He was bullied at his school every day. He came home one day and ended his own life.
I remember high school so clearly. I remember that teachers often knew who was bullied, but they would look the other way. I never as a teen understood it. Now, I think it’s pack psychology and just because they were older doesn’t mean they weren’t influenced. Far too many teachers wanted to be “cool” to the students and would let that stuff go.
I wish all of us had a time machine if no for other reason than to go back and talk to our high school selves. I would say to that nerdy girl so worried about getting into the best school, “Don’t worry if you don’t get into an Ivy League school. You’ll live. Have fun now while you can.” I would tell her that she’s actually pretty. I would tell her that someday people would actually think she’s funny. I would sit her down and tell her that her glasses were cool, her hair was rocking, and she was doing everything right. I would tell her that assholes are assholes and that their opinion shouldn’t ever matter more than the opinions of those who aren’t assholes. I would tell her to breathe more, to relax, and to never be afraid to love.
I remember walking down the hall when —to remain nameless– a chubby gay kid was coming towards me. I was always friendly with him because we were both in chorus and drama together. I saw him wave and then I saw him fall. One of the jocks had tripped him. Again. His face showed all the hurt and not because it physically hurt, although I’m sure it did. He hurt because people didn’t like him. He hurt because they didn’t like him to the point where they would single him out to humiliate and physically hurt him.
I don’t know what came over me. I was short then (I grew in college). I was a nerd so I wasn’t much higher up on the social scale. But I rushed over to these “cool” guys and I told them they were bad people. I didn’t say “assholes”. I said, “You are bad people with ugly hearts.”
Then I helped him up and we walked away. The next day they were actually nicer to him. One of them was the school quarterback (yes, so cliche) –he didn’t trip him but he did nothing when they did. That day he sat down at lunch with us and ate at our table. He didn’t apologize. He just ate there.
I’m glad to know that gay kids are doing better in school, that gay love is becoming chic, but I also know that the hate will just transfer to someone, whether that is fat kids still or Christians or Muslims or whomever. I just pray for whoever that kid is and hope they have someone at home telling them that high school is just a moment and its gone.