There is nothing wrong...

I'm a 25 year old man who has never forgotten my past with bullying. Though it has become much easier for me to live with, it will haunt me until the day I die. 

I was always an effeminate kid. My parents hoped I would grow out of it, but I never did. For years, I grappled with what I could do to blend in. I tried playing baseball; my father likes to show home videos of me running to third base instead of first after I hit the ball. Though it's funny now, I think back on those times and think of how desperately I wanted to be typical. I just wanted to be a normal kid. I tried wearing a certain kind of clothing and like what the kids I thought were cool liked. Of course, in elementary school, they all gave me a chance but, by the time I entered middle school, the divide between myself and them became more difficult to bridge. I had begun to be lightly picked on by the sixth grade. Nothing too terrible; just the occasional "faggot" or "queer." That was acceptable, because I had come to accept that I would referred to by those terms for the remainder of my life. If that would've been the extent of it, I could've lived with it. I just thought, "well, I'm weird; that's what I get for being so weird." Things began to get much worse. I remember being thrown to the ground in the hallway, only to find I was suddenly the day's comic relief. Kids began to tell me how ugly I was and that clothes weren't good enough. I remember a girl drenching me in cheap perfume once and telling the teacher, "he doesn't mind, he wants to be a girl anyway." He just laughed at me. When I would come home in tears, my mom would ask me what was wrong. My response was always: "nothing is wrong." She went to my school many times; the principal told me I should toughen up and retaliate. Of course, I didn't. I was too afraid to. In retrospect, the only reason I didn't commit suicide was because I didn't want to leave my family with the embarrassment of a "sissy" kid who couldn't take the heat of middle school. 

By high school, the bullying subsided. I still had no friends, but they found new targets. I stayed to myself and stuck it out for the sake of finally being able to be who I wanted to be once I graduated. I came out to my family when I was 16. My mom told me I was going hell. By the time of my graduation, many kids at school caught wind of my coming out. I had become something of a local celebrity. Everyone wanted to be friends with the newly out gay kid in town, even those people who had bullied me in the past. I forgave them. I will, however, never forget. I suppose I should thank them now, because they have shaped me as a person. 

If I had to say anything to young LGBT bully victims, it would be what I told my mom so many years ago. Nothing is wrong. There is nothing wrong with you. Stay strong and persevere. Life is so much sweeter on the other side of being bullied. I promise. 

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