If someone traumatized you with their bullying, are you required to forgive and forget if they come out as bisexual years later? That is the question at the heart of this post from Reddit's "Am I the A-hole?" The poster explains that he is a 27-year-old gay man who was bullied relentlessly in high school by a man he calls "B."
He says B picked on him for being effeminate.They called him homophobic slurs and tortured him in gym class. "Long story short," he writes, "B and his friends were one of the main reasons I absolutely, positively detested high school."
Now, about a decade later, B has come out as bisexual. He wrote a "long, public, 'heartbreaking' essay" on Facebook about his struggle. When this post popped up on his feed, and he saw that some mutual friends were writing supportive comments, he got angry. "Not saying people can't change," he writes, "but since B explicitly said in his post that he knew he was into boys since kindergarten, IMP that makes the fact that he tormented me in high school just for appearing gay even worse."
He felt like he had to say something, so he took to the comment section of B's post and wrote "something along the lines of, 'That's such a cute and manipulative post B, shame you didn't consider any of this stuff when you bullied me in high school for the exact same things you're now embracing.' I wanted people to see that he's not some sort of blameless victim of a prejudiced society, as he tried to portray himself in the coming-out post."
Many of their classmates attacked him in the comments, saying things like "Why rain on a fellow LGBT person's parade?" One person messaged him to say, "You don't even know what B went through since high school. He doesn't need your negativity. You're being petty and holding a grudge." He wants to know if he was wrong for writing that comment.
It's not clear if B himself responded. I would be interested to see what he would have to say. But just because B struggled doesn't mean he ever had a right to bully anyone. Plenty of people spend years grappling with their sexuality and don't spend that time abusing their classmates. Just because he has come out doesn't give him a carte blanche for all his past behavior.
And for the most part, Reddit commenters agreed. One person wrote, "I'm so tired of everyone defending a bad person just because they come out as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. that's just disgusting and I'm sorry O.P. He was projecting his own insecurities into bullying you and now people are defending him because he came out... If anyone comes at you in messenger for this, tell them the truth and don't let them talk down to you."
"You probably didn't need to comment on their post but as someone who was also extensively bullied for the same things, I'd probably do the same thing you have," someone else wrote. That kind of extreme bullying has lasting effects on people, and even though he probably could have kept quiet, it's understandable that he was moved to say something.
Another member of the LGBTQ+ community commented, "As a fellow community member, I get tired of people who were awful to other people coming out and using that as an excuse... As if being gay, bi, etc. forgives them for all past sins. Naw, that dude's an a--hole. While you could have been the bigger person, I think in this instance people should hear the truth."
It might have been ten years ago, but that doesn't mean what B did is forgiven and forgotten. It's great that he has opened up and become honest with himself and others about who he is. But he did some real damage to a classmate years ago, and that doesn't just go away.
I'd be curious to know what B thinks about his comment. Maybe he's extremely remorseful about what he did in high school. Maybe this newfound vulnerability will push him to confront his past and apologize for the pain he caused all those years ago.