October 07, 2010

Misfit

As many of you are aware, there has been plenty of press recently regarding several gay teens who have committed suicide because of bullying. It is because of this that I have made the decision to republish a slightly revised version of a former post to remind people that: 1) Bullying, and those who would passively stand by and allow or, worse, condone it, has enormous impact on the lives of its victims. & 2) Affirmation to those victims that life does, indeed, get better.

Please see The Trevor Project for more information regarding
crisis and suicide prevention among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.


************************************
Kids. This will likely be one of the most difficult, and yet heartfelt, posts that I will ever write here at the Bedlam. I would like it to be understood from the beginning that what is to follow is based on my own personal experiences and viewpoints and is in no way a reflection of the viewpoints shared by anyone linked to on this blog. Nor do I expect that my opinions are a blanket generalization necessarily shared or agreed to by a wider group. This is about me...plain and simple.

I have given much thought to this posting and its relevance here at the Bedlam and this has not been a reckless decision but a passionate one. This does not reflect an overall change to the tone or subjects that I will write about or feature but what I believe to be an important topic. I will most certainly return to my usual inspirations that more often pertain to inspirations as opposed to aggravations. But to not write about this subject simply did not feel like an option.

I have indicated previously that I am not generally a private person. I have lived a life that has warranted levels of social maneuvering and masquerading that I often find the need to be discreet, secretive, or subdued difficult to swallow or stand by. That said, I also feel myself to be one that does his best to disclose or edit as is necessary by event or association. Essentially, I have made great attempts in my life to keep the comfort level. But not now. What I am about to share with you is my story. And I can only hope that you will allow me the momentary grace to share it with you and that you will read it in its entirety. It won't be short but it won't be unimportant either...not to me anyway.

The fact is...I am a gay man. This is a revelation that I typically keep to myself not because of shame but rather as a means to be thought of in broader terms and not immediately relegated to only one aspect of what it is that comprises me as a human being on this planet. I have never been comfortable with the idea that my identity would be comprised solely based on who I happen to be attracted to sexually or, more important, drawn to love. But I have found a large part of my life being relegated to such categorizations by people outside of myself, both gay and straight. And, frankly, I am sick of it altogether.

There are those in this country who continually and insistently want to sum up every aspect of a vast and varied group into a singular deviant box. For them it is a concept based upon their perceptions of religion and/or morality. And, in an effort to help shore up their belief systems, they latch onto and perpetuate stereotypes and falsehoods. They make every effort to put a face on a community that is as inhuman as humanly possible. That is why I am coming forward to put my face, an individual's face, on a situation that is more prone to generalization over personalization.



************************************

As a young child I tended to be quite shy. Few would believe it now but that was pretty much the case. Generally, things went pretty well for me as I was an excellent student and, based on my parents rearing, most respectful of my elders, teachers, and any type of authority. But at the age of 9...things in my life began to shift with the presence of a boy named Kelly. He would tease me while we waited for the bus calling me "faggot" repeatedly. I couldn't understand what precipitated these events and only knew that whatever a "faggot" was...it wasn't good. Eventually, things started to move towards more physical confrontation and he'd push me around while relishing the mockery that came from his vile mouth. One day...I pushed back. But I was the one reprimanded for my behavior without any chance for explanation or retribution. This was the beginning of what would be a pattern of events that would last for close to the next 10 years.

After 4th grade my parents moved us out to the country thinking that this would add to our quality of life and education. They had no way of knowing that they had moved me into what would be tantamount to living hell. Fifth and sixth grade were no picnic for certain, but starting in 7th grade I began to experience treatment that would lead me to suicidal thoughts from the age of 12 years old and on. There were guys who began to mock me during P.E. (Physical Education) classes. The 8th graders who would threaten me with physical violence and hurl Chinese throwing stars at me in the hallways when all was clear. There was Cindy who would openly and repeatedly call me "Faaaaaaaaaaggg!" during math class without so much as an indifferent level of discipline on the part of the teacher. I did everything I could to become either less and less noticeable, retreating into myself as much as possible, or as much like the others to blend in...neither worked.

