Wednesday, December 07, 2011

it gets better

So I was flipping through this book last night and just crying my fool head off. I'm not going to post an "It Gets Better" video, because I don't need people watching me and sniffing, "Hmm, apparently not physically", but here's an entry about it.

I was pretty badly bullied as a kid. It started in the 5th grade, got progressively worse in junior high, and continued through the 9th grade. One particular bully was so horrible to me that I refuse to go to my class reunions because if he was there, I would be arrested for assault. I'm not exaggerating, either; I would literally fling myself at him and scratch his fucking face to shreds. I know after 30+ years I should be over it, but you know what? I'm not. Each incident of bullying eroded my self-esteem, but he took a sledgehammer to it.

In my 5th grade class photo, taken before the bullying began, I'm actually a pretty cute kid: ponytails tied with those big gumball-like holders, dimpled smile, shiny eyes. I kept to myself because I was shy and because there was nobody I wanted to spend time with more than I wanted to read.

So, of course, I was stuck-up and a nerd, back before Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and the internet made being a nerd cool. Back then, "nerd" was the smart child's N-word.

And because I developed early, I was a whore. And a slut. The rumor was that boobs got big from boys touching them, so since I had breasts before anyone else, they thought I was the Sasha Grey of my elementary school.

And ugly.

Oddly enough, despite the fact that they threw every other nasty word and slur at me, none of my bullies ever called me a lesbian. Did it just never occur to them? Because compared to the other shit they were saying, lesbian would have been a refreshing change of pace. I probably wouldn't even have been all that offended because I never saw anything wrong with it.

I've been gay friendly since I was pretty young, which I credit to my mom (one of her best friends was a lesbian) and reading lots of trashy pulp novels as a kid. My 80's soundtrack consisted of Soft Cell, The Smiths, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I read John Rechy and Oscar Wilde. I pined over a guy in my French class who wasn't openly gay, at least as far as I know, but his neon green cardigan and Divine shirt made it pretty obvious. And I spent my college years dancing at Studio One in West Hollywood and generously tipping the go-go boys.

I'm not even going to try to pretend that I know how hard it is for the GLBT community; that would be like me saying "Oh my god, I know how tough it is for the African-American community, I've seen three seasons of The Wire." But one thing I do know is... gets better.

No, seriously, hear me out.

Did that horribly abused and bullied girl I was grow up into a woman with the most OMG perfect life ever? Um, no, because this is not a Disney movie. And things got far worse before they got better.

But I'll tell you what:


Because for every hardship both big and small, there are dozens of glittering perfect moments. Standing on the halfway point of Mt. Fuji. Watching geisha stroll through cherry blossom snow in Kyoto. Gasping as a chittering monkey drops to the ground in front of me in Costa Rica. Laughing with my dad on the phone. Candy. Kittens. Riding a pony through a lava field in Iceland. Books, movies, video games. And G, the love of my life, the best friend I'll ever have.

When I was in high school, my economics teacher was talking about the race riots of the 60's and 70's and said, "The problem with granting civil rights to blacks is that then the faggots wanted them too."

I shit you not. And to this day, I regret not saying something to him, or reporting him to the principal (not that anything would have happened back then). To think that there was probably somebody in there struggling with their sexuality that had to listen to that fucking garbage, or to the psych teacher who said "But then they're all a little [flipping his wrist limp] fruity," breaks my heart.

But that was a long time ago, and although there's still so much work to be done (cf. the Prop 8 debacle), a lot of progress has been made too. I've seen major celebrities come out of the closet, watched my once-homophobic dad work a booth at Twin Cities Pride, seen a gay wedding featured in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, and received an e-mail from corporate at my extremely conservative company encouraging employees to wear purple on National Coming Out Day.

Just imagine what you'll see in your lifetime.