Were my parents some cutting-edge, super-progressive, Bella Abzug-style culture warriors, using my lunch as a test case to wage war against age-old gender strictures or to protest limited racial diversity on the airwaves? The short answer is "no." That's also the long answer.
When I attended elementary, middle and high school, things were different. There was no real anonymity. I knew which classmates wanted to humiliate me. I sat next to them in class. They would sign their actual names on their mean notes to me in between periods.
Some conservative political leaders want you to believe that gay men are a threat to children. They choose to turn away from actual problems facing kids in American schools. In doing so, they are perpetuating the obstacles that LGBT youth must face every day.
No one wants to believe their child is bully, but guess what, yours might be. What are you using at home for conflict resolution when your child acts out?
The two most important days of school might well be the first and the last. On the first day, teachers work hard to set expectations, start routines and establish a certain tone.
Imagine there's nowhere you can go where you are not the curiosity that tempts roving eyes and odd glances. Imagine that your very presence evokes a profile in the imagination of others, which instinctively limits who and what you are.
I promise that you will find that if you let go of the past and leave it behind where it belongs, you will finally allow for living in the present and focusing on the positive and will know what happiness truly is.
For me, many years after the bullying had stopped, anorexia became a new way to get smaller, quieter, less intimidating, non-existent, so that my life would be less risky -- or, at least, less painful.
Our schools can foster a culture of bullying, or a culture of respect. Fostering a culture of respect doesn't happen accidentally; it takes determined and consistent effort.
Bullying ends when we step forward and hold our social circles responsible for their words and actions and how those affect people around us. It also ends when we stop being passive about this awful social behavior, step up and unite. To love, peace and happy confident children!
The ugly truth is that bullying has gone too far and we all need to step up and do our part to make a difference. But the good news is, with a little effort, we can all look around and do something to help.
It's pretty simple. Yet, somehow, we forget. We eat too much, sleep too little, wake up on the wrong side of life, are running late, annoyed by fate ...
We all know how this script is supposed to go: Gay kid gets teased and bullied. Gay kid feels demeaned and ashamed. Gay kid maybe gets beaten up. Gay kid runs off to lick his wounds and feel horrible about himself. Gay kid feels alone. But not this time. This time the gay kid, my gay kid, fought back. And the bully ran away.
I think about my childhood bullies sometimes. And because I (like most of you) am naturally curious, I accepted all of their Facebook friend requests. Becoming reacquainted with them forces me to wonder about what happens when bullies become teachers.
It's called the bully mentality that we have mentioned before. Bullies are those who want to dominate others without regard to reason or even common sense. And they appear periodically when prevailing cultures or societies lack strong leadership--positive leadership, that is.
In 2015, on the cusp of our presidential election year, courage can take us to being above party politics, putting employee good above profit to shareholders, demonstrating caring and responsibility to our neighbors, being true to our word, valuing life, and exhibiting love.