My Name is Jeff, and I’ve Been Bullied

Growing up in the South, the fact that I would rather hang in the kitchen with my mom and aunts instead of playing ball in the yard with my dad and uncles made it clear from an early age that I was not the boy my dad expected me to be. The obvious disdain for his son made me know that my father and I would never be close, never be respectful, that we would never love each other. At the age of twelve, I asked my father what he would do if I told him I am gay, and without hesitation, his response flew out before I had fully formed the question, “I would disown you.”, he said as he looked me square in the eye. This was the day I knew, without doubt, that I had no father. It would only be a few years later when he showed me that my thoughts were valid.

By the age of ten, the manner in which I was treated simply because I was different, had led me to the point of my first of many suicide attempts. I had no idea how I could live in a world that hated me for feelings that I myself had no understanding of at the time. I didn’t know what “gay” was as a child. I was called queer for years and had no idea what it really meant, I simply knew it wasn’t good. From spending my daylight hours facing torment and trauma at the hands of my classmates to going home to a father who knew he was raising a queer, and despised me for it; I saw no purpose in living in this Hell. After failing dozens of times at ending my life, at the age of fourteen, I chose to come out of the closet. I didn’t do this out of some need to be clear and honest, nor out of a desire to be accepted; I honestly looked at coming out as the one surefire way to end my life without failure. After all, I had been told for almost fifteen years that fags should be killed, so this had been what I was waiting on to happen, my final release. Ironically, most of the kids who had made my life hell for so long didn’t seem to care. The bullying stopped, and I felt free and normal for the first time in my life.

That peace did not last long, because my parents soon got wind of my new found freedom, and decided to “help” me by sending me to a new school where I could be pumped full of the love of God, and be freed from my sin of gayness. My nickname at this new school quickly became “Faggot Jeff”. This name haunted me for the first decades of my life, until a realization hit me– I do not have to hide from being who I am. I took Faggot Jeff and gave him a makeover. I began referring to myself as Gay Jeff, and soon found myself becoming known in the LGBT community as The Gay Jeff, someone who spoke out against the wrongdoings and immoral behavior of those who saw me as less than human. I took a name that had been used to destroy my peace as a child, and I turned it around to make it into a battle cry of sorts, a secret identity that freed me from being the oppressed, tortured little boy that I was, turning him into a force of good and truth for those who have faced the horrors that I have known. It was in doing this that I discovered something which I had never truly believed– It does get better. It gets better if we do not allow ourselves to remain victims of our tormentors, we have to make it it better.

The road to a better life is a road that is specific to the person traveling it, however, the pit stops often tend to be in the same area. For this reason, I would like to share with you how I was able to survive and strengthen myself. First of all, it took me discovering that I was not alone in my trauma. I believed that I was the only person who had ever faced such hardships and pain, yet once I started speaking with others and listening to their struggles, I found that I had been alone simply because I hadn’t reached out to anyone. By becoming a part of the growth and self-acceptance of others, I was able to become a part of my own personal growth and acceptance, this changed my life forever. I found that I was able to not only listen and actively care for those who shared the issues that I lived, but that I could actually do something to be sure that no one else ever had to suffer the way we did as children. This treasure of an idea was the birth of my adult life. It was my Jean Grey moment, the fires of hatred had been extinguished and I was finally able to rise from the ashes as the mighty Phoenix to strike out the hatred that had inundated our world and destroyed the peace living within our future’s most precious asset– our children. Which is why I chose to sign on as a member of the One Million Kids team, I know all too well how important it is for the children of today to know that they are loved and cherished for whomever they may be. They are our future, they are our legacy, and they are important.

My pledge to you is this: Whether you are a child who is currently facing the fear of getting on that bus and dealing with one more day of bullying from your peers, or you are an adult who is still reeling from the trauma you faced as a child– I need you to know that if you rise from the fall, if you reach out to those who are around you, if you seek a better life, you will find it.

    My Name is Jeff, and I’ve Survived Being Bullied

Voices of Children Amicus Brief Filed On Four Landmark Marriage Equality Cases

“You don’t think that a simple piece of paper designating your parents as ‘married’ can have a tangible difference on the bond you have with them — but it does. I watched decades of marginalization of my family fall away in the moment that the judge pronounced them as husband and husband.” – Jenny Rain, 44

Today the Family Equality Council filed an amicus brief (Click to Download Brief) with the United States Supreme Court in support of challenges to marriage bans for same-sex couples out of the Sixth Circuit. One Million Kids for Equality is proud to have joined in the collaborative effort to help youth across the country share stories of the effects that marriage has on their families.

