Jun 05 2017

Dealing with bullies!

Haven’t we all met THAT guy? The dude who  cant get a sentence out without making a homophobic remark or a snide comment about your looks? Behavior that gets more pronounced when there is an acquaintance around?

LGBT people, like all other people have faced bullying at some time. But unlike “normal” people, the bullying doesn’t stop with high-school. We face it all our lives and at some level even come to terms with it. But it is important to understand the psyche of the person we are dealing with. And its important not to give in.

Bullying is not normal behavior. And any unusual behavior pattern a person develops is caused by some imbalance in their psyche. There are patterns we can identify to detect a potential bully. Understand the patterns to understand the bully.

From what I have observed:

  1. They almost always have a poor equation with their parents and siblings. In particular, with their fathers. This lack of a father figure is a consistent pattern I have seen with every habitual bully I have ever encountered. Its almost Textbook.
  2. Bullies show a complete lack of anxiety – its a facade, but a carefully and consistently maintained one.
  3. Complete lack of empathy for others feelings. Being dismissive of “feelings” as inconsequential.

All the bullies I have encountered so far have fit into these 3 patterns. (1) is Textbook!

Most bullies are driven by a severe inferiority complex and degraded sense of worth along with a desire to assert their dominance. The only way they think they can assert their dominance is by behaving like a bully. Most likely they were bullied themselves as children. So that’s the only way they know how to assert their dominance! The only way they know to handle their inferiority complex is to devalue a victim so in his mind he is superior and maintains his self-worth & ego. Despite outward appearances, he is not a man who feels in control. The only way he feels in control of the situation is by bullying an “inferior” victim.

When it comes to men who bully LGBT, there are other factors. Most common: the bully is dealing with serious questions about his sexual identity/preference. Unable to address those questions in a healthy manner, he resorts to bullying homosexuals. Some of the most homophobic bullies I have encountered were themselves closeted gays.

“N” was a quintessential jock, father of 2 adorable kids, who I knew by virtue of being in the same activity groups. We had done road trips together and for a while we even worked out together. My gaydar pinged the first time I met him, and every time since. And then there were instances where that initial suspicion was confirmed. When at the gym, he always spent an unusual amount of time loitering around the locker-room area instead of working out. Any good looking guy entered the gym and headed for the locker-room, “N” would take a pee-break. The first time I visited his home, I met his wife and kids. But i also found a stash of mens-health type magazines under the bed. And a collection of photos of actor Neil Nitin Mukesh torn off from various magazines. Big fan? On our first group road trip together, noticed he enjoyed wrestling other guys a lot and recording the act on his mobile. Nothing wrong with a little horseplay between boys?! Ok! I give you that!

Then there was the movie collection on his Hard Drive. Almost all the movies of Neil Mukesh. Clearly a big fan! But realised something else when I copied & watched some of the English movies in his election: of the 30 odd English movies on his drive, all of them had an unusual amount of male nudity. And 25/30 movies in his collection had some kind of guy-on-guy action – usually violent. Too much of a coincidence no? Not on talking terms with dad for years. Married with kids. Total masculine jock. Deeply closeted. And yes, one of the worst bullies I have ever encountered. Wouldn’t spare a single opportunity to lash out with homophobic abuse especially in public. Why? Perhaps he was scared of being outed as gay! Attacking another openly gay person with homophobic abuse voids that possibility. Or so they think!

“C” was another case in point. Another horrible bully who made your life miserable. Found out why years later when I sat down and had a talk with him: woman to man! Turns out he comes from a background of abuse. Abandoned by real father, neglect by the step-father, sexual assault first by a relative and later in the orphanage turned him hardcore. Bullying was the only form of self-defense he had known!

Then there are the guys who bully simply because they don’t want the tag of “gay by association”. They will be nice with you in person. But in public will aim to humiliate you as much as possible. Because they fear being tagged gay by virtue of being associated with another gay dude and thus being opened up for ridicule!

People who are secure in themselves and their own identity don’t do stuff like that. Its only guys who are going through some kind of trauma who lash out at the world in unusual ways. And Bullying is certainly one of those!

How do you handle a bully? My thinking on this has evolved over the years. Growing up perhaps.

When I was a kid, I was extremely feminine in my behavior and so I was bullied a lot. At school. On the playground. Even the teachers pitched in sometimes. Until one day when I beat the crap out of the biggest bully in school. He had accosted me in the bathroom with his friends and nearly molested me. Something snapped within me and I beat the crap out of him. At one point I used his own hockey against him! His friends who tried to help got a bit of the beating too! That was the day I learnt of my own strength – physical & emotional. I was called “Mental XXX” for the rest of my 3 years in school, but I was NEVER bullied again! The Bullies kept a healthy distance. And I think I earned the healthy respect of the rest of my peers.

Learnt another lesson when I was called into the Principals office. The bully’s parents were there, as were mine along with our class teacher and Supervisor. When the bully’s parents angrily demanded suspension of the “mental case”, my parents meekly requested an apology, i steadfastly refused. I asked what they would do if someone accosted them in a bathroom and tried to rip their clothes off. I also asked the parents if they raised their child to go around molesting boys at school. My parents were horrified, but I could see a smile forming at the corner of my teacher and supervisor’s lips. 🙂 I wasn’t suspended, though I was put under the supervision of our Math teacher, who would coach me on how to be more masculine (UGH!!). My parents didn’t seem happy, though from that day they did start saying at family gatherings that their son is going to be lawyer like Jethmalani! 😛

I am not suggesting that you should go around beating up bullies. Certainly not! But the last thing you should be doing is to play the victim. Dont give the bully a sense of victory. That will encourage him to get more. Understand his weak points and hit back HARD. A bully is a weakling, emotionally & mentally. His most vulnerable spot is in his innate insecurity – find that spot and hit it. And that facade of lack of anxiety? That’s the easiest to break.

Face it dahlings! The world doesn’t like weaklings.  The world doesn’t like victims. Don’t be one!

 


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