Tag Archives: bullying

Ignorance has me sitting here shaking my head….

You know, I’ve heard some ridiculous things in my life and there’s no doubt I’ll hear more, but once in a while, I hear something that leaves me speechless…and not in a good way.

I was just talking to a friend and he was telling me a story that I’ve heard before. He’s a writer who spins amazing tales that leave me heartbroken before he picks up the pieces and puts it all back together again. I believe his books are so wonderful because he’s writing m/m stories from the point of view of a gay man who has lived what he’s writing about. There’s so much of him in his stories that I recognise from what I know about his life. The details might not be the same but he and his husband of many years are still in love and that’s something to be admired.

And that’s not to say that the ladies in this genre don’t write some breathtaking stories, because there’s some out there who make me crave every story they write because they are just that talented and fantastic. I feel lucky as a reader to have more and more stories to choose from in this field and I’m grateful to all the writers who grace us with their musings.

The thing my friend and I were talking about? The issue that’s put a burr under my saddle so to speak? He’s been told by women writers, to his face, that gay men should not be participating in m/m romance because it was “invented by women, for women”.

I have to admit, the top of my head just about blew off. And just to be clear here, I am a straight, female who is proud to be a part of this amazing family of writers but I cannot believe the gall of someone telling a GAY man that he shouldn’t be writing GAY romance stories because it’s not about him…

Excuse me? As far as I’m concerned, I am grateful beyond belief to all the gay men who have supported my writing over the years. This is them and their lives that I’m writing about and I do my damnedest to make sure I get it as right as I can. In fact some of my friends roll their eyes when I ask them questions because they’ve been asked “is this right?” so many time and they think I’m being a little ridiculous.

But as the writing community has found out in the last week, words hurt. Maybe most people don’t mean them with that intent, but if it is pointed out to you by people you are supposed to be supporting that what you’ve said has offended and hurt them then there is one proper course of action.

Apologize sincerely and learn from your mistake. Then move on. Don’t bluster and try to make light of it. Don’t accuse them of being too sensitive and don’t belittle their feelings. Be a grownup.

I don’t believe the gender of the writer is important in most cases. What’s important is the story and the feelings it invokes in the reader. But telling someone they shouldn’t be writing about their own lives is preposterous and if it wasn’t so ignorant it would almost be funny.

So I want to say thank you to all the men out there who have read my stories and sent me messages thanking me for them. I love hearing about how something I wrote has touched someone in some way. It’s what I dreamed of as a writer.

And I want to thank all the men who have supported me as I’ve dragged a story kicking a screaming out of my brain. The ones who told me when I got something right and the ones who told me when I got it all wrong. Both have helped me grow as a writer and I appreciate it more than I can ever express.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. My friend’s hurt was something I couldn’t ignore because it wasn’t something he deserved and I hope that the men in the genre realize that most of the women around here don’t feel that way and that we are happy to stand alongside you as we all try to live out our dreams.

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Filed under Things that bug me., This is important., Writing and thinking.

It’s Spirit Day…I’ve got my purple on.

First of all, what is Spirit Day? This is what it says on the website.

Spirit Day began in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBT youth and take a stand against bullying. Following a string of high-profile suicide deaths of gay teens in 2010, GLAAD worked to involve millions of teachers, workplaces, celebrities, media outlets and students in going purple on social media or wearing purple, a color that symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag.

Spirit Day now occurs every year on the third Thursday in October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, and has become the most visible day of support for LGBT youth.

An amazing teenager, Brittany McMillan, wanted to remember those young people who lost their lives to suicide and to take a stand against bullying.

Now, for the hard part. Why do I care? I’m not gay, neither is my child. I don’t know anyone who has committed suicide over being bullied (that I know of anyway), so why does it strike such a chord in my heart? Why does it bother me so much?

Because it should bother all of us.

No child should ever be made to feel like dying is the only way to escape a terrifying, miserable situation. It doesn’t matter if you are being bullied by strangers, other kids at school or someone in your family, you should never be made to feel like you are facing it all alone.

I was bullied as a kid. I can still vividly remember what it felt like standing in the middle of that school playground, surrounded by kids, even some that I considered to be friends. I was taunted and called names and at some point, one of the kids knelt behind me and another pushed me backwards, causing me to fall. (Now I’m older, I realize they were kind of stupid. I fell hard on the kid behind me and elbowed him in the head.)

