Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bullies Don't Have to Win; I'm Living Proof

Four kids are dead. Congress halted the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, states still have bans on gay marriage and gay adoption and sometimes teachers look the other way when they're uncomfortable with the bullying they see. That doesn't change the fact:

Four kids are dead.

Right now I want to talk to the fifth kid, the one who's still contemplating suicide. Don't. I know it sucks to be a gay kid in America right now. Maybe you're hiding and it's eating away at you; maybe you're not hiding and you're being bullying to your limits. Bullying also sucks. It breaks your heart and slows the development of your soul. It makes you try to figure out how to get a gun or whether your ceiling fan is sturdy enough to hang yourself from or how many pills you need to take to end it all. I've been there; I've done those same calculations myself.

So I need you to listen to me, right now, as someone who's stood in your shoes. It gets better. Yes, it takes time, years sometimes, but I promise you it does. Have faith. I don't mean religion here, I mean faith in your wonderful self.

Remember something else: it's NOT a problem. It's NOT a disease, a handicap, a choice and it doesn't make you less than anyone else. It's part of who you are. You're a sister. You're a brother. You're a friend. You're a best friend. You're a son. You're a daughter. You're a good athlete. You're a good artist. You're good at math. You're good at science. You're Jewish. You're Christian. You're Muslim. You're a skateboarder. You're a gamer. You're gay. You're a lesbian. You're bisexual. You're transgendered. You are what you are. There are many different sides to you and no one has a right to make you feel bad about yourself. You can live through the bullying. People do and I want to count you in our rainbow of a community. You should live a long, full, wonderful life because that's the best revenge. That's the way to show them they haven't won, they haven't broken you down. The contentment that can one day be yours is the best feeling in the world.

As for right now, though? You're going to feel sad and angry and want to scream and to sob and just want it to stop. You'll do anything to just make it stop. If you kill yourself, then everyone'll be sorry, right? Then they'll appreciate you. True, but wouldn't you rather have them appreciate you while you're still alive to enjoy it? So, talk to someone: a parent, a trusted friend, a teacher, heck talk to your pillow because sometimes you just need to get the feelings out. Eventually you stop screaming. Eventually the tears dry up. Even you get away from the bully. Eventually you go to another school. Eventually you make more friends. Eventually you learn to drive. Eventually you get to vote for change. Eventually you fall in love with someone who loves you back. You should do all those things. Please, please, please when you're thinking about committing suicide? Don't Put down the gun, the noose or the pills; pick up a phone and call a help line. Wait until the middle of the night if you feel like you have to, but call because believe me, it helps. Here's the number to the Trevor Project, a 24-hour confidential helpline: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386) or go to their website at and write a Dear Trevor letter. Write these things down and keep them nearby when you need reassurance the most. They can save your life and I hope they do.

As for everyone else, the adults reading this: we need to do something because apparently what we were doing wasn't enough. We need to give these kids someone their own age they can look up to. Someone's who doesn't hide behind Broadway showtunes and a love of clothes, but openly admits who they are. Because kids are figuring themselves out pretty fast and we need to start keeping up. So do something, whatever you do best. I'm writing this monologue of a post because I'm an actress and a writer. If you're a teacher and you hear or see bullying, stop it. No matter what your beliefs may be, stop it. Because your beliefs are not as important as a child's life! Show these kids that suicide isn't the answer. Show kids that bullying is wrong. Educate all kids, not just the GLBT ones, that there's nothing wrong with being gay. In the 1960s, we started teaching kids in big ways and small that racism was wrong. So, let's start teaching kids, hell, let's start teaching everyone that homophobia is just as wrong. Because something's not working and it's up to all of us to fix it!

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