I am heartbroken every time I hear of another child taking their life because they were bullied for being different. I like to hope that the world is constantly spinning forward, becoming a kinder, more compassionate, more tolerant place, but I know that this isn't true. I have known too many people who have lived in despair because of their sexuality and what they have been led to believe it means for their life and soul. I have lost a sweet friend to suicide because he had no hope for the lifting of this despair. So yes, I know my hope is only that.
I was listening to Dan Savage's podcast yesterday, and heard about a project that he has started, encouraging GLBT adults to make videos posted on YouTube for the viewing of gay teenagers who may be in despair due to bullying or bigoted actions of others in their community. The theme is simple. It gets better. This point that you are at right now, where you feel so alone and so hopeless for the future, is likely the hardest your life will ever be. In a few years, you will be free to leave that town/school/church/home that is making you so sad, and to live a wonderful, joyful life. The videos so far are wonderful to see, and hopefully will provide some hope to young people who feel so isolated and desperate.
As I am only an ally of the GLBT community, and I don't relish the thought of putting a video of myself on the Internet, there will be no video from me. But I want to offer something up. My high school years were not bad. They could've been much, much worse. I was for the most part invisible to the bullies and mean girls at my school. And I made friends with important people (i.e. football players, the girlfriends of football players, principals) and so was protected. (Also I was really intense, so people may have been afraid of setting me off.) But there were still points of despair, where I felt so out of place and like there was a boulder on my head, keeping me from being anything other than what I was then--someone who knew how to fly below the radar, who would do your homework so you wouldn't make fun of her or maybe would leave her friends alone, someone who lived everyday hoping that this was not it. And now here I am. I live a life unlike anything I thought possible for myself. I live in a beautiful city. I know the most interesting people. I do amazing work. I have a truly great life.
And so I offer this to you, anyone who may stumble upon me through a random Google search. It gets better. The day you leave home for college might be the best day of your life. It was for me. You can see it in the smile on my face on my University of Texas ID. I keep that card to look at whenever I get bogged down in the pains of the past. It is a photo of optimism personified. The wide smile and bad haircut of a new beginning.
[And to take the road of schadenfreude for a moment, all those kids who make your life hell today will never be anything other than who they are now. They will continue to live in that small town that smells of sulfur/pig poop/industrial run-off. They will work at gas stations and auto part stores and trendy mall shops, dressing far too young for their 30 y.o. body. They will spend their days remembering their teens and knowing that that was the best their life will ever be. And they will get bald, and fat, and at least one of the jocks that called you homophobic names will be gay himself. And you will be hotter than him.]