You Do Not Get To Discredit My Experiences With Sexual Harassment

You Do Not Get To Discredit My Experiences With Sexual Harassment

Stop saying "There's nothing we can do."
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I am sick of stories of people blacking out from drinking and waking up next to someone in bed who they don’t remember seeing the night before, people going home with their sober friend while they're drunk and don't want to have sex but end up having sex and many more stories that have been told to me in confidence.

I encourage people to come forward about this, but it makes me sick to hear about it. It makes me sick to hear that I am not the only one experiencing this because, in a way, I wish that I was. I would give anything to be alone in this struggle. If I were alone, then I would have some faith that people are nearly always good instead of hearing more accounts of how they aren’t.

This is not a new subject for anyone, I am sure.

I was in seventh grade when a few of my friends and I were sexually harassed by someone. He would send us letters and tell us how he wanted to “have sex with us.” We were 13-year-old kids who thought that hugging and holding hands was a big relationship move. My friend, who was also being harassed, had it to the point that she was afraid to play her cello in class because it required her to spread her legs and he wrote in one of his letters how he wanted to be in between them.

This is what needs to change.

He might have had his own issues, but he was not even offered help by the school, as "there was nothing for them to do, that’s just how he is."

A line I’ve heard too many times before.

If you still don’t believe that there is a problem, then let me bring you to my senior year of high school. There was another guy who was always a couple lockers down from me who I had heard had developed a crush on me. I didn’t think too much about it.

So, I ignored it and continued living my life. A Twitter account kept mentioning me in their tweets, and it had his name on the account. At first, it was fine; the account was just asking me how I was doing and whatnot, nothing too serious.

I began to think that it was an account made by my guy friend, so I blocked the account so that I didn’t have to deal with it.

However, when I blocked the account, things took a turn.

The tweets became more aggressive, calling me a bitch, talking about going to my house, stalking me and eventually even that he wanted to “make love to me.” I was terrified. The tweets kept coming to my account even though I blocked them and I grew more scared to look outside for fear that he would be out there.

I suddenly remembered a couple days before that, when I was taking a friend home and realized that I had forgotten something at school. I began to turn around in an abandoned parking lot. That was when I realized that he was following me and he almost drove into that parking lot too before I quickly made a U-turn. His blinker was on to continue to follow me and I was scared. I just tried to brush it off and tell myself I was overreacting.

I was terrified because what he tweeted could very easily have actually been taking place. I couldn’t sleep that night because I didn’t have a lock on my bedroom door to protect me if he made it inside the house. The next morning, I went straight to the principal’s office with my mother and told him what had happened.

He told me that they would talk to him about it and sent me home. He said that no one had to know what happened to me.

I wanted people to know that this was happening so that they could be outraged about it too.

Meanwhile, people were having their own opinions about the ordeal. I was tagged in many, many tweets joking about the situation that had brought me to tears and afraid to leave my own house. I was tagged in tweets that said “I wish someone loved me this much,” or “this is #goals.”

It made me sick.

The kid did not receive any punishment and the other jokers on Twitter never understood how wrong they were. I never received any sort of action to help me feel safe.

These are solely my examples and no action was taken during these cases. These are examples coming from your very average, middle-class life, which doesn't include when I was raped my freshman year of college. Maybe my life is an anomaly of bad things happening to me, but I wouldn’t want to take that chance.

The time is now for a change, and that starts by accepting that our society has a problem with harassment, assault and rape.

Cover Image Credit: StockSnap.io

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20 Rules Of A Southern Belle

It is more than just biscuits and grits.
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These unwritten rules separate the people that move to the South and were born and raised in the South. If you were born and raised in a small southern town, you either are a southern belle or hope you get to marry one. Their southern charm is hard to dislike and impossible to be taught.

1. Adults are to be answered with "Yes ma’am" and "Yes sir."

Whether it’s your parents, grandparents, or the person that checks you out at the grocery store, always say yes ma’am.

2. Always write a thank you note.

For any and everything. No gesture is too small.

3. Expect a gentleman to hold the door open and pull out your chair.

Chivalry is not dead; you just need to find the right guy.

4. All tea is sweet.

Below the Mason-Dixon Line, tea is made no other way.

5. Don’t be afraid to cook with butter.

I’ve never met a good cook that didn’t giggle a little.

6. “Coke” refers to all sodas.

Here in the south, this means all types of sodas.

7. Pearls go with anything — literally anything

And every southern belle is bound to have at least one good set.

8. "If it’s not moving, monogram it."

9. Pastels are always in fashion.

And they look good on almost everyone.

10. And so is Lilly Pulitzer.

11. Curls, curls and more curls.

The bigger the hair, the closer to Jesus.

12. If you are wearing sandals, your toenails should be done.

13. Never ever ever wear white shoes, pants, dresses, or purses after Labor Day or before Easter.

Brides are the only exception. Yes we actually do follow this rule.

14. Never leave the house without lipstick.

A little mascara and lipstick can work miracles.

15. Always wear white when you walk down the aisle.

Weddings are taken very seriously here in the South, and they should be nothing but traditional.

16. Southern weddings should always be big.

The more bridesmaids the better.

17. Saturdays in the fall are reserved for college football.

Whether you spend it tailgating in that college town or watching the big game from your living room. You can guarantee that all southerner’s eyes will be glued to the game.

18. Sunday is for Jesus and resting.

19. Learn how to take compliments curiously.

20. Have class, always.

Cover Image Credit: Daily Mail

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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