The 44 percent and me
Growing up is tough. But growing up as someone different to what seems like the rest of the world is tougher.
October 23rd 2011. This was the date that I let every word, every action, every emotion just unravel. Up until that day, I had concealed my real self. I concealed every time someone had looked down at me, threatened me, mocked me and even abused me into one, tightly packed jar of grief.
I didn’t like my mum dropping me off outside the school gate, I was worried someone might decide to hurdle words at me in front of her. Words they thought were funny. Words that made every muscle in my body freeze whenever I heard them. “They’re just joking about mum” I’d say, but no one was laughing. I’d shut the door, turn around and walk through the gate, preying she wouldn’t beep the horn and wave. I didn’t need anymore stage light on me. And that was it, I’m through the gates, ready to start yet another day at a place I seemed to spend all my time at.
When you’re young, school is your life. You spend 5 out of 7 days a week with your teachers, and if you’re lucky to have them, you’re friends. So what do you make of life when you spend 5 days a week in fear? Fear of being singled out on the yard, fear of being shamed in front of your class, fear of being beat up just before home time. It’s a pretty crap life, and that’s keeping it clean.
I’ve sometimes been referred to as a drama queen. I’m surprised a haven’t won any oscars to be honest because for most of my school life, I lived a lie. One big fat depressing lie. Because I couldn’t go to mum and say X had pushed me over today and called me a fag. I couldnt go home and tell my dad that I had virtually no friends because the boys at school would rather bring me down for being different to them. So I bottled it up.
The thing about bottling things up though is that there’s only so much crap one jar can take. It’s like having a swear jar; If you swear a lot, you’ll need more than one. But there’s only one of me. That’s when it hits home. You jar and you jar things up until suddenly, you think you can’t take any more. You think of ways to break the glass. You think about how easy it would be if you didn’t have to go on. You think of ending it all.
It really is a tragedy that things come to this point. 52% of young LGBT people resort to self harm. 44% think about killing themselves. 44%!
Now I have never self harmed, but I did think about taking the ‘easy’ option and I have almost acted on those thoughts. Meanwhile, those who made me feel that way didnt realise what they were doing. The sad thing is, the majority of bullies don’t accept that this is how a lot of young LGBT people feel everyday in our schools.
I don’t think bullies fully understand the consequences of their actions until yes, someone is found to have self-harmed or taken their life. If you press someone hard enough, eventually they will crack.
On that night in October, I didn’t let anyone push me over the edge; I chose to smash the grief jar myself. I came out. I don’t think anyone will fully understand what is meant when people say the world is off their shoulders, because I was a different person after it.
But sadly, not everyone can do this. That’s why we have so many young people committing suicide. So the next time you think about calling someone a fag, or keep them out of your friendship circle because you don’t want to be associated with them. Don’t. You don’t know how that person is going to deal with your crap. You don’t want to be contributing to the 44%.
What we need in schools is strong, relevant citizenship education. Why not teach pupils about the progression of LGBT rights around the world. Give them an insight into what life was like for those living in times when it was illegal to be who they were. It is only through education that we can challenge and change the mindset of the next generation.
That’s why I’m standing to represent young LGBT Labour members. Young Labour needs to be the voice of the thousands of young LGBT people being bullied in and out of schools up and down our country. It’s time we told bullies to #CutTheCrap