Dyke. Faggot. Worthless. Shithead. Slut. Whore. Skank. Bitch. Asshole. Homo. Good-for-nothing. Trash. Cunt.
Do any of those words make you mad? Good. Do any of them hurt? They shouldn’t, but they probably do. I want to talk about the power of words and the effect that they have on the teenage psyche.
Last night I watched a DVR’d episode of Glee. It aired on Tuesday the 21st of February and was titled “On My Way”. If you haven’t seen the episode and want to watch it, STOP READING RIGHT NOW. Here, there be spoilers!
I know, I know. Faithful reader, you’re probably sitting there thinking “Wait, Kalypso, I thought you were this tomboy rockstar badass? And now you tell me that you watch Glee?” Yes, I know, gentle reader, it’s a shock. But I do. In addition to being a total tomboy rockstar badass, I am also a huge musical theater nerd and an audiophile. I fracking love Glee. It makes me happy. Plus, Naya Rivera is a SMOKING HOTTIE and I want to be her Brittany. So, yes, I like Glee. Let’s move on.
Tuesday’s episode dealt a lot with Gay Bashing and Teen Suicide. Dave Karofsky, the closet gay bully that was harassing Kurt gets “outed” at his new school. They spray paint “Fag” on his locker and his Facebook blows up with hatred. For his simply being alive and being gay. Dave doesn’t know how to handle it and tries to kill himself. Luckily, he doesn’t succeed. His father comes home and finds him hanging from a belt and gets him medical attention before any permanent damage is done. I sobbed like a little bitch watching it. As much as it hurt me to watch it, I am so, SO glad they did this episode. Bullying sucks, period. But to be bullied for something you have absolutely no control over is the worst. Being gay bashed sucks. And it’s a type of bullying that a lot of teachers and administrators have turned a blind eye to. And that is FUCKED UP. Harassment, gay-bashing and the suicide of gay teens is an epidemic in this country. They touched briefly on this topic a few weeks back when Santana got forced out of the closet. But the frank and compassionate manner in which they approached this topic on Tuesday’s episode was beautiful and so, so needed.
I got gay bashed in high school. I played softball and lacrosse and had short hair. I got into fist fights and ran with a bunch of no-good punks (I love you, boys, but it’s true). I got shoved into walls and called a dyke. Lezzie. Lesbo. Fag-Hag. Homo. Bitch. Cunt. And it hurt. It hurt so much that by the time I was 16 I was pretty severely suicidal and had developed a very unhealthy self mutilation habit that took years to break. Now, my sexual orientation is no one’s business and this isn’t about whether or not the kids teasing me were right or wrong. This is about whether or not they had the right to make me feel worthless. Broken. Wrong. And they didn’t. Now, I know that you’re going to say “No one can MAKE you feel anything, you allow them to influence your emotions”. Well, you’re right. Except imagine being told the same thing every single day for 7 years. I was once told “If someone calls you a horse once, punch them in the nose. If they call you a horse a second time, call them a jerk. If they call you a horse a third time, it might be time to start shopping for a saddle.” And I fully believe that. If you’re continually told something, it doesn’t matter whether or not you KNOW it’s false. If enough voices say it enough times you will eventually start to believe it. Just that one seed of doubt about your own inherent awesomeness is enough to completely topple the fragile teenage psyche. Teenagers are generally a mess anyway, even if they only have positive influences in their lives. And for me, it was one straw too much. I could have grown my hair out, started dressing in trendy clothes, stopped playing sports and become a total whore to “prove them wrong”, but I didn’t. I knew enough about myself to know that I would be miserable playing the part that they seemed to want me to play. So I didn’t. I continued on my path despite the harassment and I am so, SO lucky that I managed to escape it before I decided it was time to end everything.
I only went to high school for three years because of it. I didn’t drop out, I managed to get everything I needed to graduate done in 3 years and got the fuck outta dodge. A lot of my friends at the time, notably G (who I’ll talk about in detail someday very soon) and M (who I’ve talked about before) were very upset that I left them behind. But at the same time, they all knew that if I didn’t get out of there, there was a very real possibility that I wouldn’t make it out alive. I took it all one step further. As soon as I turned 18 I started looking into joining the military. About 6 months after my 18th birthday, I enlisted in the US Army and spent the next 4 years in Germany. I needed that time. I needed to get the hell out of Phoenix and away from all the pain and hatred that I associated with “home”. Don’t get me wrong, my home life was never as fucked up as it was at school but it was all mixed together into a ball of unhappiness and fear. So I ran away. And once I got away I found myself. I came to terms with my sexuality, met and married an amazing man and I have the best girlfriend that anyone could ever ask for. There is so much unconditional love and support in my life that I don’t know what to do with it sometimes. And that scared, defensive and self-destructive kid that I used to be? She’s still in here, but she doesn’t see the light of day very often.
So what I’m trying to say is that if you’re a teen and being bullied and harassed, whether it’s because you’re gay, perceived to be gay, overweight, nerdy, too tall, too skinny, too short, whatever. It gets better. High School seems like it’s forever and it’s never going to get any better, but I promise you, there is a beautiful, loving, accepting world out there just waiting for you. There are so many beautiful things for you to experience in this world, but you have to hold on. You have to push through the awful times to get to the good ones. There is always someone out there who can and will help you when you need it. I’m going to list the contact information for the national suicide hotline, but if all else fails, email ME. I’ll talk to you as long and as often as you want. Kalypso.Inconsequential@gmail.com
National Suicide Prevention Hotline (Lifeline): 11-800-273-TALK (8255)