By Freshman year of high school I made great efforts to attend boarding schools overseas but seemed to continually get roadblocked by red tape and wound up in the local high school. The educational quality was great but sadly did not manage to develop any sort of intellect in a number of the student body. I had a free period for one hour every afternoon where I would go to the library to attempt to work on homework. However, for the duration of that entire first year in high school, I spent one hour of every single day being threatened and mocked by two comrades, Todd and Todd. Their names only hinted at their collective stupidity and didn't even touch upon their shared cruelty or sadism.

I would arrive home on the bus. Our house was located at the end of a very long driveway and I made the most of the walk to our front door. Often, I would wait for the bus to leave and any other kids to retreat into their homes before beginning my trek down to the house. As soon as I was alone I would begin to unleash the pent up emotions. I would walk down the gravel drive stumbling over uneven stones and unstoppable tears. But as soon as I reached the house I would quickly pull myself together and walk through the door as though nothing was wrong. What my parents did not know is that between Algebra homework and dinner I thought about suicide... a lot. I prayed to God even more.

Fortunately enough, one of the "Todds" left at the end of the year as he was a Senior and given that the other "Todd" was hot for my sister (who functioned on a different level of the social stratosphere) the intensity of my experiences waned a bit but certainly did not subside. For the next three years I found myself eating lunch in the art room as it was often the case that I would have food thrown at me in the cafeteria. Once, while walking across the campus, I had an apple thrown at my back with such force that the welt and the subsequent bruise would last for weeks. I would walk through the hallways being taunted with the usual "FAG!" or "fudgepacker" or "queer bait" and, not uncommonly, getting spat upon. I received an art award at an assembly in my Senior year but instead received infinitely more "faggot"-laced jeers than congratulations. But somehow, by someone's good graces, I made it through to graduation... barely.

So now high school was behind me. I was moving on to the beginnings of adulthood and a new experience on life and off to college...on the other side of the continent! I ensconced myself in a quaint college town in Eastern Canada. What a relief this was...for a moment. Within two weeks, the dormitory house I lived in had been planning our big day of initiation with a house party to follow. I engaged whole-heartedly into the spirit of the occasion even agreeing to volunteer as bachelor #2 in a party version of "The Dating Game". The day found me being doused in ice water, crawling through a swamp, and getting hosed down publicly in underpants. Not exactly my idea of a good time but I loved finally feeling part of the group. We prepared for the party setting up a stage in the student lounge, getting bottles and kegs rared up and ready to go, and praying that our livers would see us to another day.
"Knock, knock, knock!" I opened the door to my dorm room being told that they were ready for the bachelors to come out for "The Dating Game". I lined up with the other two guys outside the door to the lounge while we waited for our cue. One by one, we were brought in and up to the stage. Within a few minutes, this game went from fun to frightening as I became more aware that this was the beginnings of a "witch burning"...and I was the witch. It escalated from individually shouted cruelties to an entire room of perhaps 150 or more people chanting, "QUEER! QUEER! QUEER!" It was more than I could handle.

I finally launched from the stage, pushing through the crowd and their laughter, and out the door. I made my way to the cathedral where I denounced God at the top of my lungs not understanding what I could have possibly done to have warranted His abandonment. Then I told Him that if this was the life He had intended for me...I would be the one to take it! I made my way toward a bridge in town. There had been serious rainstorms recently and the river was over-flowing and turbulent. With the number of fallen trees and branches in the water I felt certain that it would take little time or effort to be caught up in the current and off to wherever it was God wished to send my soul. But I knew it was unlikely to be worse than where I already was.

As I walked onto the bridge I heard voices from behind. A couple of guys from "the party" had followed me. They asked me what I was doing by myself and that I should come out with them and grab some more beers. I quietly refused wishing them on their way. But "no" was an answer they weren't taking and they inevitably lured me away from what I intended to be my own funeral. What I later realized is that they knew. That they had followed me out through those dormitory doors, heard my tirade in the church, and waited. They waited to spare me the embarrassment of my own emotions and drag me away from my own despair. Two strangers from Newfoundland would be the first to ever throw me a life line. That night, I believe, is when God showed me that I hadn't been abandoned by Him but rather by those who would speak in His name. And, as far as I am concerned, He sent me two guardian angels by the names of Harold and Corey. And I will forever thank them and Him for their intervention.

