My dear and good friend Cherub, an infrequent contributor I've introduced before, (usually found healing people or trying to make our planet more livable,) has shared an essay on a very important topic, bullying.
I don't know that we spent a lot of time discussing my childhood, back when Cherub was part of a BDSM triad with Blissful Torment and myself, so I'm not sure if she is aware that I was a victim of bullying in my youth. It was probably mentioned in passing but never discussed at length, as it's not a topic I dwell upon or discuss much.
My Father's solution to the bullying problem was to teach me how to fight back, as he taught me more than a few fighting tricks he'd learned himself as a youth attending Military School, where he'd been bullied himself. I learned to defend myself well enough to turn the tables on bullies when they tried to push me around.
The most sure way I found to put a bully in their place was to respond in kind, and teach them what it felt like to have someone sitting on their chest pummeling them senseless. I know that as a former victim it felt very good to turn the tables.
As a rational adult who's no longer threatened with bullying, I realize that answering violence with violence is never a solution. I do know in my heart that the best answer, is always prevention.
Meaning a focus on awareness and education . . .
A PSA FROM AN OTHERWISE TYPICALLY SELF ABSORBED NAVEL GAZER (OR, SIMPLY A CRASS PLEA FOR YOUR TIME AND MONEY)
April 23-30 is Anti-Bullying Awareness Week. It seems to me that people of the BDSM community are well placed to speak to the issues of the consequences of living in a culture that torments the queer. Taunts them to death in some cases, with merciless psychological and physical abuse. This would be a good place for our editor Michael to cite the sad statistics of suicide, homelessness and the myriad attendant results such as prostitution, drug abuse- all the afflictions of the outsider caste. If you are lucky to be reading this on your computer at home, with a nice internet connection and all the accoutrements of civility, and are drawn to, or our living the reality of a BSDM consciousness in your life you are a fortunate brave minority.
I tend to take my life and freedom to be who I am for granted. I forget that in more places than not in our great democracy being queer in any fashion and owning it is inviting others to torture your sense of self into a warped self-loathing vision of what you think you’re supposed to be to escape the pain of not being accepted by your family and the world at large. I’m not suggesting that anyone living an alternative life come out en masse as show of solidarity for all the young misfits, that is unrealistic. I do suggest that you in some manner mentor, or support the programs out there that are reaching out to LGBT youth, and along with them, the kids who aren’t even sexually identified, but who by their inherent sensitivity and creativity are targets of bullying. (It’s not just other kids bullying, it’s grown ups too.)
I feel comfortable speaking to the issue because of my personal experience- I was an odd kid to begin with, different because I was raised in an open minded, liberal, affectionate family. They advocated for, and supported my dissent. Alas, I still had to go to public school and was subjected to the humiliation of being myself in a paradigm that glorifies conformity. Think about how terrifying it would be to have to endure the hell of being picked on, with no support from loved ones, because if they knew the truth, they would hate you too. What would it be like to feel brave and inspired by some celebrity touting equal rights and acceptance for gay people, to come out, and find yourself thrown on the street in some shitty little town with no shelter, (or maybe even worse, sent to some militant Christian hetero boot camp…) Perhaps you escape to a big city, where you are taken in by unscrupulous people who will exploit you in the guise of accepting you.
The next time you pass by a pack of dirty, obnoxious scary looking crusty punk kids, remember that in different circumstances, without the serendipity of meeting a few right people at the right time, that could be you at that bus station, or in that doorway totally helpless and with no basic resources to even begin to figure out how to save yourself.
Michael has noted often that people into BDSM are typically well educated and have some amount of extra income. I hope that after reading this you will give some thought to donating time, clothes, food or money to the groups that are trying to help outcast kids. Without intervention, if they survive these kids grow up to be outcast adults, and the chain of abuses and exploitations grows longer.
The shelters and kitchens that serve teens and adolescents are in desperate need and are only kept going by individuals who identify with them, but were lucky enough to escape being pushed to the fringes of existence. I know that times are tight, and it is hard to even support oneself, let alone attempting to share the burden of helping those in need. It is possible though- and if material or emotional support isn’t an option for you, mention a bit of this essay in your blog, and encourage others to pass it along.
I know that get so caught up in maintaining the integrity of my “otherness” in this world, that I forget that there are other others out there that could really benefit from me/us acknowledging them and letting them know that we think they are amazing beautiful people whose birthright is to be happy and safe.