Thursday, June 4

AK Soufflé: Bully for me

- February 27, 2017


You might look at me and think that I am fairly tough, confident, outspoken and brave. In some ways I am – but it was not always that way.

Bullying is a vile thing and one that never seems to go away. There are people in this world who feel that they have the right to oppress and menace and it’s not easy to avoid them and even harder to stop them. You only need to watch the news or read the papers to see that evil is all around and all too often in the guise of the self righteous right.

Growing up gay in the 1960s and early ‘70s was strange. The world was getting used to a blurring of gender and sexual roles. Pop music was littered with ‘strange’ new artists who challenged so many preconceptions, David Bowie and Marc Bolan were not only amazing musicians, they were also champions of a new era in which men could celebrate their feminine side. Of course neither of them were actually gay, well I guess Bowie might have had his moments, but in the end he opted for a heterosexual life. I suppose now that might be labelled non-binary, whatever that might mean.

I knew I was gay pretty early on and being ‘artistic’ I think people accepted that I did not fall into the sporty butch boys camp. But that acceptance did not protect me from bullies, far from it.

Evil is all around: all too often in the guise of the self righteous right

It was only when I was much older that I came to really understand and accept the bullying that I had undergone. Why? Because I was bullied by someone who was meant to be a friend.

We were a fairly close group of friends at school, bonded by arts and music we thought but also by sexuality. Oh we never discussed it as a group but there were bonds between some of us that were undeniably sexual. One boy, the campest of the gang by a long chalk, and quite clearly in denial about his sexuality, was a bully and I was his target. It was relentless at times and distressing and it finally exploded into something of a breakdown on my part. One that I kept to myself for far too long.

Why am I talking about this now? Well I saw a post on Facebook from the writer Paul Burston, a gay figure that I greatly admire, pointing at internalised homophobia, hate within the gay world, not from outside it. It struck a harsh chord, and one that I never want to hear again but sadly one I am sure I will.

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