I had a mixed experience going to an all boys secondary school in the SouthWest (Torquay Boys Grammar School).
From aged 11-16 I was bullied for being a geek, and people rarely said/did anything homophobic, this was 10 years ago.
Aged 16 we had the option of taking classes with the Girls Grammar School, and making close female friends gave me the confidence to come out; but no fanfare or lashback at all.
A few of the popular boys also came out that year; it helped that the sexy guy who was good at sports and had tonnes of friends was also gay.
Anti-bullying policies were VERY strongly enforced at TBGS – if this isn’t the case for you then I recommend making some close friends, girls or guys, and coming out to them. It’s rare for a bully to start something when you’re surrounded by other people.
I was 17 and in Sixth Form when I came out, fortunately my family was instantly accepting and supportive, and my friends treated me no differently than before (well, except for one, but he was the reason I was coming out in the first place).
However, as mentioned in the article, there are always a group of idiots. The kind of people who only went to school as they were forced too, disrupted every class, had no respect for anyone, and simply couldn’t be punished in any meaningful way.
Most teachers didn’t actively participate in the bullying (I wish I could say all), but not many actually stood up to it either. Anti-bullying needs to be given far more attention and be a far bigger part of teacher training and schools policies.
We need zero tolerance towards bullying in our schools, to ensure the safety and dignity of all pupils.
In my experience, the more homophobic someone is, the more likely it is that they are fighting some inner demons. “Show me a homophobe; I’ll show you a closet case”. If someone is secure in their sexuality, WHY are they bothered about what you may or may not get up to? Above all else, try to be who you are. Don’t live a lie. It’s the fastest way to depression and unhappiness. Best of luck ….
A true and valuable comment, truth ! In psychology there is “something” called Kempfs disease.
Thanks for that. It’s something I’ve always suspected by didn’t realise it was already an understood condition. As more people realise that the drving mechanism of homophobia is inner-conflict, I think anti-gay bullying will diminish. It will become so well known that ‘people who call others gay are probably gay themselves’, that homophobic bullying will finally come to an end.
You’re right that society is far too tolerant of bullying by children and adults. Let’s hope your vision of a society “free of ridicule and hate” comes to pass. Articulate young people like you who feel passionate on this subject, will do a lot to help bring that about.
You’re also right that coming out is a big thing at any age. As with all really important decisions in life, you have to think carefully about coming out, weigh the practical consequences, and finally (and most importantly) listen to your heart. You’ll know when is right for you.
But it’s very sad that teachers at your school do not protect LGBT students from bullying. These adults are letting you down.
Finally, don’t worry that single sex school made you bi. It didn’t. True, some teens have same-sex relationships and grow up to be straight. But sexual orientation isn’t defined by your experiences. Your orientation is part of who you are – a precious part – whether that’s bi, gay or straight.
A very wise boy, he allready sees the world the way it is, and I don´t believe it will change very soon. I would never suggest a boy to come out during the schoolyears, rather wait till college or university it will be a little easier. Teenagers can be very cruel
I find these sorts of stories very hard to relate to. My school days were a very happy time indeed. There wasn’t really any bullying to speak of – everyone was far too laid back for that kind of thing, and it never really entered anyone’s mind to behave in such a cruel way. Then again, perhaps not everywhere has the same culture as sleepy rural Somerset.
So what exactly is it about some schools that leads to people behaving this way, where they don’t at others? What’s the key operant factor here? It can’t be some universal of human nature, because it isn’t universal – what really does cause unpleasantness like this?
As you say, coming out is really hard for (virtually) everyone. But everyone I know would agree with what Sir Ian McKellen said recently: “I’ve never met a gay person who regrets coming out”.
You must come out when you are ready. I suspect that the fact that you’re writing for a major gay magazine (albeit anonymously) means that the day that you’re ready to come out isn’t far off. I certainly couldn’t have done that at your age.
In the meantime, do try to meet other gay/bisexual teenagers that you can be open with. There are several LGBT youth centres around the South West. Maybe you can get to one of them occasionally.
Above all, have fun.
Being in the closet is horrible. In the last year I was in the closet as bisexual and transgender, and I still remember the fear I felt every single miserable day of once day arriving home and finding that my mom stirred in my wardrobe while I was out and found my female clothes and my hormones that I used as self-medicating. Fortunately in the end of the year, day December 21 (coincidently the supposed Mayan day of the end of the world) with the help of my psychiatrist I finally came out to my family, they accepted everything well and all my fear and anxiety was gone. Being out and being bullied must be horrible, but there is nothing worse than being in. It’s a torture to the soul.
I was in the closet as transsexual, I didn’t enjoy that much, then I came out and felt euphoric, although went through a terrible transition at work, now my journey is complete and I’m back in the closet again as a hetrosexual female and abolutely nobody knows about my past except those select few whom I’ve chosen to tell (like my husband) and I’m feeling great again.
One just can’t tell what will make you happy until you try it, but then of course it’s too late to go back
Good for you Sharon. I hope I also one day find a husband to love me for who I am.
Hang on in there mate. It will get better. Things really do. Great and intelligent article that you have written.
It sounds horrible. I was in the same situation in the south-east of England until just last year. Every day was a crushing challenge.
This is exactly how things were for me, and I also live in South England. It’s really hard, but hang in there. I finished high school just last year, and I struggled all the way through it. I’m still struggling, but we’ll get there. ._.
http://y2u.be/XTZ2quVV3Mw – An Open Letter on Bisexuality.
It might be of no interest, but I found it helped me.
I give thanks that when I attended an all-boys public school (in the 50s before we had the word gay) sexuality wasn’t a problem – at least half of the boys got off with another boy (sometimes several in an orgy) to bash their hormones into submission. It was heaven to a gay boy like me! It was after leaving school some of us had problems then. All those old boys I’ve caught up with years later are straight with happy families, and growing up like that not one of them is homophobic. I hope this sixteen-year-old believes things will get better for him – because one day they will. They always do, you just have to believe in yourself and brave out the bad times. Life’s a long journey, son. It ain’t all potholes!
It is so unfair that people are allowed to get away with murder, i remember being at school, and yes you are right you can not avoid it, and it is something i hope that teachers and tutors are taking more seriously because it is a serious matter. I am sorry your going / gone through an awful time at school, and it is such a cliche to say, but it will get better and the more we all believe it the more it will happen :) Things will always look brighter when you look up.
Dear OP Writer
First off I commend you on a well written article on the subject.
Secondly I wish to offer some advice; I am gay, I went to public school and I experienced the animosity and stupidity of boys and girls who are or were homoprejudice. There are several things that YOU must accept. 1) You are you, don’t ever let anyone else dictate to you who you should be. 2) If you are singled out, accept it. People, bullies, society in general single people out to ridicule and hate so that they can ignore their own problems. When we squirm under this spotlight it only emboldens them to go further. Instead use their spotlight to speak out against abuse and hatred and prejudice. This act of defiance will do wonders for you.
3) Be happy with yourself, accept that you’re bi or gay or straight (doesn’t matter) and let it be only a single identifier. People will label you, they will hate you for coming out, but if you don’t let their idiocy get to you you can rise above it.
Good article. Points out that being discriminated against can be a lot of little things that do add up over time.