The past Friday was Day of Silence, a nationwide movement where high school and college students across the country remain silent for the entire day in order to make people aware of the bullying of LGBT youth. I have participated in Day of Silence every year I have been at Stanford. It is an important day for me, every year. Every Day of Silence reminds me of where I come from.
I admit every Day of Silence I find myself getting a bit depressed. Consciously not talking for an extended period of time not only makes people aware of what you’re doing, but it also leads to a lot of time in my head, thinking about things.
I don’t really think about my days when I was younger. I don’t really like thinking about it. I was a victim of bullying. In elementary school, the other kids made fun of me because I was different — both they and I did not quite know how I was different, but they just knew I was and ostracized me for it. During recess, I ended up sitting by myself and reading a book rather than playing with the other kids. In middle school, a girl called me a faggot and told me I was going to hell. This went on for several months.
In high school, I had a group of friends who were emotionally abusive and made me feel awful about myself. (When I got into Stanford, instead of congratulating me, one of my friends remarked the only reason the school accepted me wasn’t because I was smart, but because I was gay, and they had to fill their “gay quota.” Good times, good times.) But regardless of how badly they treated me, I would’ve much rather had awful friends than have had no friends at all.
I suffered from low self-esteem because of my experiences. I mean, after being told you were weird, and different and that you didn’t deserve to be happy for years and years, you’re more likely than not to believe it. I got depressed, even suicidal, throughout my school years. This idea that I was a bad person pervaded every part of my consciousness — my evilness was something I believed was a fact, more than anything.
It wasn’t until I got to college that things changed. For once, I was respected, even appreciated. No one was trying to beat me down for me being smart. Nobody was trying to bash my identity of being gay or trans. People actually liked me for who I was. And it was a strange, sudden change and something that I’m still not used to yet. I admit now, I’m still struggling with these same issues. When I’m feeling depressed, those bad thoughts creep in, tell me that I’m a bad person and that I don’t deserve to be happy.
I stopped speaking to my high school friends during my first year of college. I attempted to reconcile with them during the summer between my junior and senior year. One particular girl — the most emotionally abusive of them all — attempted to bully me into submission again. By that time I had managed to salvage some self-esteem, and I finally realized how awfully they had treated me, and I wouldn’t tolerate it any longer. When she saw that I was finally standing up for myself, she ended up calling to threaten me in the middle of the night and sent me a long email cussing me out and telling me repeatedly that I was a horrible person (she even cc’ed my other friends in the e-mail in order to announce my horribleness to the world). My other friends, who I thought would stand up for me, said nothing. I called them, asked for help, but they did not answer my calls or my texts. I haven’t talked to them since, and they haven’t made the effort to contact me either. It was a rather traumatic experience that I still haven’t worked through yet. Honestly, if your friends stand idly by while someone’s bullying you, they aren’t worth being friends with in the first place.
Nobody deserves to be bullied. Nobody deserves to get their humanity mocked and ridiculed, just because somebody doesn’t fit in with what’s considered “normal.” It’s bullying that gets LGBT kids depressed, makes them feel worthless, makes them think that maybe they’re better off dead. And I honestly thought that way at that point in my life. It was terrifying.
During my years of college, I’ve managed to find a small slice of happiness for myself, but I can’t say the same for those kids still in school. This column is for them. This column is to give them hope, to show them somebody that’s also been bullied but turned out all right. I know it hurts. I hurt then too. But things will be okay. Trust me.
Bullying sucks. Email Cristopher at [email protected]