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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Monday, October 11, 2010

National Coming Out Day (Can't Stay Silent Anymore.)

I don't normally bring my personal life into this blog, but today is National Coming Out Day for those of you who didn't know and who are less homosexually inclined than I. While I wouldn't normally care, and don't really think much about my level of gay (do YOU think about your level of blonde?), I can no longer stay silent about this recent wave of gay teen suicides stemming from harassment and bullying in and out of the school system. Yet another young kid, a 19-year-old in Oklahoma, took his life yesterday after attending a meeting in his local town hall that expressed anti-gay sentiment. I have stopped being able to keep track of the number of suicides that have happened over the past few weeks, but there have been at least eight: hangings, bullets to the head, jumping off enormous bridges, overdoses. Even a 13-year-old in California hanged himself in his own backyard last month after a bullying incident, his mother and brother right there in the house. Has there been an upswing in gay teen suicide recently? Or is it just getting more media attention as we realize how serious of a problem this is? Either way, this can't go unnoticed, and this can't go on.

This isn't just a 'gay' problem. It's a bullying problem, and not enough is being done to stop it. Parents are failing to put a good tolerant base on their children - but this is a moot point, as prejudiced parents will raise prejudiced kids. Schools are not enforcing strict enough rules and are not doling out harsh enough punishments to kids that are caught bullying, or are reported by their classmates - but enforcing harsh rules only makes a bad kid hate harder, and if a bully knows a target child told the enforcers what happened, then that child might be a continued target for harder harassment outside of the realm of school. So what do we do? How do we make it better? How do we show these kids that we're there for them?

Honestly, I don't know. I don't know how to enforce cruel punishments for bullies (I think hanging by the skin of your scrote for a couple of hours is a good start), and I don't know how to get through to a close-minded child who was raised to be that way. (Maybe hanging their parents by the skin of THEIR scrotes.) But even if I can't do anything to reform a defunct school system or fix the broken pieces of society, I can at least reach out to those who find themselves the target of bullying and harassment, for whatever reason. No matter if you're discriminated against based on your sexual orientation, religion, race, gender, height, disability, class standing, or anything else, I just want to say I love you, and it's going to be okay.

It sucks right now. It really does. I know how it feels, I really do. As a youngster fresh out of the closet ten years ago, I remember feeling the harsh sting of rejection from those around me. I got called plenty of names: dyke, carpetmuncher, queer, homo, fag. Those names never really were hurtful to me as they were some of my peers, as they're kind of, you know... accurate, I guess. And I own those words, so they can't hurt me if I use them on myself. But I didn't just get heckled, I got physically harmed. I saw others get physically harmed. My gay idol, a friend of mine named Wally, was a beacon of strength to me in a dark time - he was the first out and proud gay guy I'd ever met, and he was violently flamboyant. I saw him get beaten bloody right before my very eyes by people we knew, but even after that, I never saw him without a smile. He always seemed so strong to me. If he could stand up to the torment, I could too. We both went out separate ways, and each went through our own dark times. His seemingly endless strength failed him, and he put a bullet through his head. I didn't.

I've known other suicides too. Heroin overdoses. Gunshots. Hangings. Drownings. Because they were gay. Because they felt alone. Because nobody told them otherwise. Nobody told them that it was going to be okay. Nobody told them that they were okay just they way they were. Nobody gave them a hug and a smile. Nobody reached out to them.

I don't like to talk about these things. I'd rather forget they ever happened. But I know there are kids out there going through the same things that I did, and worse. I can't stand by and know what they're feeling and not do anything about it. I need them to know that someone knows what it's like for them, and that it's going to be all right. You can get through this, no matter how hard it is, no matter how bleak it looks. You can. Find what moves you, find what drives you, and hold fast to that. Find those that love you for you, and surround yourself with them, be they friends, family, whoever. For me, I had Quincy, and he pulled me through my worst times. Paint, draw, hike, take your dog for a walk, go for a long drive. Whatever gives you strength, hold on to it.

There will always be someone out there who hates something about you. You could even be the Saint Mother Theresa, and people will still hate you (paging Pat Robertson!). What you have to do is love yourself for who you are, and surround yourself with those who love you too. That will build you up against hatred so that it can't get in to affect you. And know that there is help out there if you need it. There will ALWAYS be someone who will listen. Always. You aren't alone... we're here. Bullies are cowardly and unsure, using those around them to lift themselves up and feel better about their miserable existences. Don't let your life go because of what a coward thinks, because you are beautiful and you are better than that.

