I write this for my own personal healing but most of all I write this for others who are struggling to find acceptance and suffering from serious bullying and being ostracized or have suffered from such. I felt now is the time to share my story and I hope it will help someone find healing. I kept this story and truth for too long to myself and I decided not just to tell my most trusted inner circle of friends and family but the entire world. I felt I could not tell my family directly being the lack of compassion and acceptance I have received in the past when I mentioned the topic a few times.
My family is the type of family that doesn’t want to deal with any issues that make them uncomfortable. They don’t want to acknowledge what they don’t want to acknowledge, they don’t want to hear what they don’t want to hear, they don’t want to see what they don’t want to see. Ignorance is bliss as they say. This had made my life even more difficult growing up, not having an emotionally supportive family and not having anyone I felt I could trust to talk to in the home. This is not to mention growing up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints/Mormon Church that until very recently has been very hostile in their doctrine involving such subjects.
My entire life growing up I felt like I never quite fit in anywhere or in any social clique. In school I pretty much hung out with the geeks, misfits, loners, and the kids who were more sensitive and academically orientated because I could identify with them the most. I don’t like the labels myself but in this social obsessed world those are the labels that would describe the kids I hung out with growing up. I had a few close friends who I learned later or suspected them to be who were more like me than others. Again it being the concept we tend to choose friends we feel the most connection and identity with. It was quite clear we were different than most others we just didn’t know exactly how.
Unfortunately some kids, especially other boys who are more the rowdy and tough guy type, pick up on these differences very easily. This would be a good thing if they were empathetic and reasonable, unfortunately a number of them are not. Spiteful, hateful, intolerant and unreasonable would more accurately describe them. Yeah they’re just kids but what excuse does that give them to treat other human beings so poorly? If you are different you have an unseen scarlet letter placed on you it seems and that makes you a target for teasing, bullying, and being ignored and left out of things. The more different you are the worse your attacked and ultimately the more heartache you will be forced to face in this sometimes intolerant, hateful, and cruel world. By the end of your school life you will likely be so depressed and emotionally traumatized by that time you will almost feel like giving up. This will continue to be true until we as a world, as communities, as neighbours say enough of this dog eat dog mentality in this world.
Its time parents and schools start teaching kids empathy, respect for differences, and healthy rather than unhealthy ways of dealing with emotions. Call it utopian, call it liberal social engineering, call it a pipe dream if you want, but until we do this as a society, kids will continue to suffer and ultimately the world will suffer. Kids today are tomorrows adults and some of those adults will be leading the world, corporations, churches, organizations, school boards etc… Until we as a society decide to put an end to the vicious social hierarchy pecking order that humanity has put in place over the centuries the world will suffer untold sufferings. The strong will dominate the meek, the ignorant will shout over those with reason, and harshness and hate will be all too common instead of mercy and love. If children do not learn how to treat each other with respect as children they may never learn how to. We will be leading to are own extinction because of our own stubbornness and ignorance kept us from imagining a better world.
Below I tell my story, and I tell it as it was, and make no attempt to censor the truth. The truth in this world is censored too much, too many anti-bullying programs do make known the true nature of bullying in America today. They do not speak of the true terms said and how bad the bullying can get. Parents and teachers need to know what is happening and keep in mind this was more than a decade ago, it seems to have gotten worse since then judging by interviews and news reports. I realize my story is not universal but I know there is kids going through what I went through and some have it much worse. When I was in school the internet wasn’t as big as it is now, I could go home and escape the bullying, with today’s kids there is no escaping. Their tormenters follow them online and on their cell phones. They are told almost every waking hour that they are worthless, terrible, and that they are unworthy of love and compassion. It in all honesty breaks my heart to hear it is still happening so often and in many cases it has gotten worse. Anyways here is my story it is not always easy to read and may offend some readers, but truth is sometimes like that. Some truths aren’t easy to hear, and they are even harder to write as I am not writing this under some online anonymous name. The whole world will know my story and being a person who likes privacy and hates the lime light this is very difficult. I would never have written it if I thought it would not help the situation in some small way of bullying and intolerance for differences in this world. I apologize for the long article a lot of things I felt needed to be included.
