Artyom / Russia
“For as long as I remember it’s been like this. From an early age I preferred playing doll games with girls rather than noisy games with boys. In my family everyone noticed I was different from other boys, and they tried to ‘fix’ me. They would say ‘Don’t be like a girl’, and I would say I wanted to be a girl. They would buy me toy cars which I wasn’t interested in, instead of the dolls I had requested.
But the serious problems began in school…
It was amazing the cruelty of guys in high school… Throwing my clothes out of my locker, and pushing me out of the locker room, insulting me, humiliating me – it became a daily routine.
And all of this (my problems at school) I kept secret from my family.
I was alone at school and alone at home because I couldn’t tell my parents about my problems.
So I became isolated. Alone at school, I silently tolerated the beatings, the mental and physical assault of my peers.
My stepfather was ashamed of me. He was annoyed that I was not like the sons of his friends. I didn’t like fishing (I was sorry to kill the fish) or playing football. I preferred planting flowers, and knitting in my garden. I was not interested in cars and other “boyish” toys. He was irritated by my, as he called them, “girly hobbies”.
My mother pretended not to notice my features.
At school, when I walked through the corridors, I always heard people shouting “there goes the fagot”. And everyone would look at me. I didn’t want to look weak in front my parents, or vulnerable. I was ashamed to tell them that at school they called me gay. None of the teachers at the school, not once in five years, said anything to either of my parents about my problems.
They were silent. As I kept a silent.
So past 5 years.
Then I was transferred to another school. I didn’t want the same thing to happen at the new school, to become a local “celebrity”. So I decided to become a gray mouse. I didn’t say anything, didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t get close to anybody. I would come to school, sit quietly in the classroom, quiet when on break, and go home. But still, I did not go unnoticed.
I was no longer called ‘a fag’, they just thought I was weird – autism is easeir for others to tolerate than homosexuality.
The path of my boyhood – it was loneliness, loneliness, loneliness…
It seemed to me that I was the only one in the whole world.
The first time I asked God to take my life was when I was 12 years old.
At this age, I was going through a real identity crisis.
In the background were the problems of beatings and humiliations at school and was worsened the situation in the family …
At school I had no close friends. At home, I was also alone.
I remember how in 6th grade I liked a boy. He stood apart from everyone, as I did. I went to him to get acquainted. We talked until the end of break. After that he didn’t talk with me anymore. It turned out he was a newcomer. He didn’t know it was dangerous to talk with me, that he would be called gay after they’d seen us together. Since that day, in order to clear his reputation, he became one of the most active conspirators against me.
What should a child do in my case?
Nothing, except to bask in his warm world of dreams and fantasies.
I threw myself into the construction of a greenhouse of tropical plants, as compensation for the deficit of love I was neglected, and in communion with the temperature, the lighting, and the humidity. After school, I had tutoring, and when I returned home, I could sit in the greenhouse for hours, talking to the flowers, caring for them. I even turned on Tchaikovsky for them…
Surrounded by rudeness, boorishness and vulgarity, I turned to my inner world separated off from the outside with an impermeable barrier.
The period of fragile calm in my life was to be interrupted sharply.
It was when I was in the graduating class of school. One day at dinner, my mom said that she was getting divorced.
And it meant the end of everything for me.
My orchids died, my palm tree died. And I remember, as I sat there on the boxes, watching my orchids wither, knowing that all the little goodness that was in my life was over. A deep feeling of emptiness. I thought that my life was done.
I wanted to eat pills and disappear.
But then I was accepted into University to study psychology and it saved my life.
It was the first time in my life that my peers accepted me as a person, for who I am. And it changed me. They helped me. I felt better.
Now I’m 21 years old. I graduated from the department of psychology at the university, and I am very glad.”