A few photos from last night’s glowlight vigil in Washington Square Park to remember six young men who recently killed themselves after being harassed due to their sexual orientation. More than a thousand people stood in the rain to remember these young men and to give hope to those who are still alive.
Hi all. Grace Chu here to tell you that it gets better.
Let’s start with junior high. Junior high is a festering pile of dung that even other festering piles of dung won’t even hang out with. That’s right: junior high is like the dalit of festering piles of dung. For three very unpleasant years of my life, I went to a public junior school in the south. (OK, two and a half. By the third year, that school had become such a hornet’s nest of administrator apathy where the law of the jungle prevailed that my parents had enough and transferred me to another school in another city for a semester.)
I didn’t know what gay was while I was a teenager – I was raised in a strict and sheltered Asian household where we didn’t talk about those things. I didn’t even recognize that I was in the closet until I was in my 20s, so I can’t speak about being a gay teenager, but I can speak about my experiences as a dweeby minority kid.
Being a skinny Asian kid in the south is not the best way to ingratiate yourself to your classmates. You’re not going to be popular. You’re not going to be homecoming queen. The best you can hope for is to fly under the radar enough so you can avoid getting teased or getting your ass kicked. I remember a period of time where this tiny blonde would heckle me in the hallways and threaten to beat me up. Now, I could have pummeled this kid easily, but unfortunately, she was always shadowed by a 6 foot tall African American girl, who loved using her size and the fact that people in the south are afraid of black people to her advantage. I remember planning routes through the hallways to avoid them. Looking back, it is easy to see that both of these twits were insecure. I mean, the blonde wouldn’t go anywhere without a bodyguard for crying out loud. Talk about a wuss.
And then there was this boy who would sit behind me, call me names, and throw spitballs in my hair. You’d think that, at the age of 14, spitballs would be, like, so third grade. But no, retro harassment was his thing, I guess. Looking back, it is clear that he had a crush on me, but while it was happening, it was incredibly unpleasant. (And oh, when I finally transferred to the other school, I squeezed super glue into the interior of his Master Lock hanging on his locker, and I also glued the seams of this locker closed. Yeah, annoying boy whose name I have forgotten, that was me! Surprise!)
In junior high, everyone bullied everyone else. Some got it worse than others. A girl on my track team was jumped in the back of the bus on the way back from a meet by three or four cretins who tried to sexually assault her. Yeah, in a bus full of people.
People are stupid. They will remain so for the rest of your life, but as you get older, people mature and you also get stronger, and the level of stupid wanes to the point where people’s stupidity becomes less horrible and it becomes humorous, even. When you’re 13, 14, 15 – school is your life. A month is a freaking long time. A year is like an eternity. You don’t see an end to the awfulness, but as you get older, a year becomes nothing. You won’t even remember junior high. If you saw your tormentors on the street, you won’t even recognize them. You won’t even remember their names.
Put your nose to the grind, try to stick to safe areas in the school and ignore those losers. Get good grades and get the f-ck out of that hellhole. There is a world outside of junior high. There is a world outside of high school. There is a world outside of college. It might suck for a while, but these periods of your life end. It’s called graduation, and you never have to see any of these people ever again.
Hang in there. It gets better. Trust me.