James Gardner, aged 20, tells his story of discovering who he really is
I suffered homophobic language and bullying in my six years at school and I didn’t feel I had someone to talk to. To cope I pretended I couldn’t hear it and it didn’t bother me, but in reality I felt like I had to pretend to be a different person at school.
It was not until S6 when teachers began to realise something was up. I was getting bullied, but when asked, the only way I could cope was to say I wasn’t. “I don’t know what they are talking about” was my common reply. I knew the bullying could get worst, potentially, so to keep myself safe that was the way I felt I had to reply.
I found strength in discovering an LGBT youth group in Stirling called Triangle. After a few months of deciding whether to go or not, I made an enquiry online and after meeting with the youth worker I had the confidence to go along. The first time I went I felt I had found something that I needed. That night I cried myself to sleep, as for the first time I realised I was not alone and there was a welcoming and supportive group of young people like myself.
I suffered homophobic language and bullying in my six years at school and I didn’t feel I had someone to talk to
Once I had discovered Triangle, I began a journey to rediscover my real self after a long time of hiding under a pretend persona. This is where I found strength and I am now in a position where I can help others going through what I did to see that things do get better.
However, I want other people not to have to go to the lengths I did. The Silence Helps Homophobia campaign will help with this. If a school takes a stand on homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic language hopefully other young people will begin to feel safe in school, and proud to be who they are and not feel that they have to hide. Schools have a big part to play in making sure that everyone feels safe and included, and able to be themselves. This campaign I feel will help with this.
The Shh campaign video was made by young people in an LGBT youth group in Fife, and it shows the real experiences young people face and the way that it could be so different, if teachers had the confidence to confront homophobia. National Coming Out Day is really important as it is a day when coming out is celebrated.
Initiatives such as Silence Helps Homophobia and National Coming Out Day help make life better for LGBT young people, as they raise awareness of LGBT and this helps young people to feel a part of society.
The awareness raising day helps young people who may be feeling isolated, which is a common thing that people go though. Knowing that others have come out often helps young people to feel more confident in themselves as they learn that they are not something strange and nothing is wrong with them.