From that moment on my outlook on life had changed. It was "sink or swim" and I was determined to learn the backstroke! I still continued serious moments of ups and downs but spent much less time suppressing myself. The next two years at that college would find me move from "odd man out" to being the "odd man in" on campus as I strove to stand in my own truth. Ironically enough, I would form some great friendships with those who initially mocked me. It would be years later before I found the courage to come forward and "out" but that is where the foundation began to be built.

I would return to the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. to finish college. I began by entering the Women's Studies program with my newly-found friend Sarah. I spent time coming to understand in greater detail all the ways that many had historically suffered under the restraints and restrictions put upon them because of their gender, their race, and/or their orientation. Having gone through my own experiences, it only further developed my empathy and my compassion for all people. I came to understand the richness and complexities of being part of a world community. It deepened my understanding of how uncomfortable it is to have to be conformed into someone else's discomfort. It taught me the value that being myself didn't require that others had to be just like me but rather to be themselves as well.

So here we are, years later, the 21st century. Steps have been taken forward and, sadly, steps have been taken back. But I stand here with my own history and the story that I bring to the American table. And I am sharing it. I am not forcing it and I am not delivering it with the expectation that others have to follow it or change their personal lives for it. I am not giving it as propaganda or to support some fictional "agenda" nor am I giving it as a means to convince you to be like me but to understand the preciousness of being able to be oneself.

So to those who see fit to judge... I am not asking you to recognize my life and beliefs by summarily rejecting and denouncing your own. I am not telling you to deny yourself the right to visit your beloved in the hospital or, in the event of death, to allow your possessions to be absconded by your spouse's family with no legal recourse whatsoever. I am not on an "agenda" to do anything to a child other than to let them know that they are important and loved no matter who he or she is or turns out to be ~ I don't want to cultivate a "gay" child, I want to cultivate a kind and happy one. Most important, I am not asking you to be like me. But I will not be like you either. I will always strive to be myself and no amount of legislation, pontification, or degradation will ever prevent that because you do not ultimately write my story...I do.

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The following is from a book I wrote and created based upon some of the aforementioned circumstances.



Bitterness is a strange fruit.
The less you like it



the more you eat.
But it's the meal of a misfit.



A heaping portion of self-pity & cynicism
and there's always seconds.



A man but a misfit
trapped on the Island of Misfit Toys



because no one wants to play with you,



but you don't even want
to play with yourself.



You're too gay
to belong to a straight world,

too strange and self-hating
to belong to a gay world.
So you engross yourself
in the Women's Movement
just enough to feel
perfectly out of place.


A sadomasochist in search of vanilla,
you long for a quiet escape.
Yet sigh at the impending boredom of it all.

But at least you can dream.
And so you do.
Through the bottom
of an empty cocktail glass
or the smoke of your last cigarette.


You dream of far away.
Of the bracing cold
followed by the sting of the sun,
knowing you only need
look down the barrel,
pull the trigger,
and go.

But you're too alive
to belong to a dead world.
So you just go on being

a misfit.

58 comments:

  1. The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. ~Friedrich Nietzsche

    This has been an extremely touching and educational reading that I will gladly share. Thank you.

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  2. Mon Oncle, these are CHILDREN. How horrible and what a judgment on us.

    I couldn't find your first post and I couldn't remember all of my comment there, but I would say it all again. Someone sent those friends to you on that bridge that night. The same person who has arms open for these poor kids coming home.

    ML
    mlanesepic.blogspot.com

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  3. I am speechless at the horror that has been taking place in this country, and so very sad about these poor children who felt that they had no other option but to take their own lives. We cannot allow this to happen in America in 2010!
    I applaud you for sharing your story, and I'm going to the Trevor Project site right now.

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  4. Thank you for telling your story. I wish with all my heart that no one would ever have to go through something like this again.

