Ose Arheghan, they/them
The onus to stop bullying is never on those facing harassment. However, if I had to give advice to a young person experiencing bullying, I would encourage them to stand proud in who they are, and find a community who celebrate them for it. Trying to fit in never did anyone much good. All the most inspirational activists, creatives, leaders, and visionaries stood out from the pack because they decided to be different.
To confidently stand up and say “this is who I am, and I am not ashamed” is something many are not ready to hear because internally, they are unsure of themselves. Their anger and ignorance should never dull your shine. Words hurt, and they leave a longer-last impact than bullies anticipate, but personally — I wouldn’t trade the freedom I found by being confidently and unapologetically out for safety from those bullies because my authenticity is precious to me.
Sage Dolan-Sandrino, she/her
You are worth it, you matter, I love you! Last week, I turned 20 years old. Just two years before, I was still struggling to love myself, find community, and feel safe. High school and middle school are now distant memories—many of them sad, many of them hurt. Surrounded by people who barely know who they are, it was easy to stand out for standing in my truth. You deserve happiness, safety, love, friendship, protection—and it is all out there waiting for you! You are incredible and beautiful—you hear it far too often, but you are strong! Ask your friends, teachers, and organizations like GLAAD for help and resources to take action against bullies. Create your own safe spaces. I created my own zine and studio, @theteammag, to create art with fellow Black, Brown, and queer artists—people who look like, see, and value me. I’m here for you, all your fellow queers are. Don’t hesitate to call on us.
Sarah Huckman, she/her
Through my years of coming out as transgender, I have come across many close-minded people. Dealing with them was something that took a while to master. At first, I was ashamed and scared to confront the people who had rude things to say, but over the time, I realized that I am myself and no one can take that away from me. To you, someone who is struggling with bullying, take root in yourself and others who support and love you. But most importantly, remember that you are your own person and no one can take that away from you. Keep being awesome and live life to the fullest!
Shannon Li, she/her or they/them
For any LGBTQ+ youth experiencing bullying, know that there are so many people and communities here for you. We, unfortunately, do not live in a world that is built for queer folks like us. Yet, so many milestones made, beauty brought in, and successes created in our world have been built by and paved forward by queer pioneers, activists, and every queer person in between who had to utilize the resources they were given. There’s a saying that “it’s not the cards you’re dealt, but how you play your hand.” Create that inclusive and safe space for yourself and other LGBTQ youth. Advocate for visibility and representation for LGBTQ folks in the classroom and beyond. Never be afraid to reach out for help. Take action, and know that it is never your fault. Be unapologetically yourself. You, and only you can choose how to define yourself (with or without labels). No one else can take charge of your story other than yourself, so never lose sight of that. There are so many folks out there from allies close to you and strangers who are willing to accept you with open arms and help you navigate through any experience with bullying. One thing is for sure — I am standing here with you.