The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth
I may have been smiling in the pictures above but by the time I became a teenager deep inside I felt little to smile about. I was a happy kid who loved the world when I was younger, but after major troubles at home and at school that being a happy and optimistic kid disappeared. I don’t want to get into the home part of the story as that will only cause major family drama and friction of which I want to avoid. Just know things were anything but happy and peaceful at home. Thankfully the situation is much different today but back then it was the dys in functional. I went to my grandparents house pictured above often to escape from the drama and problems. They were always very good to me and without them I don’t know in all honesty where I would be today. That and my room or me and my brother’s room when I was younger was somewhere I could go and feel at peace most of the time. When a kid is having problems at home and school, he feels often he has nowhere to turn and that is how I felt many time. I often felt almost in a constant state of stress I would get headaches and stomach aches often, I was often anxious, and I was depressed even though when I didn’t know what I was feeling was called. I wish I could tell you a more complete story including about life at home as it too may be helpful to some, but that is something I rather not get into. My parents are dealing with enough drama right now in their lives I wish not to add to it.
I was a bright, sensitive, and somewhat of an eccentric kid. I always did well in school up until junior high when I started slipping some in academics as the bullying got much more severe. I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I had some friends, all who were somehow rejected from the popular and cool kids club of which I never understood who controlled the membership. I am speaking symbolically of course because this is how it seemed. We were often the kids who were picked on and many times it became outright bullying.
When I was younger I was labelled a nerd and a loser and such relatively mild epithets. When I began to have to wear glasses for school work I was a four eyes and a total nerd then according to the schoolyard bullies. When I played basketball I was told I shoot hoops like a girl, when I threw a baseball that I threw like a girl, and that I wasn’t cool because I sometimes would hang out with the girls. They would slap me across the head and shout at me from across the playground and other kids would start in laughing. They would knock over my lunch tray. I was afraid to use the restroom because they would harass me in there away from the teachers eye. Nothing major just throwing me against the wall, threatening to dunk my head in the toilet kind of things, and making jokes about me being small down there. Still it was enough of an unpleasant experience I tried as hard as I could to avoid having to use the school restrooms. They would say my clothes looked like something babies wear and how ghetto they looked. Apparently cartoon characters, animals, and super heroes on your clothes wasn’t what the cool kids wore. I had a armadillo shirt with two armadillos on it and for some reason this was really uncool as I was teased mercilessly if I wore it. They would steal my pencils out of backpack, threaten to steal my lunch money, push me from behind when I wasn’t looking and sometimes threaten they were going to kick my ass after school. Sometimes they did too, lucky I lived a few blocks away and could run home.
Well about the fifth grade the school yard bullies learned some new vocabulary and they tested it on me and other disfavored kids in the school. No longer was I a nerd and a four eyes now I was the dreaded f word that no one knew exactly all what it was, you just knew you didn’t want to be called it. Fag or Faggot is the word of which I speak. My friend Stephen was called that by the bullies as were some other kids in the school. Basically if you were a smart, sensitive, or a handsome kid you were a “faggot”, if you were all three you were really a “faggot”, if you didn’t play sports you were a “faggot”, if you liked things that only girls were supposed to like, like Stephen did, you were a “faggot”. If you weren’t a “cool” kid in other words you were a “faggot”. It by the sixth grade became the favourite school yard slur and it was heard so often you began to think it was the only slur some of the bullies knew. By then a new term meaning the same thing appeared on campus, gay-wad, as in “look at the gay-wad run what a faggot”. Dirty jokes became quite common as well and they began to have more of an adult tone to them. These jokes were sometimes at your expense or because you were a “fag” you didn’t need to hear them only the popular kids. Physical bullying was still present. It one day in the sixth grade got way out of hand and two kids got suspended after I told the assistant principle of the incident. Though I never told the full truth to her as I was embarrassed.
I wasn’t a tattletale but this incident went too far. I do not wish to speak in details about this incident in this article but basically it involved a bully holding my legs while the other one went behind me and said he was going to rape me. It happened on the playground away from the teachers and other kids. I got away and it never got further than him pretending to do so by forcefully rubbing himself against me through his underwear and my underwear. This was not curiosity and experimentation even though we were the same age, this was sexual harassment and abuse, as it involved force and was non-consensual. One of the biggest things not spoken about involving bullying is it can and sometimes does devolve into sexual harassment or even sexual abuse. I hesitated rather to speak of this incident but I felt I needed to, to highlight this rarely spoken about topic involving bullying that becomes sexual harassment and abuse. I have read a few news reports in recent years of some bullying incidents at schools that involved boys who actually sexually assaulted other peers in their school. This is not boys being boys when they force themselves sexually on other kids or do unwanted sexual touching and talk towards them. Kids may be curious and experiment sometimes growing up but as mentioned this is not the same thing.
