Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Brody's Scribbles... Enough is Enough - Homophobic Bullying Must Be Consigned To History

By Tim Trent (Dartmouth, England) NOV 9 | The UK has an amazing resource with The Lesbian And Gay Foundation, a resource I wish I'd found sooner. It's not that I have a need of them at the moment, I'm not being bullied, nor am I likely to be. I had a boss who bullied me, once, but that was because she was insecure, not because I'm gay.
I know what it's like to be bullied, though. As young boy I was bullied, and bullied with my tacit acceptance, because I wanted attention, any attention, from a boy I allowed to bully me. I was his friend. I don't think he was mine. I would do anything to get his approval, even 'allowing' him to hold my hand against a hot night storage heater, as 'a game', as he described it. Richard Minton you were a fool, and so was I. You had my friendship.
Another boy used to bully me each day for food. I used to take a sandwich to school for morning break. Martin Busk used to bully me out of at least some of it, every day. I'm sure he will not remember it, but I do. He made me dread going to school. If I gave him food he wouldn't hurt me. Martin you were a bully.
I learned that weaker boys were fair game. I picked on one. He was a nice boy, aching for friends. I can see that now. But that gave him a weakness that I exploited. I picked on James Strachan, and I am sure he hated me for it. James, I have no way of contacting you to apologise. I've looked for you and failed. I apologise to you.
At 13 I changed schools. I wasn't bullied any more, but I was still in the habit, and it is a habit. of looking for weaker souls to pick on. Mr Collier, Nifty, the French teacher solve that for me. He solved it for a lot of us. Patrick Bell was named 'Thicky Bell' by him, and we all joined in. The bullying wasn't fighting or hurting physically, it was 'intellectual'. One day, about 18 months later, Patrick beat the crap out of me.
It stopped me in my tracks and I realised what I'd been doing. I've tried to find Patrick to apologise to him, but I can't. Patrick, I apologise to you.
At the same school, three years or so later, I was outed nastily, viciously, and without a second thought. I became the victim of what we now call homophobic bullying for one awful isolated and short instance and then several long and drawn out periods after that. After the first instance I almost chose to die. The story is on my personal site. The details are for another time. But I wanted to kill Adrian Allen as he outed me and as he wrote the words on the wall.
Like James, like Patrick, I had no-one to turn to. Like me with Richard and Martin I had no-one to turn to. I internalised it. I internalised it all. A different person might have decided to cut his losses and his wrists. I was either too scared or too stubborn. Those are good enough reasons not to kill yourself.
All of which is a very long lead up to the video I want to share with you:
We, all of us, even LGBT us, pick on someone. L & G? we can't understand B. We think they can't make up their minds so we pick on them. Who understands T? Let's pick on a T today. We pick on the different, the weaker. We pick on anyone who is not people like us. And yes, even we can be homophobic.
Isn't it time to stop? And isn't it time to make sure that others stop? Bullying, especially homophobic bullying leads to suicides.
What are you doing to help stop bullying?