I can't be silent about this anymore. And neither can any of you, if you have gone through something similar, for any reason - even if you just got called four-eyes in grade school, it's still bullying. Stand up with me, and reach out to someone who needs help. We can't let this happen to anyone, no matter what age they are. We can make a difference through our love. We have to fight the dark away. Love who you are, love who you're with, and love those around you. Love is our strongest weapon against the hate. Where they want to separate, we join together.

Love. And listen. You can make a difference through just those two things alone.



Kelly said...

THANK YOU, for this post! Bullying IS a huge problem. It was an issue when I was in school... but now... much worse.
My 6 yr old son came home from school last week saying a 'friend' turned into a bully (his words) and slapped him in the face. A caring daycare teacher asked him to do what the bully did to her. He slapped her HARD, right across the cheek.
Horrible. What are parents doing, raising children that think this behavior is even remotely acceptable? I'm horrified.

Denali's Mom said...

My teaching partner and I have been discussing this a lot lately. As a teacher a lot more needs to be done to help students who are victims of bullying. As a 6ft tall 11 year old, I was bullied, and it still affects my life (aka, if I ever see her I'm going to beat her.)

The middle school I use to work at had a GLTB (are those the right letters??) club for students who wanted to talk about issues in a safe environment. I was very impressed.

More needs to be done. Perhaps if our own government would get over themselves and accept all marriages that would be a start?

Great post!

Word Verification: Wingman, lol.

manymisadventures said...


To add: there are some really amazing videos on YouTube on the It Gets Better channel.

GunDiva said...

Excellent post!

Lacey said...

Thanks for sharing these words. I work in a homeless youth facility and we have seen that around 30% of the youth on the street identify as queer in some way. This is triple what the accepted statistic is for the general population.
Why are these kids on the street? Probably a myriad of reasons including parent's who are so unwilling to accept their child that they kick them out, abuse in the household, constant fear that if they come out they would be harmed, I'm sure you can guess more reasons. Once on the streets they face the never ending fear that they could be beaten, raped, or murdered just based on their sexuality.
We have to change something... Bullying, hate speech, hate crimes, racism, all of these things to me just tie into the very thing you were saying: just love and listen. If we could all just take that to heart and live with it everyday things could get just a little better and just a little better goes along way.
Thanks for standing up and speaking out!

Muriel said...

Beautiful post. I guess Bullying comes from fear, fear of something or somebody that is different.
IMO, education is the key.
Especially for kids. Children by nature are cruel because they have not yet the mental rules/restraints of an adult. So the sooner one is explained and told about the different sexually, nationalities, skin-colours etc ..., the better it accepted it.

Beautiful post.
If you do not mind I will print it out and give it to the teachers of the middle years school. I am sure the teenagers will apreciate it too.

Me, baby and horses said...

I see bullying is not only in my part of the world(NZ) its everywhere, My little girl turns one next Sunday and I would have to say my biggest fear for her growing up is will she have lots of friends and I just hope that she doesn't have to go through life being picked on or bullied..for any reason be it, gender, race religon or sexuality, I just have to bring her up to the best of my ability to know that being bullied is wrong and it doesn't matter what people look like or how they go about in there own lives and hope she can come to me if anything happens to her in the future.

Hurricanes12 said...

you're such an inspiration to others who are bullied, i think everyone gets bullied at one stage in their life & it's so awful!

i love to see people like yourself, just being who they are & listening to themselves. you're only alive once, why live a lie & be with someone just to please society.
you rock :)

i'm a huge fan of adam lambert & it pisses me right off when people say, 'but he's gay'. it doesn't add/detract from who he is.

good on you for standing up for yourself, you're a great role model for others :)

sally said...

great post Andrea

Barbara said...

Excellent post, thank you for speaking out.

Kate said...

great post!

Funder said...

Good post Andrea!

Melissa said...

Well said. It's called bullying when kids do it, it's called abuse when adults do it. My hope is that educating kids about bullying (especially the more subtle forms) and giving them the confidence to stand up to it will help them recognize and stay away from abusive relationships later in life.

cyndy said...

THANK YOU! Thank you for speaking up, thank you for sharing, thank you for not giving in to the hate.

I'm proud to be associated with a school that's confronting bullying and hate head on by educating our 5-8 graders that words and actions that cause harm, emotionally or physically are NOT acceptable in any form. And this is part of our curriculum 5 days a week. Will it solve everything? No, I don't think it will. But if it keeps one kid from going through what you did, it will be worth it.

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

I think you should be proud to share your personal thoughts and stories because you never know who is reading and finds strength in your words, so kudos. Stay strong like you are :)
Bullying is a HUGE problem. Kids that bully grow up to adult bullies. It can't be tolerated on any level. It's a form of terrorism.
I hope that soon (and there are enough good educated people out there) that we can respect each other for our differences and admire it.

Jane said...

Google recommended this post to me, and I'm so glad that I read it. Wonderfully well-said.

