The It Gets Better Project was started in response to the slew of LGBT teenagers who have committed suicide because of bullying and teasing at the schools on account of their sexuality. The project aims to teach LGBT teens that life really does get better for you as you grow older. A host of videos have been posted online so far contributing to the project, stories of adults around the world who have lived through the torment and teasing, and only come out stronger. While I mulled over the idea of doing a video myself (and I might do one later on), I thought of doing a quick blog post on the topic and to share my experiences growing up.
I knew I was gay from a very young age, though I was unable to find a suitable word to express how I felt inside. As I entered my senior years of high school, I learned of the term 'gay', and only then began to understand what it meant. Of course, since I went to a segregated school run by Catholic nuns, I wasn't about to be throwing a coming-out party any time soon.
In college however, I came out to group of friends and enjoyed being who I was. While I of course never rubbed my sexuality in anyone's face or made a big deal of it, I was technically the only other openly gay person on campus. As news of this spread, people in the campus would tease me with names, make snide remarks as I walked by, and generally give me a look filled with both bewilderment and disgust. While I was never physically assaulted (except on one occasion), the remarks made me feel like an outsider and completely ashamed of who I was. My grades suffered, I hated going to college, and most of the friends I had made in my first semester had transferred to universities abroad.
My wake up call came when I was sitting in my campus guidance councilor's office with my mum, discussing my then 1.9 GPA score. The looming threat of expulsion was enough to give me the slap I needed. I got my head back on straight, dove back into my studies, and worked my ass off to bring my grades back in check. But something else happened to me - I was fed up with taking shit from everyone there; fed up of people looking at me like I was some kind of parasite, and fed up of putting up with everyone's ignorance. Any time I heard someone saying something about me as I walked by, I would back track and ask them to say it to my face. Or I would just whip round and slap them back with a sarcastic remark (like asking one guy if his hair was so greasy because he ejaculated into it every morning). While my retorts didn't get me into fights or any kind of trouble, it did teach people that I was done being the 'gay pushover' everyone thought I was. Thanks to my wicked gift of gab, I was able to out-talk and out-smart anyone who dared to say anything against me from that day forth. My grades fell back into check and I graduated magna cum laude in the end.
While I did decide to take matters into my own hands at university, this isn't necessarily the lesson I want to teach today. If you are being bullied or harassed at school or university, report it. Don't let anyone say that you are weak, pathetic, or deserve to die. By letting a bully get to you, you're letting them have that control over you. No one said life is easy, and take it from me, growing up is the hardest part of it. That's not to say that being an adult is any easy either - even LGBT adults face the same crap we went through as teenagers...it's a never ending battle. But never ever let someone tell you that your life is not worth living, not even for a second. Despite all the stuff that people say and do to you, in spite of all the hate that is in the world, there are many like you who have weathered the storm and come through beaten and bruised, but stronger and wiser. When I look back at those years now, it was only because of sheer determination and the company of a few loving friends that I was able to put things behind me and put at end to the bullying.
In the face of all that you are going through now, it gets better.