Friday, October 1, 2010

It Gets Better: In the meantime, watch more horror movies…

This rash of reported suicides of bullied gay teenagers has got me thinking. Fucking fuming is more like it. As I sit in my protected world, far from the psychological meat grinder of public high school, I realize how lucky I was to survive.

I dealt with homophobic bullies from 5th grade until my senior year in high school. I had friends, but since I wasn’t out to them until my 20s, I repressed a lot of my anger. As a result, I was plagued by hidden obsessive thoughts of suicide and violent revenge against the bullies. Thankfully I never acted on either.

Though Dan Savage and Ellen DeGeneres are doing the right thing by letting troubled gay teens know that things do get better (and they do, TRUST ME, they do), I’d like to address those darker regions of the gay teen mind that even the most caring, responsible message cannot reach. The only way I could reach those places as a teen was HORROR.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s – the golden age of feminism, sexual and gay liberation, and the slasher movie. Slasher movies for me were a trip into the dark reaches of my own mind and a way to reconcile subconscious forces that threatened to undermine my psychological health.

The final girl was always a sex shy tomboy – a perfect avatar for my own sexual repression, self-doubt, and self-loathing. The depression part of repression.

floating on a sea of sadness...

The slasher was also a perfect avatar for my repressed primal rage and internalized homophobia. The angry, destructive part of repression.

i will cut a bitch...

Via slasher movies I could have a fully satisfying psychological experience. First, I could enjoy watching a batch of overprivileged, horny, irresponsible hetero teens get violent consequences dished out to them via chainsaw, razor blade, pitchfork, or George Foreman grill -- essentially playing out my own fantasies of violent revenge against my peers in a safe, non-destructive way.

that's mr. faggot to you...

Then, when the slasher and final girl faced off, it was a chance for me to watch the two disconnected aspects of myself face off. Would the inner wounded rage (slasher) finally kill off the weakened, depressed sense of self (final girl)?

this inner struggle is killing me...

But the slasher never wins. The final girl always manages to stop running away, face down her demon, get out of her shamed fetal position and triumph over the slasher. Symbolically, she integrates the slasher's rage, fighting fire with fire, pulling her out of her depression so she can destroy her (inner) demon.

the revolution within...

High school is not a slasher movie. It is a series of indignities that you just have to endure. I can tell you that it was the worst time of my life. The minute I graduated, my life became immeasurably better. College is better. Your twenties are better. I’ve lived long enough to report that the thirties and forties are fucking amazing.

The teenage mind is cruel and absolute. It runs on rampaging hormones, ego, and insecurity. Teens haven’t lived long enough to understand consequence or self-awareness. Most of these bullies will become miserable adults, attracting misery to themselves. They may not get a hatchet in their face, but their karmic wheel will turn.

what's the number for the glenn beck show again?

Others may even change. Some of the kids that made my teen life miserable have become good people who since apologized for their behavior.

Either way, know that they don’t matter and your life will become fabulous … so let it.

i rule!

In the meantime, focus on school, and hang out with the nerds and arty rejects in school. They’re the ones that have the kindest hearts and will be going places.

And watch more horror movies. You’ll be glad you did.

Get involved:

It Gets Better Project YouTube Channel

The Trevor Project


  1. dude. that was awesome. thanks for posting. (hugs if you'll take it)

  2. Sound advice to every gay kid suffering through the public school system.

  3. Phenomenal post. That was truly awesome, Tim, thanks.