Broadway actor Matt Doyle’s deeply personal words of advice and comfort for victims of bullying
Matt Doyle, a talemted young actor who starred on Broadway in Bye Bye Birdie and played Eric van der Woddsen’s boyfriend on Gossip Girl, has shared a deeply personal story on his blog that I hope will be widely read.
Here are some excerpts:
Today, I witnessed something that broke my heart. Every day, I walk by the many kids that go school here in Midtown Manhattan. I see bullying and name calling all the time. For the most part, it seems relatively harmless, especially when the kid being picked on can fight back a bit. I usually roll my eyes and keep walking, avoiding the after school energy of these 13 and 14 year olds. Today, however, I witnessed bullying of a different kind. The kind that churns your stomach and makes your truly angry. I was walking out of my building when I saw a group of boys throwing around and singling out another boy. When the victim tried to walk away, one of the others spat at him and called him a “faggot.” I yelled to the kids the only thing that could come to my mind, “Don’t use that word. Back off!” I wish these words had helped the situation, but the poor boy who had been harassed seemed to be more embarrassed than before. The look on his face hasn’t really left me since that moment.
Perhaps the main reason I was so deeply affected by what I saw today is because of what I went through in my own childhood. Believe me, I’m not writing any of this for pity or for reassurance. It was a long time ago and I’m doing fine now! But for anyone reading this blog that has either been a victim of bullying or has ever bullied someone else, I feel the need to write a bit of my own experiences.
When I moved to San Francisco, I was 12 years old. I left behind many friends and a huge public school to move into a much smaller community. Much smaller. There were 12 other boys in my grade. All of them had known each other since kindergarten. The situation was hardly ideal. … They were cruel in ways I didn’t think were possible beyond the text of a bad teen movie. I never once heard my name, only the words “faggot”, and “bitch.” I was beaten up regularly. Once, I left class to get a drink of water, only to be beaten out-cold with a text book by a class mate of mine. Over the years at this particular school, I withdrew from everyone around me including my family. No one could help. If I tried to be like them, I was a “poser.” I remember I bought a pair of baggy Jenco jeans and skateboard. My classmates laughed at the jeans and stole the skateboard. If anyone tried to help me, I was made fun of for needing the help. The sad part was, most of the time, no one helped. The day I hit rock bottom was when a group of boys continuously spat on me in front of my PE teacher. The teacher chose to blatantly ignore it, the more disgusting the behavior became.
When you’re 13 and you truly believe that there is nothing you can do to be happy, it’s a very scary place.
If you’re someone who is dealing with this kind of harassment and is wondering if it will ever go away, know that it will. This is just one moment of your life. Own whatever “quirky” or “strange” traits you may have. I promise you will be so much happier for it.