A couple of things about yours truly: I know what it’s like to be bullied. I was bullied for being gay — or at least perceived as being gay — all through junior high and high school. I cannot remember a day going by that I wasn’t called “faggot” or “queer.” But luckily for me, if you could consider it luck, the bullying was mostly name-calling and, maybe, the occasional shove in the hallway’ I didn’t have to live with the threat of physical harm, just the still painful verbal taunts which make me shudder even today, decades later.
Another thing about me? I am not a violent person. I have never been in a physical fight in my life; the closest I ever came was one day when my sister was so irate—that girl had a temper—that she tried to slug me; I grabbed both her wrists and basically set her down on the kitchen floor. I don’t fight.
So, I cannot begin to imagine what Eric Martin went through, after years of being called “faggot” and “queer;” years of shoves and taunts and harassment, until, one day, he’d had enough and decided to fight back against those who bullied him.
He fought back against several, several, of his classmates called him names and then beat him into unconsciousness; Eric spent nearly two weeks in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury, multiple contusions and a broken arm.
Yes, the kid who has been bullied and taunted and name-called since he was a child is being charged as a criminal because he finally stood up for himself.
When are we going to stop letting this happen? When are we, as a community of parents, of bullied students, of allies, going to demand that the schools do something? How many students have to die, have to be beaten, have to be arrested before it’s enough?
We go to school to learn, not berate and abuse those students who seem different; we go to school to study, not to gang up on someone who acts in a way we don’t understand, we don’t like.
The bullies are winning; LGBTQ youth are being harassed to death, unless they fight back, and then they are being charged as criminals.
There is a GoFundMe page set up to help Eric pay his legal bills; bills he’ll have to pay because he was the victim of gang violence and fought back — keep in mind not one of his attackers was hospitalized or hurt during the fight, but Eric himself was in the hospital for six weeks.
There is also a place to send Eric letters of support, to let him know that while his own school, his own teachers, principal and administrators stood by and did nothing for him, that we can stand by him, and support him, and let him know that he is not alone.
We are all Eric Martin.