Stand Up! - Don't Stand for Homophobic Bullying
How to Deal With Homophobic Bullying
Being bullied for any reason can be a very hard thing to deal with. But being bullied because of your sexual orientation, or someone’s perception of it, can be extremely hurtful and discouraging. This can be especially true if you haven’t come out yet. You don’t have to let homophobic bullying ruin your life, or even your day, though. Remember that bullying is never okay, and that being bullied is never your fault. If you address it, seek support, take care of yourself, and make an effort to stop it from happening to others, you can deal with homophobic bullying.
Handling it When It’s Happening to You
Don't react to the bully.Most of the time, people bully because they want to get a reaction from you. Homophobic bullies try to use your sexual orientation as a way to upset you and make themselves feel better about something they don’t understand.Deal with it by not giving them the satisfaction of a response.
- Responding to the bully when you are upset could cause you to say or do something that could make the situation worse, like getting into a physical altercation.
- Don’t react even if you aren’t homosexual and the bully is saying that you are. Denying it will give the bully a reason to continue bothering you.
- If you haven’t come out yet, reacting to the bully might cause you to accidentally out yourself out of anger.
- Just walk past them and ignore their comments and taunts. If you can’t walk away, then turn your attention to something else.
- If the bullying is happening online, you still shouldn’t respond. Posting a response could make the situation worse. Block the bully or hide their posts on your feed. It may also help to stop using social media altogether for a while.
Calm down.It’s easy to get upset when someone is bullying you because of your sexual orientation. You may feel extremely angry, humiliated, anxious, or afraid. Deal with the situation by calming down first.
- Take a few deep, slow breaths to slow your heart rate and help you calm down.
- Take at least 3 deep breaths, but more if you need to.
- Relax your shoulders and release any tension you are holding in your body.
- You may need to think to yourself, “Relax your shoulders. Good. Relax your hands.”
Show confidence.You can deal with the homophobic bully by showing them how confident you are.This will show the bully that what they are doing has no power over you. They may lose interest in bullying you when they realize they don’t intimidate you.
- Even if you don’t feel confident, act like you do. You are the only person that knows that you are nervous, so try not to let it show.
- Take a deep breath. Stand up straight, with your head up, and shoulders back.
- If and when you talk to the bully, use a confident tone by keeping your voice calm, clear, and steady.
- Look the bully in the eyes when you interact with them (and anyone else). This lets them know you aren’t afraid.
Tell them to stop once you are calm.You can deal with homophobic bullying by telling the person to stop doing it.Letting them know in a direct way that you don’t like what they are doing and want them to quit may be enough to make them to stop.
- Try saying something like, “Stop bothering me. My sexuality has nothing to do with you, so leave me alone.”
- If it’s online bullying, you can send the person a private message telling them that their posts bother you and that they need to stop.
- You could even say something as simple as, “Leave me alone.”
- If they don’t stop bullying right then, don’t get into a confrontation. Just walk away before the situation gets out of hand.
Have a talk with them.Sometimes the bullying is because the person isn't informed about your sexuality or aware that what they are doing is hurtful.Explaining how their words and actions hurt you could help them to stop.
- Older people may have been raised to believe that homosexuality is wrong and may say things that are hurtful without meaning to.
- Your friends may not understand that saying things like “that’s gay” all the time hurts your feelings and is bullying.
- Try saying, “What you said hurt my feelings. Being gay is a part of who I am, but not all that I am. Would you like to talk about it so you can understand more?”
- Talking to your bully can be difficult or frightening. Consider bringing a supportive friend, family member, or authority figure (like a teacher or boss) along for help and moral support.
Involve an adult if you are a child or teenager.They can help you deal with the homophobic bullying by making the bully stop, protecting you, and giving you advice. If the bullying involves any type of physical contact or threats of harm or violence, you should immediately tell an adult like your parents, teachers, coach, or religious leader.
- You could say, “I need to talk to you about something that’s been going on. Someone has been bullying me because I’m a lesbian.”
