I was first introduced to Joe Paterson at Manchester Pride, last year, and was told prior to meeting him just how exceptionally committed he was to supporting LGB peers in his local community and beyond.
As a 16 year old, his achievements are unbelievable. His reach is extremely far and he has no intentions of stopping yet. I'm sure we're going to see a lot of success from Joe in the near future.
As you will read, Joe's had a rough time. A really difficult experience. And you'll also read how deeply it affected him.
He was pulled from the spiral of misery by the one person in the world who will stand by Joe, no matter what- his Mother.
Mums... They aren't all bad!
My name is Joe Paterson.
I am a boy – but I don’t enjoy playing sports.
I facebook. I foursquare. I tumbl(tumblr). I tweet (@thejoepaterson)
I’m 16 – but I’m not having sex every waking hour of my life, nor do I hang out in dark alleyways in a hoodie stabbing people.
I also don’t get drunk or take drugs every day. And I also don’t wear my jeans halfway down my arse (well, not all the time).
I'm a 16 year old boy who enjoys drama, music and singing, dancing, and all things performance-themed. I am a 16 year old boy who likes girls, and boys. I’ve been this way since I was born, but only realised it when I was 13.
Over the past two years, I’ve come to realise I like boys more than girls, but I remain (and will for the foreseeable future) bisexual.
I came out to my fellow peers pretty much as soon as I realised I was bisexual. As it slowly spread through my school, I initially denied what I knew to be true for fear of judgment. But eventually I reached a point where I said to myself ‘You know what? F*** it! I might as well be honest and get it out of the way.’ So I stopped denying it. I said ‘Yes, I am bisexual, and so what?’
As you can imagine this created somewhat of a controversy at my school - name calling, whispering and tripping up in the corridors was soon a regular occurrence in my daily school life, and I know it’s the same for everyone who is bullied – you feel like a useless piece of crap that nobody gives a damn about. But again, I also know that it feels like nobody has ever experienced what you’re going through.
I suppose the worst piece of abuse I ever received was that I’m “a disgusting c*** and that I’ll burn in hell sucking d*ck forevermore.” If I’m 100% honest, I was mildly surprised that the individual who said this to me even knew what the word ‘forevermore’ meant.
This bullying continued for a good year or so, and it was like a massive weight being pressed down on my shoulders, getting heavier every day, making me isolated and depressed. I started to self-harm.
The self harming continued for several months. It got to the point where it didn’t even hurt and I wasn’t consciously doing it – it was like a ritual – get home from school or whatever, go to my room, shut the door, cut, go downstairs for dinner (wearing long sleeves), back upstairs, cut, sleep. Every day. It was insane looking back. If it hadn’t have been for forgetting to wear long sleeves one day and my parents seeing, I’d probably still be doing it today.
My mum, obviously horrified by what she'd found, gave me the courage to speak with teachers and get the problems sorted. My mother's help even gave me the courage to confront the bullies head on… I did assemblies on the Lesbian/Gay Foundation’s Enough Is Enough! Action Against Homophobia Campaign, and they must have listened… Coz I've not been bullied since!
Since then I’ve appeared on iTV’s This Morning and the Tonight show- Bullies Online. I've made numerous appearances on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Stephen Nolan show, and I have no plans of stopping what I’m doing. I’ve also just been elected as Young Leader for my area of Daventry. I’m a Prefect at my school, and I’m running for Head Boy next year. Forgive the cliché, but it really, really, really does get better. It gets better because we DON'T HAVE TO LIVE IN FEAR! We can make a real difference, if we just try. Thats all I've done.
Northamptonshire (my home county) has no gay scene whatsoever. I can’t wait to get to Uni (if I can afford being at least £30,000 in debt at age 21/22) and see the LGBT world in all its bright pink glory.
Oh, and if you’re gay or bi reading this and you wear skinny jeans, watch out – you’re just my type.
See you around,