At that point, I’d never felt more alone in my life, although my other memory of that day was my little sister booking it for home as fast as she could run, screaming at my tormentors over her shoulder to leave me the hell alone. (Thanks sis). I’m sure it wasn’t more than about 15 minutes that I was stuck there, unable to get away, sobbing my heart out because I couldn’t figure out what I’d don’t to deserve that kind of treatment. I was a fat kid and that was about where my sins ended. I was a good person and a good friend. I liked everyone and would do anything to help someone out. I took care of my brother and sister, did okay in school and loved my folks. But, none of that mattered more to those kids in that circle than the fact that I was fat. Even now when I say it out loud, it sounds stupid to me.

My mom came to my rescue that day. When that car screeched up to the curb and she came flying across the field (in her slippers) threatening to beat the living crap out of every one of those kids, I’d never been so glad to see her.

I was lucky that day. Unfortunately, not every child is and for members of LGBTQ community, the chance that they will end up being bullied is even greater.

It drives me a little insane to think that someone could be literally bullied to death because of who they love. Shouldn’t we all be more worried about who people hate than who they love?

In my house, there is only three words that are completely banned. Everyone knows that saying them in my presence will most likely get you smacked up the back of the head and the power of my disappointment is even worse.

In my house, the f-word isn’t what you think it is. I say fuck on a daily basis (I’m working on it, okay?) but say the word “fag” or “faggot” and I will most likely escort you out of my house and probably my life (unless you actually are talking about a cigarette in Britain or a burning bundle of sticks, but you’d better clarify quickly).

In case you’re curious, the other two words I can’t stand? Cunt and nigger. The first one will get you smacked across the fact, no matter who you are, and the second will get you a huge lecture and then the whole escort out of my house thing. Those three words are probably the most disrespectful words than can be said and are only ever said to hurt.

And in my house, no one says “that’s so gay” because they know I will give them shit. Gay is not a synonym for stupid or dumb and I make sure everyone knows it.

So, what does this all have to do with my participation in Spirit Day? Because I can relate. What I went through as a kid was really nothing compared to what some kids face every damn day and there were times that I felt like I didn’t actually want to survive.

I wear purple every Spirit Day along with my rainbow bracelet and my HRC pin (ok, I wear the last two most days) and when anyone asks, I tell them about Spirit Day and kids like Tyler Clementi, Blake Brockington, Jaime Hubley, Alexander McQueen, and Leelah Alcorn. I tell them about being lost and alone at a time when so much is happening in life and how I’m saddened that any life so bright can be snuffed out my bigotry, ignorance, cruelty and stupidity.

I tell people LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and that these same youth are 8 times more likely to try killing themselves if they have been rejected by their families.

I also tell them that both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at a higher risk of suicide than their peers and children who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying are at the highest risk.

And I tell them if they know a youth who is a part of the LGBTQ community, whether a friend or family member or the kid down the street, they should always let them know they support them as they struggle their way toward adulthood. And you should remind them that eventually, things get better and they need to be around to see it.

I’m closing this out with this amazing video from Todrick Hall called “It Gets Better

I’m also adding one of the most beautiful renditions of “True Colors” I’ve ever heard. From the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.

 

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Filed under bullying, Spirit Day, This is important.

Your words are weapons…be careful how you use them.

I heard this quote on a TV show today. It was an episode about bullying and it’s something that’s been on my mind lately. There’s this big push these days (and rightly so) to stop bullying in schools and on social media but I’m starting to wonder if the message is getting lost in the chaos.

What is bullying? When I was a kid getting bullied, it was being called names, being surrounded by kids in the playground and pushed to the ground, kicked and hit. It was a constant harassment that left me feeling worthless and alone and it’s something that’s stayed with me my whole life. I never could figure out what it was that made me such a target. Every time I would come up with a reason…I was too fat, too ugly, always the new girl…I would see someone just like me living happy and bully free and it was just one more thing that added to the pain.

What does bullying mean now? I think I’m a little confused. I’m sure it still includes the things that used to happen, but there seems to be so much more to it. With the advent and rampant use of social media, there’s so many more ways that people can make your life miserable and it scares me because keeping track of all the stuff my daughter is into is sometimes a daunting task.

But I wonder if somehow the bullying rally cry has caused some people to be confused about what it really is, especially with teenagers. There seems to be this thing where “I’m telling people you’re bullying me” becomes a threat in itself. If your friend doesn’t always agree with you, that’s not bullying. If they have a bad day and get snappy or sarcastic with you, that’s not bullying. If they hang out with someone else when you wanted to be hanging with them, that’s not bullying.

