April 21, 2014
advice articles
My Worst Bullying Experience

My Worst Bullying Experience

There’s been a lot of talk about what’s considered bullying, and I’ve even been recently accused of promoting bullying through my actions on YouTube, so I felt compelled to share this story I wrote in 11th grade  for AP Lang about a bullying experience I went through. I’ve kept it personal for a while since it was very traumatizing for me, but maybe it’ll lend some perspective. I was 8 years old.

I’m walking down a sandy sidewalk, other children rushing past me as I stare down at my tattered, black sneakers. They make a satisfying crunch against the concrete with each step as they carry me forward. My jeans are tucked inside each shoe and one of the Velcro straps is undone, but I’m too preoccupied to care. Maybe today will be different. I have to hope that today will be different.

I look up and they loom before me. Long, metallic, and yellow, lined up row after row. Some display colorful cartoon drawings of different animals next to the large numbers by the doors. I immediately begin to sweat and the grip on my science textbook in my right hand tightens as I brace myself. My backpack, pulled high on my back, thumps me reassuringly with each crunch on the sidewalk. Either everything will be okay or everything will be over quickly. I look back down at my shoes as I walk the familiar path to my bus.

I start to climb the tall stairs and I hear a distant chanting mixed with squeals of laughter.

“F-A-G-E-T! F-A-G-E-T!” Oh no.

I glance at the bus driver as I climb, but she’s too absorbed in a romance novel to care. Her sanguine lips smack on chewing gum and her flyaway gray hair remains motionless as she neglects my pleading glances, imploring her to protect me since I refuse to protect myself. But nothing. My only ally, gone. I turn and the cover of the textbook pinches my palm as I squeeze tighter and make my way down the aisle.

The chanting continues and I feel them staring. Chubby cheeks and braces glare as they laugh at my expense. I walk down the aisle and choose a seat halfway back on the left. I slouch down as far as possible, trying to disappear within the seat, hoping to magically become invisible like the heroes in my books. But I remain. The chanting continues and a wet blob lands on the top of my head. I reach up and try to wipe the spit on my jeans, trying to remain as unnoticeable as possible. A few paper balls pelt me and I manage to mutter, “stop” but only loud enough for me to hear. Finally, after hours of waiting, the bus engine fires up and we begin the long trek home.

I’ve managed to stay hidden for the majority of the ride, for which I am thankful. I tempt fate and sit up to allow air to flow through my still damp hair and cool my overheated face. Bad move. As soon as I’m seen, the chanting begins again.

“F-A-G-E-T! F-A-G-E-T!”

I glance over the seats towards the front and see my stop through the window, dragging ever closer. While the bus is in motion I start walking towards the front, to escape the jibes and jeers of the children behind me. However, the minute I stand I find myself landing on my stomach with a tremendous crash, sliding down the aisle. The bus driver has never approved of children standing when the bus is in motion, and she’s chosen to make an example of me by slamming on the brakes. Dirt and sand cover my outfit and coat my eyes and throat. My shoulder slams into a chair leg and my face slides over a shoe that has been stuck out in the aisle. A boot with metal clasps. One of the metal clasps tears through my cheek like scissors through paper. My face stings as tears well in my eyes and blood flows freely down my chin. Suddenly, sounds flood my ears and I’m overcome with an eruption of laughter surrounding me. I glance up to see fingers pointing and children sneering as I lay helplessly on the ground looking at the boot. “Kiss it!” the boy shouts, shoving the boot back in my face, but I’m momentarily distracted.

My textbook has fallen from my hands and lies on the spine, propped up by the same chair leg that broke my slide. It’s a new textbook, still glossy and vibrant green from little use. On its cover is a tree frog, the large eyes red and protruding and boring into mine. In that brief moment, I feel a rush of gratitude for the frog. He understands what I’m enduring and I can read it in his eyes: pity. Apologies cover his face and his sympathy gives me the strength to get up.

I can no longer hold my emotions back. Sobs heave from my chest as my green eyes swim in tears. Clenching my book to my chest, I run from the bus and sprint through my yard to the front door.

Fresh air rushes into my chest. I slow my pace and let liberation take its hold, carefully holding my textbook close to my heart. I glance down at the frog, his face now emotionless and stoic, but still I mutter, “thank you.”

Bullying is a serious issue, maybe more serious than you think. If you’re going through similar situations, know that you’ve never been alone.

About Will

Will is a recent graduate from Florida State University and transplant to Los Angeles who makes the occasional video on YouTube documenting his life with his fiancé and German Shepherd.
  • Eric

    Wow. This was riveting, and quite enrapturing. I know it may not mean much now. But I am so sorry that you had to experience that. Especially at such and impressionable time in your life. I’m so glad your a shingling beacon, a true example of perseverance and steadfastness. Thank you for sharing this. I feel this lets us know you on a deeper level. It opens the door to give hope to others who may have, or are, dealing with this to keep strong.

  • Brennan

    Wow, thank you Will for sharing something so personal. Hopefully this will reach the right people, and what was a horrible experience for you, can become a story of strength for others.

  • Katie Johnson

    Thank you for sharing your experience. My mom is a 5th grade teacher so I hear a lot about how bad bullying is right now. I think it’s gotten worse since we were in school…at least where I’m from.

  • Michael

    :( definitely made me tear up. I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’ve been through stuff but no where close to that. Thank you for sharing that and giving me the confidence to know that if you can get through that I can wake up tomorrow and face all the bullies at my school.

  • Trino Alvarez

    I don’t know why you’re being accused of promoting bullying, it surely sounds unfounded and absurd and although I don’t have the facts, I know it’s not true.

