As the proud parent of a gay man (now 30), I can attest to the violence, abuse (verbal and physical), and unceasing brutality he endured growing up. It began in 5th grade when bullies (girls included) deemed him to be “gay” and he was faced with the abuse every day he went to school. I alerted the teachers, principal and vice principal to what was going on and they attributed it to, are you ready: “boys being boys.” Due to the school administrators’ and teachers’ lack of intervention to stop the harassment, beatings, and abuse, with each incident I photographed the marks and bruises and called the police department and the city attorney’s offices to report the violence. I also contacted the school district supervisor and school board. Needless to say, the school officials did not like the police and the city attorney’s offices showing up at school to investigate. In order for my son to defend himself, I enrolled him in JuJitsu classes and he attained his black belt within 15 months. His freshman year in HS, he went out for the football team (much to my dismay but he was tall and athletic) and proceeded to wreck one knee and sat out most of the season. The next year he also made the team and proceeded to wreck his other good knee. (There were ongoing incidents of abuse in the locker room that my son did not reveal to me until after HS.) His junior and senior years he joined the swim team and excelled. By the time he was a senior, the abuse had abated for the most part and I attribute it to my son’s strength of character, intelligence, and his JuJitsu skills (which he had to use only a couple times to make believers out of the bullies whom he laid out within minutes each time). In spite of all he endured, my son participated in school clubs, was a member of student council, and was listed in the US Who’s Who of High School Students. (We are grateful to the wonderful therapist who helped us deal with the pain over the years). My son is now an out and proud gay man living in a “family” friendly city with a thriving, all-accepting gay community but the scars remain. And, he is an activist promoting support of gay community members both politically and socially.
A supportive, caring group for LGBTQ and questioning youth and their parents/allies is PFLAG.: www.PFLAG.org and you would be surprised how many groups there are even in rural communities…thank heavens. PFLAG helped me and my son so much over the years.