Letter: I’m no bully, though I was bullied for years

Posted 8/13/20

Last week I was labeled a bully in this paper by Tom Carroll, self-proclaimed co-founder of the “Bristol County Concerned Citizens” and current chairman of the Republican Town Committee. …

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Letter: I’m no bully, though I was bullied for years

Posted

Last week I was labeled a bully in this paper by Tom Carroll, self-proclaimed co-founder of the “Bristol County Concerned Citizens” and current chairman of the Republican Town Committee. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life — but never a bully.

On the contrary, I was the one who was severely bullied growing up. I was called a faggot, a sissy, a queer, and a ‘girl’ (which was apparently viewed as a bad thing). Why? Because I was effeminate, my friends were girls, I played with dolls, and the pitch of my voice was high. I was too young to know what being gay was, but I was not too young to know what fear felt like.

On the daily bus ride home from school, boys would flick my ears while taunting me and calling me names. They would chase me off the bus and I would try to run home as fast as I could, but they would always catch up to me. They would push me to the ground. They would kick me and punch me until I was bruised and bloody. Having a bloody nose or a sore abdomen was normal for me.

I was so ashamed. I didn’t want my mother to know that I couldn’t defend myself. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was afraid. So I’d go home, clean up and try to pretend it didn’t happen. I began to think “maybe I am a sissy.”

When I finally mustered the courage, I told the school authorities. Their response? “Boys will be boys.” So the abuse continued regularly until I was a teenager. School was a place of fear and trauma. Fortunately for me, it got better with time and I was able to create a life where I am proud to be who I am.

Because of my experiences, I am deeply committed to anti-bullying and social justice. It is disappointing that Mr. Carroll, a man with whom I have had nothing but a respectful relationship since meeting him years ago, would stoop to the level of calling me a bully. Ironically, he justifies his commentary by stating that he is a supporter of and delegate for Donald Trump — a quintessential bully.

The “Concerned Citizens” and the Republicans may come for me. I am not afraid of them. I’ve been bullied, beaten and bruised before, and I survived. But our community stands to lose a great deal as a result of this group's inability to simply operate with honesty and integrity. So, once again, I will ask the question that has been posed several times on these pages, but has yet to elicit an actual response: which elected officials and political candidates are affiliated, associated with, or have been to a meeting with these “Concerned Citizens”?

Asking this question is not ‘bullying,’ it’s calling for transparency. Bristol residents deserve at least that much. Don’t they?

Erich Haslehurst
Bristol

Mr. Haslehurst is chairman of the Bristol Democratic Town Committee.

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