Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to Outwit Bullies by a Multi-Millionaire Who was Bullied

Many of my blog posts have mentioned allies to GLBT kids who are bullied: GSLEN (Gay Straight Lesbian Educational Network), PFLAG (Parents of Lesbian and Gays). While these are terrific support services for bullied kids and their parents, there are other means for combating bullying that are based on self-reliance and self-advocacy.  Author Trevor Blake espouses this latter principle:

5 Strategies that Tweens and Teens Can Use to Stop Bullying
Inspiration from and for a Bullied Kid

Trevor Blake was bullied as a child.  He used to hide out in the school library. But it wasn’t a waste of time. He found company in autobiographies of famous people who were once bullied, but later become successful:  celebrities like Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey, and Angelina Jolie. 
Blake realized, after reading about these renown figures, that they used three behaviors so they wouldn’t become victims.These behaviors became the basis for Blake’s bestselling book, Three Simple Steps:  A Map to Success in Business and Life (BenBella, 2012).

What Does Blake Attribute His Success To?

These simple three steps outlined in the book, #5 on the New York Times’s BestSeller List, can help anyone, as entrepreneur Blake did, transform their life and achieve success. Using the three principles, despite stock market crashes, dot-com busts, and the recession, Blake founded in 2002 a company focused on solutions for rare diseases, QOL Medical LLC. In 2010, he sold the company for over 100 million. Then in 2006, he founded a unique virtual not-for-profit dedicated to developing low-side effect cancer drugs. In 2011, he co-founded Kalvi Medical LLC. He is currently coproducing a reality show about bullying. 

The author is donating a copy of this book to every U.S. library so kids will learn how to control their own lives as he did. The profits of the book will be donated to cancer treatment research and development in honor of his mother who had cancer for fourteen years.

The Three Simple Steps Defined

Step No. 1. Don’t feel victimized – as if you have no control over your life. 
Step No. 2. This step gives you insight so you can proceed with a plan that will differentiate you from those who are not successful.
Step No. 3.  This step shows you how to turn your insights into profitable and valuable experiences.

Self-Advocacy:  The 3 Steps and 5 Strategies are Intertwined

·      Be a moving target. Don’t make yourself accessible: change your seat at lunch or on the bus or plan to be with a friend. Eventually, the bully will find someone else to pick on.

·      Imagine a better outcome. Positive thoughts can create positive outcomes.  Don’t dwell on negativity that can breed resentment, hatred, anger, and frustration.

·      Walk in the bully’s sneakers.  Figure out why the bully wants to feel superior to his victims.  What is lacking in his life? When you know, you can gain perspective.

·      Wear an invisibility shield. Your child will not absorb the bully’s negativity if he has self-confidence. He should picture being wrapped in an invisible cloak that bullies can’t penetrate.  When the bully has a following, your child can direct attention to the followers, not himself. 

When your son/daughter is alone with a follower, preferably with a friend who is a witness, have him ask the follower why he joins in with the bully. To save face, the joiner may drop out of the bully’s posse.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Post on Cyberbullying by Jessica Simmons

Today’s guest post is by Jessica Simmons, a graduate student and Yale University research assistant. Jessica is a board member of Connecticut’s GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network) that promotes safety in schools. 

She runs the website:, a platform for youth to share experiences about bullying, and more importantly, positive actions, resulting from being bullied, that they partake of in their communities.To contact Jessica, e-mail her at

Cyberbullying: More Rampant Than In-Person Bullying

By now, many of us have read the story of Amanda Todd, a fifteen year-old Canadian girl whose suicide made headlines. Like Ryan Halligan, 13 and Tyler Clementi, 18, she commited suicide after being bullied by strangers and classmates online. This practice of harassment, on-line and over cell phones, with intention to harm is known as cyberbullying. 

How It’s Spread

Cyberbullies can be classmates, neighbors and anonymous users. Cyberbullying occurs through texting and social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as well as Instagram, Tumblr, and other photo and blog sites. 

Because of the proliferation of these sites, their speed, and anonymity, it’s hard to keep up and implement” hard and fast” rules and guidelines. However, we need to hold people accountable.

What You as a Parent Can Do

Parents can do their part to thwart the efforts of cyberbullies by heeding the advice contained in  the U.S. Government ‘s anti-bullying initiative and resource website called Here are just a few of the steps you can take immediately (which are outlined in greater detail on the website):

Report cyberbullying:
·      Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages.
·      Keep evidence of cyberbullying.
·      Block the cyberbully.

