Mean Girls Was My Saving Grace Against Homophobic Bullies

In honor of Spirit Day, here is how the beloved (and fetch) comedy healed me.

You can’t forget the feeling.

One second, you’re going about your life with a carefree—almost happy—attitude. The next, it’s like you’ve been punched in the stomach. The ringing in your ears is only trumped by the intense beating of your heart. Tears swell up in your eyes, but you suppress them with every fiber of your being. Your face starts to flush and a wave of paranoia overcomes you. All of these people are staring at you. They heard the awful thing that guy just said about you. And they all agree.

I’m talking, of course, about being bullied.

As a gay man who grew up in the South, I was lucky. I didn’t experience the aforementioned turmoil on a daily basis, but the few times I did—mostly between the ages of 11 and 15—still haunt me to this day. They probably contribute to the inadequacy I deal with on a daily basis. Like I said, you can’t forget the feeling.

Sixth and seventh grade were particularly hellish for me. I remember one incident vividly when my class took a field trip to the county courthouse. I was sitting alone when I noticed two boys staring at me and snickering. This went on for 15 brutal minutes before one came up to me and made the most vulgar, offensive and cutting quip about my high-pitched voice. It’s too disgusting to write here, especially because it came from a middle schooler. He made the joke loudly in front of my classmates and teacher. And no one did anything.

I chuckled uncomfortably, as if I agreed with him, in hopes the moment would pass painlessly. The two boys eventually had their last laugh and walked away, uttering the “F” word so many gay kids dread as a final bullet. I was 13 years old at the time.

I went home devastated but too embarrassed to tell my parents what happened. Instead, I watched television for a little escapism, and that’s when I came across Mean Girls (2004). The teen cult classic starring Lindsay Lohan had just started, and it was exactly what I needed. Yes, a movie about bullies was what I needed to fight bullies.

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