Four years ago, I was so inspired by an internet project geared towards preventing suicide in gay youth; I poured my thoughts and feelings into a song titled, It Gets Better.
In September 2010, Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller founded the It Gets Better Project. Thousands of gay adults participated by uploading videos of themselves conveying a message that life will improve for distressed teens. After seeing all the good that the It Gets Better Project was doing for gay youth I needed to share my story of how I overcame the dark times of bullying as a young boy. As a young child I embraced all of life and loved the energy of being around others. I had a passionate desire to create and entertain family with my creativity. I was me at my best, and then school happened. School, the milestone of life, where we are meant to learn and grow further developing our authentic self… only for some this is not the case.
Like many, my school experience wasn’t exactly exhilarating.
Looking back at it, yes, I can remember great moments of laughing and carrying on with friends; but, unfortunately, most of these moments are overshadowed by the cruel and harsh words and treatment that my fellow classmates heaved at me during elementary school and junior high. It may be hard to imagine; but I was a very shy, small framed boy when I was younger. Of course, this made me an easy target for school bullies. My circle of friends was mostly girls, as I was not into sports I did not have very many friends that were boys. I remember during lunch I was the only boy in the whole cafeteria who sat with girls. At our school back then, for some reason, the tables were divided by girls and boys. I was continuously teased by a number of the boys for sitting with the girls, but it was the place I felt most safe. Bullies would call me a girl, push me around in the hallways and bathrooms, throw things at me, mark up my face with pencil lead and markers, ridicule me in class to the point where I was so afraid to raise my hand to answer a question; you know the typical belligerent behavior of “I don’t like myself so I pick on you”.
It changed me, as I felt alienated, anxious and introspective about every part of me.
I remember telling my Mom about everything that was going on at school so she went to speak to the principal about it. After learning about the bullying that was going on, the principal intervened and met with my tormentors and me to mediate the problem. This only made things worse because when word got out that I told on the bullies, they started teasing me for being a tattle tale. It was a vicious cycle and I struggled to find the strength to speak up for myself and stand my ground. For years, I followed the advice of adults and tried to ignore their unrelenting taunts, allowing kids to treat me like crap and completely obliterate my self-esteem. As a young kid, these are the years where self-esteem needs to be nourished and built up for inner growth. The happy spirit within withdrew and vanished from the daily, steady dose of torment I could not escape at school. There were times were I felt suicide was my only answer.
After graduating Junior High and moving on to High School, the harassment started to subside.
I joined the High School Symphonic Choir and found a place of acceptance outside of my family. I was welcomed and valued as part of a team. I spent my senior year in High School as the President of the Symphonic Choir and finally felt like I had found my voice.
My sufferings during those dark and difficult days as an elementary and junior high school student, although painful as they were, made me who I am today, a more sensitive, intuitive, compassionate person.
These are traits that I would never trade for anything. Yes, wounds heal, but scars remain. Even today, that shy, small framed, bullied little boy still surfaces at times and causes me to doubt myself and my talent, causing social anxiety and a drop in self-esteem. However, I have learned with the help of a therapist to navigate my thoughts and feelings reinforcing my confidence and allowing my true authentic self be the difference the world needs. My music is an expression of the life journey I have been destined to take. Composing “It Gets Better” was a way for me to heal, as well as, help others who may possibly be experiencing some of the negativity and rough times that I encountered in school. I have been reading all of your comments and messages about how my song has inspired some of you to keep your head held high and I will never be able to fully express just how much hearing these words brings me so much joy. I am so thankful for all of your support and the ability to help be a part of saving lives.
To download “It Gets Better” on iTunes click here.
In the past several years, there has been an outpouring of devices and tools that are available for those going through a hard time. The Trevor Project is one of these great organizations and they also offer a suicide hotline. So if you are a young gay individual who is struggling with bullying or thoughts of suicide, please, please, know that these feelings and hard experiences are not permanent and that there is help out there. Also know that I believe you have a valuable voice and an important contribution to make to the human race! You are beautiful just the way you are and loved by many you have yet to meet! Stand your ground and stick up for yourself! We are all equal and all deserve to be treated with respect! Find those in your life that support you, accept that there will always be those that won’t, move forward and away from those who can’t; after all,
the critical, hurtful lyrics of others never reflects the whole beautiful song of truth of who you are!