Queer people who were bullied as teenagers and former tormentors sat down for an honest conversation about the abuse, as well as its impact and causes, in an emotional video.
The group of eight all bravely took part in the experience for a new clip published today by Them, a new LGBTQ community platform.
Cory Wade, Travii Bonilla, John Paul Brammer, Teagan Rabuano and Alexander Perez all described how they were abused verbally and physically by their peers. Then, the camera turned to Garrett Schlichte, a gay man, Meredith Talusan, a transgender woman, and Remy Duran, also a gay man, who all admitted to bullying other people.
Talk: Queer people who were bullied as teenagers and former tormentors sat down for an honest conversation about the abuse, as well as its impact and causes, in an emotional video
Honest: Cory, a former America’s Next Top Model contestant, recounts being bullied in school and explains how the abuse shattered his self-esteem
Looking back: Meanwhile, Travii, a lesbian, recalls being told by her tormentors that she was ‘worthless’, and later insists it’s important for people to know they can ask for help
The first part of the video features some of the participants recounting in heartbreaking detail how being bullied shattered their self-esteem.
‘I remember having a basket ball hurled at my head and literally going deaf for, like, five minutes,’ Cory, a former America’s Next Top Model contestant, says. ‘And the last word I heard before silence was “faggot.” ‘
Teagan, who identifies as nonbinary, meaning they don’t identify as either male or female, also recounted being called a ‘fag’.
Meanwhile, Travii, a lesbian, was told by her tormentors that she was ‘worthless’.
In a particularly heartbreaking incident, John Paul explained someone once hit him in the face with a hot dog, while saying: ‘What’s the matter, faggot, don’t you like this?’
‘Someone in my mind just sort of snapped and I remember going into the hallway and banging my head against the locker and saying, “I want to kill myself,” ‘ John Paul adds.
Cory also wrestled with suicidal thoughts, and Travii was told by other people she ‘should’ go kill herself.
Candid: Garrett, a gay man, honestly describes how he ended up being a bully because he was determined to appear as ‘mean’ and ‘scary’ to other people
Abuse: In a particularly heartbreaking incident, John Paul explained someone once hit him in the face with a hot dog, while saying: ‘What’s the matter, faggot, don’t you like this?’
Names: Teagan, who identifies as nonbinary, meaning they don’t identify as either male or female, also recounted being called a ‘fag’
Stories: Meredith, meanwhile, explains she sought to be an ‘excellent’ trans woman during her own transition and befriended a woman whom she ended up bullying
John Paul on occasion would play with his father’s gun and ‘think about doing it’.
Cory, one day, ‘saw red’ and shattered his bedroom mirror with his fist, injuring himself badly.
‘I really felt entirely alone and completely targeted by everyone,’ John Paul adds, echoing the echoes of the other participants, who all remember struggling to find anyone to support them or intervene.
About halfway through the video, it’s the bullies turn to honestly recount the struggles they caused to other people.
‘I’d convinced anyone who knows how, that I’d gone to middle school with, that I wasn’t gay, like I was for sure not gay, and so I doubled down on, like, “I’m going to be mean and you’re going to be afraid of me,’ Garrett recalls.
He later adds: ‘There was this girl, I made a very stupid joke and the second that I said it all of the color drained from her face, and she just started to cry and everyone around her started to cry, and she’s standing there getting wet and everyone’s laughing at this person who did absolutely nothing.’
Meredith, meanwhile, explains she sought to be an ‘excellent’ trans woman during her own transition and befriended a woman whom she ended up bullying.
‘Most people she interacted with could tell that she was trans relatively quickly. I used that opportunity to emphasize the contrast between the two of us,’ she says in the video. ‘Like, she needs a lot of contouring. I don’t need contouring. I know you like wearing heels but you shouldn’t wear heels because you’re already too tall.’
Account: Remy, a gay man, recounts being violent while trying to come to terms with his own sexuality and feeling like he had a lot of things to ‘prove’
Brave: All participants in the discussion open up extremely honestly about the abuse they endured or the bullying they were responsible for
Remy recounts being violent while trying to come to terms with his own sexuality.
‘I guess during my teenage years I had maybe realized that, like, “Maybe I kind of like boys also,” or something like that. I didn’t know yet. And I had a lot of things I felt I had to prove, especially being called gay,’ he says in an extended clip. ‘People see gay people as physically inferior so they can pick on you. Someone would call me gay, I’d, like, go in. You’d have f****d up teeth’
Meredith, Garrett and Remy all express regret for what they did, with Meredith saying she feels ‘terrible’ about it. Garrett is teaching his younger siblings to be ‘nice to gay people’, and Remy believes he could have avoided ‘being mean’ to many people if he had ‘thought about it more’.
‘I never, ever thought that things would turn out the way they turned out,’ Cory says. ‘I ended up capitalizing on the things that made me different, the things that I was ridiculed for.’
Travii, meanwhile, explains: ‘As I got older, I was like, “Wow. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to ask for help.” ‘