This post was added late in 2001 when I tried to get some of my older work online in a vaguely useful form. Plasticbag.org (neé Barbelith) was created on November 1st 1999.
Amy Vickers grew up on the Isle of Wight. She was bullied and abused at school because she was a lesbian. She was too scared to tell her teachers or her parents. She tells her story:
“I had always been popular at school. I was sporty and considered clever, but I wasn’t a swot.
“I started having crushes on women when I was 12. I got really attached to girls in my year. They weren’t really good friends of mine, which is why I thought it was something different. It was all the really good-looking girls – the pretty ones.
“When I was about 15 I decided to come out as being gay to my best friend. She was great about it. I remember being so overwhelmed. Shortly afterwards I told some of my other close friends. They seemed fine, but were more cautious. They didn’t discuss it with me afterwards.
“I started to notice a change in attitude towards me at school. People kept their distance. Overnight there always seemed to be whispering around. Rumours started up that I was a slut – that I had slept with virtually every boy in the class – that I was weird – that I was a boy.
“When I was 16, a girl passed me a note. She asked me if it was true that I was gay. I was really surprised. I told her that I was, and she invited me to see a film with her.
“Over the next few weeks we saw a lot of each other. One day she told me she was bisexual. She grabbed my jumper and we kissed. That was my first kiss. It was wonderful, overwhelming. I had to leave, but I really wanted to stay. I wanted to sleep with her. I just wanted to do something.
“Everything was fine for a week but then people found out. I had written her a letter and somebody had found it. Lads started screaming at me in the playground. ‘You’ve kissed a girl’, they said, ‘You’ve had female saliva in your mouth. That’s gross.’ No one in the school would talk to me. The girl went into hiding. My best friend wasn’t at school. I was so scared of what might happen.
“Some people decided that I had made up kissing her because I was a ‘sick lesbian’. They said I was spreading nasty rumours because I fancied her so much. They said it was all a sick fantasy in my head. I had never been bullied before. It was really vindictive.
“I went to see the girl but she decided she couldn’t come to terms with it. She didn’t want her friends to find out. She didn’t want rumours spread about her. I couldn’t blame her.
“I had the most miserable Christmas of my life. I was so depressed and my parents didn’t know what was wrong with me because I hadn’t come out to them. I started drinking and I was cutting myself with razor blades. I felt so alone. My friends were no longer a protective wall – even they had stopped hanging around with me.
“It all came to a head in March. My motorbike was stolen and crashed down the road. I had dog shit and eggs put into my bag, abuse written across my locker – anything I didn’t put in my locker would be covered in graffiti. I had words spray-painted onto my jacket. I had kids telling me that they were going to beat my head in for all the ‘lies’ I was ‘spreading’.
“I got into a couple of fights, and had bruises and cuts around my eye. I had a bottle smashed over my arm at one point. One day in the middle of a cookery lesson I even had knives thrown at me. I never told the teachers why it was happening because I thought they’d tell my parents.
“One night I was on my way to see my cousin on the other side of the island, and I was so upset, crying and shaking, that I crashed my motorbike. I was bruised all over, and could hardly walk for a week.
“The accident made me wake up – I couldn’t cope with school any more. Without telling my mum and my stepfather, I started contacting schools around where my original father lived. Even my form tutor agreed that I should leave the school.
“One day when my father was visiting, I broke down in tears and said that I had to leave home. I couldn’t tell them why, so my mother thought it was her fault. She couldn’t stop crying.
“Over the summer no one called me. I rang up all my old close friends and told them that I was leaving to do my A-levels in London, and that we were having a goodbye barbecue. None of them came. The day that I left was the worst day of my life. I had to explain to my little brother, who was only five, that I wasn’t going to be coming back. I couldn’t stop crying. I was leaving my home of ten years, my friends and my family.
“Things got so much better when I enrolled in a 6th form college in London. It was so liberating. I had no problems with my sexuality at all. I passed my A-levels and I am now at university. When I found out that there was no support for gay people I set up a society and became the Lesbian and Gay Officer. Since I have been here, I have come out to my family and we are getting on really well.
“I know that there are people who have had similar experiences to myself. I want to be here to support those who wanted to come out. Through the work we have done here many more people now know that it is OK to come out, and OK to be gay.”