In sixth grade, the school year started out the same as previous years. I was very anxious the first day. That's just how I've always been.
Then my best friend arrived and everything was great. The anxiety went away.
The first few months of school continued to be great. I have a few nice memories involving this best friend.
Then one day, out of the blue, this best friend decided he didn't want to be friends anymore. I'm not sure why. Kids do the darnedest things. In his defense, maybe he was going through tough times at home. Or, maybe I said something he didn't like.
That might not have affected me much if that was the end of the story. But, it was what this ex-friend did next that really damaged me.
He proceeded to tell others that I was gay. In particular that me and another kid we hung out with were gay.
I knew then and I know now that there's nothing wrong with being gay. I was never homophobic. But, I grew up in a small town which was. So, why did this bother me then?
It psychologically hurt me because of the fact that it was a small town where being gay, in general, wasn't accepted. This was also years ago. Today, different sexualities are more accepted. Well, I guess it still depends on the town. And, yes, this was years ago, but not really that long ago in the grand scheme of things. In other words, as a side note, it's amazing how much more accepting people have become in a relatively short amount of time.
Because of the time period, and the small town, a rumor like that one made the rest of my sixth grade year very hard. Maybe if I was a mentally stronger kid it wouldn't have bothered me. Again, I knew, even as a sixth grader that being gay was fine. I've always thought that it doesn't matter who you love. Love is love. But again, due to the type of people in this town, most of the kids turned against me.
It went from gay jokes to being completely shut out. Somehow, a group of kids including this ex-best friend, were able to get the teacher to let them all sit together. They purposely made sure I wasn't included.
Since me and this other friend were associated together, I then started being mean to that friend. Distancing myself. I just wanted the name calling and hatefulness to go away. I figured if I kept hanging out with this kid who was also part of this rumor (that we were both gay and together) that things would never go back to normal. So, I hurt this other kid. By distancing myself and not being his friend anymore. I feel bad about that to this day.
Suddenly, I had zero friends. I just distanced myself from the one friend I had left and all the other kids believed this rumor that I was gay. Or, they didn't care if it was true or not, they just sided with my ex-best friend and turned against me.
On one hand, it was long ago, we were dumb kids, and I love gay people; I love all people. So, on one hand it doesn't matter. But, on the other hand, obviously, if I'm still thinking about it, it really affected me.
And, it's not even the gay part that matters. It was more about the fact that this ex-best friend turned everyone against me. I dreaded going to school the rest of the year.
The moral of the story is: be kind. As you can see, being mean to someone, could potentially stick with them the rest of their lives and really cause some damage. And, since this kind of thing tends to happen in schools, we need to teach our children right from wrong. The basic golden rule. Treat others as you would treat yourself.