    I really appreciate that you decided to share this, aside from the horrible and woeful story, it was so beautifully written, and I can relate to using writing to ease the pain from certain situations and memories.

    And looking back, I’m sure that haunting memory actually made you a stronger person. I find a lot of inspiration and motivation in both you and RJ, your videos help me a great deal, so thank you for sharing both your current lives and your memories.

    Much love!

  • Rawan

    This made me have so much more respect for you (i didn’t think that was possible) there is a reason we say “you are our role models” it’s because of stuff like this! you are so strong, I wish I had someone like you in my life when I was getting bullied. in a way bulling shapes us it makes us who we are today.. and I am proud of the man that you are today. I hope people become more aware of this situation. because bullying in any way is not cool and it never will be.

  • Rafa Contreras

    Thank you for your sharing this story with us. You’re really brave and a role model. You where able to move on. Good for you.

  • Randy Chilcote

    im so sorry u had to go through that :( I went through major bully problems as well. until I got older I didn’t do nothing, but I was one of the lucky ones, came from a wrestling family and learned how to take care of myself. im glad that u made it through all that shit, and now, ur helping the next generation. continue doing what u do, and never pay attention to all the hate.

  • Dan Blade

    I can almost relate to this. My Dad has called me a Faget much of my childhood. My mother isn’t too supportive of me thinking of being gay. so I understand. I know it’s tough, but hey. You battle the war and now you’re getting married. You done something to impress many people like myself. . Congrats! :D

    • Sjczz

      It’s far more better to hear other people calling you that, but your own father. I can totally imagine how your childhood must be. I really wish you a loving life :)

  • Jason Pence McBroom

    Will, Thank you for sharing this. I have stories of being bullied, too. Teachers turning away acting like it didn’t exist because I wasn’t the model church goer like many of my classmates. I heard mean comments from faculty about a male teacher who happened to be gay. I remember trying to get up enough courage to approach him and say – I’m like you. I never did. I dropped out in 7th Grade. Took a year off, then finished school via Homeschool, on time. I’m 33 years old and those memories still haunt me. I have HORRIBLE Panic attacks and anxiety from the trauma of those years and seeing my Mom abused by her ex husband during that time as well. You rock, Will!

    • Anthony Snyder

      Seriously? I live in California… School, It’s my last year. I have had NO issues with anything. I’m not publicly any sexual orientation and I have not been bullied, or seen anyone be bullied. I’ve heard people say “that’s so gay” but they mean it as noticing people being different that the majority. Horseplay sure, I’ve seen that between friends. I have not seen anyone been bullied. Sure, there’s people that I’ve known to have been.. mistreated.. maybe not appreciated enough. Maybe gossiped about.

      Maybe I’ve seen it but I’m just so sheltered that my brain doesn’t recognize it.

      Maybe I’ve been bullied and haven’t recognized it as bullying.

      I’ve had emotional troubles but now that I look back at it… I see how stupid I was to react that way.

      I just don’t get it. Uggh.

      • William Laird

        You’re also probably about 16 years younger, and Jason likely spent his last year in school 21 years ago, California is also more liberal towards homosexuality than many other states.

  • Flick

    Out of this entire post I am most stunned at how the bus driver was so unhelpful.
    Bullying happened with me from when I was 7 until I was 12. However it was in the form of emotional/ social bullying rather any specific behaviour that could be tackled. I was lucky enough when I was 8 to be in class during a ‘social’ lesson and the teacher asked our class what we should do if someone is feeling lonely and left out. At which a popular boy in my class said, “They can play tag with us.” That sentence truly changed my life. From then on every break time I played tag with the boys and whilst there was some gender prejudice still happening, I was allowed to play, which was a step up. The classroom situation wasn’t helped but instead of wishing I was the type to get break detentions, I actually looked forward to break. I then progressed to playing football with them at lunch, where again I faced gender prejudice.
    When I was 11 I moved up to the new school where they had a library and I spent every break in there reading. Whilst the popular boy was still in my class I now had no contact with him and there was a more active bully in the class.
    I survived that class for 18 months just, before a different person, who I am now good friends with, tried to bully me and caused me to be forced in to a corner where I snapped.
    That was the 2nd moment that changed everything. After I went directly to my newly found friends and they let me calm down I realised just how much I needed to have that support network and within the week I told my parents I wanted to move tutor groups, and luckily, moves were very rare, there was a space in my friends’ tutor group where despite the instigators of the most recent bullying also being there I was finally happy.
    So to anyone who is reading the comments, it does get better, especially if you try and reach out to new people.

  • Leon

    I have to say I completely understand your story. I too grew up in gay and in the south. My whole life I was seen as an outsider. I was never picked first for sports I didn’t have a group of friend I ate lunch with every day. I found myself alone with a book for most of my childhood.

    When I was in the eighth grade I one of the most traumatic events in my life took place in the locker room of my middle school gym. The day was like any other we broke into groups and started whatever God forsaken active they would have us play. I found myself as always with the girls. Either on their team or seating with them watching the boys play. As always we were dismissed from our groups and started back for the locker room to chance and shower. I hated this part but today was different some of the other boys bigger boys ran ahead and was already in the locker room when I got in there. They were in the back corner of the room playing around and of course they were in front of my locker. I walked across the bench to gather my thing and change before anyone would even know I was there but at that very moment I felt a hand pull me down and I hit the floor with a thud. I could feel the anger building inside of me and before I could respond an arm was around my neck squeezing the air from my body. The last thing I remember was the group laughing as I passed out. I woke up half naked laying in the shower with a throbbing headache and my gym teacher standing over me.

