How I Survived Bullying between the Ages of Five and Twenty-five

By | December 18, 2011

Tortured by violent nightmares which included physical assault and emotional and psychological abandonment, I began writing and then blogging as a direct response to the rash of gay youth suicides.

Coming up on more than one year of unemployment, I was desperate to draw attention to this disturbing trend and ease the personal heartache this produced in me every time one more case of suicide by a young person was reported. Having repeated conversations with people in an effort to share my understanding of how these young people felt was just about the most difficult thing I have ever attempted.

Not only did people not have the attention and compassion to hear my story, no one could believe that someone like me would ever consider something (suicide) so drastic.

The assumption was that I was simply too smart, together or “with it” to contemplate ending it all. The more explanations I offered the more resistant people were to hearing what I had to say. Once again, having no where to turn but myself, I wrote and wrote and wrote hoping that someone who needed to hear these words and my experience would stumble upon them.

Nobody, myself included, just wakes up one day and decides to throw in the towel.

The young people who successfulLy killed themselves were tortured in a most unrelenting manner. Although young people have a great deal of resources apparently this is not enough and not enough changes have taken place regardless of what society would have us to believe.

Even before I knew what gay or a sissy was, I was labeled as such.

Before Oprah and Dr. Phil and all of our other self-appointed and community sanctioned leaders annointed us with their understanding and wealth of knowledge, there was no one. More accurately, there was no one examining asking questions and forcing us all to look at difference just a bit differently.

Somehow, I figured out via two very different resources that I was going to survive and thrive. I would have to self invent and look for role models that were so outside the norm that my deep dark secret would be nothing. My initial resource was my grandparents.

Being the first grandchild gave me some very interesting views and acceptability.

While my grandparents were simple people they were not stupid. Each of them believed that my sister and I were smart, creative, funny and talented. By age four I learned to listen to them and not the other fearful and dominating trolls in my life. It is what I currently rely on as I rapidly approach my mid 40’s.

Children, as well as adults, desperately need someone who believes in and thinks the world of them.

Not only did my grandparents think I was funny and creative (my sister and I watched Sanford and Son and the Carol Burnett Show every week then would recreate the skits and jokes as our own much to the amusement of my loving grandparents), they also thought I was whip crack smart.

I can still hear my grandfather’s beer and camel cigarette-soaked voice saying “that Tony is one smart cookie.”

This one statement shared repeatedly which I then chose to believe and live by has served me well. In addition to this statement regarding my intelligence, I began reading and thinking at a very young age.

My father left Playboy around thinking it would have a particular effect; I chose to read the article on Kissinger.

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