I am often asked questions and receive emails from young people asking about how to deal with bullies or people who are making life hard for them. Some have been picked on, others feel that they cannot be themselves because of what other people say about them.
Gay, lesbian, straight, bi, transgender, inter-sex or whatever, we are all subject to bullying by others at some point in our lives. It could be physical or emotional but the effects that it can have on our self esteem can be lasting and devastating.
It is a sad fact that even within our own community there are individuals who derive entertainment from the suffering of others. Sexuality is no barrier, and common sexuality offers no protection either.
So how do we deal with the haters?
The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” doesn’t quite cover it. Words can be just as hurtful and leave much more lasting scars than the metaphorical sticks and stones.
What you need to know about bullies.
The most important thing you need to remind yourself about bullies is that they do what they do because it makes them feel better about themselves. It has nothing to do with you.
Bullies suffer from low self esteem themselves and so they use abuse or fighting as a way to elevate that self esteem. Those bitchy club queens put people down because it makes them feel bigger.
A jibe about the way you look is really meant to make themselves feel better about how they look because they can feel like they look better than you.
A jibe about your work makes them feel better about their own lack of success by allowing them to think they are more successful than you.
And so on.
Haters feel the need to point out your flaws because it makes them feel better about their own by setting themselves above you.
Don’t fall for it.
So if you are being bullied or you are feeling like the world and the crazies out there like the religious cranks, homophobic politicians, ignorant neighbors or the bitchy queens in the clubs are getting you down remind yourself why they are doing it.
It’s easy to say ignore them. It’s hard to actually do it but every time you allow these people to make you change you are giving them power over you that they do not deserve. So smile at them and walk away because what they think about you is irrelevant.
Your friends are one of your best weapons against bullies. If you are being picked on the worst thing you can do is isolate yourself and stop doing the things that you enjoy. Having a posse means you have support and somebody to talk to, and even some back up when the haters come knocking. Talk to them. Good friends will always be there to stick up for each other.
Remember that your path is your own and that simply being here is an achievement.