  • MusicalNut84

    Hey Will!

    I am so sorry to hear what you had to go through. Nobody deserves to be treated like that ever, especially to an 8 year old. I am glad, however, that you manage to pull through all that to become the fantastically strong and lovable person that you are today. Thank you for sharing with us your story, even though it is difficult for you.

    As for me, even though I am halfway across the world from you, I can relate to your story because I too have been bullied during my school years all the way till I was 20 (long story). It was only when I started university that I could put all the bullying behind me but by then, my self esteem had already crashed to the floor and it would take years before I started regaining it back.

    It was as long uphill battle to overcome the bullying and the low self-esteem, especially when I felt like I had to go through it all alone as I didn’t tell anyone about the former. I can still feel the after-effects of the bullying now, although to a very much lesser degree e.g. I am wary of people looking at me / I get easily flustered when someone becomes aggressive/increasingly verbal towards me / I still feel pretty anxious when I come across my high school bullies now. (Yeah, Singapore is a small country, after all.)

    But, I must say that I feel much more confident as a person now after surrounding myself with the right people who always let me be myself. I also found things that I love doing and found a job which, although exhausting, can get pretty rewarding at the end of the day. So, life did turn out better and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world.

  • MyFriendsCallMe THO

    The message behind the story is strong and important, we’ve all been through something similar but not all are this bad. It’s horrible that you had to go through something like this but the writing does help :)
    In saying that… Despite what the story is about it is absolutely beautifully, well written, you should write stories more often.

  • Oheydidntseeyathere

    I wish I could go back in time and give you a hug that day, give everyone whose ever been bullied a hug. Children’s naivety can make them inspiring and innocent, but also make them relentless and cruel. It’s heartbreaking to know how much bullying goes on all over the world. So glad you got through it to become the person you are today :)

  • Alysha

    I was so used to this bullying `cause ever since I was in elementary I did experience it that I thought It was normal, an everyday phenomenon. Back in then, I used to have high marks and I’m also one of the top students of our batch. But l was severely bullied. I remember one time they stole my uniform after gym, and then throw the heap at the pool (good thing I got used to it that I ALWAYS bring extra clothes) Once we had a project which we have to write all the things that we’ve done every single day (aka a freaking journal), then a month passed they stole it and burn my journal in front of me. Now, don’t get me wrong I love to write in fact, right now I am part of the student’s publication (I’m in college… And I should also start my article but instead I’m writing to you, guys) but how the hell am I going to rewrite what I did THE WHOLE MONTH? I was so angry that I told my instructor about it, even the guidance councilor and they did NOTHING. I haven’t told my mom anything just yet but when I did she was distraught that after our Recognition day she got my award then we left. I never came back, I never even pay my “friends” a visit because I was so scared. Also, I have PSTD because of the whole bullying thing.Then my mom decided that its better for me to just transfer to another school on my Junior year. One of the school policy is the no bullying in and outside the campus, which I was so grateful of. I gained new and reliable friends and now I’m taking up Psychology, doing quite well but I still have PSTD. I don’t even know if that is a good thing or not but I’m glad that you guys shared this story with us, thanks!

  • Sjczz

    HOW THE FUCK YOU ARE PROMOTING BULLYING IN YOUTUBE??? WHO THE FUCK SAID THAT !!!!!!!!!!!!! REALLY!!! DO THEY EVER WATCH YOUR VIDEOS!! FUCKING ATTENTION WHORE!! YOU ARE THE MOST ANTI-BULLYING PERSON I’VE WATCHED IN YOUTUBE. AND I LOVE YOU WILL.

  • Vite Antonio

    I don’t know how anybody can said you are promoting bullying in youtube… please someone explain me!! It is ridiculous!!

    You’re right, bullying is a serious issue and must be stopped.

    I love you guys… (Excuse my bad English, I am a latin boy XD)

  • Nick Jones

    I wish I could say your story was unfamiliar, but I lived it. My family was military and we moved all the time. Being called “faget” was just par for the course for my entire 12 years of public schooling in Texas. Sprayed on my locker (and since they couldn’t catch the culprits, they blamed me), chanted at me on the playground and in the lunchroom; I think every school bus ride I ever took was just like your description (sans boot). Spitwads, etc. My two personal favorites were these: (1) Like many, I was no good at sports. Sadistic Jr. High P.E. coach made our whole class run extra laps because, “Jones doesn’t want to keep up, so we’ll run till he does.” Later, playing basketball, one of my classmates threw the basketball HARD into my face, breaking my nose and my glasses. “That’s for those extra laps we had to run because of you, faget!” Nothing was ever done; it was my fault for not catching the ball, per the coach. (2) There was one group of 3 in High School that followed me relentlessly, right on my heels, hollering, “Faget! Faget! Suck my dick, Faget!” and other equally charming items. I had to go into their “area”, that’s where my locker and my science class was. I also had the immense good fortune to have P. E. with them. Now, I wish I had turned to them and said, “You’re right, I am a faget; I’ll bet you’ve got a nice dick, let’s go into the bathroom right now so I can suck it.” They’d probably have run, screaming–or beaten the hell out of me. We’ll never know, because I never stood up to them.

    One more quick one: my uncle (it’s a southern family, not really my uncle but disentangling the familial lines is not useful for these purposes) took great pride in the fact that he was a MAN, that he worked at a MAN’S job (lineman for the power company). His younger son followed in his footsteps, got his gf pregnant, dropped out and went to work for the power company. The eldest, though–he and I were the targets. Only fagets (his word, and it was more “fagit”) would want to go to COLLEGE. What would you study at college except faggotry? Fairies, y’all twitter on up to that college so you can live with the other fairies. I stopped at a Master’s; his son became a professor of engineering, winding up with two doctorates. We’ve both had successful careers, but as long as he was alive, my uncle would shout, “here come them damn fagets!” when we’d show up (btw, I’m gay, my cousin is straight, married, with 2 kids).