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  5. I love you and I'm proud of you for this post.

    xoxo

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  6. Bradford, I know we don't know each other too well. But I know enough to know that you are special. You always seem so positive, so enthusiastic about the things you love, and you always, ALWAYS make me laugh. I feel honored to know more about your story and horrified to know about your childhood past. I thank those 2 friends who followed you to the bridge too, and so happy that you pushed through and made it to the other side. I hope many people will read this and feel inspired by this post. The stories of bullying terrifies me so much as a parent. Been working on a post myself. I think we all have stories to tell....

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  7. I personally want to punch out your tormentors. There is no excuse for their cruelty and it breaks my heart that you went through that. Luckily, you seem to have avoided it tainting your soul and we are fortunate that those young men cared enough to follow you. It is horrible that this degree of hate and discrimination still exists today. Heaven help us...

    Thank you for sharing, and I will spread the message, too.

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  8. not surprised to hear this, since i was also at X. had a few freinds experience the same. unfortunately there is always some asshole out there where ever you go. but there were also alot there with compassion and empathy. so all in all that is waht i keep from my time there.
    being from Houston and almost beat up helping a friend of mine during the week that paul broussard was killed. (probably the same red necks). i understand your plight.
    i always wish for a day that all may be accepted for who they are and what they bring to the table. it is sad what happened to asher brown the past couple of weeks. we are not zoned to hamilton but not far from it. so it does effect our community. my children are not old enough to understand what has happened but mike and i always make a point of them seeing people for who they are and that they all have a right to be who they are.
    thank you for sharing. i know how hard it was to do. times like these we can only pray that someone, even if it is one person will learn from this and change the tide.
    love you! take care!

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  9. thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU for being so open, honest and personal with your life, especially in these difficult recent weeks. I have a lot of good friends who went through similar turmoil as a teen and let's face it, being a teenager is rough, no matter what. It's a cruel twist of fate that during the most hormonally tumultuous time of our lives, we're all thrown in a fishbowl of fellow neurotic teens, struggling to find their place in the universe. I'm glad you posted this and shared your personal art. You fight the bullies of the world when you send your message out like this, because you're helping anyone feeling lost, reminding them that no one is alone!

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  10. I am slammed by your truth and brutal tale. Crying. As I have said before I have a 20 year old son, Spencer, who is gay. I chose to put him in an alternative HS because the public school said he would be eaten alive. Sad but true. There is a bench at that very high school with a tree planted in honor of a gay young man this very school ate and spit out.
    It's not the school though-it's the people and parents and fear mongers that encourage the small to bully and worse than the bullies are the bystanders. They are the only ones who can change. . I know my beautiful boy has tales of agony that he doesn't share. I am sorry for that. I do know that it nearly killed him coming to terms with who he is. I am so glad he is my son. I wrote a post a few days ago in honor of Tyler. I am so grateful I know someone like you who writes with such love and honesty. It ain't all about the pretty.
    Love you Uncle B.

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  11. Damn. I popped over here from Tartanscot and you made me cry. Difficult thing to do. Wonderfully written. (Hmm...Newfie Guardian Angels.)

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  12. I'm left with a lump in my throat and just want to say thank you so very much for sharing your story.

    A very big hug goes out to you.

    I myself was bully a very large part of my school life... my safe haven was the music department where I would hide out and play the cello.

    It shocks me to the very core that we still in United States do not have equality for all.

    Kindly ~ Elizabeth

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  13. misfit no more. any of us.

    thanks, bradford.

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  14. Bradford, lump in my throat, tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing your past with us. I cannot even imagine the horror you suffered all of those years. Kids can be so cruel, but this is even beyond that.

    Thank God for those two friends who followed you to the bridge and gave you your life back. It's amazing that you have the spunk and sense of humor you do, having gone through all of what you did.

    The thought of gay teens committing suicide is horrifying. I thought we've come further than that. When I was in high school in the 70's, no one would "come out." You had an inkling that someone was gay, but it was not discussed. I don't remember my gay friends being tormented...perhaps people in the Bay Area were a bit more forgiving or liberal?

    I've had my share of trauma and torment for being Jewish such as Swastikas on my desk, name-calling, accused of killing Jesus, etc. It's so cruel just because we're different.

    We definitely must support the Trevor Project. This cannot go on.

    Thanks again for sharing your most painful story with us...

