This reading is available in two formats: standard and Spanish. Please select the version you wish to read using the dropdown below.

In the reading The “In” Group, Eve Shalen says, “Often being accepted by others is more satisfying than being accepted by oneself, even though the satisfaction does not last.” In the following passage, Cameron Tuttle explains how her need for acceptance shaped her experience when she was in high school and came to understand that she was gay.

No one bullied me in high school because absolutely no one knew I was gay. Definitely not me. It took me years to figure that out.

I was one of those squeaky clean, annoyingly mainstream, overachiever types. I got good grades, did student government, sang in musicals, played team sports, and joined lots of clubs to fatten up my college applications. But even though I was popular and friends with lots of different people, I felt alone, really alone, like no one knew the real me.

How could they? I was trying so hard to be perfect.

On the outside, I was a thriving, active, make-my-family-proud, successful teenager. But on the inside, I was emotionally numb, comatose, flat-lining. My mom had died of breast cancer two weeks before the beginning of ninth grade. She was an amazing mom, loving and supportive, and she gave me enough freedom to explore who I was so I could succeed or fail with my own personal style. After she died, I was devastated. But I was determined to prove to the world and to myself that I was okay.

I found myself working really, really hard to be the best because I was scared. Scared of being different. Scared of being defective. Scared of feeling my feelings. So for years, I didn’t let myself feel.

I got a lot done in high school but I didn’t have a lot of fun. And even though I wasn’t ever bullied by other people, I was relentlessly bullied by my own thoughts and fears about who I was, how I was supposed to behave, and what would happen if I didn’t.

I actually had this pathetic idea that I would somehow let down my community—people I barely knew in the conservative, snooty neighborhood where I grew up—if I ended up being a lesbian. How ridiculous is that?

Bullying isn’t just what real people in real time say to you or try to do to you. Bullying is everywhere—it’s in the words of fearful, judgmental parents who are trying to control you. (BTW: it’s also in the words of well-meaning but misguided parents who are trying “to protect you from being hurt.”) Bullying is in the news and in government policy. It’s in the imagery of pop culture. It’s in religion. And as a result, it gets into your head.

How did it get better for me? Slowly. It helped that I went to college across the country, as far away as I possibly could go from my hometown without needing a passport.

I eventually found the guts to stand up to my inner bully, the judgmental, fearful, bossy voice in my head that kept telling me, You can’t . . . You shouldn’t . . . Don’t you dare! And then I finally found the confidence to listen to my body and to my heart and to be honest with myself.

And then I moved to New York.

When I was living there, I met tons of people who were a lot like me—squeaky-clean, annoyingly mainstream overachievers who just happened to be gay: former high-school cheerleaders, homecoming kings, class officers, student leaders, star athletes. And I realized . . . yeah, I can do this. Yeah, I can be this. And now, I love being different—in my squeaky-clean, annoyingly mainstream way.1

Citations

  • 1 : Cameron Tuttle, “Too Good to Be True,” in It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, ed. Dan Savage and Terry Miller (New York: Plume, 2012), 130–32. Reproduced by permission from Cameron Tuttle.

En Busca de la Confianza

En el siguiente fragmento, Cameron Tuttle explica de qué manera su necesidad de aceptación moldeó su experiencia cuando cursaba la secundaria y terminó por comprender que era homosexual.

No me acosaron en la secundaria porque nadie en absoluto sabía que yo era homosexual. Ni siquiera yo lo sabía. Tardé años en descubrirlo. Yo era una de esas personas súper impecables y extremadamente populares y sobresalientes. Obtenía buenas calificaciones, participaba en el gobierno estudiantil, cantaba en los musicales, jugaba deportes de equipo y me vinculaba a muchos clubes, con el fin de que mis solicitudes de admisión a la universidad fueran llamativas. Sin embargo, aunque era popular y amiga de muchas personas diferentes, me sentía sola, muy sola, como si nadie conociera a la persona que yo era en realidad.