Well 7th grade was much the same as 5th and 6th grade and it generally began to get worse, the bullying that is. The usual fag slur but new words, new rumours, and new dirty jokes at my and some others expense. I don’t know why the bullying often revolved in some way around sexual concepts in their speech. I guess it’s the whole teenage hormone thing, but it seemed to be common. Some new synonyms were added for those they identified as being gay rather they were or not; homo, queer, queer-bait, cock sucker, ass bandit, and a few that are a bit too crude to list here. If you were a “fag” and you even talked to another “fag” a rumour would be started about you masturbating in the bathroom together. It all has to do on a psychological level about immature guys being uncomfortable in their own sexuality so they pick on others to make themselves feel less insecure. It really is quite neanderthalish but bullies aren’t exactly know for their brains. The physical bullying wasn’t much but the verbal bullying brought some nearly to tears. It was just vicious. It was a barrage of insults sometimes and rumours that were nothing short of vicious slander. Both boys and girls were bullied, boys were more called names and joked about and girls spreading malicious rumours about other girl or boys making jokes about unpopular girls. The 8th grade was absolutely brutal for me. I stopped wanting to go to school, I couldn’t focus, I never knew what the next day would bring for me as far as bullying.
I was standing in line one day and here comes anonymous jerk one who was a frequent jokester against me and others and he started joking around. This kid had like ADHD on steroids he was hyper and talked a mile a minute and always had to say something at others expense. “Hey Alan gator” he said one day, he thought it was clever I thought it was stupid, no big deal I thought. Little did I know that he being so creative changed the g to a b “hey alan gator… alan bater, alan bates hahaha (laughing)” several people started cracking up laughing and a new slur specialized for me was born along with several malicious and false rumours centred on masturbation and sex. “Hey Alan bator whats up”, “Hey Mr. Bates”, “Look At Mr. Batey over there”… Suddenly teenage boys obsession with masturbation and masturbation jokes was directed at me, all because of the clever bully I mentioned earlier. Some other examples of my tormenters rumours they spread and verbal bullying “did you hear Alan and so and so jack off in class together”; “did you hear “John Doe” and Alan have gay sex together”; Bully “Faggot… (me ignoring him) queer… (he continues) queer-bait… (still ignoring him) cocksucker” Me “Shut The Fuck Up And Get A Life”; etc…. Again the whole insecurity thing and picking on those they see as inferior to make themselves feel more secure. Well let me tell you for a kid who was questioning his own sexuality around this time, that does a lot of damage to the psyche. I didn’t want to eat, I just wanted to sleep, I did not want to go to school, I dropped out of everything I was involved in, everything I was interested in no longer interested me, I just wanted to stay home all the time.
These bullies who made up less than 10% of the school so completely helped destroy what ounce of self-esteem I had left. Not just mine but others self-esteem as well; I saw them bring kids to tears, I saw kids drop out of school, I saw girls who developed eating disorders. This tyrannical minority crushed a lot of kids self-worth and made them feel worthless, unworthy of love, and made some consider suicide even. It was a dog eat dog environment, you’re either the hunter or the hunted, you are either the bullied or the bully. It was a charter school not even a public school who some say is generally worse in that regard. It was in Mesa, Arizona too not some large inner city spots in California or on the East Coast where they have even reported worse problems with such. A conservative red city, in a conservative red county, in a conservative red state right in the heart of Mormon country well at least for Arizona’s standards which is not exactly Utah and Idaho. Yes news flash it happens everywhere and it’s probably happening in your local schools too. Don’t think if you live outside the inner cities you are somehow sheltered from social problems like bullying.
Well by 9th Grade things began to get better they still said things and made rumours about people but it was more done behind their backs. I overheard some of them about me and my few friends occasionally made known to me what was being said. Typical homophobic rumours mostly. I knew I wasn’t like most other boys since very early on in my school days, I knew who I was, but I could not admit who I was or it would only encourage the rumours I thought. It was always an open question among the rumour mill as I liked being a guy and I liked things most other guys like. I didn’t perfectly fit their stereotype other than having a higher pitched voice, being more sensitive, creative, and supposedly I had a gay haircut. It is almost worst that way, if they know you are gay there isn’t as much rumours, if they think you might be the rumours and talk are endless.
I hope we get to a day where no one feels compelled to come out where the whole topic is like rather you have blue or green eyes. Where it just doesn’t matter to people, unfortunately as long as religion remains centuries behind the times the world will suffer. As long as it is considered a sign of manhood to bash those who are different it will continue. As long as the bullying is allowed to go on it will continue. As long as kids are being driven to suicide it will continue. As long as people blame minorities for almost every problem in society in one way or another it will continue.
All this bullying I went though for so many years of my formative years, the problems I had at home, the negative events and circumstances in my life have caused me a lot of mental anguish. When you suffer with mental and physical health problems on top of it makes for a more difficult life than most other 30 years old have had or currently have. I have been to the absolute deepest of valleys in despair I felt. I have felt at times like just wanting to die. I remember as a young teenager praying to God, who I had deep faith in existing at the time, that he would take me to heaven during the night so I would not wake-up in the morning because I wanted to die. I remember just lying in bed and crying and not wanting to go to school. I remember getting severe headaches, stomach cramps, heart palpitations, numbness and tingling often because I was so stressed out because of everything I was going through. My life seemed too hard to want to go on. I at one point came very close to suicide and was admitted to an outpatient mental health hospital and program by my parents.
I am glad I have always come out of every negative situation, event, or circumstance I have been through in life stronger, wiser, and more empathetic to others suffering than before. Still because of my past and current circumstances in my life I often fall into periods of despair and feel a lot of anxiety. I am not hanging onto the past I made peace with that years ago, but I know the after effects of such still are effecting me on a subconscious level. That damaged self-esteem, lack of confidence, and issues that are still there because of my past still linger. I suspect I will be dealing with issues for much of my life or all my life as far as my mental health issues. I have been to counsellors, psychologist, and psychiatrist and still am on an anti-depressant and all of it has helped but not by any means was close to being a miracle cure-all. I just have had to learn to accept my life was and is likely going to continue to be harder than most. No one has an easy life some have a much easier life than mine others a much harder life, it just is how things work out and I accept that.
I think if you look over history and human experience those who are able to a make a bigger difference in the world than most others had a more difficult life than most others. I don’t feel especially special or privileged by any means and do not believe in predetermination but I feel a strong desire to want to try to create positive change in the world and feel it is something I must do. I have learned to stop questioning things so much and just accept them, just to make peace with the moment, to appreciate life for what is as imperfect as it is. This article I feel needed to be written and needed to be written now at this time in my life. I hope telling part of my life’s story here and in future articles provides some healing to others and myself. If nothing else for them to know they are not alone and as encouragement to continue on no matter how hard life gets, no matter where you are at in life, no matter what your situation is, that this world is worth living in and that in spite of all the hardship there is much more good in the world than you maybe ever imagined if you just allow yourself to seek it out.
I really had no desire to come out of the closet publicly. As I think the whole coming out thing seems so cliché. No offence meant at all to others who have done so and feel great about doing so. I support you and think its great you accept yourself and that you want everyone else to know your gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or prefer to be identified as queer. For myself though I just don’t see what the big deal is and kind of see it like announcing and celebrating the fact I have blue eyes. I don’t think most people care one way or the other, a few will disapprove of me, and a few will try to convince me to feel special for me being born me. I think everyone is special and unique and that diversity is simply how nature works.
However being the questioned has been raised in this article that was written with a purpose other than coming out I suppose I will use this as an opportunity to do so. Yes I was born different I believe or at least was different from a young age. I always was glad I was a boy and liked things other boys liked so I did not fit in the stereotype of being a lot more feminine and trying on my mothers or sisters clothes. I was indeed different though; I was more sensitive, compassionate, and more creative and imaginative. I felt more attachment to friends then most other boys not unlike how girls often feel of their friends. I at times was more theatrical in my manner. I had a higher pitched voice then most other boys, and even though I liked things most other boys liked I at times liked hanging with the girls and doing activities more traditionally thought of as things girls do. I liked video games, tv, and movies that most other boys liked but I also liked ones more thought of as being for “chicks”. I also just felt different in some way. When I got to an age when most boys become interested in girls I other than wanting to be friends with them was not much interested in them in that way. I did however think a few of the boys were handsome and had some feelings for them. I was growing up involved in the Mormon faith however and I was taught these feelings were sinful and homosexuality was a serious and grave sin and went against “Gods plan”.
