While responding in the comments to the SpongeBob Attacked post, I was reminded of one of the reasons why I get my dander up when folks start bashing gays and other minority groups.
It dates back to when I was in junior high school many years ago and found myself the focus of a particularly nasty group of bullies. I was a soft-spoken, scrawny little kid whose family had moved around for most of my life so I didn’t have a lot of friends at school. Usually, kids like me would go pretty much unnoticed through the system, but for some reason I had attracted the attention of one of the popular kids who set out to make my life particularly miserable. He used to sit behind me in class and kick the back of my chair repeatedly throughout the day, ignoring my requests for him to stop. He also got a group of other kids to start calling me ‘mouse’ in a derogatory fashion. My only refuge back then was an elective speech communications class where I was with a completely different group of students and where I found that I had a knack for public speaking and debate - but that’s a different story.
Things came to a head one day in PE class when this bully turned yet another kid against me (a kid who I had just started to become friends with) and together they started throwing basketballs at me out on the court during a free basket shooting period. At the time I was pretty lousy at basketball and I probably looked pretty pathetic trying to shoot baskets but suddenly I found myself being bombarded with basketballs striking me in the back and the side every time I would try and shoot. While they were doing this they kept calling me a name over and over that I didn’t understand. They were calling me a ‘fag.’ The realization that my one new friend had turned against me was too much and I dissolved into tears.
That night I learned that my family was moving and I never had to go back and face that situation again - something that was both good and bad. But I left with a determination that I would never allow myself to be bullied like that again, nor would I tolerate people bullying other kids. At my new school this new found determination must have rubbed off because I quickly made new friends and became somewhat popular. Years later I would look back on that moment as a turning point and constantly reflect on it whenever the subject of discrimination came up. I wouldn’t say that it is what made me a liberal, but it set the foundation for my later political beliefs.