Tag Archive: Tempest Smith



Some schools have Gay-Straight Alliances or si...

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I don’t own a webcam, so I can’t make a video to share. I thought maybe if I wrote it out and posted it, it would find its way to the ‘It Gets Better‘ project. Things really hit the roof last year with the rash of suicides and media attention. I think you know what I’m talking about. My personal feelings are that there really ARE that many suicides due to anti-gay bullying that they do take their lives, but people don’t want to talk about it. And they don’t want to admit they might’ve been complicit for creating the atmosphere for someone to take their life.

I grew up bullied in school over my birth defects. Kids taunted me mercilessly because of my face, calling me horrible names, even hurting me. It took a toll on me emotionally and psychologically. By the time I was in middle school, I had convinced myself I was a monster and less than human. I believed that what the bullies said was true–I was a freak, my parents hated me, that I deserved to die, and no one would ever love me. I was antisocial, I preferred to be alone, and I occasionally had outbursts against other students. The name calling was the worst, I think. I’m not sure how graphic I should get, because I would like to see young people be able to read this and understand. A lot of the names were extremely vulgar, filled with obscenities and just downright cruel. No-nose is probably one of the tamer ones used on me. Or flat-face, retard, ugly, and stupid.

It was in middle school that my father enrolled me in karate classes taught by the high school math teacher. My father, who was also a teacher, found out that I was getting regularly hurt by the bullies in school, and he feared for my safety. He thought the martial arts would help me defend myself and give me the discipline he felt I needed. It was a good gesture, but I was already far down the path of depression. I was angry by the fact I had gone through so many reconstructive surgeries, having braces, not fitting in. Now I was being told I was depressed, and I refused to admit to it for a long time. It made counseling very difficult. I know my behavior drove my parents crazy, because all they wanted to do was help me. I was punched in the hallways, where I couldn’t see who it was because of all the other kids, had my locker door shut on my head as I got my books out of it several times. I used to be regularly targeted in gym class with balls, even though the teacher enforced no head shots. They did it anyhow. One incident I was struck in the head with a kickball at a distance of no less than three feet, thrown with full force. It hit the side of my face so hard it knocked the prosthetic lens I wore over my non-functioning left eye right out. This was in front of everyone. I’d never done anything to the kid who hit me. I avoided everyone, for that matter. I would’ve done everything to be invisible if I could, just to avoid attention. The kid got punished for that incident, but it didn’t deter others. No one should be made to live in fear like that, to worry every day what might happen to them.

When you’re bullied so much that you want to end it all, it means that you’re at the point where you don’t trust anyone for help, not even your own family. You don’t think there’s anything anyone can do to help you, because you’ve become accustomed to seeing everything in a negative light. It wasn’t until after high school I began self-injuring, to try and cope with my pain. I felt I deserved to be hurt, because I was a mistake, I was worthless, I didn’t deserve to be born. When I was in school growing up, bullying was just a part of surviving. You didn’t complain to the teacher about it, or you’d face even more abuse from bullies. You kept your mouth shut and your head down, praying they’d miss you. It wasn’t the epidemic it’s become nowadays, because people didn’t think bullying was that serious a matter.

I wasn’t bullied for being gay, I was bullied because I was different. I didn’t choose to be like this, I didn’t ask for a dozen surgeries or to be blind in one eye. It was how I was born, and if you think that’s a cruel twist, how about this? I’m an identical twin. My sister was born with no problems whatsoever. Because of me, she suffered the abuse of bullies too. She was taunted because she had a ‘retarded’ sister. My sister was the only one who ever defended me from the jerks.

It does get better, believe it or not. It may take a long time. It’s also a choice. You can choose to stay miserable, wallow in your pain, even take your life, if that’s what you think is the right solution. I don’t think those will be particularly beneficial methods. You can make the conscious effort to get better, though. It’s a brutal road, full of potholes and obstacles, but if you are determined to show the bullies up, you will succeed. I am still fighting this battle, even now. It doesn’t matter what one’s ‘difference’ is. You don’t even have to be GLBT to be bullied; you could be in my situation and get hassled. You could be of an ethnic group that’s not common to a small town and get bullied because you don’t fit into the community. You could have a major disability and be ridiculed for it. You could be non-Christian and be threatened because you don’t attend the churches everyone in town adheres to. In regards to that one, go look up Tempest Smith. It’s a heartbreaking case that is no different than the bullying sweeping the nation over the past year, and that took place a number of years ago.

What you need to remember is that for things to get better, you need to fight for it. You have to fight back tooth and nail, because you deserve to be here on this earth as much as any other. You are someone’s loved one, a daughter, son, brother or sister. No one has the right to say you don’t deserve to be here, because they don’t know what they’re saying. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from proving the haters wrong, and it’s better than any kind of food or drink. They tried to break you, tear you down and you’re still here. You’re thriving, succeeding, knowing you have every right to exist. No one can take that from you ever. In closing, I’d like to say to all of you who are hurting, you’re not alone. You have friends, you have people who care so much about you. Don’t ever give up.

