BULLY (the movie)
Perhaps one of the most worthwhile films I’ve seen in a long time: Bully. It’s like the Schindler’s List for the world of bullying. Maybe you think one mean word to someone is no biggie. But if that person receives compounded mean words from multiples, those words can dig a ditch. My heart melted when a boy of probably age 7 was asked what it felt like when someone called him “fag” at the lunch table. He said it broke his heart. That cracked my heart open. I understand.
I remember the 1st day of 7th grade rather clearly. I was wearing my favorite BD Baggies (does that company exist) button down shirt. I loved the colors, but I’m partially color blind. I thought the shirt was red. It was pink. This was pointed out by 3 guys in my HomeEcc class on that first day of school: taunting, calling names, making kissing noises and comments about my pink shirt. In that one hours class, I was reduced to a sissy/fag. The only comfort I felt came when I fell asleep that night. And in the morning I woke up and wished I didn’t have to go back to school. But i did; though I never wore that shirt again. That didn’t exactly limit future mocking, harassing, name calling. It’s the usual blueprint for growing up gay. My story is not unique. Nor is it special. It’s just mine.
The movie tonight reminded me of that and I thought, “I feel so grateful I survived all that”. Sounds dramatic, right?
Not when the movie points out how many young people commit suicide as a result of feeling like an outsider as a result of being bullied. They suffer in silence, reduced to feeling hopeless and alone and eventually, remove themselves from the situation by removing themselves from life. #Heartbreaking
So that dug up a lot. I can say I’ve forgiven my bullied past. My life has been great to me and so have been the people in it. There were a few unsavory moments, people and situations. But at the time, did any of them know how much they were hurting my heart?
Did the guys in the back of the room in Drivers Ed class who threw gum, paper clips and flicked rubber bands at me know I would go home and sob hysterically as I pulled gum out of my hair and scraped it off my jcrew rugby shirt?
Did the guy who followed me outside of a Boston College off campus party calling me fag before he started punching me in the face realize that I was going to learn forgiveness and he was going to learn regret from that night. I didn’t even know who he was. I had no idea what the fuck to do. So 3 days later I forgave him. I prayed for light to shine into the dark spaces of his heart. I prayed to release the hate and fear that I felt. I figured he must hurt too.
A year later I wrote my senior thesis on hate crimes, using my experience as a framework. The best research paper is your own life. I got to tell my story. The paper was called “Suffering in silence”. I got an A-. Three years later my mom found that thesis and read it. That’s how I came out of the closet to her. I was approached by a guy at my 5 year college reunion. It was him. He admitted it was him. He apologized. He said he never forgot what he did and always thinks about it. He said he would never forgive himself. He said he was so disgusted by what he did. I told him I forgave him years ago and he has to forgive himself. I told him I learned a lot from that night. I didn’t tell him about the thesis or about my mom reading it AND that it gave me the chance to come out to her. In many ways, it was worthwhile. All of it.
I’ve never been an activist or preacher. I don’t play victim. I don’t push things on people. I won’t bully you to see this movie. But if you have brothers, sisters, children or friends; you should see the movie. If you love one person in your life, you should see the movie. If you love yourself, you should see this movie. This movie will help break the silence.
I loved it…
Oh, and don’t try to stomp out my fabulousness. It don’t fade.