Nicky Bronkhorst / The Netherlands
“When I was twelve years old, the bullying in high school started because of my gay sexuality. I didn’t have friends and every school day felt like a nightmare for me. They used to break my bicycle or laugh at me during the breaks, calling me faggot every day or wait up for me after school in groups. Even my gym teacher motivated the bullying in the gym classes telling me in front of everyone to not act like a ‘pussy’. For four years, I had been isolating myself in my room with my computer and games. I was too anxious to go outside and I felt very ashamed of myself being gay.
When I was 20 years old, I experienced a dangerous snowboard accident in Austria which almost killed me. After surviving my accident, it became the moment where my bully trauma from my youth came at me as a big slap in my face. I found out that I have been pushing away all those memories away. If I could turn back time, I wished that I asked for help and got out of my room reaching out to a LGQBTI community or asking professional mental support. Asking for help is strong because we all deserve to be who we are and never be ashamed for who we are. Because I want to stand up for people who feel different, I became a social worker supporting and coaching teenagers and young adults with autism who are facing modern life problems such as bullying or feeling different.”