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Maybe this is just me, but it makes me scratch my head and have a WTF moment. Why is it that some people out there think if someone is a little different, they’re suddenly unqualified for a position? Prime example of this is the moronic DADT policy in the military. The moment someone is found out to be gay, it immediately designates them as inferior and unqualified for whatever position they held. So, let’s say a soldier is a valued and highly skilled linguist, regarded for their extreme accuracy in translation. Then it gets out that this soldier is gay and now they are considered unfit and incapable of serving as a translator. See, this is where the confusion sets in for me. HOW does one’s private life have ANY kind of bearing on one’s ability to translate? Or for that matter, serve as a medic, a pilot, or whatever position held? I’m supposed to accept that a poorly trained translator who is straight is eminently more qualified than a highly trained trnslator who happens to be gay?

I just don’t get it. It boggles my mind that there are these huge gaps of logic in making these kinds of decisions. Of course, there’s a lot of raging homophobia amongst the old guard and rabid evangelicals in the military, and because they know how to throw their weight around, they are able to enforce their discrimination. I could be mistaken, because I have never served in the armed forces (little something called a visual disability). I honestly would have, if I hadn’t any medical problems.

The thing is, that it’s not just the military who has this perception. How many other groups were targeted like this, deemed unfit for one reason or another? Women were once considered too weak to do certain jobs, or enough intelligence for others. Women were expected to be housewives, secretaries and baby machines. Blacks at one point were owned like cattle, abused by fellow human beings and considered nothing more than working beasts because of their skin color. They were segregated from whites, discriminated, harassed, murdered. It took the government to tell the American people they were citizens too. Now the latest groups to face bias are the GLBT community and immigrants. Should we forget the murder of Matthew Shepard, or the story of Tempest Smith? Don’t know the names? May I suggest you Google them and find out for yourself. People are up in arms over Elena Kagan, because they fear she’s gay and she’ll destroy the Supreme Court. What of the transgendered? I knew several over the years, and I felt a kinship in them because we both were ostracized for being different. People think once transgendered, that person is no longer capable of doing their job. So a person has a serious, gut-wrenching decision to change their gender, and now they’re suddenly incompetent? WHO comes up with this stuff? Load of bollocks, I say. Under all the changes, at their core they are HUMAN, and so many people forget that fact.

I’m different too; I have some mild disabilities. Should that immediately make me less capable of doing a job? I just cannot fathom the level of knee-jerk stupidity that infests the minds of a portion of this country. Who gives a CRAP about what one’s private life if that private life has absolutely NO bearing on the job duties? Get the frakk over it, you’re big boys and girls now. Get the Moron Minority out of governmental decisions and focus on the job. If this is what the top brass are so obsessed about, I’d rather trust a trained chimp to run the Pentagon than those bozos. Not to mention the millions wasted on hunting down gays in the ranks and the destruction of careers and lives as a result. Now there’s this asinine survey dispatched by the Pentagon about DADT, and it makes me wonder who came up with it, what is its purpose, and who it was sent to. It’s blatantly provocative, it’s meant to stir up feelings and fear, and I don’t think it does anyone justice.

This past week, there have been several suicides of young people because they were, or were perceived to be gay. The one that has gotten the most media attention is of Tyler Clementi, who took his life after an ugly prank played by his roommate. He was only 18. There were other cases too, some of the suicides as young as 12 years old. The organization To Write Love On Her Arms has been going full tilt because of this getting out the message of suicide prevention and awareness. The Human Rights Campaign has a petition making the rounds asking those in D.C. to invest more into preventing such discrimination that leads to these tragic deaths. Something needs to be done about this. Not in six months, not in a year from now. It needs to take action NOW. Nobody wants to talk about these things because of the stranglehold the Religious Right has over swaths of the population. People still feel they have the right to discriminate and demonize a group of people based on religious doctrine. Fine. Object all you want, but don’t object so that it leads to people taking their lives because you don’t think they have the right to exist. I would like to say I gladly stand with the GLBT community in this, because NO ONE deserves to be treated in such a monstrous manner. No one deserves to be bullied to death over sexual orientation, religion, race or gender. Or a million other stupid, petty reasons. I won’t let this go, because the whole existence of bullying is far too personal for me to ignore. I was bullied because of my disabilities, not sexual preference. It made me feel like wanting to commit suicide as well, many times, because I felt I didn’t deserve to be even considered a human being. Not anymore. I am not going to let this issue dwindle into obscurity. If you read this, I hope it compels you to take action as well about this. This is NOT some isolated event. It is happening across the map, and if you laugh it off, you are not living in reality.

This country needs to stop living in the Dark Ages, where the church ruled by fear and violence. Americans are of every color, culture, religion, and lifestyle. No one has to agree with it all, but NO ONE has the right to restrict and discriminate over willful hatred of anyone who is different. It’s the 21st century, sweethearts. Get with the program.

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