They're right. It really does get better once high school is behind you. At least, that was true in my case. It was also true for Michael. School was hell for both of us. My response was to put my head down and get through it and get out, which I did. I didn't look back. I went from being a sub-mediocre student and pariah to being a dean's list student in community college, and later in art school. Part of that was not only finishing school, but leaving home and leaving my home town and home state behind. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I probably decided upon that course as early as age 14, and the thought of it got me through a lot of despair and loneliness.
Michael had an even worse experience. He was bullied constantly throughout school. His response was to defy the assholes. He began dying his hair at 13, partly out of adolescent rebellion, and partly as a way to say "piss off!" to his enemies. He changed his hair color every time Cindi Lauper changed hers. This one high school champion bothered him so much one day that Michael grabbed him and rammed his head down a toilet in the boys' room. It took a coach and an assistant principal to pull Michael off, and to keep him from drowning the asshole like a rat. Michael seriously contemplated dropping out of school, he was so miserable. Holy Mother Church didn't make things any easier either. Michael regularly found himself suspended from catechism class, and finally dropped out of it.
But we both survived. Life now is no bed of roses, but it's a hell of a lot better than what we went through growing up.
When you're a kid and everything seems so new and terrible and insurmountable, it's hard to believe that patience has its reward. I'm not sure I would have believed it. But, try we must. Shining a spotlight on bullying hostile communities and negligent administrators is a big step in the right direction. Gay kids need to hear the message that there's nothing wrong with them, but that there's plenty wrong with the people who torment them.
A lot of people appear to be responding to the alarm bells from our young ones. There is this remarkable posting here.
And here's more from It Gets Better:
I'd be very surprised if there is anyone under 40 who reads this blog, but just in case someone stumbles upon it who's gay and thinks your alone, you have lots of friends out there just waiting. There's a big world out there full of possibility beyond the bullies and the assholes, and you will get past them.
Bill Ghrist provides us with this link to the Southern Poverty Law Center who are making available a free film and instructional kit on the issue of bullying and suicide in school.