10.19.2011

What's it like to be beaten in School

My condolences to Jamie Hubely and his family.

It's time to take action to protect queer kids in our schools.  Jamie Hubely's suicide certainly makes that clear. I am haunted by his passing and I didn't know Jamie.  I do know what it was like for him.  I know it all too well.  The story you are about to read is real, it happened to me, it happens to kids in school all the time.   Its not a fun read.  

I was 16, walking with my best friend back to school.  He was a High School basketball star, he was well over six feet, I was maybe five foot three. We were best friends in school.  Partly because we had to ride the bus together and hiss older cousin liked my sister.  As we approached the school taking a short cut through a church yard we came upon ten boys from our school.

I have forgotten or blocked out the memory of how things got rough, it was fast though.  They were calling me a fag, I was shy once I got to grade ten.  The boys were bigger, they were meaner, I just tried to stay out of the way.  I had pretty much succeeded for the better part of the year until the day we walked through that church yard.

It was nearing the end of lunch hour and as my friend and I headed back to school the boys attacked.  At first it was just name calling. "FAGGOT," they shouted at me.  They had no problem with my friend, he was a certified jock. I was in the Drama and Audio-visual club.  They continued to call me names and blocked our path. Soon we were surrounded.

Me, in the brown 
One of the boys punched me, his friends encouraging him with calls to hit to fagot. My friend tried to stop it and was promptly held back by two of the other boys.  The guy was in my face, demanding I admit I was a fag. He was joined by a two or three other boys.  All of them bigger than me.  They kept punching me in the head, to the stomach, anywhere they could.  

I remember telling them to stop.  I heard my friend shouting at them to stop.  They didn't.

I didn't know at the time I was gay.  I did know I wasn't interested in girls, I was aware I might be gay.  I had gone to the library in the school to find anything  on homosexuality.  It was a futile search.  The only references I could find happened to be in the dictionary.  The dictionary said homosexuals were perverts.

I was pushed to the ground. One guy then sat on my chest. He was slapping my face.  Another guy kicked me my hip.  The guy on top of me kept calling me a worthless faggot, cocksucker, ass-licker.  he moved so his crotch was right at my chin. Others were now kicking my body everywhere.  I remember closing my eyes.  The   kicking which hurt like hell, I no longer felt. The pain from guy slapping and punching my face was gone.  I was conscious, just numb now.  It went on.

The guy on top of me was replaced by another guy.  He sat on my face at first, then slid back again so he was on my shoulders, my arms under him.  He demanded I admit I was a faggot. I turned my head, just in time to avoid a blow from the foot of a boy standing.  He got me in the back of head.  The guy on me stating spitting on face.  I couldn't avoid it.  It was in my eyes, it was everywhere.

Another kick to the head got me above the eye. I don't know how many there were, I lost count. I felt a bump begin to swell.  Then I tasted blood.  It didn't hurt at the time.  All of this has happened in ten minutes of time.  I knew that if I admitted I was a fag, it would be over for me at school.  It would only get worse.  They finally stopped.  Getting off me, the guy spit in my face again.  He slapped my face, this time drawing blood.  Told me to watch out or it would be worse.

I couldn't at the time imagine it getting worse.  I was bleeding from cuts and my nose. I felt a couple bumps on my head and my knee.  My friend and I went back to school. He wanted to report it, I didn't, it would only make me a snitch and a fag.

Me in the back, in light shirt,
around the time I was beat up in school
I went to the washroom, I washed my face and head.  I cried for a few minutes then decided I needed to be stronger.  I couldn't let these bullies win.  What I didn't know at the time was they had won.  I myself had not understood my sexuality, yet these boys were pretty certain of it.  I was screwed.

I went back to class, I hoped my teacher wouldn't notice, he noticed.  He wanted to know what happened.  I said I fell. He didn't believe me.  I almost told him. I might have told him, if I felt I wasn't partly to blame for the beating. If I knew the teacher wouldn't himself condemn me for being a fag. If only I wasn't a fag.  That may have been the first instance, when the teacher asked me what happened, that I clicked to the idea I was gay.

School was never fun after that.  I dated a shy girl once, for my best friend.  He wanted me to at least show his jock friends I was dating.  The girl and I did nothing except go to a movie, hung out at a coffee place.  It seemed enough for the haters.  Yet though they stopped the beating and continual taunting, I felt lost, desperate at times.  I would hear fag and cringe. I heard all the guys talking about fags and how they were shit.  It was worse but I have already shared lots.

Bruce MacDonald October, 2010 - red shirt
Took his Life in December 2010 
The desperation was inside. No one really knew how I felt. I could hide my feelings well.  I thought about what Jamie did, many times.  I planned it a few times.  I'm not sure why I didn't do it.  It may have been a determination not to let them win, it may have been my parents, my best friend, it may have been my mom, my family, my grandparents. They all were in the right place at the right time, so to say.

I can see that while we have made advances in human rights and the depiction of gays in the media, we are still so far away from saving people like Jamie.  I was like Jamie.  I feared it wouldn't get better.  And many times over the years, the final solution has cropped up.  Cropped up as it did with Bruce, my good friend and very strident gay blogger.  For Bruce it didn't get better, it certainly didn't get better for Jamie.

Many of us are around today, we have lived our lives and for the most part they have been good. We have a few more demons.  We carry a little more weight around inside our heads.  When you are in high school, that weight is very heavy.  It can be for any kid.  If you are bullied, it is much much more.  If you are gay, all you can think of is getting out.

I will post some thoughts on what I think needs to happen now, in a few days. I'm just too lost to think too rationally right now.

I was happy to read Libby Davies thoughts on Jamie's passing here. Libby, Thank you.

Some other links for you here...

XTRA.ca

15-year-old Jamie Hubley documented heartbreaking need for acceptance

Canada News: Mallick: Meet the boy the bullies broke - thestar.com

Montreal Simon: The Tragic Death of Jamie Hubley

Ottawa teen details final suicidal thoughts on blog - CTV News

2 comments:

Dr.Dawg said...

That was very brave, and painful to read--much less so, obviously, than the pain, physical and mental, that you experienced that day. Another story that makes me hate bullying, and wish that the school system took this stuff more seriously. Hell, I wish we all took this more seriously.

Rick Barnes said...

I tell the story because so many people think its better for kids in school today. Kids are still being beaten, abused and bullied in our schools because they may be different or appear to be different.

Our schools do little to help these kids. They're left to deal with the situation. Most of us do get through but Bruce was scared for life and he may have lived to be 52, he died as a result of the torment.

We will never know what great things Jamie may have contributed, how many more people he could have made smile. It does get better for some but that's a ridiculous thing to tell a kid in high school.