Involve Law Enforcement if Considered Criminal. Criminal Acts are classified as:
·      Threats of Violence
·      Child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos.
·      Taking a photo/video of someone in place where he/she would expect privacy.
·      Stalking and hate crimes. 

Report Cyberbullying to Schools:
·      Schools can use the information to help inform prevention & response strategies.
·      In some states, schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy.
·      Some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that’s reflected in a hostile school environment.

October is Bullying (and that includes Cyberbullying) Prevention Month

As cyberbullying is so invasive, let’s take the above precautions as well as others suggested in to stem its insidious effects. Otherwise, we are left, too late, on our own to try to save an already damaged teen who has been pushed to the limits.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Celebrate National Coming Out Day on October 11, 2012

What is NCOD?

October 11, 2012 is National Coming Out Day, celebrated in the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom (the latter on October 12th). The purpose of this day is to promote government and public awareness of gay, bisexual, lesbian, transsexual (GBLT) rights and to celebrate homosexuality. On this day, people who may be questioning (Q), or identify as GBLT are encouraged to “come out” and tell those, whom they think will support them, who they really are.

It’s a civil awareness day with a wide variety of support: rallies, parades, and events. You can participate by wearing a classic gay pride symbol to show your allegiance, post a Facebook status or participate in a local event, for example. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) sponsors these events under the auspices of their National Coming Out Project offering resources for LGBT individuals.

History of National Coming Out Day

Founded by Robert Eichberg, a New Mexico psychologist and Jean O’Leary, an openly gay political leader from Los Angeles, to commemorate the anniversary of a March for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 11, 1987 in Washington, D.C.  when over a half million people decided to take a stand for LGBT rights.

What to Expect When GLBTQ Comes Out

As a straight supporter, either parent or friend of a GLBTQ person, you may find that when he/she comes out, he/she may be relieved, feel elated, scared, vulnerable, angry, depressed, confused, or e) all of the above. Especially if you’re a parent, you may be experiencing these same emotions once your child’s sexual orientation is divulged.

Whether you’re a classmate, a colleague, a friend, or a relative, your GLBT friend looks to you for the following:
·      Unconditional acceptance.  He wants to know that you like him just as much as you did before you knew he was GLBT.
·      Studies show that family acceptance predicts greater self-esteem, social support, and general health. If you’re a straight parent, make your home a safe place where anything can be discussed. 
·      Offer support. Tell the person that you’re flattered that he/she entrusted you with this vital truth, knowing you might reject him/her. You might say “thanks for sharing this with me.  I’m so happy for you.”
·      Help the individual find resources, particularly if they seem unhappy with their orientation.  The Human Rights Campaign, in partnership with PFLAG (Parents of Lesbians and Gays), has an on-line guide, either a PDF file or a flip through digital version, which contains advice such as “Dealing with your Feelings when someone Comes Out,” “Ways to Show Your Support,” as well as resources. (http: // 
·      Let the GLBT person take the lead.  He or she may have something to teach you about LGBT people and also about acceptance and love.
·      Don’t out the person to anyone else; it’s not your place to do so and is invasion of their privacy. He or she should tell their own story, to whom they want, when they want.
·      If they are questioning and undecided about their sexual orientation, do not try to force them to come to a decision. In time, he or she will realize who they are. “Don’t push, unless he seems to be in real distress.” (See  http: //
·       For more tips, see my guest blog for Radical Parenting ( )

Monday, October 1, 2012

“The New Normal” Isn’t That New

The story line of “The New Normal“ would probably not have been written before this year: a gay wealthy couple are paying $35,000 to have a surrogate mother have their baby. Created by an out writer and a lesbian mom who had success with “Glee,”(popular with both straights and gays alike), “The New Normal” aired in September. It can not air in Utah, home of the Mormon Church.