“As a child of two dads, it’s such and honor to have a voice in this conversation. Often the Stories of Children of LGBT parents get lost in the shuffle of day to day advocacy, so being able to share our stories and perspectives about the parents we love has been a freeing experience. After four decades of not having a voice, today is an awesome day.” – One Million Kids Board Member Jenny Rain

As noted in Family Equality’s press release, “there are more than 18,000 children being raised by same-sex parents in the sixth circuit. The amicus brief, authored by pro bono counsel at Bryan Cave LLP, highlights the voices of children and young adults raised by same-sex couples. It asks the Court to consider the unique perspectives of children for whom the unavailability of marriage for their parents affects their legal standing and self-esteem. The youth at the heart of this brief assert that their parents are no less deserving of marital protections and privileges than families with different-sex parents.” “Additionally, the brief includes the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth who themselves may be the next generation of LGBT parents.”

“One Million Kids for Equality’s mission is to engage, educate and give youth a voice around equality. That being said, I cannot think of a better way to give youth a voice, than our partnership with the Family Equality Council to get the stories of youth in front of the Supreme Court. This is an amazing opportunity to change the lives of millions of children, parents, and families across this nation, and one we are proud to have been a part of.” –One Million Kids President Brad Delaney

One Million Kids partners with Family Equality Council For Voices Brief

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One Million Kids For Equality joins the Family Equality Council in gathering stories for Voices of Children amicus brief ahead of this summer’s historic ruling on marriage equality.

The “Voices of Children” brief is known for having been mentioned by Justice Kennedy during oral arguments in the Windsor case that ultimately brought down the Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, the brief has continued to resonate with courts across the country – most notably when Judge Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals referred to it specifically, by name, in several instances.

“One Million Kids For Equality’s mission is to engage, educate and give kids a voice around equality. That being said, I cannot think of a better way to give kids a voice, than to partner with the Family Equality Council to get the kid’s stories in front of the Supreme Court. This is an amazing opportunity to change the lives of millions of children, parents, and families across this nation, and one we are proud to be a part of.” –One Million Kids Founder Brad Delaney

As part of this program, we are specifically looking for stories from the children of LGBT parents living in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, or Tennessee. However, children of any age and from any area who can clearly articulate their thoughts around this issue are welcome to share.

Additionally, we are seeking stories from LGBTQ youth who are able to talk about how the denial of marriage affects their feelings of self-worth, belonging, etc.

This is an amazing opportunity to be a part of history – but time is of the essence. All briefs are due by Friday February 27th and Family Equality Council has set a deadline of February 18th, 2015 to get stories in for review. If you, or someone you know lives in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, or Tennessee and is raising children, please direct them to the link below to get more information and share their story.

[button class=”” link=”/voices-story/” bgcolor=”” textcolor=”” bordercolor=”” target=”_self”]Share Your Story[/button]

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Can “One Million Kids for Equality” Make a Difference?

Published on Mombian.

A new campaign launched yesterday with the goal of engaging one million kids—whether LGBTQ, children of LGBTQ parents, or allies—in advance of this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.

The campaign, One Million Kids For Equality, in coalition with The Personal Stories Project and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center, has launched a temporary website, Facebook page and Twitter account, and promises more in the weeks to come. It explains on the website:

We each have a story. Many of us were bullied in school for being different, some of us have been teased for having two moms or two dads, and still others have been beat up for standing up for a friend or loved one. Each of us has a dream. Some of us want to be able to walk hand in hand with the person we love without being stared at, some of us want to see our two moms married in our home state, or for our dad to be able to keep a picture of our family on his desk without fear of losing his job. Whatever your story, we invite you to join us as we work to build a movement to show that We Are. We Love. We Stand. United.

The name of the campaign is a direct jab at two campaigns from the anti-LGBTQ American Family Association. Its One Million Moms campaign, which aims to fight the “filth” and “negative influences” of the media and society on children, is best known for trying to organize a boycott of retailer J.C. Penney after the company hired Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson. The AFA launched the parallel One Million Dads campaign two days ago—one day before One Million Kids came to life.

It’s unclear exactly what One Million Kids has planned, but given how many young people have already spoken out for equality, whether in a brief to the Supreme Court, in person around the country, or as part of the Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day I host here every June, as well as in Gay Straight Alliance clubs in their schools, organizations like COLAGE and the Family Equality Council, and local groups like BAGLY (Boston Area GLBT Youth) , the campaign could be quite something. I hope it’s able to pull together all of the disparate threads of LGBTQ youth activism and direct them towards the marriage equality goal—and then (if I can speculate further) to additional goals such as employment nondiscrimination and transgender rights.

I know our kids are a powerful force. I can’t wait to see what more they can do.

LAUNCHED: One Million Kids For Equality

Published on Joe.My.God.

