By Real World: San Diego's Frank Sweeney
We’ve all been bullied before. We’ve been bullied because of our age, our appearance, our sexuality, our race, or that ugly flannel we wore last Tuesday and (now) totally regret buying. We’ve felt the feelings of isolation, the alienation, the loneliness, the resentment and the hurt. More than ever, with the string of abuse that is taking place towards LGBT youth in schools across the country, it is our responsibility as those who have been bullied or are being bullied currently, to break the cycle.
So how do we do it? How do we rise above the words and actions that make us feel so alone and distanced from the norm? Well, speaking from experience I can tell you, stay away from acting out, because being a bully never stops bullying, and breaking vases just makes for a bigger mess.
Any violence, physical or verbal, against intolerance and hate speaks nothing about your character; in fact it degrades your integrity. Why would we ever stoop so low as to bully someone else? The louder you yell, the less people can actually hear you, and this is not a cage fight, it's a conversation about equality and respect.
The only way to stop bullying is with love. We are responsible to love others and to let love in. By opening up and sharing ourselves, by being unapologetic for our sexuality, by remaining true to our beliefs in equality and the right to love whomever we choose, we are working hard to establish our self-confidence, and no bully can ever touch us.
I’m on your side. Your friends are on your side. And even though it may not seem like it now, there are plenty of people who have your back (except the store attendant who helped you pick out that flannel). But don’t let yourself get down, don’t feed into the bullying by fighting back, and do not ever let it defeat you. If you truly feel hopeless and singled out, turn to organizations like The Trevor Project or look for inspiration from It Gets Better. If nothing else, you will see that you are not at all alone, and that there are people who love you for every single bit of your character, whether you’re gay, straight, bisexual, black, white or red from sunburn. It’s organizations and people like this who help us to stop the cycle.
It’s amazing how people can fail to understand you because of you. Keep in mind that attitudes like these are out of your control and you can only continue on and continue to love. Bullying back is never the answer, but embracing every intricate part of you is. Love it and let others love it, too.
And you know what, rock that flannel this October 20th, because it’s #SpiritDay, and darn it, you love that purple flannel and you know it! Oh and trust me, a vaguely mauve bandana might look good with it, too!
Frank is a recent graduate of prestigious Middlebury College, where his studies focused on activism and social issues. You can catch him on the current season of Real World: San Diego + follow him on Twitter or on his personal blog.
Join us, and go purple on #SpiritDay:
+ Wear purple. (If you need wardrobe inspiration, look no further than Ke$ha.)
+ Start a conversation and download an Amplify Your Voice resource kit.
+ Pledge by taking action below!