Normally I’m not a morning person, but that day was different. I busied myself preparing to spend time with my best friend Robby, and I always love hanging out with him. He picked me up about mid-day and we went to a Mexican restaurant, and watched the saddest feature at the movie theater. I went home afterwards and posted my delightful, events of the day on Facebook, and I decided to post it as well, in a place that is supposed to be a support group for people who have struggled with discrimination from religion. Well, the next time I logged in, I got what I thought was going to be a friendly comment from the support group page. That’s when it all began. The comment was this. “Who is this fat, pasty, pecker wood?” I thought it was a bunch of silliness at first, and I shrugged off being called fat and pasty, thinking well, people can joke hard sometimes, but mean well. So I posted back with a silly remark. Just about everyone knows I’m gay on the page, considering I’m very open now about my orientation. Just then he reposted and called me a faggot and a b**ch. That’s when I realized this is not going to go well. I was hurt , and I logged off and went about my day. When I came back a few hours later, trolls had flooded the post. The insult ring leader had apparently recruited people since I was away. I was called faggot over and over, among other things. It went on into the evening, and they were still at it. By then, pictures had been added that were grotesque and vile. It was at that moment I started to panic. It was really happening. I was a fly caught in the spider’s web. I was living my worst fear. My nightmare had come true. I was alone to face all the worst discrimination, the worst harassment I had ever witnessed.
Tears began to swell in my eyes. My hands were trembling, and my heart was beating a mile a minute. I started feeling sick, so I closed my eyes and leaned back, and began to breathe slow breaths. While I was slumped in my chair, with my eyes shut tight, my mind began to wonder. Then I remembered a quote I had heard several timesgrowing up. I do not recall where or who said it, but somehow it registered in my head. “There are times when the warrior must stand alone, when no one else can be by his side. When facing his foes, he doesn’t quiver, he doesn’t fade, and he comes out swinging. Whether dead or alive, he will fight until the end.” That moment, something strange happened. I opened my eyes, and I gave it a word. (“Bully- A blistery, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller and weaker people.)”
One of the trolls proudly posted. “We’ve got him, the victim is here. He is so going to play the victim.” At that moment, I realized how ignorant these random people really were. They all continued with their pictures and insults. Finally I wrote back. “Do you guys even know the difference between a victim and being courageous?” There was a quick pause, then someone wrote back. “Why are you playing the victim, faggot?” I took a deep breath, counted to ten, and then replied. “I am not your victim. You do not have that power. I choose whether or not I wish to play the victim. Speaking out for oneself, and taking a stand is not being the victim. You all are not the first and certainly won’t be the last bullies I will face. “Faggot and sissy”, I have heard and been called those names before. Do you even take the time of day to realize you couldn’t last a minute in my shoes?”
At that moment one individual asked a question I didn’t expect. “Wait a minute.” There was a pause, and then the question. “You actually have gotten bullied?” I quickly replied, “Yes, of course.” “How often?,” he went on to ask. I took a minute to respond while I gathered my thoughts, and responded with this answer. “I wake up in the morning and the hate and discrimination is there… I lay down at night, and it is still there. I have faced rejection, and have truly known the feeling of total isolation and loneliness. Something I hope you will never have to face.” Then the person seemed to shout at me. “Why aren’t you angry? You should be angry, you should hate us. Still, you ache and hope we don’t feel what you feel.” I took a deep breath, and paused for a while.
“I don’t hate you. I’m not angry at you. I care about each and every one of you. I just hate that you feel so compelled to hurl such hateful, hurtful, things.”
Before I knew it, another person joined the conversation. “You said before you felt rejection and loneliness, how did you ever make it through? How could you live with the pain?” The original troll again began to hurl his pictures and comments, urging his fellow supporters not to fall for my tricks. Still, I answered the individual’s question. “It hurt, boy did it hurt. I nearly took my own life. Until someone showed me love, and I didn’t feel the pain as bad. It is still there, and the scars will never fade, but I overcame the dark days.” I couldn’t believe it. What started as a hateful trolling panel, turned into an emotional conversation. Then I received an apology. “I’m sorry, we didn’t know. It was all for fun.” I raised my eyebrows at the person’s weak apology, and I forgave him with this comment. “I forgive you, but do you really think it was all fun for me?” Before I knew it, the picture and comments began to be deleted.
The original troll became angry and began to harass his own peers. Next thing I knew, one of them posted a comment. “Operation defend Alan Digges.” Next thing I knew, the original troll was banned from. The rest of the individuals stayed for a while, and we had a nice talk. I have actually become friends with some of these people. I discovered for myself that because I reached out in love, I now have the chance to help heal open wounds. It seemed like hardly any of these people had an idea on how to overcome pain, or what it even felt like.
It was 4:00 in the morning by the time this was all over with. I was too restless to sleep, my brain was running ramped. First, I thought of how I couldn’t believe I overcame my worst fear, which was being left alone against persecution. I began to think about the individuals who had changed in such a short time.
The original troll who thought I would be an easy target also came to mind. I knew their views were wrong, and they were not just in their actions but they are people will feeling just as I am. Often a bully often faces the exact same kind of treatment, and in return bullies someone weaker, carrying out their anger to feel strong. It got me to thinking. I am no different than the bully who thought I would be an easy target. I have never said thingsbut there were times I thought of saying some pretty vile things. I have been so quick to find the weakest anti-gay and tear them down. By then, my eyes were tearing up. I was a bully. A quiet bully, who secretly hated and wished harmful things. I was a hypocrite. A characteristic I detest was something I had become. I have wanted vengeance against the church-going people who caused me unbearable heart ache.
I also reflected on a hate torch I was carrying against my uncle, who condemns me to hell, and no longer considers me family, and won’t allow me to associate with his son. That night, I forgave the troll and my uncle. I released that bitter anger and knew I had to. I have learned from this that anti-gays, many who are “Christians”, when it comes down to it, use their religion as a defense weapon. The true reason is that they are scared. They’re scared of something they couldn’t possibly ever understand. To them, the LGBT might as well be species from a different planet. That is how much they are out of touch.
I have no doubt my uncle will pass down his hateful views onto my baby cousin. If he ever sees me retaliate in anger, and scream in my uncle’s face, what will that teach him? That I am an alien with green blood. I and anyone like me must be wicked and stopped. If I ever hope to teach my cousin, and be the example of true, unconditional love, I have a Hail Mary of a shot if I react with love and care. Treating my uncle with kindness even when he doesn’t deserve it, will at least let my cousin know I am human just like he is. I am no different, and I have the same red blood. The next time someone opens up a Bible to quote how I will burn for eternity in a lake of never-ending fire, blocks me from Facebook, or says I can no longer associate with their child, I will not react the way I use to. Instead I will show an interest in the person and get to know them.
Who knows, they too might realize that loving is not an alien concept after all.
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