    Lynn

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  15. I love you Uncle! Not just for your bravery, but for your willingness to share a particularly horrible portion of your life. My best friend since we were 7 years old is gay. He went through all of the same things you did, and I love and respect you both for your fortitude. Your life has worth, beauty and importance, do not ever forget that. Just be yourself, the very best self that you can be, that is what's important. Have a beautiful life, living well is the best revenge!

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  16. thank goodness for those two angels to help you. i'm so sorry you've had to endure such torment. nobody should have to go through that. everyone should be treated with love and respect. you are a courageous man. i appreciate your contributions to the world. xoxo

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  17. Thank you so much for sharing. What in the world is wrong with this world?

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  19. Thank you for your post.
    What of the poor man who was recorded with Tyler? Is there any news of his well-being?

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  20. Thank you for sharing, it's been a very intense and passionate reading. There are so many ways to deem a person a "misfit". It's sad, when individuality and knowledge of who you are becomes a pejorative.

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  21. I'm just so, so saddened to hear your story. Nobody should be subjected to such cruelty, yet there are so many stories just like your own. I'm so pleased you had someone there at such a dark time, what a wonderful gift.

    No one should be defined by their sexuality, not then and not now. I hope my boys grow up accepting people of all shapes and sizes, gay, straight, black, white or purple with pink spots.

    I hope your post gives strength to others, and opens other people's eyes to a really important issue.

    Thank you for sharing.

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  22. wow. powerful post...it is a shame how we treat those that we percieve as different from us...and what it does to them..and to us.

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  23. What is there to say, I struggle to find the "right" words but I guess there really is no such thing. I can say that I appreciate you for sharing this story, I appreciate those two young men for coming into your life at just the right moment so that you are her to share your joy, your talent, your spirit. I will never fully understand the hate you've experience but just know now that you are loved.

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  24. Thank you so much for writing this and posting it. It is so important for all of us to say "enough!" and voices like yours will hopefully get us all closer to common acceptance and understanding.

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  25. Oh, my friend...firstly, let me say "thank you" for sharing your story with us. It can't have been easy to share but, so important for you and others. Secondly, let me say I am so sorry that your growing up was hell- that breaks my heart into a million pieces. And lastly, I want to say that that I stand 110% behind you & anyone who feels disenfranchised and demands to be who they are on their own terms. I feel honored to know you (even if only a tiny bit) and am sending so much love your way.
    xoxo
    Melis

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  26. I am so glad you shared this story. I know it must have been incredibly difficult to write.

    I have two very close family members who experienced cruel bullying (one for being a lesbian, the other for being overweight), and it was horrible to watch them go through that.

    I am so glad we met on twitter, and I LOVE your tweets, posts, sense of humor and supportive nature.

    xxoo
    Nichole

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  27. read every single word. twice.

    this was a gift. thank you.

    {mookie.}

    it WILL stick!

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  28. It's incredible how you've shared your experiences and horrifying to think it's something that continues to happen.

    Your bravely is inspiring and touching.

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  29. Beefy you are truly unique and inspiring. Love you thru your posts and glad you share yourself with us!

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  30. Beef - these things were happening to me at probably the same time they were happening to you.

    But, I never had two guardian angels from Newfoundland.

    My story is way too long to share in your comments, but if you'd like to hear it, I'd really like to share it with you.

    XOXO

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  31. Thank you for bravely sharing your story and contributing to the hope that others won't continue to experience such cruelty. How ashamed I would have been to known any of those capable of it. So glad that you have prevailed and seem to be thriving. xo

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  32. My heart is aching. Your words moved me to tears. That you suffered in this way is simply horrid. Unspeakable. But spoke it, you have. And beautifully. That boy they taunted and hurt was a master of words, images, humour, open-ness, grace and friendship that crosses virtual bounds and miles. I am so grateful for Harold and Corey, and for you.

    I tell my 4-year old daughter, when she talks of fairy tales and of meeting her prince one day, 'some princes marry princes,' and so far, thanks also to time spent with her gay godfather and his partner, her 'normal' includes princes and princesses in same-sex relationships. Your post has reminded me how important it is to keep that 'normal' alive.

