Not that it's relevant, but I am neither homosexual, nor bisexual. I was, perhaps, behaving in a less testosterone- ridden way than most boys my age in the society and culture of the day in 1960's suburban America
--maybe somewhat effeminate might even be an apt description, but I'm hardly subjective enough to offer an accurate appraisal.
My nickname chosen for me by virtually all my fellow pupils was "Fem." It was my misfortune that the brand new over-the-counter pharmaceutical "Femiron" and the consequent Madison Avenue ad campaign had hit the airwaves simultaneous with my arrival in 7th grade.
I entered Kindergarten at the early age of 4, due to accident of birth and grew up consistently the smallest and weakest, physically in my class. As Janis Ian sang so poignantly all those years ago in that awesome tune of the day, "At 17", I was always last when "choosing sides for basketball." Even after the last girl was chosen. Tough situation for a little boy. I couldn't hit a ball for beans, couldn't jump, run, or kick well at all. Gym teachers despised me, and I them. Different time. Even the President's Council On Physical Fitness' emphasis on athletics injured me, the way it was presented. I hated jocks as a kid, for example, grew my hair long and reacted badly in many ways.
I never took up arms like the kids at Columbine, though. Never committed suicide, though thoughts were entertained, obsessively, at times. Not even close to that now. If any kids read this, please know that it ends. My life today is so full and so rich, and I have so many friends, such a wonderful family, such a great home, and such great cats, and so many opportunities in my life today that I wouldn't trade my life for any one's on earth. Just hang on, please, you'll make it. The cliche goes: "Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation." Catch phrases like that used to enrage me, but its so true.
Billy Joel's corny but awesome tune, "Second Wind" is appropriate. If you can hang on, just for today, believe you me, that old second wind will indeed come along and you will fly and celebrate indeed! Please don't do it. Talk, instead--you can find someone who will. The whole journey is worth it in spades, and I have no regrets, not even of being bullied. Absolutely not!
So my nicknames included three primary ones that began with an "f". "Fem," as I've mentioned. "Fairy." And the other "F" word hurled at homosexuals by homophobics who imagine they just might have some sexual ideas of their own others might not find acceptable so they hurl them at those they perceive as vulnerable. HOMOPHOBIA IS HORRIBLE AND NEEDS TO END! And I didn't even have any such tendencies, I can only imagine the nightmare for kids who are in a homophobic environment. What a nightmare.
If you're a kid and see another kid being abused by your peers, don't be afraid to talk to the bullying victim in a constructive and loving way. If you care enough to be concerned you have the skills to say and ask the right things. He/she most likely wants to talk. If they don't let it pass.
If you are a parent, a guardian, a brother, a sister, a cousin or whatever and see a kid alone, lonely, not bringing friends home or you suspect they have no friends, talk to them about it tenderly. If they don't want to talk, make the offer. They will take you up on it another time, I guarantee it. And you'll both be so full of joy it's almost unimaginable.
Being bullied was my deepest, darkest secret when it was happening. I was ashamed by it, even though I was the victim. Have no shame. If you love kids, talk to them, they love it!
Talking heads, shrinks, counselors and such debate whether there's more bullying today than yesterday. Doesn't matter. One suicide is too many. One sad life is too many. I saw a piece this morning on CNN about a Jiu Jitzu instructor on the left coast who teaches kids self-defense, but physical is a last resort and what he teaches is 100% defensive, not offensive. He talks a lot about making and holding eye contact, saying thank you, please and no thank you. Respect. Respect. Yes respect. Great stuff.
I created my own solution to my problem in 8th grade that was maladaptive to say the least. To counteract the "Fem" label I started a campaign for acceptance that included smoking cigarettes, drinking and doing one B and E (breaking and entering, I actually broke into a private home with one of the toughest kids in my class). Fortunately I did not follow a path of felonious conduct my whole life and backed off. Many don't.
If we can nip bullying in the bud, before it blossoms into the black rose that it is, then maybe the Qaddafi, Mubarak, Mullah Omar, Bin Laden, Hitler, and Stalin problems can be avoided. If we can evolve in this direction and alter our kids' views of each other and their world towards an Unconditionally Loving perspective, then maybe military uniforms will be museum pieces to marvel at in my lifetime. I'd like that a whole lot! I never give up hope. And I never stop praying.
If the adults and kids in my life at that time had the courage to talk to me, I would have gladly opened up. I understand schools today have armed guards and metal detectors. Unabashed Left does not like that. End bullying, and they may no longer be necessary. Thanks to you and thanks for the Memori. And please don't do it, talk instead. I love you far more than my words can even begin to say. <3 <3 <3
There are oodles of local helplines and places to call if you DO find yourself thinking of hurting yourself or going the suicide route. Suicide is NOT the answer, but phone calls can be made totally anonymously; nobody needs to know who you are or that you made the call. There is also an awesome national number you can call, 800-448-3000! Even though it is sponsored by a group known as Boys town, this suicide hotline is for everybody, especially young men, women, boys and girls who are thinking about hurting themselves. There is absolutely no shame in making the call. People who reach out and ask for help are the most courageous people I know (and I wound up spending most of my career working with patients who have emotional and/or mental disorders--and I respect and luvem all, and give them all credit for having the guts to ask for help from others!). I will close this article with one more big fat I love you and a link to the national suicide prevention hotline:
This article was first posted 2/5/12.
Originally published 4/25/11 - updated and edited 9/18/13 Peace....