Speaking Up

My name is Emily. I was born and raised in the small western town of Midland, Texas, and I moved to Dallas, Texas after finishing my 3rd year of Elementary school. But, unlike most stories, mine does not start at my roots. It starts with a girl who had already found, accepted, and loved herself for who she was.

I've always known I was pansexual. Even before I knew what the word meant, I was sure that I was capable of loving anyone, no matter their shape, size, race, or gender. It never mattered to me. But of course, there are consequences for diverting from the path of "normalcy".

I've known since 4th grade that I was going to face many challenges in my life, simply for being what most people call "different". I was socially awkward, pudgy, and non-too-bright to boot. But I never let that stop me from making friends- even if those friends were the outcasts at our school. We were picked on and bullied relentlessly, but I was gifted with the ability to outshine all the hate with a smile brighter than any sun. I have yet to meet anyone more optimistic than myself.

So being the courageous and bold child that I was, I stood up for myself and my friends. When they kicked us, I kicked back ten times harder. I was a rough kid- biting and clawing were a matter of coarse for me. But the only reason I ever got in trouble was for defending myself and those I cared for. Any other time, I was (and still am) a fairly peaceful person.

So the years went by as such. I grew up, shed my baby fat, and became a somewhat-pretty girl. The only problem was, I dressed like a guy. And even though my hair was long through middle school, I kept it in a simple ponytail every day (and I do mean every. single. day.). Because of my dark getup and boyish behaviors, I was an easy target for teasing. And it became an everyday thing. They weren't aware of sexuality, so they instead went with names such as "freak" or "emo kid". They even went as far as to physically harass me- shoving, poking, throwing things at me. Every day was the same. I expected to be bullied, to be told to kill myself, to slit my wrists and die, simply because I dressed the part of a stereotypical "emo kid". But I was quite the opposite, actually. I laughed a lot, smiled often, and had a vast majority of friends. Friends who were seen as "preppy", friends who were "nerdy", "jocks", so on and so forth. I was an anime nerd, I adored gay boys, and wanted nothing more than to go screaming through the school hallways and tackle my friends to the ground in a giant bear hug (which I did- a lot). I might have faced a lot of hate, but it never stopped me from fighting back. And while there were times of depression, times of sorrow, I was blessed to have my wonderful friends at my side to cheer me up. If it weren't for them, I  probably wouldn't have had the strength to keep going. But I did, and then came High School.

High School was, simply put, peaceful. Everyone was older now, more focused on their education, and maturing little-by-little. No one really had time for bullying. It also helped that my school's population was in the thousands, so I wasn't the only lesbian-looking tom boy (at this point, I'd cut my hair extremely short). I had started wearing business suits to school, dressing like an upstanding gentleman, and even swapped my backpack for a leather briefcase. Everyone around the school knew me as "that lesbian girl". But I don't believe anyone looked down on me for it. Or at least, no one showed it. So I was fortunate. And even though I couldn't fully escape the bullies (there's always going to be at least one), I was content with life.

Junior and senior year came and went, more time passed, and I lost a few friends, gained a crap-ton more, and eventually got rid of the last of my enemies. But through the years of discovery, I realized one very important thing about myself- I was a defender. Not a bully, not a bullied, but a defender. Someone who fought back in defense of themselves and of others. It was thanks to that aspect in me that I gained such wonderful friends, and live such an extraordinarily happy and open-minded life to this day. So when you're being bullied, or you see someone being bullied, don't be part of the silence. Speak up, and be a defender. You never know.

You just might gain a real friend in the process.

By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.

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