I'm From Driftwood is a 501(c)(3) non-profit forum for true lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer stories. Last year founder and Executive Director Nathan Manske and two companions successfully completed a four-month, 50-state Story Tour collecting LGBTQ stories from towns and cities across the country. They're pulling some of the most relevant, important and sometimes just enjoyable stories from their archives and sharing them with The Huffington Post.
And you thought you had it rough. Ace Gilliam has had a life full of challenges that could make him an easy target for bullies.
I came out to my family when I was 15. ... My grandma passed away. I lived with her for eight years, because my mom passed away and my dad passed away, and just two months ago my grandpa passed away, so every caregiver I've ever had, on top of being gay, being deaf. I know what's it like to be bullied for something that you can't help.
Ace was a good athlete in his P.E. class, but the flamboyant way he played sports led to assumptions by his classmates that he was gay, which led to an encounter in the locker room with a stereotypical bully:
We're all just sitting there, changing and everything, and I put my shoes back on, and I'm down there tying my shoes, and he goes, "Hey, while you're down there, you might as well take care of your business, right? You cocksucker."
Perhaps all the challenges in Ace's life helped him in the long run by giving him a thick skin and, better yet, a sharp tongue:
I'm just sitting there, "OK, listen up. Do you have a girlfriend?" He's just like, "No, why?" And I was like, "Well, if there's nobody with a vagina coming after you, then why the hell would I? No girls think you're cute. Neither do I. Leave me the fuck alone." I just made it an embarrassing situation for him, because I'm not a violent person, and I don't believe that violence is the way.
As is normally the case, standing up to the bully resulted in being left alone and a lesson for those who witnessed the event:
I got my point across, and I just stomped out of there. Everybody kind of stopped and paused, and he thought about it, and after that he wasn't so bad toward me.
Submit your own story at ImFromDriftwood.com.
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