Looking Back At The 'Tremendous Hate' Of Bullies
Recent stories about bullying -- and the people who have spoken out publicly against it -- inspired Rob Littlefield to tell his own story of abuse, and how it affected his family.
While he was in junior high school, his classmates learned that Littlefield was gay.
"It was like ... tremendous hate that I had never experienced in my entire life," he says.
That took place while Littlefield, now 55, was a student in the Cherry Creek section of Denver, Colo.
"People called me fag, pointed at me, did pranks on my desk. And it went on on the school bus, in the classroom, in my neighborhood. And those kids teamed up and found a way to smash my hand in a car door, and I lost the end of one of my fingers."
"I lived that year not ever being able to talk to anybody about it," Littlefield says.
His parents realized something was happening to their son, but he was too scared to tell them what was going on, Littlefield says.
"The only way that I could see out of that situation was to take my life," he says. "I thought about it. I thought about it hard."
But after about a year of teasing and bullying, things took a better turn.
"My father came home from work one night, and he sat our family down," he says. "And he said, 'We're moving to Tulsa.' Those were the greatest words I ever heard in my life."
Littlefield did not come out and live an openly gay life until he was a senior in college. But his early experiences are still with him.
"At 55 years old, I look at this finger still, all the time. I can't help but look at that finger," he says.
And he still remembers the names of the kids who tormented him when he was 13.
"I wonder what they think of their gay grandson," he says. "I wonder what they think of their gay son. Well, I just wonder how they're living their lives today."
Produced for Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo. Recorded in partnership with KGOU. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.