¿Cómo era esto posible? Me esforzaba tanto por ser perfecta.

Por fuera, era una adolescente exitosa, activa y un orgullo para mi familia. Pero, por dentro, estaba emocionalmente bloqueada, letárgica y estancada. Mi mamá había muerto de cáncer de mama dos semanas antes del inicio del noveno grado. Ella era una mamá increíble, amorosa y comprensiva, y me dio suficiente libertad para explorar lo que yo era a fin de poder triunfar o fracasar a mi propio estilo. Su muerte me dejó destrozada, pero estaba decidida a demostrarle al mundo y a mí misma que yo estaba bien.

Terminé esforzándome mucho para ser la mejor porque tenía miedo. Miedo de ser diferente. Miedo de ser imperfecta. Miedo de vivir mis sentimientos. Así que, durante años, no me permití sentir.

Hice muchas cosas en la secundaria, pero no me divertí mucho. Y, aunque nunca fui acosada por los demás, sí me dejaba acosar despiadadamente por mis propios pensamientos y miedos sobre quién era yo, cómo debía comportarme y qué pasaría si no lo hacía.

De hecho, tenía la patética idea de que defraudaría de algún modo a mi comunidad, —personas que a duras penas conocía en el vecindario conservador y prepotente en el que había crecido— si terminaba siendo lesbiana. ¿Qué tan ridículo puede ser eso?

El acoso no es solo lo que la gente te dice o trata de hacerte directamente. El acoso está en todas partes; está en las palabras de los padres temerosos y prejuiciosos que tratan de controlarte. (Por cierto, también en las palabras de los padres bien intencionados, pero que se equivocan al tratar “de evitar que salgas lastimado”). El acoso está en los medios de comunicación y en las políticas gubernamentales. Está en el imaginario de la cultura popular. Está en la religión. Y, por ese motivo, se mete en tu cabeza.

¿Cómo logré superarlo? Lo superé lentamente; fue de gran ayuda el hecho de haber ingresado a una universidad al otro lado del país, tan lejos de mi ciudad como me fuera posible, pero en la que no necesitaba usar un pasaporte.

Con el tiempo encontré la fuerza para enfrentar mi acoso interior, la voz temerosa, prejuiciosa y autoritaria en mi cabeza que me decía constantemente: ¡No puedes… No debes… Ni te atrevas! Y finalmente, recuperé la confianza para escuchar mi cuerpo y mi corazón y ser honesta conmigo misma.

Y entonces me mudé a Nueva York.

Cuando vivía allá, conocí a muchísimas personas que eran como yo, súper impecables y extremadamente populares y sobresalientes que, por casualidad, eran homosexuales: antiguas porristas de secundaria, anfitriones de los bailes de bienvenida, representantes de curso, líderes estudiantiles, atletas reconocidos. Y me di cuenta de que… sí podía hacerlo. Y de que sí podía serlo. Y ahora, me encanta ser diferente, a mi manera, súper impecable, extremadamente popular y sobresaliente.1

Citations

  • 1 : Cameron Tuttle, “Too Good to Be True”, en It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, ed. Dan Savage y Terry Miller (Nueva York: Plume, 2012), 130–32. Reproducido con autorización de Cameron Tuttle.

Connection Questions

  1. How do you define “bullying”? How does Cameron Tuttle’s story add to your thinking?
  2. Create an identity chart for Tuttle. How might the identity chart you made for her be different from the one she would make for herself? What might be some differences between the way others see her and the way she sees herself?
  3. What did it mean for Tuttle to find her own voice?

Related Content

Reading
Holocaust

Letter to Students

Read aloud this letter with your class before you embark on the unit Teaching Holocaust and Human Behavior. (Spanish available)

Reading

Gender and Identity

Read the personal reflections of a mother whose young son has challenged her assumptions and expectations about gender identity. (Spanish available)

Search Our Collection

Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice.