Photo: some rights reserved wolfpeterson
by Ana Llimet
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published in We’Ced Youth Magazine Issue #2
I was in 3rd grade and I had just gotten out of the restroom when a group of girls approached me. “Why are you wearing a boy shirt?” “You’re not a boy!” “Stop trying to be a boy!”
They attacked me with their words. I became so over- whelmed I just walked away. It got me thinking, I was more like a boy and liked boy things like skateboarding and football. You’d never see me with a Barbie or even wearing pink. Those girls had me confused and I started questioning my sexuality. I realized I wore boy shirts and liked boy activities was because I saw myself as a boy. I also knew I was attracted to the same gender, but denied it all because I was raised to believe homosexuality was “wrong.”
[pullquote_right] According to a California Safe Schools Coalition, California students who don’t conform to gender expectations and stereotypes report there is significant harassment at school because of this. [/pullquote_right]
According to a California Safe Schools Coalition, California students who don’t conform to gender expectations and stereotypes report there is significant harassment at school because of this. This harassment is often reported by students who are of LGBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender).
After years of denial and questioning whether I was gay or not, I finally understood my sexual identity. My next step was to come out, situations made it tough for me to tell anyone. For example during freshman year at school we had a day where we wore purple for all the people who were bullied to death due to their sexuality. A friend of mine had made a remark saying “you didn’t tell me we’re wearing purple for the fags, [I could care less about them].” to hear those words hurt. I thought everyone thought the same as she did. Through the confusion and denial, it was even harder to know I couldn’t even tell a friend.
Not only do I hear homophobic remarks at school, such as “faggot” or “dyke” often, but 72.4% of students do. More than half of students reported they feel unsafe in school because of their sexuality according to a GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) research.
Not only is this feeling of lack of safety present at school but often times also at home. Vincent Cer- vantes, an out PhD student at USC, LGBT activist and Merced native, was the vic- tim of a hate crime. When he was in college at a re- ligious school in Southern California, he came home one day to find on his front door “die faggot die.” “I didn’t want to come home someday to somebody who wanted to physically harm me,” Vince was afraid like anyone else would have been.