So, today I learned about the many messages of 'It Gets Better' being made by celebrities in the face of a string of tragic suicides of homosexual teenagers resulting from homophobic bullying, taunting or outing.
The messages are all incredibly moving, whether it be the tear-filled, pained messages from Tim Gunn or Ellen Degeneres, or the frankly shocked expressions from the likes of Neil Patrick Harris.
And it's easy to see why: this senseless loss of life is incredibly tragic and painful. And frightening: that kids can abuse kids to the point that they would end their own lives is terrifying to imagine.
As a result of learning about this, I decided to join in with my own message, delivered through a series of tweets on Twitter. The following is a repost and expansion of those tweets, and my story/message.
When I was younger, around the age of fifteen, I realised that I liked men. In some ways, that made the bullying I received all the more worse, as much of it was homophobic. It felt like maybe they knew some terrible secret I had, and the worst part was the secret was that they were right about me. I had a small group of friends at the time, who I really cared about and enjoyed my time with them.
When I came out, I lost all my friends. All of them. And that hurt. I spent months staying in with headphones on, friendless. I stayed in all the time listening to music (mostly Counting Crows) and writing down the lyrics (oh my god, how emo...but this was before emo! OMG, I created emo! I am SO sorry!).
And you know what, it hurt so bad I often wondered what the hell was the point. I was alone and thought I may always be, and thought 'why should I bother?'. I felt alone and...toxic, like everyone wanted to stay away and maybe they should have.
But I couldn't believe that was how the world was. I was determined there was more to it, and more for me. So I persevered.
Before I knew it, I had made some of the best friends of my life, one of whom, Drew Davies, has never left my life. And they didn't care I was gay. Why should they, it doesn't involve them, it's my life. To this day, Drew is a major part of my life, so much so that I even consider him more like a brother than a friend. He has even graciously allowed me to co-write on his awesome comic idea, Stiffs. Something I couldn't be happier doing.
Back then, I still got bullied. But I was happier, proud of who and what I was. I knew I was better than them, and that gave me strength. I was so strengthened by my new found friends, my new found life, that I openly came out about my sexuality in school. In an odd way, the very event that kept me up at night, my very worst fear, wound up making me kind of popular. Coupled with my own crazy sense of fun and carefree attitude to bullying, I became a better known guy, and friends to many.
And the bullies, though they occasionally flung barbed words my way, meant less and less to me every day.
Let me tell you something, in ten years time, all those bullies will regret how they treated you. Some will even apologise, as they did with me. That original group of 'friends'? All apologised, and I made my peace with them. They were just kids, and kids sometimes don't know what they're doing. They're as scared of themselves and the world around them as anyone else.
However, you will have nothing to apologise for. No regrets. The only thing you'd regret is taking that drastic action that could harm yourself; if the worst happens, could harm you forever. And it's not worth it at all.
I won't lie to you. The world is sometimes hard. And there are some small, hateful people out there. Fewer each day, but there are also so many good people an good things, there's no reason not to want to live in this world.
Sometimes you'll hurt, and sometimes you'll feel such joy. But if ever the hurt gets too much, there are people to talk to. Many schools and institutions have LGBT groups now, many aimed at youth. They care, they really do. I should know, I was part of one. And we worked tirelessly for the rights of those like us to live their lives free from abuse and with dignity and equality.
And in the US, the Trevor Project is there for you. They have a website and a phoneline (866 488 7386) there to help YOU.
So please, if you're thinking of that last statement, please, please, please don't do it. Talk to someone, anyone, as they're are so many people in your life who care and you don't even know it.
It's a hard world, but it's a good one. And it gets better. Every day.