Look Back In Anger

Imagine Running Into Your Childhood Bully On The Street. How Would You React?

If you stumbled into your childhood bully on the street, what would you say? Would you pop ’em a sharp left hook to the jaw, or would a withering look suffice? Running through Sunday at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, “Look Into My Eyes” asks a handful of gay men, lesbians, and transgendered people to stare down their young nemeses as adults.
 “The narratives are powerful, tragic, and beautiful at the same time,” says photographer Abby Davis Harris (who stopped strangers on the street to find participants.) “Some people have since found compassion for their bully; others simply can’t let go.”

Below are six black-and-white photos from the series, along with the stories behind them…

 Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 1.33.55 PM
“When I look into my bully’s eyes, I want to say ‘Thank You.’ I was bullied daily, walking to school, at school, on the way home. It was constant. I had to learn to stand up for myself at an early age. It made me tough.” –Javier, New York
Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 1.40.19 PM
“I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, paying attention to feminism and protesting the Vietnam War. This wasn’t popular in my town. I challenged the norm. The redneck I remember taunted me every time he saw me in the hall, with insults and rude comments like ‘Dyke!’ or ‘Freak!'” – Carol Queen, Oregon
Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 1.45.52 PM
“I remember a middle school boy on the bus who sat behind me every day. He’d lean over the seat and ask, ‘What’s wrong with your voice? You sound like a girl.’ I see this as a gift. I’m proud of who I am today, especially considering the harassment I endured as a kid.” –Carl, Vancouver
Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 1.54.45 PM
“Here’s what I have to say to my older brother: You told me I was fat, ugly, and, worst of all, that you couldn’t imagine anyone ever wanting to be with me. Those words hurt then, they hurt now, and you’ve left your mark. Know this: There is a light in me that shines bright. I am beautiful.” –Siddhartha, Chicago
Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 1.58.23 PM
 “When I look into the eyes of my bully, I’m looking into the eyes of the people that can’t handle my truth. Today, I refuse to be anything but myself. These are the eyes of a warrior, not a victim.” – Haddy, Vancouver
Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 2.01.10 PM
 “I remember the high school varsity guys knocking me down in the locker room shower. One of them started to piss on me. They all joined in. I looked up at the first guy and said, ‘I didn’t know you cared.’ They stopped. They were stunned. It takes a lot of energy to give someone so much hatred. Where does that energy come from?” –Robert, California