    I wish we had had all the attention on bullying then that exists now. It was just “normal” then, and if you were bullied, it was your own fault for not “sticking up for yourself” (what, and getting all my teeth knocked out?”

    Will, you and RJ are providing a valuable service with your vids and this website; if one kid doesn’t have to go through the torture we endured, it’s worth it. Besides, I love watching your vids; it’s great to see true love amid just normal, everyday lives (which happen to be gay). I’m older now, and it’s amazing to see the changes–gay marriage, finally getting respect; not hiding in the closet (I came all the way out this summer at 56).

    Keep doing what you’re doing.

  • Braden Varro

    aww will… (^_^)/

  • Rossana Napoletano

    I already knew this story but reading it again made me tear up. I’m sorry of what happened to you, but I’m also glad and proud of what you are now, you took your revenge on that idiots (especially on the bus driver, he is the king of assholes).

    Bullying is terrible, when I was younger some kids laughed at me and call me fat, but thankfully I’ve never had such bad experiences like yours. I can’t understand why someone can accuse you to promote bullying, it’s ridiculous.

    I’m sorry if I made any mistake, I’m italian.

    Love you Will, you are a strong and amazing person :)

  • Ryan Joel Otero

    I’m sorry that this has happened to you, and everyone its happened to. People don’t understand what its like to be on the receiving end of bullying. You just do you dear and everything will work out. To thouse who say your bullying on YouTube, quite frankly you do the opposite to me you and Rj Give me hope everyday that someday I might find someone ment for me. :D

  • Zakk S. SutCliff

    I would like to hear an explanation from these wankers who accuse you of promoting bullying. I have been a long long time subscriber and not once have you said anything that would promote bullying. I think the people who are attacking you are the extreme social justice types who always complain when their idealistic world isn’t met when people talk to them. These types of people need to be avoided like the plague. They’ll never be happy with their line of thinking and giving in to them may be tempting but ignoring them is the better option. It’s funny they accuse you of such things yet they’re the ones promoting bullying because all the harassment they dish out.

  • Rick Castaneda

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Will. I too went through my school years being called gay everyday. I was so scared of being teased that it took me years to come to who I am today. A proud and happy gay man. I also don’t believe anyone who says that you are promoting bullying. Have they even meet you or RJ. Keep being strong and you will always have your Shepsexuals following you, RJ and Dobby.

  • Bailee Stoots

    oh god this hurts my heart.

  • Samantha

    Bullying is something a lot of people have to deal with and it’s a serious issue and horrible to endure. I’m really sorry you had to go through that Will, I wanna give you a hug

  • Julie Vance

    I was bullied a lot in elementary school as we’ll but I thankfully didn’t have to ride the bus. I applaud you for sharing your story, hopefully it can show people how big a problem bulling is. I am now a middle school teacher and when I hear any bulling going on I get emotional and I take up for the kids when I can but I know a lot of it happens when I can’t watch like on the bus and at recess. I just hope that those kids can find the strength to fight. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Maddy Horowitz

    I’m at a loss for words. Extremely brave of you to share. <3

  • Ava Reynolds

    I relate to this so much… especially teachers turning their heads when they could be that one life line. Im still in high school and most people have matured but, when I hear even the slightest slur or unnecessary negative remark from one student to another I just can’t help but cringe, and wonder why my teachers aren’t intervening…
    I feel like they think its harmless banter, and at times it is, but I don/t think calling your “friend” a faggot/fag/gay is something that should just be throw around. Also the amount that “gay” is used as a negative connotation in schools now days is ridiculous…. I hear it at least 15 times on the daily at my school.. mainly from the so called “jock crowd” (such as the varsity/JV football players and all their girlfriends.) The other week I honestly had enough of it. A boy in chemistry class went up to do a problem on the board and explained the entire thing to the class, he is a G E N I U S… one of the football boys who I mentioned early decided to scoff super loud and then decided to yell “GAYY.” I was sitting in my desk listening to the multiple chuckles and I glanced up at the boy at the board and he looked completely diminished. So I decided to say something, seeing as much teacher was not going to any time soon. I got out of my desk turned around and looked that kid in the eye and said, “Would you kindly like to explain to me how him explaining a lesson in chemistry, that I know for a fact you don’t understand, makes him gay? Please, do tell, cause I would love to know.” This kid is staring at me SPEECHLESS. Then I said “I don’t know your religious views but judging by the cross around your neck i’m pretty sure somewhere along the way you’ve learned to love thy neighbor as thyself. So if you could do me a favor and not use gay as a derogatory term to define someone who, lets be honest, you’re probably going to be working for one day, that would be much appreciated. I went to sit back down, finally breaking eye contact with this guy and then I added, “and next time y’all want to mess with him, you can come talk to me first.” ( lol sorry about the y’all i’m from texas)
    I sat back down in my seat and it was so silent you could hear one another breathing and one of the football players (who used “gay” on the daily also) in the back of the class just stood up and started clapping.. and then the whole class just clapped… and I looked around and I had never felt so good in my life. I was so glad I said something because i know what it feels like to be harassed on the daily. No one should ever have to come to school everyday and be afraid of what/who they encounter.

  • anouk97

    Thank you Will to share this story with us. My past wasn’t that good as well.

