ROMEO

Spirit Day – Say No to Bullying

Spirit Day is an incentive to stand up against LGBTQ bullying. It is celebrated on the third Thursday of October every year (since 2010), and encourages supporters to wear purple as a sign of solidarity. We speak to Jared, a young Romeo from the UK, about his experience of bullying at school. His story is deeply personal and inspirational.

Jared’s Story

Growing up a small, gay, introverted, nerdy boy in a rough area, my secondary school experience was like hiding a flashing neon bulls-eye on my back. The daily physical and verbal bullying made me constantly afraid and deeply depressed. I learned to carefully calculate how to avoid bullies in every place and every scenario to make my day just a little less bad. I memorized all the corridors with lockers so I couldn’t have my head slammed into one. I memorized routes to classes that avoided toilets so I couldn’t be dragged in by a group of boys who wanted to flush my head. I learned to vary my way home to avoid being ambushed after school.

Coping

Writing this has made me realize how these experiences have shaped me, from my anxiety in crowded social places to my deep compassion for other people. Secondary school was hard. How did I cope? Well, I believe it was by building up my self-assurance. My bullies were what I never wanted to become, so if they had a problem with me, I was being true to myself.

Success

I found teachers and students who were friendly and intelligent and brightened up my day. I tried to look forward to those interactions, rather than focus on the rest. I told myself that one day I’d leave and be successful.

Speak to someone

It would have been easy to give up on school, but I was vehement that I couldn’t let my bullies screw up my future. My advice is to do the same. I wish I could say that a teacher or parent intervened and solved my bullying, or that witty, sassy comebacks kept bullies at bay, but those things didn’t help. If possible, find somebody you can just talk to about your experiences – be it a counselor, teacher, or close friend. I know that would have helped me.

Art by Alfredo Roagui

Life after School

I remember how bleak life felt, but after secondary school, you can truly begin shaping your future. I began higher education, and my world flipped – suddenly I was popular and loved. I went on to study at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Now I have moved to a new country to start a new adventure. Looking back, I’m proud of my achievements, but I am especially proud of my teenage self, who went into hell and came out a more empathetic, loving person.

Spirit Day

To find out more about Spirit Day, you can follow the main organisers, GLAAD, on social media or visit the Spirit Day official website.

Art kindly provided by Alfredo Roagui, please follow and support him on Twitter and Instagram.