Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Finding My Voice

by Mark Lockwood 

Yesterday I did something I swore I would never do - go back to the school where I was beaten up for being gay. YES Institute was invited to Miami Carol City High School for Bullying Prevention Week. As a speaker for YES Institute, I decided to go.

Bullying was the norm when I attended Carol City. Most of the bullying I saw and heard had something to do with gender and orientation. Wearing skinny jeans made you the target of slurs like “faggot” and “homo”; and if you were openly gay, you were beat up. It was as simple as that. Teachers who were aware of this school-wide issue did everything they could to help the situation, but nobody really knew how to make it stop.

A group of students picked a day to beat up all of the openly gay students on campus. Text messages were sent out that this group of kids was going to jump all of “them.” I was afraid to tell my mom about this, so I pretended to be sick so that I could stay home from school. In the end, it didn’t make a difference because, a week later, I was attacked.

I remember the attack vividly...

I am walking to the closest corner store to get snacks before catching the bus home from school. I see two guys in our school’s uniform, and they nod at me as I walk into the store. As soon as I come outside, one of the guys approaches me and asks for money. I tell him no and he immediately punches me in the face and calls me a “faggot.” Quickly, one attacker turns into four. I am knocked in the head with a stick and fall unconscious. The next thing I know, I wake up in the hospital with a bloody nose, a lacerated lip and a black eye.

Returning to Carol City was bittersweet. Walking back on the school’s campus made my stomach cringe. All those memories of being bullied, and feeling like I didn’t have a voice, began to creep back into my consciousness. I held on to my purpose - to create a safe space for all youth by using my voice and sharing my story. When I shared about being bullied at Carol City, students showed a lot of different emotions. Some were angry, others said how bullying is still an issue, and many remained uncomfortable even talking about gender and orientation.

I know my story touched a lot of hearts and minds, and maybe even reached a kid who is too afraid to be themselves because they could become the next target. I know because I was that kid. Today, I have found my voice, and I am proud to use it to make a difference, even when I’m afraid.

Mark shares his story at Miami Carol City High School 


  1. You are an incredible human being filled with love, laughter and warmth. So proud of you for sharing your difficult story to maybe help another young person. You are truly a gem and I feel honored to know you!!

  2. Way to go...that took a huge amount of confidence to walk through those halls again!