As a 39 year old openly gay man who has been out for twenty over years, I forget how hard it can be growing up being pushed around because you’re a little softer than most other boys. Seeing the recent suicides of Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas and Seth Walsh memories from 20+ years ago came back and I recalled the feelings of fear and loneliness that bombarded me when I was their age.
Being a bully at aged 9 I know how amazing the feeling of power is when you lord over a “weaker” individual and rally others against this person. Power often gets to the head and has corrupted many adults so you can imagine its effect on young children who taste it for the first time. Not knowing better, kids look forward to re-experiencing the rush and, often, the unfortunate result is in going too far.
As a kid, it doesn’t really seem that wrong to make a person cry and feel marginalised while you bask in the victory of exercising this “power”. As a kid I didn’t truly understand concepts like low self-esteem, thoughts of suicide or the magnitude of sorrow and regret that comes with a loss of life. As a kid I liked doing what was fun and made me feel good.
Tables get turned in life and several years later I ended up on the receiving end of bullying when I seemed softer and had different interests that other boys. Many nights were spent crying myself to sleep and wishing that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. I tried slitting my wrists a few times but thankfully the attempts were feeble and I kept on making it through day after day.
Looking back I realise I’m lucky as life sent me down a path that quickly put out those ideas.
I found others like me all through school from age 11. At 12, a guy I liked reciprocated but being nice to me. At 16, I found my way into a school activity group which had positive and strong seniors + alumni who were openly gay so that helped me accept being gay and entertain the idea that there’s life for gay people. The best part was my groups of friends didn’t react much when I came out to them at age 17 and they remain my close friends to this day.
I’m sure you’ve heard this many times these past few weeks. Here’s another 39 year old gay Chinese guy saying it from Southeast Asia. It Gets Better!!
I won’t list down all the wonderful things that have happened in my life as you’ve probably heard from many others. All I want to share is that life as a gay person can get so wonderful you can’t help but smile and thank whatever powers that be for blessing you with such wonder and happiness.
The bullying I did and experienced gave me experiences that I use today in reaching out to people with this website and its coming out stories.
It’s helped me understand a little why kids behave a certain way and know what kind of thoughts would be going through someone’s mind as then contemplate suicide. Just keep these things in mind if you happen to be:
Feeling Crappy When You’re A Kid Happens
Many successful gay people you see went through a period of doubt and darkness in our childhoods but we hung in there and our lives turned around as we found acceptance and unconditional love. In fact, feeling weird, out-of-sorts and like you don’t belong is a normal part of growing up as you search for your place in this world.
The amazing thing is when you find your place in this world among friends and people who love you. That’s when you look forward to the years ahead growing old with them.
Power Is Addictive
Kids who are bullies get caught up in the rush of power they feel. They can say really nasty things they don’t mean just to get a bigger rush. It’s like wanting to repeat having that nice tingly feeling you get when you do something you enjoy. Sometimes people end up doing bad things to others just to get more and more of that feeling.
People Say Nasty Things They Don’t Mean
My mom told me she’d rather not have given birth to me if she knew I would turn out gay when I came out to her. Many years later, we are very close and are each other’s support pillars in life. If I didn’t persist with living, I wouldn’t have the amazing relationship I have with my mom and my father now.
To end this post I’d like to tell my cousin Sean whom I terrorised when we were kids and to the other kids I played with and bullied, I’m really sorry for what I did and I hope to be forgiven.