    Primary school was like hell. I was bullied for a long time actually the whole siy years of Primary school. Then I went to high school. (I’m 16 and I’m still going to high school). I and a colleague came into the same class. But suddenly she ignored me and later she started to bully me. As she left school everything went a little bit better although I never belonged to a group. The classes were new mixed and I found a new colleague but after a year she changed the class. Again I found some other friends and everything seemed to be good. Unfortunately I felt in love with one of these friends. He saw me just as a friend. It’s a long and complicated story. But anyway, now my two best friends are a couple and our friendship has got worse. I don’t know how it will be in the future but I hope better then now.

    I hate my past and I hope my future looks better.

    If I read stories like yours I notice that I am not the only ones in this world who this happen to and that life goes on (sometimes I thought about suicide).

    Excuse my English I’m Swiss XD.

  • Conor O’Brien

    That’s horrific, I’ve actually always considered your videos to be anti-bullying, because of the effects it has had on you! Went through it myself, not in the same way, not nearly as bad. It’s so serious, and some kids really do feel alone and don’t stick around to see it end. I’m so glad you did Will cos I know you’ve changed my life and probably the lives of over 110000 people!

  • Rhiannan Fletcher-West

    OMG I am seriously crying right now. I am so sorry you had to put up with all that and I have no idea how you are supposedly promoting bullying because why would you promote something so terrible and something you went through yourself.

  • Walter Jones

    I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story. I want you to know that both you and RJ have had such a positive influence on my life and so many others. You are 200% right, bullying is not okay. People really don’t understand who hurtful bullying can be until they have experience it for themselves. My whole life I was ashamed of who I was because of the traumatic experiences I have endured. I would personally have to say the one thing that hurt me the most out of being all the physical and verbal abuse that I have endured, is the verbal abuse from my dad. Most of my life he has made me feel less of a person, ripping me to shreds with his horrible words. It is only now that I can now proudly say that I have excepted and love the person I am today. I want you guys to know that you are making history by showing the world that there is nothing wrong with being gay and I happy to witness it everyday.

  • RamiroSebastian

    this made me cry. i”ve never experienced bullying so bad, just the usual shit little kids say but it’s still so relatable for anyone who’s ever been bullied, thank you for sharing this

  • Anthony Snyder

    I don’t understand this bullying thing. I’ve considered myself as someone who problem should’ve been a target. I think where I live bullying is not an issue at all. Every single I person that I meet, the worse thing that comes to mind is my social anxiety. It isn’t whether I’ll be bullied.. it’s whether I can have a normal conversation with someone without cutting it short or making it awkward.

    I don’t understand the concept. I don’t understand how people could do that, collectively. I’ve seen drama but dismissed it because it’s just some teenage hormones all over the place.

    I think I’m lucky.

  • Gene F

    Will, I understand your story and it prompted me to write my story. It may seem kind of disjointed and might not make sense in some places, but it is from my heart and I hope you read it and understand.

    I was born in California in June,1963 and adopted by my grandparents when I was three years old. My biological parents dropped me and my little brother off at their house one day and never looked back. We moved back to Texas in 1966.

    I grew up in the 1970s and 80s in a small Central North Texas town where church activities on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and Friday night football were the rule rather than the exception. I went to the First Baptist Church and was pretty active in the youth group. I sang in the youth choir and looked forward to the day I could wear a gold robe and sing with the adults.

    I was always a husky kid, but not huge. (Strike one) There were certainly other kids who were larger than me. I wore glasses, did well in school, played outside with the neighborhood kids, and led what was considered a normal life. Did I mention that at the age of 10, I started taking piano lessons from the church organist, who was grooming me to take her place? (Strike two)

    It was a Wednesday night like so many other Wednesday nights. My friend, Larry, and I were waiting for RA’s to start and outside kicking a ball around and occasionally wrestling over it. At one point, things got a little more “aggressive” and I found myself with my hand in his crotch and his in mine. I didn’t think anything of it because, at that age, boys horse around and do what is called “tapping”, trying to see who can be the first to inflict pain.

    I’m not sure how it happened, but one thing led to another, and we ended up behind the church building with awkward kissing and fumbling first time blow jobs. At that moment, I realized that those feelings I had been having for a few years had a name…GAY! I was hooked and knew that I liked guys instead of girls. I was also naïve enough to believe that my “secret” was safe. (Strike 3)

    Larry and I shared another experience later on. Actually, it was me doing the sharing and him just laying there. Again, I assumed my secret was safe.

    Fast forward to high school. As a freshman, I made one more attempt to hook up with Larry, but was rebuffed and the next day at school was confronted by one of the sophomore girls and told I better leave Larry alone. With that warning, I knew that my secret was no longer. (You’re out!!!)

    Flashback…through the years, there had always been rumors about some of the other “fags, homos, and queers” in town. One that I particularly remember was a young man several years older than me who was a baton twirler for the high school band. He was exceptional and twirled with fire batons but that didn’t matter. What mattered to most everyone was that he was “one of THOSE guys.” Now I was to be lumped into that category.

    Back to high school. One afternoon, I went home with a friend named Tommy and we were doing what a lot of high school boys do…looking through his step dad’s porn stash. One thing led to another and there I was, messing around with another friend. This encounter didn’t end well. Let’s just say that when he came back with the can of cold Crisco, I repeatedly said no, he didn’t listen, and I ended up being, as I later realized, RAPED.

