The Day I Outgrew My Bully
An open letter to those who have ever been bullied, marginalized, or made to feel less than
Faggot. A term I haven’t been called in many years, but today this term reared its ugly head. While I waited in line at a local coffee shop, not something I do often, but today chose to do so because I was out of coffee at home, this term made an appearance in my life once again. The line was relatively short, the room was relatively quiet, except for the usual bustling coffee house sounds. The woman in front of me didn’t seem to know what she wanted to order and the man behind me seemed too impatient to be there. Me? I stood in line skimming an article for my dissertation: “A “Post-Gay” Era? Media Gaystreaming, Homonormativity, and the Politics of LGBT Integration” waiting to order my coffee. Behind me I heard the familiar scoff and sigh of someone wanting to say something. I assumed it was about the woman ahead of me.
I glanced over my shoulder and then back up front.
“Sick…” He said just loud enough for me to hear.
“Excuse me?” I said, trying to be polite. Why? I don’t know why, but it’s in my nature.
He pointed at the article in my hand and once again he said…”Sick.”
“Who?” I asked, knowing I shouldn’t engage. At this point, the man shook his head in disgust and left. The woman had since decided what she had wanted and ordered and I….well…I was left standing alone in a line that no longer existed.
“Excuse me? Can I help you?” Came a calm and polite voice from the register, pulling me from my daze. I quickly ordered my Doppio, paid the kind woman and mustered a smile, telling myself that small minded people would not ruin my day. Walking to my car, letting the early morning sun and the warm Florida December air (yeah, it’s warm here in December) rest on my face, I was just about to get in my car when I heard…
“FAGGOT!” The word came out of nowhere and pierced the warm Florida air. I immediately knew who it was, and turned as if someone punched me, but no one was there. This is because no one was there.
The word was yelled from a pickup truck as it rumbled by. The muffler was loud, silencing out any extraneous sound, but the piercing tone of the word was louder reverberating around in my head. I stood for a moment, coffee and article in one hand and my phone in the other. I just stared at the back of the truck and watched as it drove off. The rumble of the muffler getting smaller and smaller.
It was all over just as quickly as it started. This man was a bully, angry at the world and himself, angry at something in his life, and decided to take it out on me and my sexuality. It would be easy for me to make this political and scream that this is due to a certain someone that is about to take the Oval in January, but I’m not going to do that. This is what I am going to do. I am choosing to forgive and forget.
I spent my childhood bullied and called names. Faggot, being one of them. I grew up scared about speaking in front of people or scared about what others would think of me. I spent much of my youth and my young adult life hiding who I was because I couldn’t come out because of bullies like this man.
I refuse to give them any more power. This man had a bad day. He had a bad moment. He is afraid. He might be gay himself. Maybe he is questioning. I don’t know. I’m not here to judge him.
There has been enough hate spilled this year. In the wake of Pulse and Trump we need to start loving each other again. If you’ve ever been bullied, marginalized, made to feel less than, dehumanized, forgotten or hurt in any way.
Life gets better. I am a testament to that.
I was bullied. Dehumanized at times. I got better. Life got better.
It sounds trite and cliché but it’s true. It may sound far away, but it’s not. Your future is here and those of us who are holding onto it are doing so for you. Let us help you reach it. We are a community willing to love and we are here for you. We are a sea of many voices willing to drown out the hateful few.
I will leave you with this.
6 years ago I met the love of my life.
It CAN happen. It DID happen.
In the face of those bullies, those faceless, scared people who scream from their cars or write comments on Internet walls, we chose to defy their words, spit in their faces, and turn our back to them because they have no power over us.
We chose to get married. On December 24th 2016 we will become one…that sounds hokey by I don’t know how else to say it.
To the man in the truck who yelled at me this morning. You may have tried to ruin my day with your words, but I have something more powerful in my arsenal.