So I am 17 living in the west of Ireland and I am gay. I am currently in my final year of secondary school and will be sitting the Leaving Certificate this year.
At the age of 13, I was absolutely certain that I was gay and the first person that I came out to was my mum and she already knew, which really surprised me. Thankfully she is okay with it. I have only recently come out to my dad who is also fine with it and two other family members, which believe me was not easy.
When I figured out that I was gay I was going into first year and I just knew that I was different from everybody else around me, especially other boys who were much more masculine and had a really different view on things.
The school which I attend is a rural school which is basically in the middle of nowhere, It is a relatively small school with a relatively small number of students.
The minute I started, I was bullied by other lads who would tease me constantly in class, throw things at me, call me homophobic names and would try to trip me up every time I would go to my locker at lunchtimes.
As the years went on, second year by far was the worst year of my life. There were lads from other years above me that would always have their group together searching for me and just wanting to call me names and make me feel like I shouldn’t be alive.
They would shout things at me and laugh away to themselves , they would try their uttermost best to push me in the corridor while switching classes and again might call me a name or two and get other people to join in.
I would go home and start crying the minute I got in the door, and I would sometimes cry myself to sleep it was that bad. Other days I would fake being sick just so I wouldn’t have to face the bullies anymore, I couldn’t do it.
Eventually, I just couldn’t take it anymore and reported the bullying to my year head and from that moment on, the lads didn’t as much as look at me, not even once. It completely stopped because myself and my mum had a meeting with the school and the lads' parents were called and it sorted out the whole situation.
Then, other bullying incidents occurred towards the end of second year when I was sexually harassed by a guy in my class and during every single class he would point something out about me inappropriately and would make fun out of me. Again, I reported this and he was actually surprisingly expelled from the school completely and this really made a huge difference for me.
Other problems that existed in school for me was the fact that I had absolutely no friends and therefore I was always on my own at breaktime and lunchtime every single day. This really made me feel isolated and I had really low self-esteem and I began to have really bad anxiety. Other students would pass the odd remark about how “gay” I was.
Then, fifth year came along and that wasn’t easy either. I still didn’t have any real friends and a few of the lads in my class were extremely homophobic towards me. It got to the point where a teacher began to notice me on my own every lunchtime and she kindly offered me her classroom to use anytime I wanted. I gladly took her up on the offer and spent every break and lunch on my own in an empty classroom but I can tell you that it was much better than getting verbally abused by the other lads.
Towards the end of fifth year, I actually made friends with these wonderful girls and began to hang out with them a lot and I still do. This made school a much better place for me personally because I had people to talk to. I am now in sixth year and these girls respect me for who I am and never even mention anything about me being gay.
My point in writing this is that homophobic bullying is completely unacceptable and it is still an ongoing problem in our secondary schools today, and in my opinion, there is not enough being done about it at all.
Take it from me, I have been called horrible names, had things purposely thrown at me everyday, I have been pushed, shoved and tormented just for being different and for this, I decided to put a STOP to all of it.
What YOU can do if you are getting bullied because of your sexuality:
- Tell a member of staff in your school, be it a teacher that you can trust and perhaps get on well with, your year head, your tutor, a friend or a parent – This will make more people aware of what you are going through and how they can help you.
- If you witness any sort of bullying in general including homophobic, you need to try and put a stop to it by reporting it , even anonymously to the principal/vice-principal etc.. – This will prevent more and more incidents from happening.
- Do NOT suffer in silence, there is help available out there, trust me.
NEVER change for anyone, you should be proud of who you are and realise that you are incredibly lucky to be part of the LGBT community – look at the positives, Ireland has now legalised same-sex marriage, there are many LGBT support groups out there for example, BelongTo and I think that Ireland in general, is starting to become a little more accepting than it was 10 years ago.