    Things rocked along…I did well in school despite being called names, played in the band, started playing piano and organ for my church, Tommy and I continued to hook up occasionally and I was finding my life quite troubled by the turmoil I felt inside. Being in a Southern Baptist church and being told that you are going to hell for any number of things (not the least of which is that you are gay) and trying to stay in the closet while fooling around with one of your friends (although rumors are going around at school) was taking its toll on my self esteem. I was calm one minute and a basket case the next. It was so frustrating and I had no one to talk to. I tried the dating route. That didn’t work. I even had a girlfriend for a week. Nothing seemed to help.

    I graduated in 1981 in the top 10% of my class. In college, I started coming out and thought I was safe. I went to school near my hometown, but thought that no one would find out what I was doing. Oh, how naïve I was!!!

    In 1984, I made the mistake of writing a letter to another friend confessing that I had feelings for him. My mom found it in my desk drawer at home and my secret was out!!! At the same time, the rumors had gotten back to my music director at church. He confronted me about them and I broke down and told him that yes, I was gay.

    With those three little words, my entire life changed. Suddenly, I was a predatory monster. Now everyone looked at me like I was going to jump their bones and rape their children. As long as I went to counseling and prayed the gay away, they would allow me to remain as church pianist but they took my children’s choir away from me, put me on a short leash of wanting to know where I was, who I was with, and was I going to the gay bars. It was more than I could take and I resigned from my position in November, 1984, two weeks before our annual Christmas Cantata.

    The backlash at home wasn’t much better. I was told thank God, my father had died in 1974 and didn’t see what a disgrace I had become. My mom didn’t speak to me for 3 weeks. The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife. She found a counselor for me to see and, of course, he was affiliated with the Southern Baptist Church. I managed to make it through three sessions before I said enough was enough and I never went back.

    She looked at me one day with a crazed look in her eye and told me that I had so much of my biological mother in me, it made her sick. I was devastated. Here I was with abandonment issues already and being told by the person who was supposed to love me unconditionally and without reserve that I made her sick. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

    I was going to college, but not doing very well. I dropped classes left and right and failed others. I started hanging out with my friends from school. I would leave my house before mom got up and make sure I came home after she went to bed. When we did have to be in the same room, neither of us could look the other in the eye.

    Finally one night, something miraculous happened. I got home and my mom came in and sat on the edge of my bed. She hadn’t done that since I was a little boy. She looked at me and told me that while she didn’t understand my choice, I was her son and she did love me and would support me in my decisions. It wasn’t the best, but I took what I could get at that point.

    My weight had ballooned. In my freshman year of college, I lived in the dorms and like most kids, gained that freshman 15. My problem was that I continued to gain weight. I am now 50 years old and, at my heaviest, I was 568 pounds. I have gained and lost over 500 pounds in the last 20 years.

    As I look back, I realize I was never beaten up physically. I was never pushed down or spit on. I was, however, mentally bullied. I was constantly told I was going to hell. I was called names to my face and behind my back. I was ostracized by some people who I thought were friends. I was raped. I was rejected at one point by the woman who was supposed to love me unconditionally. These are all forms of bullying.

    I also realize that I was bullied by a large part of the very group that I should have been accepted by. I wasn’t ugly, but I wasn’t the hottest guy in the world. I was overweight. Those factors earned me stares, jokes, ridicule and general rudeness from a lot of the community that screams for acceptance and equality.

    30 years later, I still feel and see the effects of that bullying. Not a lot has changed. People still stare, people still laugh, people still ostracize me and others. In a world where youth and beauty take precedence over acceptance and equality, I seem to have no place. I am 50 years old. While I have lost almost 150 pounds, I am still overweight.

    All is not dark and dim though. I do have places where I am accepted and loved unconditionally. For over 20 years, I have lived with a straight woman who accepts me for who I am and is my best friend. We share almost everything. I am also the organist for a Disciples of Christ church in my city. The people there are very gracious, open and accepting, and love me without reserve. My pastor, music director, and a large portion of the congregation are aware of my sexuality and it is not a problem.

    When will the vast majority of gay community stop treating its elders as a pariah? We have a great deal of knowledge and memories to share. We are the history of the gay movement in this country. I’m not to be treated like I don’t exist just because I am 50 years old. I’m not a monster because I am overweight. When will the LGBT community stop fracturing itself into little groups that bicker, slander, and stab each other in the back and, instead, come together as a cohesive and united group to reach our common goals?

    When we talk about bullying, we need to look first at ourselves before we point the finger at the world around us. Are we doing all we can to treat each other with respect and acceptance? Do we laugh at, stare at, and joke about people who are different? We are a varied group…drag queens, leathermen, slaves and masters, cowboys, preppies, retired workers, large, small, black, white just to name a few. Some of us are closeted while others blew those closet doors off the hinges years ago!!! Some of us are quite flamboyant and some are content to be in the mainstream.

    How can we plead with and expect the rest of the nation and world to accept us when, for the most part, we don’t accept ourselves?

  • Steven

    Will, I’ve rewritten this comment so many times, and I keep getting overwhelmed. So without going into anything too deep, I just want to thank you for sharing. Be proud of who you are, stand in your truth, and know that you do nothing but promote and support love and tolerance. You, sir, are no bully.

