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You can make it better

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 18:02

Bullying is all part of growing up. Who has not been pushed on the playground, teased for falling down an entire flight of stairs in middle school, or teased for driving a 1989 Ford Festiva? Okay, the last two might have been just me. However, today, some "bullying" goes beyond a pantsing in the courtyard, and  becomes sadly fatal.

 

Recently, we have seen numerous tragic teen and child suicides due to severe bullying. There is a common thread in these tragedies: the victims were severely harassed for being, or even just being thought of as gay. This wave of bullying does not stop in school yards, but extends to texting, email, Facebook and Twitter. There is no escape for teens today.

 

As a gay student, I was fortunate enough to escape middle school and high school without really being bullied for being gay.  I was pretty well known, had friends, dated a little and never missed a dance or social event.

This is not because of my schoolmates being extremely progressive or liberal. I know other gay students who went to the high school I did and were teased and tormented for being gay. I was just lucky enough to blend in.

 

But for some, they stick out, they beat to the sound of their own drum, and sadly it is homophobic bigots who think that all gay men wear make-up, girly clothing and have show tunes blaring on their iPods, and they are somehow threatened or annoyed by a guy who wears a little bit of pink or bronzer. My biggest pet peeve is that these bigots thought other gay students were attracted to them, just because they were gay. Being gay does not mean we are attracted to every man.

 

By those standards every straight male would be attracted to every female, which we know is so not true, as romantic comedies and Sex and the City tells us. What homophobic people need to realize is that gays are not sex-crazed pedophiles that want to turn your child gay, or are sissy-boy hairdressers.

 

In fact, a majority of pedophiles are heterosexual males, and the one male hairdresser I know is married with children.  Like straight people, gay people have a whole array of types; there is definitely no one way to be gay.

I bet that everyone knows a gay person, and some might not even know they do. I have an extremely hard time understanding why someone, for simply having a different orientation, would be a threat to you. I, like many gay men and women, have standards of the type of people I date. Like I only date people who go to school or have gone to school, are career driven and are good citizens.

 

Some say that gay rights is the last piece in the civil rights puzzle, and I think that the U.S. will be  ashamed that it was of the last countries to defend the rights of gay citizens, much like when it came to women's rights (which are still being threatened). I hope one day, at the end of my teaching career, when teaching the gay civil rights movement, my students will not understand why gays had to fight for their rights. Much like I did with women, African-Americans, Latinos and other marginalized groups.

 

The thing is, there is so much more to me than my sexuality. True, I like men, but I also like old movies, ice cream, 70's music,  and baseball (Go Yankees!). I go to church, and have all my life. I vote, and have voted for both Democrats and Republicans. I want to get married and have children. I want the American Dream, white picket fence included and preassembled.

 

I am not attracted to children, or every male. When dating someone I am quite traditional, and believe in monogamy before intimacy, but have had a few slips, as I am a human being and nowhere near perfect.  I have no idea how to put on make-up and have no desire to wear women's clothing (well, except maybe on Halloween).

 

I hate it when my rights as an American are trampled on or denied as much as any American. Which is what I find so vastly ironic and annoying about the religious right; they bitch and moan about "losing" their rights. Like prayer in school, exclusive marriage rights and using their religion as an excuse to propagate hate. I love my country, but wish it would not let ignorance and intolerance decided who gets freedom and who does not.

 

To those who are being or have been bullied, it does get better. BUT you have to make it better. As Journey said  "Don't stop believin'." You are better than the names and slurs you are called. The best revenge you can ever give someone is becoming the best person you can be, despite him or her.

 

As Gandhi said, "be the change you wish to see in the world." It will get better when you make it better, stop listening to the bullies; they are not worth your time or your life. Just keep you chin up and remember to be proud of who all of you is. You are not just your sexuality; you are a son/daughter, student, athlete, actor and, most importantly, a person. Do not let you sexuality shackle you to a worn out and false stereotype.

Remember: someone loves you, and love is worth more than hate.

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