I have been thinking about writing this blog post for some time now, but I always divert from it because I think it might be too much for some readers. But, after two conversations that I had with close friends about the subject I have decided it is time. If you identify with anything of what I am about to say, and you know it was you... I am not sorry. If the shoe fits, wear it bitch.
As many of you know, I was born and raised in Guatemala. I went to the American School of Guatemala, and this is a school where you are with a set group of kids for 13 years of your life. Throughout these years, you get to know almost everyone that is in your class and those that are one year above and below you. You also establish your group of friends from a very early age, and that in the end almost certainly determines how the next 13 years are going to go.
Growing up, I always knew I was different. I never really liked sports and did not share the same interests as many boys my age. I always hated soccer, mainly because I was forced to play it at a very young age and I never really found the appeal. This already set my apart from everyone. I was more interested in playing video games (Pokemon and Zelda, which many people thought were loser games), reading, acting, and listening to music. My lack of athleticism made me an instant target for people to pick on me, and obviously would make me the last to be picked for teams. Yay.
Elementary school never really gave me much issues, and if it did, I do not remember much of it other than having good times. Middle school on the other hand, that was hell. Everyone was so nasty, especially the girls. But no one was as nasty as this girl that was one year older than me and took the same bus I did at the end of the school day. For some reason, she and her ENTIRE FAMILY had something against me. I was surrounded by this despicable family. They had kids in the grades above me, in my grade, and the grade below me... and almost all of them picked on me. One particular event has always stayed with me, mainly because whenever I think back to it, I understand what these bitches were trying to do. I remember it vividly.
It was December and my school was doing its annual "Night of Lights" event, and I was waiting for my family in front of the library, when this group of girls who were a year above me decided to catch my attention. I sat with them and they proceeded to grill me with questions, but it was that one girl who led the interrogation. She asked me who my favorite artist was, to which I answered Hilary Duff. She asked why, I said because I liked her music and the show Lizzie McGuire because it was funny. "You think that show is funny?" she asked, to which I simply answered yes. "How about Britney Spears?" she follows up, "Yeah she is ok." I responded. "Do you like the music video for Toxic?" she continues, "I think its ok..." I answered nervously. "Well, all the boys your age love it! It is probably their favorite video, especially when she is almost naked." The girls all laughed. And that was all I remember of that event.
But it did not end there. Her older relatives would tease me on the bus, and one of them wrote the word "faggot" on my window once. I told the bus monitor, and she spoke with the asshole but I know that would not make things better. Did it upset me? Of course it did, but I remember that I never really let it get to me. Mainly because I grew up surrounded with so much love from my family, and we were so open with each other that they would ease my worries whenever things like these happened. The explanation that my family would give me was simply that these brats probably do not have a happy household, being that they have "a lot of money" and their parents are never around them so they have to grow up surrounded by their bodyguards, maids, and chauffeurs. It made perfect sense to me, so even though the teasing continued, instead of getting mad at them I would just pity them and the lack of love they received.
Another event that took place with someone that I actually thought was my friend, was when my family and I ran into him and his family at one of Guatemala's amusement park's resort hotel. At the pool, I remember him and one of his cousins kept on keeping tabs on me and made me feel uneasy. They kept giving me nasty glances and just made the entire resort a hostile environment. This same person, then wanted to beat me up at one of my friend's 15th birthday party. Luckily for me, this friend of mine had my back and stepped in to my rescue. I will forever be grateful to her for this. Now, I hear that he has become that of which he hated so much. Ironic.
High school came along and things got a little better. This time though, it was people from my grade that began questioning my taste in entertainment, particularly when Lady Gaga came to the scene. I have always liked art, and I simply took their weird glances at me as a sign of their inability to appreciate music other than reggaeton. As the final moments of high school were approaching, my ambitions began to form and I knew where I wanted to go to college. Expecting my group of friends to be happy for me when I would talk about the future, I opened up to them. Only to be completely shunned and outcasted the final months. I remember walking to our usual lunch spot one day and not seeing them, I searched for them and when I finally found them, I noticed that one of them made a gesture to stop speaking because I was approaching them. They then proceeded to make excuses whenever I invited them to my house and would simply not invite me out anymore. It was devastating to feel that knife on my back, from my group of friends. But, everything was coming to an end and soon I would be moving to New York... so I moved on pretty quickly.
Why did I not say anything to administration? Because I knew it would get worse. And whenever I did say something, their response would be "have you asked them to stop?" GROUNDBREAKING. The level of incompetence at that time was beyond comprehension, and they would try to brainwash me into thinking that maybe it was me who had to change. I even had a teacher my senior year say that he was very "tolerant" to my type... to which I was appalled because he was making assumptions about who I was as a person based on my favorite singer. Fortunately for me, I had my family and that was all I needed. Their love and support gave me the strength to keep on fighting for my dreams no matter the obstacles.
Being in college, I thought I was finally free from all of my tormentors. It turned out that I was wrong. During the Super Bowl where Beyoncé was going to perform, I wrote a Facebook status joking that there was going to be a football game during a Beyoncé concert. This guy from my Guatemalan school had the audacity to comment "FAGGOT" on my status. If I had been in high school, I would have simply deleted it. But, this was a new me, a me that would call out anyone who did me wrong in the most savage of ways. So I did. Apparently the comment was so mean that I had one of his relatives contact me and call ME out for saying such things. I apologized to this relative, since I genuinely had nothing against her and always admired her.
I understand that many kids that go through bullying might not have the luck I had, so I beseech you to seek out help of someone you trust. It does not do well to keep these feelings inside you. And, if you are a parent that is reading this... listen to your kids, talk to them, give them love. That is all humans really need, love. Many tragedies can be avoided if adults pay attention to warning signs, and simply listen to what someone has to say. The world is not perfect, but it is up to us to make small changes that hopefully one day will make a huge effect.
Now, I speak directly to my dear bullies: I do not know what you expected to gain from treating me the way you did, by interrogating me the ways you did, and by making me feel like there was something wrong with me. Honestly, the joke is all on you because of all the time and effort you put into me. It made me realized that I LOOOOOOVE the attention, mainly because you were so interested in my life! So, I thank you for always having me in your thoughts. Funny enough, I know some of you still keep tabs on my life and will probably talk shit about me if you do read this post. If you do... I am glad I am still a priority for you!
To my family and close friends: I love you with all my life and I thank you for accepting me for who I am and for making me feel loved. I have lived a wonderful life, even with the little obstacles that I had to face in Guatemala, they have made me stronger. Here's to many many MANY more years of happiness and love with the people that really matter!
And finally, I speak to my younger lion cub self: you did great, kid. I am proud of how you were able to handle all these things that could have easily broken anyone else. Could you have done it differently? Maybe. But, all these events will help you become the fierce lion you are meant to be. And trust me, when you get there, nothing will be able to stop you. Your positivity will illuminate so many lives, and in return they will brighten your life as well. Let the world hear your roar!