  • Samantha Teremi

    I’m not exactly sure why this story affected me so deeply and I’m not one to usually comment on things, but this has greatly compelled me to do so. I’m honestly staring at my computer with a loss for words. I have only been bullied a little bit during middle school and never to the point where it really bothered me. Yet, reading this made me cry. Right now I am in a place in my life where I am very alone and I can’t even explain how much this has helped me. I truly empathize with that little boy and knowing that you end up happy, successful, and engaged to a wonderful person gives me so much hope for my own life. I think this was beautifully written and I can’t thank you enough for posting this. It really broadened my perspective on bullying and made me feel less alone than I have in a long time. I don’t know if you’ll even see this, but if you do I just want to say that I love you and RJ and this post has helped me more than you’ll ever know. Thanks for being you and sharing your life. <3

  • Hannah Blatter

    The only time I was bullied was in middle school. It’s funny, people tried to bully me, but they said the most stupid things and I didn’t even react. I just didn’t give a shit because they were so FUCKING STUPID. The only bad experience came from one bully. The harassment was largely my fault, as I accidentally got on the wrong side of this girl. However, I never offered her a cross word back, and was even kind to her no matter how snappy she got, and she eventually backed off.
    A friend of hers once tried to sabotage me by trying to get me to call the would-be-bully a bitch. She even went so far as to bitch about her herself, calling her all sorts of names. Now, I’m a very cautious person, but with this chick throwing up all these red flags, I didn’t need to question her motives. I never gave in. Then, later that same day, the bully, friend in tow, confronted me and asked if I called her a bitch (god I still remember it, she bobbed her head like a chicken when she asked me. like, what?) I told her no, she saw I was telling the truth, and then asked me if her friend had called her a bitch. I didn’t take long to think about it, then said no. I wasn’t going to sink to her level. It was a week after that that she gave up on me. One of many bullies that moved on to more vulnerable targets.
    Maybe it’s just because I’m not an easy person to bully, as I show no responses to things I consider stupid or irrational. I’m lucky, I guess. My heart goes out to those who have to deal with the heavy shit. If you want, I’ll sock anyone in the face that’s being an idiot towards you. I take no shit, so why should you guys have to? Fuck those bullies.

  • Amelia Clapper Flynn

    Will, don’t let anyone tell you that you promote bullying. You have opinions that differ from other peoples actions, nothing aggressive or mean hearted in the way you express yourself. Your sad story was beautifully written, but awful to hear and made me start crying. Why anyone would want to hurt the oh so wonderful you is completely beyond me. Also why would, and really how could, you be able to bully anyone with what you have gone through? You are showing the world just how normal your life is even though your gay. And sharing some wonderful and terrible stories along the way.I can’t begin to truly understand of know what you went through having never been bullied like that before, but as a reader and your writing being excellent, in my opinion, there is no way to more truly or better experience something that you haven’t, than the combination of these two things.

    You , like me, are Ravenclaws, who, in general, are very open and accepting people.whom celebrate the inclusion and non-discrimination of people. From what I have seen of you and what I know about myself, we are these people, we even (as you said in another blog) censor what we say to make sure we are not offending someone.

    Earlier I said that I had never been really bullied, I was teased. In my 7th grade P. E. class several “jock-ish” guys teased and laughed at me for being prepy, nerdy/geeky, and acword (I can be all of these things I was not as confident of self aware as I am now, and my confidence still level isn’t fantastic), though at the time I didn’t consider it bullying, and still don’t exactly, I still dreaded going the gym most days.

    Though none of that has anything to do with being LGBTQ, as I am not, though I am an ally, by birth. I have two lesbian moms, so when I hear stories of bullying, discrimination, and hatred against gays is makes me really truly mad sad when I think of LGBT you tubers/fictional characters/peers, but when my mind gos to my parents, those people who in your childhood know all and protect you, and as you grow older should still be unconditional there, when I think “this applys to them” or “this could of/did happen to them” It can make me feel such rage and hopelessness at the heartlessness of the world. I love my moms and there is nothing society can do to change that, I just wish I would change and understand what I, and probably everybody, already know: that LGBTQ people are are just people.

    I congratulate Will, and everyone else who has or is getting through there battles, we are all hear for you.

  • Edgron Edwin Khoo

    I sympathise such an encounter.. makes me even sadder to the world like this

  • Ursa Ulcar

    You are very brave that you can talk about that. A lot of kids/people are too afraid to talk about it. I think that we should do more in our life to stop bullying.

  • Gary Jordan

    Thank you for posting such a personal, painful episode of your life. I went through bullying in school, but not for my sexuallity. I was a small frail kid from the poor side of the tracks. I was considered poor white hillbilly trash. Bullying is wrong and sometimes you can’t fight back. And if you do fight back and your not of the right class of people your labeled the aggressor & eventually drop out of school. Bullying is a crime!

  • Brian McMullen

    Thank You Will for letting us into this part of your life very inspirational to those in need.

  • Mike

    I have been threw a lot of bulling in my life time. And I don’t know how I made it. But I did. There are many different times but I will never forget the one. It happen in April 1994 I was a freshman in High School. I was walking threw the Parking lot to get to the High School and some of the guys started to harass me and I continue walking. The one got into his truck backed it up (remember it just got snowing) and covered me with head to toe in mud and snow. I went into the High School and showed and told the principal and he didn’t do anything because I didn’t know the guy name. It was hard. But that happen 20 years ago this coming April. So, it shows you that we still have a problem with bulling and it needs to stop. Its extremely out of hand it.

