LKL Web Exclusive: Chef Cat Cora on bullying
This is a LKL Web Exclusive by Chef Cat Cora, President and Founder of "Chefs for Humanity" (www.chefsforhumanity.org):
I was born in the 60's in Mississippi. I was also born gay. Yes, that's right BORN gay. Believe me, I tried to pray "it" away at church every Sunday like a good Christian girl from the South. I tried to date "it" away, dating good guys who didn't understand why I wouldn't, no couldn't, be with them completely. I wanted so badly to be straight like my friends. But I couldn't change it anymore than I could change having brown eyes. And I knew I would never fit into what kids thought was normal.
When I finally met my first love, I was 17. I fell in love and didn't have one friend who I could tell. There was no giggles and gossip and no gushing about how beautiful, smart and wonderful she was. There were definitely no "meet the parents" dinners. I endured the love and loneliness alone. The passion was liberating but the breakup was almost unbearable.
So when a young person who is gay takes their life, my heart breaks to pieces. But, I also know their pain. I understand how fragile life is being young and gay. Being a "freak" as some people would like to call us is hell on earth. Straight kids have no idea how much it sucks. One trauma can break you and change life as you know it, and you are gone forever.
This is what happened to Asher, Jaheem and Tyler. There is evidence that Asher and Tyler were gay and Jaheem was called gay, a word he was confused by. Who cares? They were human, someone's child, someone's grandchild, nephew, brother, friend. I want to weep as I write this for our lost children. I want to scream for the 12 year old who shoots himself, an 11 year who hangs himself with a belt and an 18 year who jumps off a bridge. Why don't our kids feel safe? Why? America, parents, teachers, friends and role models, we have to do better for the children of the world.
No one knew I was gay growing up but I was bullied. I was a cheerleader, fairly popular and considered straight. An older girl who unknowingly hated me and had a locker right next to me, tortured me mercilessly every single day. She threatened to beat my ass, have her friends beat the hell out of me and yes, the word "kill" came up. My first thought is Phoebe Prince, she was not gay, but vilified for being new at the school and pretty.
Gay kids are not the only ones being bullied but the word "gay" is killing our kids. Bullying is killing our kids. Being different is killing our kids and the kids who are bullying are dying inside. We have to save our kids whether they are they are bullied or they are bullying. They are all in pain.
I want to talk to the bullied kids of the world. Tell them to hang on, it will get better. Know that an Iron Chef, actors, musicians, artists and all successful people have probably been bullied in their life. And the best part of your life is yet to come. Whatever it takes to live, do it!