I grew up in the suburban town of Sunnyvale, about 50 miles south of San Francisco. Sunnyvale was a nice place for a kid to grow up. We played in the street, running around without very little supervision. So fun! I, along with my 3 brothers, all went to public schools. Like many families, my parents couldn’t afford to put us through private institutions.
It started in elementary school. I was called “Eastridge,” after a local shopping mall. Then it turned into “Ostrich,” for my tallness. Other kids then asked if I was related to teacher, Dr. Weiss, because he was tall--and had a receding hairline. And of course, I was called “Four-eyes,” as I wore glasses from an early age.
In the 5th and 6th grade, I was called “faggot” by a guy named Randy, who started a routine of bullying me along with a couple of his friends. They would gang up on me and do their best to instill a sense of fear in me. It worked. This continued into my junior high years.
As you might imagine, my self-esteem was pretty low. At age fourteen I considered ending my life. Fortunately, I didn’t pursue it. Never made any plan, moved on, decided to figure out how to enjoy life. Thank goodness!
These days, lots of gay kids go through this madness, in much more intense and dangerous circumstances. I really believe allowing bullying to exist and persist encourages more serious hate crimes--such as the brutal death of Matthew Shephard in 1998.
I support GLSEN, The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network. They strive to “assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.” Bullying has a bright future unless we make an effort to stop it. Thank you.
To learn more about GLSEN.org, visit the organization here.
And if you'd like to make a donation to GLSEN, kindly visit here, select "In Honor of..." on the bottom right side of the form, and enter my name and email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Completing the In Honor of portion will allow us to track and periodically inform you of our continued efforts to support GLSEN. I hope you will join me in making a donation--your support will make a difference.