Today I will wear purple. I wear purple because as the victim of bullying in junior high and high school, I know the toll it can take on kids who are too young to know it will get better. Being different is not a curse. It is a blessing.
My life in junior and senior high were hell. I was constantly taunted for being "different". Names ranging from "Sissy" to "Queer" to "Fag" were hurled at me daily. I was assaulted in the hallways. I was afraid to go to gym class and would feign illness or just plain skip class entirely. If I did go, I would be harassed and did not have what it took to defend myself...and no one would come to my defense. Because I would not or could not stand up and fight, in my mind, it made the accusations and taunts true and justified. And
I dared not complain because I could not admit I was afraid. The adults who should have noticed, did nothing. In my junior year of high school, I began skipping school entirely. I would leave the house each morning and sometimes hide out in my grandmother's house when she was away on a trip. Later, I would take the city bus to downtown Detroit and just wonder around. No one noticed. Except a few predators, who I somehow got away from. When I look back, it was only my fear that kept me from being sucked into the underworld of the city in the late 1960's. God was apparently watching out for me.
I survived high school. After a few lame attempts at suicide, I surrendered to my family on a street corner when I saw them on a street corner as I was transferring between busses. I'd had enough. They of course did not understand and had no knowledge of what that year had been like. I had been out of school for six months by then. The school never contacted my parents. I truly could have become a "lost boy".
My parents contacted the school and miraculously they got me the councilling and support I needed.
It got better.
I finished high school. My senior year was my best year in high school. With help of caring adults, I was no longer exposed to bullying and found a support group of friends and teachers who helped me find myself. It wasn't until I was in college I finally truly came to understand and accept who I was. And it was okay. It wasn't easy, but
It got better.
That is why I wear purple today.
Stand up to bullying. There is no good reason for one child or group of children to pick on another. It is not acceptable in adults either. As Ellen Degeneres says on her talk show, we all just need to "Be kind to each other."