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View Diary: I'm so angry, I'm crying; I'm so sad, I want to scream. (185 comments)

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  •  They didn't hate you, they (52+ / 0-)

    feared you—because they knew that the adults in their lives feared you. They repeated in front of you the same things that they saw adults in their lives repeat about people like you when behind closed doors.

    I know. I'm you.

    Beaten senseless and taken out of school on the first day of kindergarten by a ring of children. In my case, it wasn't just that I arrived at kindergarten already reading novels, but also that I was mixed race (and as a little kid appeared fully Chinese) in Utah, an almost entirely white state (most conservative in the nation).

    I was beaten up every other day all the way through grammar school. My parents were torn; as liberals, they wanted to believe in public education, and in the value of exposing others to diversity, and in the value of exposing me to the difficulties and triumphs of the world. But I couldn't go a term without having half of what I arrived with every day stolen and without running in desperate fear from the classroom door straight toward home in hopes that they wouldn't catch me and bloody me up again. Other kids would tell me that I and my godless commie gook-bastard friends had killed their father in Vietnam. Or their uncle. Or the president (yup, even him). Or that I would never make them red, because they'd first make me dead. They said I was the gook genius that was the hope of the chink commies and that it was their job to make sure that people like me didn't make it. Once, a parent pointed a gun at me picking their kid up from school, called me a chink, and said I'd better not come any closer to his boy. The police got involved. I had to go into the principal's office and get interviewed by men in uniform. The kid left school. I have no idea what happened to the parent, but of course the fact that the police were there to interview me was all evidence to the others that I was an enemy of America and that they were on to me, and the kids fully supported their country, freedom, and apple pie, even more than they had previously done, every day on the playground.

    Despite this I managed to advance my way high school early, at 12. And I dropped out at 14 after a year in which I had a 1.0 grade point average, started taking drugs, and sleeping on the street.

    Luckily, parents and school counselors didn't send me off to a teen military boot camp (as many in the neighborhood suggested) but instead fought hard to have me admitted early to the University of Utah because at 12 I had already scored a 35 on the ACT exam and knew the classics (War and Peace, Don Quixote, Crime and Punishment) inside and out, could code in a variety of computer languages, and was building parallel computing environments to play with out of dumpster-dived tech gear in my parents' garage—when I was there and not out doing drugs somewhere for days on end.

    At 15, I enrolled in the computer science department early and shot straight to the top of the incoming class, high score on every exam and in every class. I was helping the TAs with the machine state diagrams in class. But of course it didn't last—all of those years of terror had taken their toll—and I dropped out and disappeared almost entirely until I was 17 and my "friends" (the only ones that had ever accepted me) started to get into trouble (prison, death, Army).

    It took two more instances of enrolling and dropping out before I pulled myself together. The final time I was readmitted to the university I had a full psych evaluation by their staff and had several interviews with the dean of admissions (this is a big state school—not standard practice). They let me in.

    I made good. I went on to go to grad school at the University of Chicago and to teach at NYU.

    This is not to blow my own horn, but to (a) empathize with your experience, and (b) let the young'uns out there in the same boat know that they are wrong—they are all wrong. You are not secretly more stupid or worthless than you thought you were, as you are starting to suspect. You also probably don't even lack social skills, despite what you may think.

    You just can't socialize with authoritarians and those in far-right conservative culture in anything apart from a guns'n'get-the-n***ers way. And your not wanting to be like that or join in puts you front and center in their targeting scopes.

    So hang in there. It gets better. If you can grit your teeth and stay better than them, you can grow up, become a success, get married (in my case to a fabulously beautiful European woman with a mind the size of a planet), have kids, and look back and be glad it's all over. Move on, but never forget, because someday you may be in a position to help someone just like you—as I am now, routinely. And it helps to help.

    -9.63, 0.00
    I am not a purity troll. I am a purity warrior.

    by nobody at all on Sun Apr 15, 2012 at 07:33:49 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  well blow that horn... success stories are good to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      hear. So many others that could have been so much more had their future selves stolen from them as sure as being murdered. The smartest and the strongest can outlast the gauntlet which is good. I hope that better awareness will mean that more will get through with less damage along the way. The future of entire nations is blighted by the loss of the potential of so many promising people... hard to quantify but there should be some sort of "Bully" quotient... or estimate of the intensity of bullying and the resulting harm it does to success in school, life, relationships and cost to a nation in extra medical care and the reduction in GDP... thinking of ways to make GOP business types care about it more...

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Mon Apr 16, 2012 at 01:17:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It occurs to me... (0+ / 0-)

      It Gets Better applies to far more than just LGBT teens.

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