A former antigay middle school bully who is himself gay has posted an apology letter online.
But even if a former bully is truly remorseful, they can’t reverse the ripple effect of their cruelty — the tarnished self-esteem, years of depression, and in the most extreme cases, suicide of their victims.
But it also doesn’t seem right for adolescent mistakes to follow someone around their entire lives, and we think anyone who stands up to break a cycle of hate deserves some credit, like in this story shared online by “James.”
Taking into account James’ upbringing, it becomes clear that he was essentially trained to be a bully from birth. His homophobic father instilled such fear in him that when James realized he was gay, his only outlet was more fear, more hate. Does that excuse his behavior? No. But it does add depth to a conversation that is tinted in shades of gray.
Our hope is that James doesn’t feel this is his stamp of forgiveness. If you’re reading this, James — get out into your community and speak to kids who are experiencing both sides of bullying. Your unique perspective could truly help!
Here’s the message James posted:
Hello everyone, for starters let me introduce myself, my name is James and back in middle school I used to bully other students who seemed feminine and were openly gay, I was the typical Christian homophobic bully.
I grew up in a completely Christian household, my father would often post anti-gay/ anti-democrat images on his Facebook, print them off and put them on the fridge. He would constantly teach me that homosexuality was wrong, which I guess is what got that sort of thought into my mind.
Well in middle school there was this one student who we’ll call “Nate”.
For the things I’ve said to Nate, I wanted to apologies. I would constantly call him a “fag” “faggot” “gay boy” “queer”, and other things. He did nothing wrong to me, and yet I still felt so afraid of him that I resorted to insults. Sadly nowadays I have no way of contacting him, he doesn’t use Facebook, he doesn’t live near me, and we’re both probably no longer in school. For everyone out there who’s been in either my situation, or Nate’s situation, I’m sorry.
If you’re in my situation, please don’t resort to verbal abuse over things that scare/ frighten you, be strong, talk to people in a civilized manner, and open up to them. I know I’m gay, I think I bullied Nate so much because I was afraid of being like this, I wanted to be the strong straight kid my dad always wanted.
If you’re in Nate’s situation, please stay strong. You didn’t do anything wrong, those who bully you or insult you are most often then not having an identity crisis. I’m here for you now, and want to know that you’re perfect just the way you are.
Again I can’t apologies to Nate now, but if I could I would want to tell him this; I’m sorry for all the verbal harassment I put you through, the truth is I always thought you were pretty cool and sort of attractive, and that frustrated me. You were always the stronger one between us both, you were proud to be you and always kept your head held high. Fight on, and live an amazingly happy life with whomever you love. My thoughts are with you, please… please stay strong.