- Give them details like when it started, how long it’s been going on, who is doing, and exactly what they are doing.
- You can still tell an adult, even if you haven’t come out yet.You can tell them, “I’m a victim of bullying” without confirming or denying your sexual orientation.
- If the first adult you talk to refuses to help you, don’t give up. Ask someone else, and don’t stop asking around until you find someone willing to help. You should not have to face bullying alone.
Tell someone you trust.You shouldn’t have to go through this alone and you don’t have to. Tell someone close to you what’s going on. They can help you deal with the homophobic bullying and the effects it may be having on you.
- Talk to your friends about how you feel about the bullying. Don’t be afraid to tell them when you are feeling depressed, anxious, or scared. That’s what friends are for.
- Your friends can help figure out ways to deal with the bullying and even help stand up for you.
- Don’t be embarrassed to tell your friends that you are being bullied because of your sexual orientation, even if you haven’t come out to them.
- If they know don’t know about your sexuality, you might just say, “Hey, guys, there’s a group of kids that harass me after school.”
- You can tell your friend something like, “I want to talk to you about someone bothering me,” if you don’t want to out yourself to your friend yet.
Hang out with a group.This will help you deal with what’s going on, because bullies usually wait until you’re alone to bother you. Not only can hanging around people that care about you help you feel good about yourself, but they can also help keep you safe from the bully, if necessary.
- Avoid being around the bully by yourself. Ask a friend (or 3) to go with you when you’re going places that the bully will be.
- Spend time with friends doing things that make you feel good about yourself, like volunteering or taking a class.
Talk to a professional.Sometimes the effects of homophobic bullying can be extremely bad. You may experience depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts. Talking to a professional like a therapist, counselor, doctor, psychologist, or religious leader can help you deal with the bullying and its effects on you.
- A therapist or counselor can teach you effective coping methods and relaxation techniques to help with the stress of being bullied.
- They can also help you deal with any negative feelings or lowered self-esteem you are experiencing. This is especially important if you haven’t come out yet.
- They will not try to make you be straight (or gay), but they can help you with any feelings or difficulties you are having about your sexuality.
- You can ask your physician, school counselor, human resource department at work, or a trusted friend for a referral to a good counselor, therapist, etc.
- If you feel scared or believe that you are in danger from your bully, report the bullying to the police and/or to the administration at your school or workplace.
Making Sure You’re Okay
Keep a journal about the bullying.Keeping your feelings about the bullying and how it makes you feel about yourself and your sexual orientation bottled up can cause you long-term problems. Deal with the homophobic bullying by writing about it in your journal.
- You can use your journal as a way to document the things that are happening in case you need it later.
- Write about what feelings you have when you are bullied and afterwards. Write about why you think the bullying makes you feel this way.
- Write an entry or 2 about how the bullying is affecting how you feel about your sexuality and your decision to come out (if you are homosexual and haven’t come out yet).
Take care of your health.Bullying of any kind can have a negative impact on your physical, mental and emotional health. You may find that you are anxious, moody, or that you have trouble concentrating, sleeping, or eating. Taking care of your health helps you deal with effects the homophobic bullying may have.
- Make sure you are getting regular physical activity. Walking, doing yoga, or playing sports can improve your health and help you deal with the stress of being bullied.
- Have a regular sleep routine and schedule. It can be easy to lose sleep over a bully, but doing so will cause you to be even more anxious, irritable, and stop you from thinking clearly.
- Try not to skip meals or eat just because you are emotional. Eat meals and snacks that are healthy on a regular schedule.
- Avoid using drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with the bullying. Doing this will cause you more long-term problems than the bullying will.
Don’t blame yourself.You may feel that you have done something to deserve the bullying or even that because you are homosexual, it is something you just have to deal with. It’s not. Understanding that being bullied is not your fault will help you deal with it happening to you.
- Remind yourself that the bully is the person with the problem and their words and actions prove it.