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  33. Uncle B - I know you mostly focus on visually beautiful things on your blog. But your readers and those lucky enough to know you in person know that the most beautiful thing here is the person behind this blog - YOU. Both inside and out. Thank you for showing us a real piece of yourself in this post. Your story is so important! I feel so lucky to call you my friend and am so glad we met all those years ago. Love you so much - Julia

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  34. Thank you for this post. For your raw honesty that is painful to read. I always think of her now when I think of you and thought this seemed fitting: I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing.
    Anais Nin

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  35. Thank you for being you. And thank you for being so honest and open. I am also so very thankful that you're here today sharing your love, creativity and enthusiasm with all of us. You're such a talent, Bradford! Keep shining and I know others will find comfort and support in your words and story.

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  36. speechless.
    thank you for your honesty.
    you have meaning and purpose, obvious through your sharing.... as i know you have touched many of us.
    reflecting is healing.
    hugs from sf to sea.

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  37. Thank you so much for sharing your story – it can't have been easy, but I'm sure it was worth it.

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  38. Wow Bradford, thank you. I walked a similar path. Different enough that it's my story but it's no different really from the story of any of gay man our age. If I could travel back through time I'd telly my teenage self that it does get better. Better beyond your wildest imaginings and in a lot of ways it's made better from the rough road. But that's my reality and my life and my past and I can't help but wonder what it would be like if the road were smoother. I don't really have a point or anything profound to say beyond thanking you for your candor. Bravo.

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  39. Thank you for sharing my friend. I am glad you are here to share and hopefully help someone else in need. A BIG thank you to the 2 special angels who followed you to that bridge. Sending you many hugs and kisses. xo

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  40. Bradford, I love you so much. I still have the print out from the first time you posted this when Prop 8 passed.

    Misfit no more. Your are so strong, so beautiful, and an inspiration to us all.

    xoxo

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  41. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU... Everyone!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. Or, in some cases, re-read. I know it's a LONG one so I appreciate all of you taking your time, then, to stop and leave your thoughts, support, and kind words.

    It means a great deal to me. More than my own words could possibly express.

    Be well today and always, Kids!

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  42. I have gratitude and respect for your courageous, heartfelt post.

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  43. I just wanted to thank you for your courage and candor. The world needs more people like you. I'm so saddened by all that you have been through and am so glad you are still here to touch peoples lives and hearts with your story. Thank you!
    -Ez

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  44. thanks for leaving this post up. it sometimes has to get worse before it can get better- the issue has to become part of the fabric-maybe by ripping a hole in it first, eh?
    everyone is healing and everyone is healing everyone else.
    much love

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  45. I'm just reading this now and have tears in my eyes...thank you for being so open and for sharing your heart. The sad thing is that there have been so many teens that have suffered, for so many different reasons, with no where to turn and no one to help. Kindness, love, gentleness and repect should be taught and shown in school from day one (and at home)...for the benefit of all, the bully's too. How lost a person must be, to be so cruel.

    Blessing's to those angels whom God sent...and blessings to you dear U.B., again, thank you for baring your heart. xo J~

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  46. thank goodness for lunch breaks at work so i could finally sit down to read this. i've had a bookmarked for a day or two but i knew it would require my undivided attention.
    uncle beefy, i've always liked your blog, your sense of style and your writing. but this- this is a whole other level admiration because you were brave enough to lay it out there. to tell your story. as appalled as i am at some people's cruelty and ignorance, i walk away from this feeling mostly inspired and hopeful. thank you.

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  47. Beefy-
    I've been lurking on your site since we "met" a couple years ago when you made lovely comments regarding my place featured on Design Sponge. This post made me have to write.
    I was so moved, I've read it several times.
    Thanks for posting this important message. Without people like you, the world would be a much uglier place.

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  48. This is such a brave post. As a good friend of someone who didn't come out until after college because he was scared (we dated out Freshman year of high school and I remember guys calling him fag and bastard because his dad died when he was young). I know the difficulties that can go on and I'm amazed at how many kids are coming out earlier. All I can say is that I have never seen my friend this happy. He has a burden off his shoulders and is living life the way he wants to. That's all I want for any gay person.

    thank you for sharing. thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  49. I am speechless.

