While I was a young child, I got bullied for having large ears and obviously for being the new kid. When I was a teenager I got bullied for being gay.

Physical features and things I couldn’t change were what I got bullied for. As a child, not great. I couldn’t do anything about it to change their minds, I was stuck being the gay, new kid with big ears.

The only thing I could have been able to change were my big ears. I begged and begged for years, to such an extent that I managed to persuade my parents to pay for cosmetic surgery to get my ears aligned. That’s how much it affected me, I didn’t do the surgery, only because my dad persuaded me that a good camera; allowing me to further my passion was a better investment in comparision to becoming ‘popular’.

I, do still look at my ears, and to this day they stick out to a degree. But it doesn’t bother me as much.

As I was gay, I would get locked in the gym toilets because otherwise, I’d allegedly stare at the other guys. According to young straight men, every gay wants to sleep with them as soon as they see a straight man. My god, not quite true. I didn’t and still wouldn’t get closer than six-foot social distancing guidelines, my classmates aren’t my type.

The mix out of pre-pubescent teenager and conservative homophobia, while being coated in an entire can of lynx, just didn’t quite do it for me. I’d walk down the main streets in my city, and people would scream fag across the street.

In clubs, I’d get slapped, as I was already out in my school, so the news had spread outside of my classroom.

I came out young, at 13. Why? Because I was being bullied for being gay beforehand already. So why on earth would I then still hide it? Why not live my life, how I wanted to, being honest with and to myself. I realised that:

“I hate the word homophobia. It’s not a phobia. You’re not scared. You’re an asshole.” — Morgan Freeman

This attitude has stayed with me, a decade later. To this day, despite my present self-worth and mental health issues, I am who I am, and I don’t change for anybody. I am proud of that. I am very choosy of friends. I have a few close friends, 3–4 and that’s all. These friends know me, accept me and I am who I am. I trust them, I know they’ll be honest with me, kind to me, and there for me when I need them.

Similarly, I am quick to decide about people, by default as a protection method I know who I like and don’t, and if I don’t like the person there opinion doesn’t affect me either. This is because I used to care about everyone’s opinion when I was bullied. Now I care about the opinions of people that I care about. No one else’s.

It’s the biggest cliché there is the idea that “It gets better”. But it does.

School bullies are shit, they made my life hard and they continue to affect my life after the school years. Also negatively. But, crucially they made me strong. They make me into the person that I am. They made me tough, determined, and driven.
Growing a thick skin as a child doesn’t come easy, nor pleasantly but it set me up for life.

The lessons one should learn are following:

  1. One is stronger than one realizes.
  2. There will always be people who will love and cherish you for exactly who you are.
  3. Pre-pubescent teens covered in Lynx deodorant, aren’t attractive.
    No matter whether they’re homophobic or not.
  4. Not being average is a positive.
  5. Value and cherish yourself.
  6. Be driven to accomplish goals, people can pull you down, but it’s down to you, to pull yourself up.

I am a more determined and prouder gay man, thanks to being bullied. I am more self-confident and steadfast thanks to being bullied. I am proud to be the new kid. I am proud to be different.

All the things that kids pointed out, laughed at me for, bullied me for, and uninvited me to all parties for are now my biggest assets. The things that make me the proudest.