a short autobiography
1999 Speech at the Indiana State Capitol
A friend's witness
Nov. 1996 letter for the Chrysler Campaign
|Bruce Murray's statement
at the pre-hearing press conference in Washington DC, Dec. 4, 1995.
I will never forget the first time I was gay bashed; I was alone in a park when three larger guys jumped me. Two held me, while the third continuously punched me in the stomach. After my attackers left, I slowly and painfully got to my feet and gathered my books. I was a third grader walking home from school.
I remember being grateful that they had punched me in the stomach, instead of leaving telltale signs on my face. I was too ashamed to have to explain to my parents what had happened. As I walked the rest of the way home with my aching belly, the word "faggot" rang in my head. I didn't know what the hateful word meant and I wondered how it applied to me. I knew I was different from my peers. My heart caught in my throat when I realized that somehow my attackers could see that I was different and hated me for that difference. Would others? I never felt so alone.
By the time I was thirteen, I was an outcast who was filled with self-loathing because I was gay. My mind was preoccupied with thoughts of suicide; it seemed to be my only release. I was carefully weighing which would cause my parents the least amount of grief - -my death or the revelation that I was gay. Surprisingly, I got my answer when my mother hadnded me the newspaper article about gay youth support groups. My parents lovingly took my hands and begn to journey with me. I was no longer alone.
My parents traveled many miles so that I could be with my peers and have positive gay role models. I blossomed with their unconditional love and could actually begin to envision a good life for myself. However, life at school was becoming unbearable. Just to walk from classroom was an ordeal. My books would be repeatedly knocked out of my hands, making me late for class. Trying to explain to the teacher my tardiness was useless. One day a student came up from behind and hit me in the back of the head with a large Bible and told me I was an abomination. Another day a student had stabbed me with his pencil in my buttocks in full view of a teacher. when I protested, she said, "I thought that you would enjoy that." One day I was spat upon by a group of boys. When I told the teacher, she said, "Go wash the spit out of your hair and off your shirt. I am sure it was an accident." When I reported the vulgar sexual comments made to me, which would have been considered sexual harassment if I were a girl, the counselor would only say he would talk to them and not enforce the mandatory expulsion rule for sexual harassment. Then I would be physically attacked. One on one, I could handle the situation; but it was very rarely one on one. Then, while I was in the gym shower, the boys would tell me how they would find me alone some day and described in graphic details how they would sexually torture me before they woudl kill me.
I was not only tortured by my fellow students but teachers as well. Some indirectly by their indifference; others were openly hostile. Even though I had written doctor's statement forbidding me to run due to my asthma, I was made to run until I collapsed. Other teachers would mock and ridicule me in class. However, there was one teacher who's class became my refuge. She would not tolerate anyone being mistreated in her class. Students who harasses me seemed to be surprised to be called on their behavior; for, it was ignored in other classrooms. One day she took me aside and said, "Bruce, I know things are hard for you right now. Keep going. Keep strong. I wish there were more I could do for you; but being just a teacher, my hands are tied." I know she was trying to comfort me; however, seeing her fear did not calm mine any. Again, I felt so alone.
When my mother would pay a visit to my counselor to discuss the school situation, it would only make matters worse. Aftr a while, I begged her not to. My parents' intervention by pulling me out and enrolling me in correspondence school saved my life and my sanity.
My mother and father not only taught me what family values are about, they showed me. They got in the trenches with me and stuck by me. They let me know that if I was gay, then being gay must be okay. I was treated as a valued and respected member of the family. For their love and faith in me, I will always be grateful. They helped me to realize my self worth.
It is very difficult for me to recount those horrible school events because it makes me relive it. The memories are so vivid in my mind that I can remember every detail, the smell, the words spoken, the faces. I remember my feelings, the hurt, the humilation, and the frustration. I am here today because I know there are many other students like me, not only in Seymour, Indiana, but throughout this country. However, they do not have the loving support of their parents and are truly alone. I have personally witnessed parents trying to beat their child straight or locking their child out their house and not even letting them in to get their belongings.
This hearing will be sending the gay youth of America a message. Will Congress be indifferent to their plight? What value are you placing on them? Or by your actions, are you telling them they have no value?.
Copyright © 1995 Bruce Murray.
Rhea Murray can be reached by email at email@example.com.