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Views & Voices

A letter to my bully…

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dear Dirk,

I have hated you almost every day since we first met. But for different reasons altogether than you might expect.

I still remember the terror I felt, every time I approached the soccer field. It was junior high, a difficult time for almost everyone, but for me, especially so.

You see, I’d always known I was gay. Even in kindergarten, just looking at Jeff Hayward’s smile would make me happy, and I knew, intrinsically, that it was alright to feel this way — to love other boys — as everything about it felt completely natural and unforced.

In junior high, however, once placed on the same soccer team with you, everything changed.

What I had seen as natural and good, you were suddenly calling abnormal and detestable.

Every “faggot” you spit towards me hit directly between the eyes, and the whispers, taunts, and dirty looks you and Mike Baker sent my way continually unnerved me, affecting both my sense of self, as well as my performance on the field.

Because of you, questions about my masculinity hovered over me, and I would feel physically ill at the thought of another practice or game. I would choose different, roundabout paths to my classes, just to avoid where I knew you’d be.

In high school, while I went on to be active in theater and academics, you and Mike continued to rise socially, becoming the big men on campus that I’d longed to be.

You were even voted onto the homecoming king’s court, and as you took to the field, flashing your charming smile, all I could see was the sneer on your lips when you turned and glanced my way.

But that isn’t why I have hated you.

Just prior to our senior year, during summer break, word came that you’d tried to commit suicide and were in a coma. No one knew what had happened, but you eventually returned to school our senior year. You were just as popular as you had been before, and perhaps even more so, now that you had this added sense of intrigue about you.

But despite your outright hatred of me, I still wondered about you and about what could have possibly led you to try to take your own life. You, more than anyone, seemed to have it all, and despite the way you continued to torment me, I felt a pang of pity for you.

The following summer, I got another call. You’d again tried to kill yourself, tying a noose from the garage rafters — only this time you succeeded. Your mother discovered you, hanging there, upon her return home.

How lonely you must have felt, Dirk, as you tied that rope. Could you really see no path forward? Was there no one you could have reached out to? Was there no friend, family member, priest, counselor — not one person you could’ve trusted with your pain?

Later, I heard that you’d left behind a note, writing that although you did not like girls, you did not want to like boys. And suddenly it became horribly clear to me. You and I were exactly alike. That anger and venom you directed at me, you were also directing at yourself.

How I wish, Dirk, that you’d allowed yourself to connect with me. I’m not saying that a friendship between us could have altered your path, but just knowing that we weren’t the only ones could’ve made our lives easier. For me, discovering that there were other gay people out there did help. I found a progressive bookstore, not too far from where we lived, and I’d covertly journey there as often as I could, just to lose myself in reading about a world which I knew I’d someday enter.

And even if a friendship between us wasn’t possible, given our differing social status, imagine how less torturous you could have made another’s life, simply by being kind.

While in school, my hatred was based solely about how mean you were to me, now my anger is reserved for the lack of value you placed upon yourself. Clearly, you didn’t think you were worth loving. Where did you get such a message? You were smart, personable, an exceptional athlete, and beyond handsome. Even with all of the venom you sent my way, I still admired your more affirming qualities. Regardless, despite all these many gifts, somewhere along the way, you were taught that instead of acting on your love of other men, you’d be better off dead.

I hate that you hurt so, Dirk, and hate just as much that you listened to those who filled your head with such thoughts.

I also hate that I was so absorbed in and blinded by my own situation that I couldn’t see your venom for what it really was. What if, one day, instead of running the other way when I saw you, I had instead offered you a smile?

Dirk, you might be surprised to know who I ran into at our high school reunion — your old pal, Mike Baker. Imagine my shock, spotting him across the room, when we suddenly locked eyes. I immediately went to that same place of fear and panic, but that only lasted a moment, until I saw him break out into a big grin and make a beeline toward me.

I was shocked when he warmly clasped my hand in his, as if we were longtime friends. “I’ve been looking all over for you,” he said, intently. “I’ve really been wanting to say ‘hello.’” While he never brought up our shared past, it was clear to me that he was making amends.

Did you know, Dirk, that Mike’s younger brother has come out as gay? Would it surprise you to know that Mike is totally okay with it? If you had known back then that your best friend might have been accepting of you, could that have possibly altered your decision?

People loved you, Dirk — then and now.

I wish I could have held you, Dirk, comforted you, and told you that everything would be alright. Our individual uniqueness’s are a gift, given by our maker, which we then get to share with the world. Your void is noticeable, even 20-odd years later.

You could’ve done so much, Dirk, if only you’d realized that each one of us is deserving of love and respect.

Wishing you peace,

Though innocence for all was lost some years ago, in respect of their families, all names have been changed.

Kergan Edwards-Stout is an award-winning director, screenwriter, and author of Songs for the New Depression, a finalist for the 2011 Independent Literary Awards.

© Kergan Edwards-Stout.
For more by Kergan Edwards-Stout, click here to visit his blog.
Opinions and advice expressed in our Views & Voices columns represent the author's own views and not necessarily those of LGBTQ Nation. We welcome opposing views and diverse perspectives. To submit a article, column or video, contact us here. Due to the volume of submissions received, we cannot guarantee publication.

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27 more reader comments:

  1. Woah… that was amazing…

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:11pm
  2. I so agree Talen!!!

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:19pm
  3. Ahhhhhh xx

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:19pm
  4. ;-)

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:21pm
  5. i cried

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:24pm
  6. I hope all bullies burn in hell

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:25pm
  7. that takes guts to write…i have felt the same way at times towarts the the bullies who tormented me. they took out their own insecurities on me.

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:26pm
  8. Very powerful.

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:27pm
  9. Now that’s power…

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:27pm
  10. SHAME………..

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:29pm
  11. Very moving but I still hate the bullies from my past. Guess I have some work to do!

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:30pm
  12. A powerful story.

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:37pm
  13. Well you got me , Sir you have a great talent for writing . Thank you ..& yes I did tear up .

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 4:49pm
  14. i think in this case and other cases just have to share love and joy to others …rrly cried while reading it .

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 5:04pm
  15. Damn , I want to cry . This broke my heart . I know / have too many friends that have been through something like this . I’ve had my share of bullies and it makes me wonder about them now.

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 5:08pm
  16. WOW…crying. Powerful. I had made peace with all but 1 bully in my mind, the only one that left me in tears on a regular basis…I never thought to turn the spotlight in the other direction. That was 7th grade, I am 50 now.

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 5:17pm
  17. Shew! Those that scream the loudest are usually guilty of the same thing!

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 5:38pm
  18. Bullies feel inward hate also. Not always for the same reasons. Mine had a learning disability and his parents humiliated to him.

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 5:58pm
  19. <3

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 6:01pm
  20. Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 6:35pm
  21. Wow, what a story at six o’clock in the morning…

    Posted on Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 9:08pm

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 11:35am
  23. Ah geez, thanks for the cry. That’s okay though, I just sent it along to make all my other friends cry with me lol

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 11:39am
  24. @Katcher……Majority of the times it is not the parents fault…….Look around and pay close attention you might find the answer to why this insanity exist in the world. Many parents don’t want to do such henious crime to their children just following rules and regulations which is dispicable unfortunately.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 11:50am
  25. I think it’s sad that most parents feel like they have to conform to the standard idea of raising a “perfect child”.

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 12:01pm
  26. and why is having a sexuality that is not seen as the norm not a perfect child?

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 2:36pm
  27. Omg I’ve been bullied but I would never feel sympathy. For my bully

    Posted on Sunday, September 2, 2012 at 6:07pm