Heather O’Neill: Reach out to an adult who you think will understand. Do things. Try to find a community—online and offline. If possible, get a part-time job at a funky coffee shop or book store. Join a theater group. Volunteer at a women’s shelter. Take a writing or art or dance class at your local community college.
Trust that things will get better. Trust that you are not alone. Trust that the people who are bullying you are worse off in the end because they lack compassion. Trust that whatever is driving them to bully you is ugly and mean and sad as oppose to your sexuality, which is beautiful and unique.
Courtney Gillette: Maybe I’m bias in this piece of advice, as I’ve been scribbling innotebooks since I could hold a pen, but nothing in high school seemed to help me feel more, well, human, than being able to write things down. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Notebooks were the first place where I shaped the words about who I was, the girls I liked, the things I thought, the problems I had. Even if nobody saw what I wrote (and, sweet Jesus, I might’ve died if anyone did), there was my world and my life on the page. No one could argue with that. Especially when mean things were said, feelings were hurt, and being a lone queer in a huge high school in suburban Pennsylvania seemed so awful that I wanted to run away, I had a place to go: my notebook.
Lesley Goldberg: I’ve always been a tomboy. I grew up playing with Matchbox cars, Star Wars action figures and baseball cards. With a name like Lesley, the bullies had a field day. I heard "Lezzzley lesbian" almost every single day. At age 11, I didn’t even know what they were talking about. And more importantly, I didn’t care. I was happy being a tomboy with the best baseball card collection who knew more than the boys did; happy beating them at both baseball and basketball; happy being who I was, despite not knowing what a lesbian was. I just figured they were taunting me because they were jealous.
The older I got, the more I didn’t fit in. I didn’t have any friends who were girls; I had trouble talking to women; and just felt generally awkward. But I was still happy. Then it all clicked when at the age of 20 I finally figured out that yes, I really was Lezzzley lesbian. The awkwardness and lack of female friends faded and I was just as confident in myself as I was at 11 on the baseball field/basketball court. Then the taunting memories came rushing back and I realized that the school bullies might have seen something in me that I didn’t — maybe something that they saw and were afraid of in themselves.
My point is that it gets better. And my advice is to never change or be afraid to be who and what you are. Be proud. Stand up in the face of adversity and know that knowing who you and what you are is a gift that some people spend their entire lives trying to figure out. That our differences should be celebrated, and that being gay alone doesn’t define who you are. Surround yourself with friends and family who support you. Lean on them. Use resources including the Trevor Project, GLSEN and local PFLAG and Gay & Lesbian Centers. You are not alone. It gets better.