Whenever I hear about bullying, I thank my lucky stars that I personally have very few incidents of bullying. However, when I remember encounters with bullying, I tend to be the one watching it happen to others.
Once when riding home on the bus from a volleyball match, the older (prettier, and more talented varsity) girls were gossiping as usual. I never participated and kept to myself on the bus, but part of their conversation caught my ear.
At the time I was beginning to personally identify as bisexual (I’m gay, but this was my mindset.) I was horribly unsure of myself and scared to tell anyone. The girl’s conversation caught my ear that night because I heard them use the word “bisexual.” They were talking about some girl who identified as such and saying all of these obscene and malicious things they had heard about her, though they all admitted to not knowing her well. At first I was shocked at their words and wanted to tune them out. My skin began to crawl, though, when the conversation became less about the girl and more about bisexuality. Every bisexual stereotype known to man was mentioned. “Bisexuals are just whores, all they want is to have sex.” ”They’re really just straight or can’t decide.” “Filth, what girl would think a man would take them after they slept with A GIRL.”
These were my friends, my teammates. I was supposed to trust them and they, me. My so-called “second family.” And they tore up all confidence in my sexuality I had without batting an eye. My thoughts focused on if they found out for weeks. Would they hate me, say wretched lies behind my back? Did everyone else think like them? That’s not me, not at all. I’m not a whore, does that mean I’m no bi? (You can imagine how lost I was when I focused on what people would think rather that what I needed as a person when it came to defining myself.)
Ever since that episode I have made it a goal to mention the power of words alone when bullying is discussed. The target doesn’t have to be in the room, behind a screen, or on the other side of the grape vine. Bullying and intolerance affects everyone involved.
Thank you guys for what you’re doing. This is a wonderful idea and I’m happy to share my story. Please spread my message along with the rest of your anti-bullying campaign: Choose your words carefully, because they do not need a target to cause anguish.