“What we don’t understand, we fear. What we fear, we judge as evil. What we judge as evil, we attempt to control. And what we cannot control…we attack.” Author unknown.
The above quote is part of the dedication for Traitor’s Moon, my current manuscript. A recent headline reminded me these words are acted out over and over, often ending in tragedy.
Nine-year-old Jamel Myles was found dead of suicide just days after his mom said he came out as gay to his classmates. Myles, who had come out to his family over the summer, reportedly faced significant bullying from his classmates as he began the new school year. “My child died because of bullying. My baby killed himself,” Myles’ mother, Leia Pierce, told the Post. “He didn’t deserve this.”
- I cannot fathom the bravery it took for a nine-year-old to come out.
- I cannot understand the cruelty human beings are capable of.
- I cannot forgive the ignorant parents who raised such monstrous bullies.
- I cannot help but remember when it happened to me.
I endured the name-calling, rejection, social ostracism, and emotional abuse from at least fourth grade through high school. It came from classmates, teachers, and even members of my own family. I covered the pain with sarcasm, anger, and distance, believing if I kept people at arm’s length they couldn’t hurt me. I still catch myself doing the same thing today because some wounds never heal.
My ultimate solution was not suicide, but rather a determination to prove all the bullies wrong by being “normal”. I eventually married, had children, and ostensibly lived as a straight man for forty-five years before I had the courage to be myself. While I would have gladly settled for more tolerance when I was younger, and it might have helped young Jamel Myles, I don’t want to simply be tolerated. Would you? I suppose it’s better than being attacked, but that’s still happening too.
Tragically, things really haven’t changed all that much in the last fifty years. Oh how I wish, for all the Jamel’s of this world, things were different.