Via the Huffington Post:

The One Million Kids campaign launched Jan. 22 with the release of a new website, a Facebook page and a Twitter handle. Additional components will emerge over the coming weeks in an effort to give “kids, parents and allies a voice around LGBT equality,” according to founder Brad Delaney. The choice to name the campaign One Million Kids was “absolutely” an intentional one, especially in the wake of the One Million Dads news, Delaney said. “We hope that by adapting a similar name, we will be able to turn the conversation from one of hate to one of love and acceptance,” he said. He went on to note, “We foresee a day when a gay parent can put a picture of their family or partner on their desk at work without fear of being fired and the day when kids aren’t bullied by their peers for either being LGBT, being perceived as LBGT or having LGBT parents.”

Their website is here. (Tipped by JMG reader Mike)

Pro-LGBT Campaign One Million Kids Launches Ahead Of Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality Ruling

Published in The Huffington Post.

Ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court’s forthcoming ruling on same-sex marriage, a group billing itself as “an organization of folks from all walks of life” who support equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has launched.

The One Million Kids campaign launched Jan. 22 with the release of a new website, a Facebook page and a Twitter handle. Additional components will emerge over the coming weeks in an effort to give “kids, parents and allies a voice around LGBT equality,” according to founder Brad Delaney.

“Some of us identify as LGBT, some of us are allies, others grew up in families with loving, committed same-sex parents and ALL of us believe in full equality,” organizers wrote in press materials. “Whatever your story, we invite you to join us as we work to build a movement to show that We Are. We Love. We Stand. United.”

One Million Kids makes its virtual debut just one day after One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association best known for threatening to boycott JCPenney after the retail group hired Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson, announced the creation of One Million Dads.

Described as a group “for all men, not just fathers,” One Million Dads is a conservative website “that will encourage, motivate, and teach so men will have the leadership skills needed to disciple their family, church, and country,” according to One Million Moms’ Director Monica Cole.

The choice to name the campaign One Million Kids was “absolutely” an intentional one, especially in the wake of the One Million Dads news, Delaney said.

“We hope that by adapting a similar name, we will be able to turn the conversation from one of hate to one of love and acceptance,” he said.

He went on to note, “We foresee a day when a gay parent can put a picture of their family or partner on their desk at work without fear of being fired and the day when kids aren’t bullied by their peers for either being LGBT, being perceived as LBGT or having LGBT parents.”

Head here for more forthcoming information on One Million Kids.

One Million Kids for Equality Launches Before SCOTUS Ruling

Published in The Seattle Lesbian.

One Million Kids For Equality, in coalition with The Personal Stories Project and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center, have officially launched a historic and very ambitious campaign to engage One Million Kids ahead of this summer’s historic ruling on marriage equality.

The campaign started Thursday with the launch of a temporary website, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Over the coming weeks, organizers will be launching a full website that promises “many additional ways to get engaged.”

The website’s tagline reads: “One Million Kids For Equality is an organization of folks from all walks of life who support full equality for the LGBT community.”

Organizers say: “Some of us identify as LGBT, some of us are Allies, others grew up in families with loving, committed same-sex parents, and ALL of us believe in full equality.”

They continued, “We each have a story. Many of us were bullied in school for being different, some of us have been teased for having two moms or two dads, and still others have been beat up for standing up for a friend or loved one. Each of us has a dream. Some of us want to be able to walk hand in hand with the person we love without being stared at; some of us want to see our two moms married in our home state, or for our dad to be able to keep a picture of our family on his desk without fear of losing his job. Whatever your story, we invite you to join us as we work to build a movement to show that We Are. We Love. We Stand. United.

Join the conversation online by tweeting @kids4equality or liking their page on Facebook via facebook.com/kids4equality.

A mailing list has also been established via the website: Onemillionkids.org.

One Million Kids For Equality Launches Historic Campaign

The campaign starts today with the launch of a temporary website, a Facebook page and a Twitter page. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be launching a full website with many additional ways to get engaged.

“One Million Kids For Equality is an organization of folks from all walks of life who support full equality for the LGBT community.”
Some of us identify as LGBT, some of us are Allies, others grew up in families with loving, committed same-sex parents, and ALL of us believe in full equality.
We each have a story. Many of us were bullied in school for being different, some of us have been teased for having two moms or two dads, and still others have been beat up for standing up for a friend or loved one. Each of us has a dream. Some of us want to be able to walk hand in hand with the person we love without being stared at, some of us want to see our two moms married in our home state, or for our dad to be able to keep a picture of our family on his desk without fear of losing his job. Whatever your story, we invite you to join us as we work to build a movement to show that We Are. We Love. We Stand. United.”

Join the conversation online!

Tweet us at @kids4equality

Like Us On Facebook: facebook.com/kids4equality