It Gets Better - I Promise

This was originally posted on my facebook page on October 1, 2010. 

When a gay teenager commits suicide, it's because he can't picture a life for himself that's filled with joy and family and pleasure and is worth sticking around for.

A quote from Dan Savage, creator of the It Gets Better campaign to MTV news.  The response to the recent rash of teenage suicides due to gay bullying in the past couple of weeks has been huge, but more can be done. 

I am not a celebrity and do not have the power as they do to get my story and opinion out to the masses, but this morning I feel compelled to tell whoever I can and to those willing to take a moment to read these words that does get better...i will get better because I know!  I'm a survivor!

Unfortunately, we live in a world where bullying is a daily occurrence and in some circumstances encouraged. It's sad but true.  School years for a teenager are hard enough.  Struggling to find yourself, create an identity and begin to build a foundation for what will be yourself.  Compound onto these fretful times, the opinions, malicious words and actions of others, it can shake an already unstable foundation to its core.  One's teenage years are definitely years of tunnel vision, especially in high school.  Looking and planning for a future, college looming only years away and trying to envision what will become of your life.  Often there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.  But as the saying is always darkest before the dawn.  I am not going to recount for you each and every instance of gay bullying that i endured during my school years; suffice it to say that there were many.  What I hope to convey is that I overcame those terrible times:  I survived and I was finally able to realize that it gets better.

I grew up in a very small town, where people knew your business even before you did.  A town where the local beauty and coffee shops provided more news that the local paper.  A town where the if people didn't have anything to say about you, they made something up.  I will never EVER! forget the first day that I was called "gay (another word was actually used, but I refuse to use that word) by a fellow student.  I remember the look of confusion I had on my face because in all honesty...I didn't even know what that word meant at the time.  I got home from school and pulled out the dictionary to look the word up.  I definitely lived in simpler times because today the word gay and all of it's slang versions are used and said everywhere.  For me, the gay bullying started in 7th grade and continued all way through high school.  There were many days that the bullying was relentless.  In those 5 years, I cried enough tears to fill a large lake.  Screaming the words "NO IT WON"T" just grew louder with my mother's every plea of "It will be okay".  I completely understand and know the feelings that these victims of bullying into suicide felt, because I have been in that very dark place myself on many occasions.  Where the thoughts of tomorrow seem impossible.  How I made it through, I honestly do not know.  Support of family and friends definitely, The intervention of a higher power, possibly.  But I made it through and you can too.  It does get better.

I was 20 years old when I finally realized that the opinions of others do not make you who you are.  They are merely words said by an insignificant  and insipid person.  I decided that I live my life by my standards and no one else's.  I surrounded myself with a strong support group.  You choose your friends, they do not choose you.  If someone did not accept me for who and what I was, then they had no place in my life and they have no place in yours. 

There is light at the ened of the tunnel - and that is all that it is, a tunnel which always has a bright end.  One that opens into a new place to be explored.  Be strong and always be your!!  I believe that I was a junior in high school, when my mother bought me a poster to hang on my bedroom wall.  The post depicted a chorus line of penguins all in a row, dressed in tuxedo, top hat and canes.  In the center of the line, was another penguin with the spotlight squarely on him.  He was dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, shorts, flip flops and straw hat.  The words above read; "You Got To Be You".  That poster became my inspiration.  To never conform became my mantra.  Do not live your life for anyone else.  Life it for you and just LIVE!  Is it difficult...YES!!!  Is it impossible...NOOOO!!!  And as evidenced by my currently tear stained cheeks, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS! remember... YOU ARE LOVED!
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