If they are hitting you, tormenting you, calling you names, making your life miserable, that’s bullying. It can be a one time occurrence or an ongoing campaign of pain and violence. It has consequences that bullies sometimes can’t even imagine…horrific consequences that send out never-ending ripples of pain and heartache.

Calling someone a bully is a big thing. It can rip apart their life and haunt them for a long time. If they truly are being a bully, then they deserve the scrutiny. But if you’re mad at them for not doing or being what you want and then accuse them of being a bully? Then the bully in that situation is you. And by accusing people of bullying when they really aren’t, you’re cheapening the word and lessening it’s impact. And that hurts the people who really are being tormented because it makes people pay less attention when they should be paying more.

Words can be weapons…I’ve never heard a truer statement. They can tear lives apart and destroy someone’s happiness and peace of mind.

But they can be healing too. Forgiveness and understanding can go a long way in fixing a relationship with a friend. Knowing that sometimes people say hurtful things without meaning to on a bad day. Stop and think about the person who hurt your feelings and the relationship you’ve had with them. If their hurtful actions are out of character for them, if they’re usually good and kind and someone you count on to be there for you, then maybe talk to them, see what’s going on with them and maybe you can make both of you feel better.

Maybe it’s time we all stop and think about the words that we use. Because a weapon’s only use is violence and violence, in any connotation just destroys things.

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Filed under bullying, This is important.

A few words from another writer in my family….

My 12-year-old daughter wrote this today. She says its how bullying makes her feel. It’s an assignment she wrote for school and I’m so damned proud I could smile and cry at the same time. I’m raising her to be kind, compassionate and understanding. She doesn’t put up with bigotry or intolerance and she will defend anyone whether she knows them or not. It scares me because it’s a scary world out there and I want to keep her safe, but I won’t stop her from being who she is. She’s going to attend pride with me this year and she’s so excited already. I can’t wait. The people in the poem are made up characters but the feelings are real and all hers.

Dear people who put me down,
I’m done listening to you clowns,
Done crying at night,
Done hoping for a little light.

What started out as ‘joking’ and ‘fun’,
Went downhill as quick as the sun,
You teased and taunted- I never as why,
It went darker then the night sky.

You’re words would cut, scratch and bruise,
You acted like it was as fun as a summer cruise,
But the waves turned rocky,
You got too cocky.

Diana Marie,
You would hurt me,
In more ways than one,
I bet you never thought I’d be done.

I know you will never change,
It’s like the sweetness you show to others is trapped in a cage,
Unlike me,
Who holds the key.

And then you pull in John,
You would con,
Make him as bitter as you,
Or maybe he would be just a cue.

Then it happened;

What started out as words,
“losers’ and ‘nerds’,
Quickly escalated,
And I contemplated.

Contemplated the Pro’s and Con’s,
Of telling someone,
Or fighting back,
Though it may only be a smack.

Then the emotional and mental cuts,
Became real and there was no ‘what’s’ or ‘buts’,
Because you still held onto,
The fake you.

You’re a monster in disguise,
Covered yourself in lies,
Nobody would believe me,
Said my lies was bigger than a tree,

But I know the real you,
The one where I would bruise,
Get accused,
Lose.

I never once did a thing,
Though it started last spring,
When the birds were chatting away,
And I was in the play.

That girl who loved to act,
She would even chat,
To the people backstage,
Since a young age,

Is now gone,
She doesn’t get to see dawn,
Broken beyond repair,
Trapped down in a lair,

I call my heart,
She used to love art,
Then BOOM!
You walked in the room,

Calling me out,
You would scream and shout,
The damage was mind blowing,
My self-esteem was lowering and lowering,

So dear people who put me down,
Make fun of my knowledge of nouns,
Make me feel bad about my last test score,
I bet I got more,

Than you,
You think this is cool?
If you only knew,
The things you put me through,

Would’ve changed me,
Killed me,
From the inside out,
And I have no doubt,

That these thoughts never cross your mind,
But you must be blind,
If you can’t see,
What you’ve done to me,

So today’s the day that I’m set free,
Because todays the day I stay me,
The day that I stand up,
The day I’ve had enough,

Sincerely,
The history nerds who remember the dates,
The science geeks going to NAIT,
The English losers who’ve read the book,
And the math people without the looks,
And from me,
Sandra Lee.

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Filed under This is important.