- Posted March 9, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
'The Bully Effect': Making it stop
Growing up a FAGG
On April 30, 1977, my parents changed my name to Troy William Flagg.
The first time I was ever called a fagot was the summer of 1972, right after the end of 2nd grade. I didn't even know what a fagot was. I asked my mommy. She told me that fagots were very bad man that didn't like girls. I didn't understand why I would be called this - I liked girls just fine.
As the years went on, the harassment became more and more intense. In fifth and sixth grades, I would get bullied on the bus to and from school. I still didn't know what a fag was, but I made the mistake of telling a boy in a note that I thought he was cool and signed my name. That day after school, I was beaten by several older boys. This was the first time I couldn't hide my bruises when I came home from school. Up to that point, I had kept my beatings a secret because I thought it would anger my parents. I thought they would be angry because kids at school thought I was one of these bad guys that didn't like girls. I had to tell them everything. My mom told me she knew I wasn't a bad person and to just laugh it off when people called me names. This did not help.
By seventh grade, the beatings on the school bus, at school, and especially in the school locker room, became worse and worse - bruises on top of bruises. I can remember sitting at the bottom of the steps in the basement and listening to my parents discuss my situation. I'll never forget the day I heard my mom crying to my dad that she was afraid that "they're going to kill our son". Later that year, my parents changed the last names of the children in our family to "Flagg".
We moved six months later across town and I switched schools, but the tormenting continued and intensified. I would try to get out of gym class so I would get beaten in the locker room. In swim class in 9th grade, older students would take turns holding me under water while saying "let's drown the fag". I wanted out of swim class so badly, I tried to break my own leg by dropping a bowling ball on my leg over and over again - I only achieved causing more bruising. Had I really thought suicide was a viable option, I would have easily had the means - we have several guns in the home - but I was concerned it would hurt my mom too much. I was so happy when I didn't have to take any more gym credits.
I still tried to excel. I ran for student body government. I was editor of the yearbook and earned a few college scholarships. I remember, at the awards ceremony for the scholarships, with my parents proudly in attendance, when my name was announced, other students shouted "fagot". It even happened at graduation, but such is life. And yes, that which doesn't kill you, sometimes only makes you stronger.
I know I've gone on and on - I had a lot to share. Growing up was difficult. But it's definitely true - it does get better. I am stronger now having made it through.
Bullying should be treated for what it is - assault and harassment. This behavior would not be tolerated for a second in the work place, or on the streets as anything but a crime. I'm not saying lock up every child that has ever called another child a name - but don't we all deserve a feeling of security?