Auntie SparkNotes: Bully For You
I love your advice, and read your column every day, so I was wondering if you could help me with my own problem. You see, I get picked on often, and some would call it "bullying", for being gay. Except I'm not gay.
There's just some ignorant mean kids in my grade who happen to think everyone who isn't ultra manly is gay. Add my tendency to be feminine, and they have their minds set that I MUST be gay. It's as if they've never heard the term metrosexual, and they haven't even considered I could be bi. I guess that's what I get for living in the south, but it's still really annoying.
So my question is, how do I convince them that I actually am into girls, despite my outwardly camp nature? I've been ignoring them for weeks, but I know they won't give up until they get a reaction. And as VERY tempted as I am to just crack, and hit them to show them I'm not a pushover, I know that it will just put all the blood on my hands if I start a fight. I've used my religion, past girlfriends, and everything I can think of to prove that I'm straight, but they just think they're God, and whatever they say is the truth. I don't want to bring this up to my parents, because it would make me look like an even bigger loser for "telling my mommy", and telling school officials would be the most pointless thing since I'm not the only person in this situation, and other kids who have brought this up to them get nothing but a shrug. Like I said, this is deep south, so if a kid wants to loudly call another student "Fag!", then the teachers almost always pretend not to hear it or resign to not deal with it. Please help. I already have great self esteem and know other people's opinions of me don't matter, but dealing with it everyday can get annoying.
Oh, for the LOVE. This is really happening? Really? In 2011? And also: "if a kid wants to loudly call another student 'Fag!', then the teachers almost always pretend not to hear it"????????
Ahhhhh, yes. Face, meet Keyboard. Keyboard, Face. You guys are gonna be spending a LOT of time together.
And unfortunately, Sparkler, I've got some bad news: there is no way to "convince" your idiot antagonists that you're into girls. None. Zero. Even if you're the straightliest straight dude ever to walk the earth, even if you've got a veritable harem of past girlfriends willing to testify to your lovemaking prowess, even if you show up at school with a willing ladyhuman and do the sex to her right there on someone's desk—still, the homophobe jackholes of the world will not be convinced of your heterosexuality. These guys don't care about logic. Hell, they probably don't even care whether you're actually gay. They just think you're different, and they think that's bad, and—being the powerhouses of towering intellect that they are—they think that "fag" is the worst thing they can possibly call you.
And the thing is, as long as you keep trying to prove them wrong, you're only proving them right. Because the correct way to respond to someone who calls you a fag—or a slut, or a loser, or any other shallow insult designed to hurt—isn't to try to engage them in a logical and evidence-supported argument about why you're not the thing they say you are.
It's a smile, a shrug, and a "Go f*** yourself."
Which is exactly what you should feel free to say the next time someone gives you grief for being "gay," because the problem here isn't that a bunch of mean, ignorant turds think you're gay when you aren't; it's that they're mean, ignorant turds. (Other possible responses include: "I'd rather be gay than a one-man argument for birth control", or silence and a bemused look before going back to whatever you're doing, or—the tried-and-true favorite—"That's not what your mom said last night!")
Basically, since you've already got great self-esteem and know that other people's opinions don't matter, then your best course of action isn't trying to change that opinion. It's to dismiss it for the uninformed, worthless, meaningless crap that it is. You just don't need these guys to know you, to respect you, or to think well of you. And you certainly don't need them to believe that you're straight; they can keep believing whatever they want, and you can keep on being your confident, camp, girl-oriented, awesome self.
Of course, there's one problem here: I'm able to say this to you precisely because you're a confident, well-adjusted dude who also has the luxury of knowing that your tormentors, despite being obnoxious and pathetic and relentless, are also wrong. Since, y'know, you're not gay. But here's the thing: the kid next to you might be. And for the gay students in your school (and I guarantee you, they exist) a culture of unpunished homophobic hostility and bullying isn't just "annoying"; it creates the sort of hopelessness and misery that too often leads to tragedy.
And that's why, in addition to shrugging off these comments for the moronic horseshizz that they are, I'd like to suggest that you approach your administration and ask them to do something—not just for your sake, but for the sake of human freaking decency. Get your parents involved, or enlist a more progressive-minded teacher, or band together with other students who believe in tolerance, and demand that your school take action—if not to actively sanction the bullies, then to at least provide their victims with a place to turn for support. (If you need ideas on how to implement this, The Trevor Project is a great jumping-off point; they've got lots of resources, materials, and information on how to start.)
I know: I'm asking a lot. And I realize that making noise about this issue may be a risk you can't or don't want to take—whether it's because it makes you a target or just makes you uncomfortable—in which case that's okay. You don't have to. But if you can work up the courage to act, to get the discussion started, or just to make one bullied kid feel less alone, it'll be worth it.
(And please, guys, keep the comments respectful. Whatever your feelings on homosexuality, decent human beings should all be able to agree that bullying and abusing someone for being gay, or just seeming gay, is unacceptable. Okay? Okay.)
Have you been bullied like our letter-writer? Share your stories in the comments. And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related post: Auntie SparkNotes: Witty Comebacks for Malodorous Jerks