Ryan’s story – the impact of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying

I began to feel different from other boys
when I was around 5 or 6. I remember watching movies and thinking he’s attractive. I think
I was 7 or 8 and I was just in the playground with some girls in my neighbourhood and a
group of boys walked by and called me names. My first reaction after shock was to try to
forget about it and think oh maybe that was nothing really but at 12 and 13 I think I
really noticed I might really be gay. The homophobic bullying started around the
same time actually 12/13 and I think it started mainly from me not wanting to date girls or
being interested in girls like my peers were. That’s the beginning of beginning to feel
wrong, that there was something wrong with me.
I attempted suicide twice when I was 14 and 15 – I felt quite ashamed of being bullied
which is a strange thing to feel I think, and because I felt ashamed I didn’t tell
my parents because I didn’t want them to think less of me.
I think the escalation, you know, went from name calling to physical violence and specific
threats that I really took as real and staff was a lot of name calling and that really
made me feel quite lonely and hopeless I guess, because if the authority figures couldn’t
protect me then who would. It’s quite a blur to be honest, what I was
going through and what I did in order to try to commit suicide. But the main feeling was
really an overwhelming sense that I shouldn’t be here that what everyone was saying about
me was true and therefore I was kind of just a waste of space.
Because I went through so much bullying I then became, that’s what led me to become
a therapist, which is what I do now, and work with really stigmatised groups in society
because I like to be there for others in ways that I didn’t have anyone there for me.
I don’t think you can necessarily eradicate discrimination but you can implement a lot
of protection in schools and in other environments so that when someone is discriminated or bullied
there is something in place to protect that person and to help that person feel better
about it, feel better about themselves. I got a scholarship around when I was 16 to
move to the states. So that was a chance to sort of get out and get to know people again
and slowly that rebuilt my confidence. Particularly when one of my best friends who was the first
person ever to tell me that there was nothing wrong with being gay and you know, it’s
those moments that really then started shifting my perspective of myself.
My mum had a very interesting reaction to me coming out. She asked me does anyone else
know and I said, well you know a bunch of friends know and she was quite offended that
she hadn’t been the first one to know. She had some concerns of course but she reacted
quite well. I used to write a lot. There was, it used
to be one of my outlets. So actually that would count as a piece of advice as well for
young people. Try to find a creative outlet for what you’re going through. It will make
you feel less alone. Ask for help and trust that life will get much better than it is
right now.