- Remember that whether you are homosexual or not, or out or not, you don’t deserve to be bullied.
- Tell yourself, “This bullying is a reflection of them, not me. I didn’t do anything to make this happen. I don’t deserve it and I won’t tolerate it.”
Use stress-reduction methods.They can help you deal with bullying when it is happening, but they also are a way of being less stressed and more peaceful long-term. Making an effort to regularly reduce your overall level of stress will help you deal with homophobic bullying when it happens, too.
- Even just regular deep breathing and stretching (like right when you wake up) can have positive effects on your mood and health.
- Regular meditation can help you with anxiety when you experience bullying and help you handle everyday stress better.
- Physical activity on a regular basis can improve your health and allow you to blow off steam when you need to.
- Doing things like painting, sculpting, and gardening can calm you as well as give you a sense of purpose.
Ending Homophobic Bullying in Your Community
Support victims of bullying.Don’t ignore bullying of any kind. You can deal with someone else being bullied because of their sexual orientation if you take action. Just knowing that someone cares and is there for them can help someone that is experiencing homophobic bullying.
- Hang out with the bullying victim. This may help them feel better about themselves. It can also discourage the bully from bothering them anymore.
- Tell the bully to stop. You could say something like, “Bro, leave him alone. He hasn’t done anything to you.”
- Immediately tell someone of authority like law enforcement, religious leaders, or teachers if the bully is threatening to physically hurt or does hurt the other person.
Speak up.If you are comfortable doing so, then say something when your friends, family, or others are saying or doing things that are homophobic.This is a good way to deal with homophobic bullying because it lets the bully know that what they are doing isn’t okay.
- You could look confused and say, “I’m sorry, but what does being gay have to do with anything? No one cares about that type of stuff anymore,” if you hear someone make a homophobic comment.
- You don’t have to confront the bully, but you can do something like make a joke to break the tension of the moment.
- For example, you might say with a laugh, “That reminds me of my grandma – talking about sexuality and stuff like that. She can be so old-fashioned. She even calls DVDs silver movies.”
- This takes the pressure off of the bullying victim and expresses that homophobic bullying isn’t cool without directly confronting the bully.
Become active in your community.One great way that you can deal with homophobic bullying is to speak out against it and participate in your local LGBT community. Educating people about bullying and about homosexuality can go a long way toward ending homophobic bullying.
- Plan an event or participate in one for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17th.
- Work with your school or work leaders to make sure anti-bullying policies are in-place and that people are trained to deal with issues such as homophobic bullying.
QuestionYou suggested becoming active in your community, but what happens if I'm the only LGBTQ+ person, since I live in Asia and I go to a christian school? What should I do?
Licensed Professional CounselorLicensed Professional CounselorExpert AnswerThere are online sources for support and advocacy groups that may offer you opportunities to connect with others.Thanks!
To deal with homophobic bullying, try to avoid reacting to the behavior, since the bully's goal is to upset you. Next, take a few slow, deep breaths to calm yourself down before attempting to deal with the situation. Then, look the bully in the eyes and tell them to stop in a calm, direct tone of voice. If the bullying doesn't stop right then, walk away to prevent the situation from escalating. Remember that bullying is never okay and it's not your fault. Talk to someone you trust, like a friend, parent, or counselor, so you don't have to deal with it alone.
- Don't ever try to change yourself to stop the bullying. There is nothing wrong with being different and not fitting in to what is apparently 'normal'.
- Don't let this go unnoticed. Tell an adult you trust as soon as possible.
- Don't take any homophobic name calling to heart. When you know the word “faggot” actually refers to a bundle of sticks bound together for fuel and “homo” is just an abbreviation, the bully is actually just showing their ignorance and not even realizing it.
- Tell an adult/parent/teacher/counselor or even the police if there are physical threats made. This is not just some random push-against-a-locker bullying, this is serious and needs to be reported as soon as it happens.
Video: How it Feels. (Short Film on Homophobic Bullying).
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