    Really. How do I even begin? And this was real life.

    And to think the internet has made people even scarier yet? There are no repercussions - nasty behavior can hide behind a computer screen.

    Thank you for telling your story.
    Much love,
    ABCD

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  50. Thanks for posting that. I can't wait to share it.

    I too was bullied in school. Not for being gay but for being new. I would get pushed, prodded, tripped and insulted in the hallway along with the blind girl I would help from class to class. When I would come home crying, or more often than not, skip school and be home crying when my mother arrived...she would try to console me, fabricate some answer as to why these kids were so mean. What could she say?

    I barely finished school because of them. Hating me just because I was different. Thank GOD I was different.

    My sweet revenge came when my older brother opened the coolest nightclub around, when I was around 20. Everyone in a 30 mile radius would wait in line to see the likes of David Byrne, Dave Matthews, Jakob Dylan.....I was at the door surrounded by huge doormen, with a clip board. I would not let any of those bullies in, and made sure to tell them exactly why not. It felt great. Now 20 years later when they try and 'friend' me on facebook I laugh, yeah, I wanna be YOUR friend! HA!

    I can't imagine the pain and suffering you went through... if my experience, which pales, was the worst time of my life. I have helped some younger friends and co-workers to come-out. My feeling was that it was getting easier for kids as we 'advanced' as a culture. Maybe not.

    I'd love to have you over if you are local (we are in So CT), and have some killer barn parties...Soul Train is the next one! Just like the good old days..after middle school!

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  51. Thanks for posting that. I can't wait to share it.

    I too was bullied in school. Not for being gay but for being new. I barely finished school because of them. Hating me just because I was different. Thank GOD I was different.

    My sweet revenge came when my older brother opened the coolest nightclub around, when I was 20. Everyone in a 30 mile radius would wait in line to see the likes of David Byrne, Dave Matthews, Jakob Dylan.....I was at the door surrounded by huge doormen, with a clip board. I would not let any of those bullies in, and made sure to tell them exactly why not. It felt great. Now 20 years later when they try and 'friend' me on facebook I laugh, yeah, I wanna be YOUR friend! HA!

    I can't imagine the pain and suffering you went through... if my experience, which pales, was the worst time of my life. I have helped some younger friends and co-workers to come-out. My feeling was that it was getting easier for kids as we 'advanced' as a culture. Maybe not.

    I'd love to have you over if you are local (we are in So CT), and have some killer barn parties...Soul Train is the next one! Just like the good old days..after middle school!

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  52. Wow. Just wow.

    Thank you for being brave enough to share. I feel touched and lucky to have found this post and know that so many others will likely come along and feel the same way.

    You rock pretty damn hard.
    xo

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  53. My heart breaks.....this moved me to tears.I too suffered cruel taunts and abuse as a child because I was "different"....I was a Jamaican child suddenly living in an all white small town with a very, very small mind....It was a living hell but I think we're stronger people for it.
    God bless and thanks for sharing your incredibly moving story.
    Shawn

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  54. I had a feeling I would like you when I saw that you listed "Stranger Than Fiction" and "The Constant Gardener" among your favorite movies. But I knew it for sure after I read this. I hope people understand the courage it took for you to post this. And I'm glad I found your site (through Say Yes to Hoboken).

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  55. I just read the post which Linda Bullock posted on her FB page and commented there but I wanted to share it here as well -- It is really hard to comment on this post because there is so much to say but I will try to sum it up - first, how sad that this was written six years ago about experiences years before that and that so many minds still need to open - secondly, I always think of the Martin Luther King Jr. 'I have a dream" speech which says so much about equality and justice but in particular that we judge on the content of their character. Bradford Crowder your character speaks volumes about you and the wonderful, truthful person you are and the actions of others, well, they speak volumes as well. Peace PS - I love your publishing policy

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I always appreciate your thoughts. Your comment will appear as soon as I can publish it.

p.s. - Contrary opinions or constructive criticism are also fine but "The Bedlam" doesnt' serve as a platform for random (or anonymous) acts of offensiveness. Rude? Deleted.