The Plot Thickens, but Not Enough

The gay couple are played by Andrew Rannells of “The Book of Mormon,” and Justin Bartha  from “The Hangover.” Living in Los Angeles, David Murray is the smarter of the two, a gynocologist, who likes to drink beer and watch football. Quieter and less emotional, he is a foil for Bryan Collins, a television producer, who shops at Barneys (the gays’s favorite store, of course) and is the flaming stereotype of a gay male. One day while shopping for “Mary Tyler Capris,” Bryan is taken by a baby in a stroller who smiles and coos at him. He announces to his partner David, “OMG, that is the cutest thing I’ve ever had, I must have it. I want us to have baby clothes and a baby to wear them.”

The surrogate mother is the sweet Goldie, played by Georgia King,who could use the $35,000 from surrogacy services to go to law school. Goldie leaves her philandering husband in Ohio and takes her precocious eight year-old daugher Shania, played by Bebe Wood, to Los Angeles. Shania, a misfit of sorts, is spot-on with her comments and does a hilarious rendition of Little Edith in “Grey Gardens.” Ellen Barkin plays Jane Forrest, Shania’s grandmother Nana, who makes habitual snarky, racist comments. She is Sue Sylvester of  Glee, only more so, and has some of the best lines, although they need to be more interspersed. Jane is the foil for the gays, and other minority groups who come into contact with her such as Nene Leakes, who plays Bryan’s personal assistant “Rocky.”  

“Same Old, Same Old”

While the storyline is modern, the treatment of characters is not fresh. Bryan and David are too stereotypically “butch” and “femme.” Bryan reminds me of  EmmyAward-winning Sean Hayes  who plays Jack McFarland in “Will and Grace,” the hit sitcom from 1998-2006. Jack is a sidekick designed for comic relief. He is vain and self-absorbed. Although Hayes was over-the-top gay,” campy gay,” with a stereotypical love of gay icons such as Cher.  He, too, served as a foil for Karen Walker,played by Megan Mulally, a drunken millionaire, and a bisexual, with a shrill, squeaky voice. Jack McFarland is treated by Karen as her Pet Homosexual. 

The other gay on the show Will Truman was an uptight lawyer who lived with a straight interior designer, Grace Adler, played by Debra Messing. Like David on The New Normal, he is smarter, and less flamboyant. Bryan, like McFarland, is fussy, annoying, and narcissistic. He turned off my gay son who is sick of gay stereotypes on television.

Hammers You Over the Head

“The New Normal” is not only less humorous than  “Will and Grace,” with the latter’s fast-paced dialogue, it buys into reinforcing stereotypes. This portrayal does nothing to foster better understanding among straight parents,,whose only reference about gays may be television, and gay children. If the show is supposed to be about how differences uniting us, it doesn’t work. It’s too contrived because it works too hard to comment on inclusiveness.

For example, when David and Bryan share a kiss at a department store, a father, mother, and young child take offense. It turns into an homophobic rant that is answered with a lecture about hate being taught and passed on from generation to generation by Bryan.When Bryan and David sit on a park bench with their Bernese Mountain Dog, they aren’t just in any park, but one for people who are different: an older mother, over-fertilized, with many children, and a midget mother riding in a toy car with her daughter. 

Modern Family More Successful In This Critic’s Eyes

In the Emmy-winning Modern Family, Jesse Tyler Ferguson (gay in real life) and two-time Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet play partners of five years. They are a liberal homosexual couple who hyphen the last name of their adopted Vietnamese daughter, Lily. 
They are a couple who are not unlike the straight couple, Claire Dunphy, played by Emmy-winning Julie Bowen, and her husband, Phil, played by Ty Burrell, an uptight real estate broker (reminds me of Will Truman and Grace). Mitchell Pritchett is a tightly-wound and nervous lawyer who is the opposite of a gay stereotype. Cameron Tucker, his partner, functioning as his foil, is bubbly, outgoing, and straight in real life.

The Men Rule The Roost

In this sitcom, the men have hierarchy. The sexy Sophia Loren-like Hispanic Gloria Pritchett, played by Sofia Vergara, is a non-working homemaker with a son Manny Delgado and an older husband Jay (Mitchell’s and Claire’s father ). Just as she is a stay-at-home mother, so is Claire Dunphy. How modern is that?

Subtle, with Less Stereotyping

But the show works because the gay subplot is not so didactic. The couples’s relationships are basically alike, whether gay or straight. Like a good book, it shows you, rather than tells you (or shouts at you).
Even Ann Romney says Modern Family is one of her favorite programs.
Post your comment here about the credibility of the gay characters in “Modern Family” and “The New Normal.”