Everyone should watch this video. Dan Savage has started a new project, prompted by the suicide of a bullied gay teenager, Billy Lucas, in Indiana. So they’re trying to get the word out: It gets better. Don’t despair. And they’re collecting other people’s stories, too.
This particular project is specifically about giving gay kids the strength to carry on, but it’s not just gays who are made miserable by schools and religion and other agents of the enforcement of artificial norms. I suspect that the readership of Pharyngula, all you geeks and nerds and oddballs, is enriched for people who were outliers in their youth…and still are, but most of us have reconciled ourselves to our status. It gets better for all of us.
Another good essay to read is The disease called “Perfection”. We all face ridiculous expectations from our culture, and we all face these pressures to conform with the boring mundanes with their distressingly unrealistic and uninteresting ideals. I didn’t have the stigma of being gay, but I was the homely, unathletic, four-eyed weirdo no girl would look at twice…and I can say that it got better for me, and it can also get better for everyone.
By the way, Dan Savage also talks about the unenlightened oppression of a Catholic upbringing. If that’s your burden, rest assured that that can get better, too—you can become an ex-Catholic, and while the world may still be tinted in shades of sin and guilt for a long time to come, you’ll get better.
Hang in there.