By Summer Seasons

I’ll never forget the first time I experienced bullying in school. The kids always used to make fun of me because I was interested in fashion and they thought I talked like a girl. They’d go out of their way to follow me down the halls, trying to instill fear in me, and even physically pushing me into lockers or trash cans so that I’d trip or fall over. As a young boy I couldn’t really understand why anyone would do this. I was hated by these kids for no reason other than that I was different. I remember waiting until I got home to cry my eyes out because I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of knowing that they’d hurt me. Needless to say my life was miserable at that time.

I started doing drag to learn how to find the confidence inside myself that I couldn’t find with my peers at school. What it ended up giving me was much more — it allowed me to live in a fantasy that I never could have imagined. I could literally be any person I wanted, and I finally felt like I could be free! However, being a drag queen came with its own unique set of challenges.

I turned around with my purse in hand and aimed for the face.

A year or so into doing drag I was walking down Stark Street. I was on my way to a friend’s house in a skimpy army outfit. I remember feeling really beautiful. I had “borrowed” (taken without asking) my dad’s army issued ammunition box to use as my purse, and I loved my outfit. As walked I noticed the shadow of a long object behind me, and I immediately knew it was a baseball bat. I panicked and couldn’t decide what I was going to do. Everything inside me told me to run, but I was wearing very tall heels, so how could I outrun them? I could do what I always did, which was to just sit there and take whatever they were about to dish out to me, or I could stand and fight. I decided to fight; I was tired of being bullied, of not standing up for myself and allowing myself to be run over. I turned around with my purse in hand and aimed for the face. I connected with his face super hard and blood started pouring from his nose immediately. He began screaming in pain and dropped the bat. I kicked it away, and then turned around and ran at a full sprint to safety.

I remember sitting at my friend’s house bawling my eyes out because I’ve always been anti-violence, but something inside me finally felt alive. I now knew that I could take care of myself, and I wasn’t going to be afraid and let others dictate my actions. I walked tall and proud in the halls the next day. I wasn’t going to stand by and let the kids bully me anymore. That very same day the kids cornered me in the hallway, and this time I started screaming at them. I told them that I wasn’t going to take their bullying anymore and that I was ready to stand and defend myself.

The next year, I was riding the bus and these guys started yelling obscenities at me, and no matter what I told the bus driver they kept allowing it to happen. Something told me that I was going to have to defend myself, so I reached inside my bag and grabbed my tweezers and stuck them in between my fingers. I got off the bus a stop early just to be sure I could remain safe, as there were three of them and one of me, but sure enough they followed me by getting out at the next stop and heading my way. This was before cell phones, so I had only one choice and that was to stand my ground. They started walking towards me saying ugly, vile things, but I was prepared to stand my ground. The first person came up to me and immediately started swinging, and I swung back. I hit him in the face with the tweezers hand. The next one came up behind me and I swung at him in the same manner, connecting with his arm. The third one jumped on my back and I bent over at the waist, making him fall off me. I swung right at his face as he hit the ground. Then I ran until I couldn’t run anymore.

What I learned about myself in those few short years was that I no longer had to hide in the shadows. I was a strong enough person that I could now fight for myself. I was no longer afraid of anyone who might harm me, because I could take care of myself. I learned that you have to be aware of your surroundings and that there is no wrong way to react in that kind of situation. Sometimes I was going to stand and fight and sometimes I would run, but no matter what happens I am a strong individual. I don’t have to be afraid of what might happen. In light of what is currently happening with the presidential administration it is important for all of us to remember that we can fight. We don’t have to sit on the sidelines and take the punches like they want us to. We can stay strong, be diligent and remember that all of us are in this together. I am here to fight with you, and while I don’t encourage violence, you must do what it takes to make sure that you are safe, because we have a long road ahead of us.

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