I tried to pray my gay away, I tried to fast my gay away, I tried to read the scriptures my gay away. I was sitting in Seminary (kind of like a religious class for Mormon high school kids taken off campus) in High School and being told this stuff about it being wrong to be gay. I was going to church meetings and to Church on Sunday and sometimes being told this. By High School though I started thinking for myself and was more willing to disagree with Church doctrine. I remember sitting in Seminary next to a boy I had a crush on during a discussion about sexual “immorality” and feeling so conflicted about everything. I was already feeling these feelings in the 7th and 8th grade though they were significantly less intense, but by high school they became harder to discount as a phase or ignore. I went to a few dances and danced with the girls and I actually liked the dancing and thought the girls I danced with looked pretty, but I didn’t feel a romantic attachment. I liked the fact we were dancing and because I was a lonely kid I liked the close contact and the fact someone was actually willing to dance with me, but again I didn’t feel the same kind of feelings as I did about the boy in Seminary for example. Well by the end of tenth grade and eleventh grade I just accepted the fact I was gay, by that time I was having major disagreements on certain parts of church doctrine, and was questioning a lot of former beliefs I had, and stopped being involved in the Church. Still I never came out as having so many Mormon kids in my school who thought it was a sin and intolerant kids who thought it wasn’t cool I never felt safe to.
I never even really came out until just now at 30, (I’m so thankful others can feel safe to come out earlier and have accepting family and peers than I had/have). In my early twenties I mentioned it to my immediate family. Everyone was so silent you could hear a pin drop. My dad looked like it was the most disappointing news he ever heard in his life. My brother didn’t say anything just acted like he didn’t hear it. My mother trying to help said how do I know I am that way as if I was a teenager going through a “phase”. I told my sister later she seemed kind of surprised and a bit uncomfortable but she was more okay with it. Later my dad felt compelled to tell me he didn’t agree with it. My mother made a comment that was sarcastic and which was anything but accepting. My brother continued to act as if he never heard it. I had zero acceptance and since then have had only vague hints at acceptance mentioned now and again in an indirect way. Not that I really care if they or many accept that aspect of me or not, but it would have made things easier if they were supportive. I’m not in a relationship so it’s not like when I visit with them the issue even has to be brought up, but it will be brought up eventually out of necessity and they are going to have to learn to accept it or not.
I refuse to live for other people’s acceptance, by other people’s religious convictions, by other people’s opinions. I am me and I am happy with me no matter who else is or is not. I refuse to live trying to please everyone as I did as a boy growing up, I refuse to let others tell me what to think, I refuse to live my life to how others want me to live my life. I realize this sounds kinds of defensive but knowing the life I had as mentioned above you know why out of necessity I almost have to be that way for my own mental health and well-being. Those who live to please everyone will end up pleasing no one, most of all themselves. I guess I am just much more open-minded than others in that I don’t at all see what the big deal is. I can’t even understand other than religion and social prejudices why there is so much made that is negative or positive over such issues. To me it is just the natural variation in people and in nature. It has been with humanity for as long as there has been humanity. It is not a new phenomenon, there have always been people that way rather society chose to acknowledge it or not, celebrate or demonize it, no matter the society, tribe, people it is present in some way. We will either learn to live with differences and flourish as human civilization or we tear each other apart over them and lead to our extinction as a species, the choice is ours.
What I am basically saying is everyone should accept who they are, they are not going to change it anyway, and should see it as just being who nature (God if they’re a person of faith) designed them to be. Are you straight or gay? bi or transgender? why do those questions matter so much to society? Why does it matter so much the race or nationality of someone? Why does it matter what religion someone is or if they don’t even have a faith? The main thing that we should concern ourselves with is that we are all human beings and we need to as a society and as individuals learn to treat each other more humanely, with more compassion, and choose love over hatred. To me being straight or gay is like any other trait your born with and its no big deal if you are gay or you are not, you just are who you are. It is of no interest to me rather someone is born that way or not, the choice arguments are stupid, the looking for genes is interesting but rather cynical in my view; people are much more complex than their genes alone. Who cares why some people are different, people just need to learn to accept differences period. How much terrible things worldwide throughout history have been done against the other? That to me is the key in all this, acceptance, love, and respect for your fellow humanity.
Alan Curtis Montgomery.
P.S. As always with original articles I write, this article in its entirety or any part of it, may be freely shared. I write to try to help others not for profit or to make a name for myself. If this story helps one person struggling, helps even one person feel encouragement, helps even one person learn more compassion for others I am happy to have written it. It has already helped at least one person, myself, in having written it and I hope it helps others. I think this is what the Greeks called catharsis, sometimes just telling your story and allowing yourself just to feel is therapy in and of itself. I will be continuing with other stories about my life and others lives in the following weeks designed to help provide some sense of healing to the world and myself.
Growing Up Differnt: My Journey, Pain, And Acceptance I write this for my own personal healing but most of all I write this for others who are struggling to find acceptance and suffering from serious bullying and being ostracized or have suffered from such.