  • kgene

    I believe that frog was and is a witness to God’s character and love. I believe that all of creation witnesses to us about God in Heaven. It is so difficult these days to talk about God and/or Jesus because so much has been done is His name that is evil and so many Christians are not doing what Christ said and lived. Sometimes it is animals that have to witness to us, since people are doing such a bad job. A friend of mine was shocked when his friend was murdered in South America, and all the people that were around at the time, did nothing to save her. She was stabbed by a mentally deranged man and my friend, who was a teenager at the time, was the only one to come to her aid. She still died, but he had to run to help her and there were men around that were closer to her that could of helped. I think that can be so damaging, especially to a child, when adults and administrators/etc do nothing to help someone that is getting hurt/bullied/trampled on. I believe the only one we can trust is God because He truly loves us. He was bullied too and yet forgave his abusers and calls us to forgive too. It is very difficult, but it can set us free from the power that their bullying had over us. I know all the above is controversial in today’s world, but to me God is real and has overcomed the world. I believe He watches over each one of us and wants us to believe in Him and to call out to Him everyday. He said in this world we will have suffering but He has overcomed the world and one day we will be with Him in Paradise. All we have to do is believe in Him and our soul will be united with Him forever in eternity. He gave each one of us our own unique precious soul and He cares for us and I believe He created us and that green frog to be a witness to Him. I urge all of us to accept the true, historical, and socially active Jesus into our hearts, to change our lives. I believe someday even our bullies will bow and confess Jesus as Lord.

  • kgene

    A red eyed tree frog

    • Falconfly

      Beautiful and wise animals.

  • William Donald

    I can defiantly relate to this story and I wanted to share my bullying experience. I was bullied extensively in primary school, not because I was gay I was just bullied for whatever reason people are bullied for. It was the same group of kids in my class every year and every year it was the same group of kids that would always bully me. Well one day in fifth grade I could not take it anymore. I can’t remember what was said to me but I remember breaking down in tears and telling my class how they made me feel, how worthless i felt, how pathetic they made me feel, and how I wanted to kill myself. Later on that week I would try and slit my own throat, unbeknownst to my parents. After this I received counseling for three years, so needless to say I know words can hurt. But the reason I was able to keep my sanity and move on with my life was because in the sixth grade I met Justin and he became my one friend and that was all i needed. Justin gave me strength and the ability to overcome the bullying. Because I had that one friend that cared about me and supported me I was able to deal with the bullying and eventually not care about what people said to me, to a point. Sometimes things still get to me, I have just learned how to not let it show.

    But I feel I am the exception to the rule. Not everyone is capable of this, I know I was only capable because of my friend Justin. If I did not meet Justin I can’t imagine living much past sixth or seventh grade let alone my senior year at University. Some people can overcome the bullying, and for others, well they cannot. Lets us not forget Septembers children, sadly they could not overcome the bullying.

  • Tom

    Beautifully written piece. I can only echo many of the thoughts already repeated throughout the comments as far as the evil that is bullying. And, you a bully…that is so far off base it really is ridiculous. When did we become a culture that finds is easier to respond to something by calling names instead of entering into intelligent discussion? I guess about the same time we let bullying get so out of control.

  • B Ford

    So I’m not an emotional guy Will, but this made me tear up. So sad. So cruel. But on the bright side look how amazing your life turned out :D. I hope the best for those once kids, but if they didn’t change they are probably living a very unhappy life. XOXO -Follower

  • coventgardenmartin

    Thanks for sharing. That was a hard read. Never had to suffer bullying and feel for those that have.

  • Falconfly

    Incidently, frogs are associated with rebirth for the better.

    Coincidence or not, your are now a wonderous person :)

  • Katie

    This gave me chills. I was made fun of for being short, and having freckles… nothing like this. I HATE bullies, I hate that their life is so horrible that they feel that someone else has to feel horrible as well.

  • christy

    omg, will I am so sorry. I am very thankful that you shared your story and whoever those kids were should be ashamed of themselves, I can’t even imagine something that bad happening to me, but thank you for being brave and sharing your story with us. you are an amazing person and I hope that nothing even remotely similar to that ever happens to you again. I love you and rj and hope y’all have a great life.

  • AJ Chaplin

    I really understand the story bullying is a serious problem and should be stopped i watch the channel on youtube every day and never even saw any sign of bullying. I was never bullyed as bad as that and am glad for it but i was shouted at alot and rumors were spread around my school i was never beaten up and had some friends but still not a nice experience

  • Sierra

    We have had problems like this lately in my school. It is so sad I just wish I was brave enough to stick up for others and myself when it is needed. Luckly I have one amazing best friend he has stuck with me through thick and thin even when she was getting bullied and even got pushed down the bleachers for sticking up for another gay kid in my school. I love you Will and Rj keep doing what you are doing trust me it helps a lot.

  • LoopyCat

    All of us have built a wall of self confidence around ourselves, but what happens when people start to breaking your wall down. They put dents, cracks, and even chips into your wall that you have built. Always keep this in mind it’s hard to keep yourself together, but it is ten times harder to put yourself back together. So stay strong there are other’s that are going through the same thing you are going through.

  • Nameless Shadow

    i got bullied when i was around nine but it wasn’t because i was a lesbian, it was because i was Asian… and i was chased around being called “Chinese Girl! Chinese Girl!” and i got suspended because i did the same thing back to them, and added little push. ha.. even back them i was a butch ass lesbian… and i was happy about what i did. they were dudes and they were scared of me ever since. i don’t promote tooth for a tooth and a eye for an eye but it might be a little better for a kid to stand up for him or herself because no one else stood up for him or her… :/

  • Matty

    Reading this actually made me well up a little. I’ve always been bullied, but not to this extent.

  • Lovemorgan

    I am so sorry this happened to you, Will. But look at the good that came out of it: you have a fiancé, a baby german shepherd, the best friends you could imagine, a great support group, and more significance in the world than all of those assholes combined. If it means anything, I love you Will and Rj, and there is only good to come for you both.

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  • SimonaOmina

    How can be someone so mean? Kids! Gosh, Will could really end up terribly and they even laughed at him?!

Shep689: A Gay in the Life