Anonymous said...

Great post Andrea. Thank You.

My experience with the gay community has always been positive. I only wish the rest of society, who for whatever reason feels that the gay community is undeserving of anything, including the expression of their love and commitment through marriage, would see what love and kindness exists and that is truly what matters.

Karen said...

Excellent post. :-)

Snowhawk Przhevalsky said...

Thank you for posting this. I was bullied relentlessly in school, all because I cried easily, and I have a white forelock (I have the same genetic mutation that causes piebaldism in animals). I still get crap because I identify as a furry, but I'm a little more used to the harassment now...

I'm also bi-sexual, and that was something I felt I had to hide all throughout school.

Again, thank you so much.

Jen said...

Great post. Thank you for speaking out and putting out the call for all of us to do the same!

Gingham said...

Here Here.

Well said, I think we can all relate, and I hope we all contribute.

STB Eventer said...

Excellent post! I teach 12th grade English and work hard every day to put a stop to bullying of all types. I also have a young son in 1st grade who I worry about. I am proud to be known for being a very accepting teacher (and human being!!). :D

Val said...

Thanks Andrea.
I have experienced some bullying in my professional career. I am a small person, and apparently some adults see this as an invitation. I always stick up for myself, but it hurts when one is made to feel like half a person, no matter the reason.
I think that I can speak for the blogging community when I say that "we love you, too".

Miles On Miles said...

Love this post. I wish I had more guts to post personal and/or political stuff on my horse blog, because what's more important than who you are and what you think about the world, and your place in it?

I hope our world IS changing, for the better, one person at a time. And I honestly ache for all those who took their lives because of others' intolerance.

Telea Rose said...

I'm glad you wrote this. I'm going into teaching, but I was also bullied when I was younger. I was bullied all through middle school for various things, but it included being gay. In high school a 'friend' started the rumors back up. The kicker is, I really have a strong sense of sexuality. I like men and while I'm not afraid of kissing a girl, it doesn't do a damn thing for me. In high school though one of my main tormentors never understood why she couldn't get under my skin. By that point, I had learned that if it wasn't me it would be someone else and frankly I didn't care what she thought. I would stand up to her all the time and tell her yes I did like girls in a sarcastic tone and if she wanted to believe it I didn't care because I knew she wasn't going any where in life with her attitude problems. I also helped keep the stress off of some of my friends who were gay. My personal favorite come back ever was to the above mentioned girl, "Wow you are really obsessed with me aren't you." She made it her job to pester me and frankly after I said that everyone would stare at her because it was true and they realized it.

Another important side of this I feel is freedom of religion. I don't believe we need to allow people to push theirs on other people. I do wish though we spent more time trying to be accepting. I don't know what to 'categorize' myself as, but I have related to Wiccans. It is very hard living in Kentucky and having so many people expect you to know the bible. Its harder when you say I don't believe in the bible and then you are out cast. This hasn't happened to me tons, but currently I am in a CIV class and the bible is coming up a lot because we're in early civilizations. Our class just the other day was going off about how It was wrong that Before Christ (BC) was changed to Before Common Era (BCE). They thought it was bs and that they shouldn't be discriminated as such. I didn't say a word because I knew it wasn't worth the time, but all I could think about was how I didn't really believe in Christ and how its kind of nice, not judging time by him.

Net said...

Well said!

There is so much hatred out there. Heck, I go to the chronicle of the horse forums, and they are filled with hatred from posters who have different training philosophies who then resort to name calling and personal insults.

I hope someday no one has to "come out." It should be accepted that people love whoever they love, and leave it at that. I suppose I'm lucky in that I never had to deal with social stigma since I am only attracted to men, but why should that matter? I had a friend in college who I knew was gay, but he didn't come out to himself until several years later - his conditioning was such that he thought it meant he just wasn't a sexual person that he wasn't very into women, and he didn't consider that maybe it was just that he was into men. Thankfully, he's now married to a wonderfully awesome guy, but that was a struggle for him. I tend to see a lot of things through his eyes - they had a ceremony in NC, then went to CA for their honeymoon and had a legal marriage there. They were so hurt by the legal shenanigans going on there trying to say the gay marriages weren't legal. Why would anyone try to allow less love in a world which already seems to have a shortage?!

Anyway, thank you for this post. Life can be really hard, but it can get so much better than the bad times.

Breathe said...

Late to this post, but thank you for putting it online.

I was a victim of bullying, I tend to link it to these terribly artifical environments we put our children in.

We were never meant to be packed into rooms with hundreds of other hormone infused, young people.

But we throw our children into this zone every day.

I keep hoping its getting better. And I try to be part of the change I want to see in the world.

Thank you again for this post...