This has been coming up a lot, so let’s take a quick look at some basic examples.
Back in middle school and high school I was called a faggot a lot, by people who, in all honesty, probably had no idea what it really meant, until around 11th grade when everyone knew it involved butt sex. Oh the joy.
The fact that it was bullying is not because of what they said, that was immaterial, which may seem odd to say, but it’s true. It wasn’t what they were saying that was the problem, it was their intent, which was to humiliate, shame and hurt me.
And I let them. That’s the part that I look back and on and wonder why I ever let it happen. Make no mistake, I let them hurt because I found the words they’d discovered examined a part of my life that I agreed was unworthy and made me less, and it hurt.
It took a long damn time for me to embrace my inner cocksucker and get the hell over this madness. Now if someone wants to hurt me, they really have to looking for something because even those things about me that I don’t like all that much, don’t cause me shame. Ever.
But you hear others say it’s about the words. And that’s a fucking lie. Let me repeat that, IT’S A FUCKING LIE! It’s never been about the words, it’s been about the perceptions and our own expectations.
Take a gander at the It’s Get Better Project. Watch a few of the videos. They rock. They tell great stories and show exactly how much better life can be when you’re let out of the fetid morass of High School. But it doesn’t magically get better because people are somehow less stupid than they were in High School. Or less mean. Have you seen videos of the hazing that goes on in college? Trust me, humans are nothing if not brilliant when it comes to finding ways to humiliate others. So if the people didn’t magically get better, what changes that makes it better?
Well, you do. Duh.
The bullies are still there. In fact, I recently ran into one of the bullies that made my life a living hell in high school, someone who, if he were hit by a train, I would inquire to see if the engineer needed a tip. I’ve never liked him, he’s always hated me, and that’s how it seems to go. I only ran into him because we live in the same town, and he once again pulled out the same tired taunts he used 23 years ago.
I’m, however, much better prepared, and flattened him with a verbal assault that left him gaping, his friends laughing at him, and me cheerfully finishing my beer with my pinky up, winking at him. He was not amused, yet I was not abused. And had stopped letting them abuse me years ago.
I find no shame in being called cocksucker, fag, faggot, fairy, princess, queen, drama queen, mincing queen, bitch, cunt, whore, hobag, whatever. Call me whatever you want, punkin, because ultimately, it says so much more about you than it ever will about me. And if you’re queer, gay, lesbian, whatever, and have a problem with the words, that’s your choice, but it’s also your failure.
If you find pride in the words that others use to denigrate you, you have power. If you find shame in them, they have power. If you want to continue to give power over you to people who hate you, by all means, feel free. But don’t expect me to do the same.
I’m not saying that knowing that someone hates you has no consequences, but it doesn’t control me either. I don’t make my decisions based on the hate others hold — that’s bullying at it’s finest. I don’t make decisions based on the fear that others might not like me, either, as that’s a more subtle and insidious form of bullying, but it’s still bullying.
I live my life as I see fit. And yes, sometimes that makes me the big ass queen yelling at the douchebags at the top of operatic lungs. It’s fun!
And then we come to the real way to stop a bully; find the one thing they fear most and paste them with it. Which is exactly what most gays are doing when they call out Marcus Bachmann for being a flaming old queen. We see him for the bully he is, and we take the one thing he fears, his own gay gay gay gay gayness, and we lob it back on him full-force. That’s not hypocrisy, that’s critical thinking and protecting of gay youth. This man is a very cultured, elegant monster, who has no qualms about further damaging and vilifying gay youth because he couldn’t ever come out himself.
That’s sad. Dangerous and sad. But you can stop bullying. You grow a spine, accept who you are, and let the words wash off you. And when someone tries to hurt you, you laugh at them, and in doing so, turn the tables and hurt them unexpectedly. They are far less likely to attempt a gunfight with a knife afterwards, too.