I fell back asleep. When I woke up, I had to go to town and on the way, I stopped at a little convenience store and I knew the lady working fairly well. I’d stop there and talk for a bit, sometimes even ended in hours. So I walk into this store and look at the lady on the other side of the counter and say, “I’m Gay”. I didn’t know what to think after that and I just started to sweat, because that was the first time I ever heard myself say it. It was like taking ten tons of bricks off my chest.
I came out as bi-sexual in my Jr. high school when I was 12 (I’m 22 now) and had people look at me differently, tease me and start embarrassing rumors about me doing inappropriate things with girls in public areas of the school. The teasing got so bad that I spent most of my years at my Jr. High pretending to be sick to stay home and become a permanent ghost in a crowd of people. Also, I was told all my life from family members and former friends that me being bi-sexual was just a passing phase and I was doing it all for attention. I used to be so ashamed of my sexuality that I started denying it to even my close friends at the time and called off my relationship with my girlfriend.
I felt so embarrassed over my sexuality that I spent years questioning myself over everything I did. My self esteem went down the drain from it and having no support from family made it worse.
After going through all that hell over something as minor as my sexuality growing up, all I can really say to someone going through the same hell is that it does get better in time. I am in university now, with people who support who I am, no matter who I love, man or woman and now the people who always bullied me over it are the ones who are now ashamed of who they are. If anyone was to now make fun of my sexuality there would be people putting them in there place quickly.
It gets better in time and you do find people who are there to support you through the insecurities and hardships in life. Don’t give up hope and if you need help or someone to talk to you have to speak to someone, anyone who you feel comfortable with. Don’t go through this alone and don’t let anyone let you feel like less of a person for being yourself.
Lately, I’ve been hearing stories about kids around the age of 13 through 15 that have been committing suicide due to public humiliation and even death threats that have been given to students who are or have been perceived as gay. It just frustrates me how kids can do this to each other and how others can just sit there and watch.
I’ve also recently heard a story of where a student was denied being homecoming king because he is biologically a she. That I can kind of understand, but it’s still wrong nonetheless. Students, even teachers, recognized his personal identity as a man. I just wish that more people could be more accepting.
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Hatred. Derision. Insults. Threats. Harassment. Assault. It’s estimated nearly 90% of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth have been verbally or physically harassed or assaulted at school.