I was bullied pretty badly when I was a kid, the worst period falling between the ages of 10 and 14, I think. People tell me to get over it, and that I am an adult now, privileged and famous and constantly applauded not only in my primary field, stand-up comedy, but also in practically every endeavor I have chosen to devote myself to, from acting to burlesque bump-and-grind to songwriting. I am told I have no right to complain, and that may be true to some extent, the good in my life flowing in from all directions, satisfaction pulsing through me every second of the day, but I will never stop complaining until I am dead in the ground or even afterward, probably, if I can find a way back out of the light to complain about the afterlife. I will never stop complaining. It’s kind of fun to me now, and looking back, I was treated so terribly that I don’t feel I have the capacity to forgive. Fuck forgiveness and all that. I think that even Jesus would say, “Yeah I guess you do have a point…”
I was hurt because I was different, and so sharing my experience of being beaten and hated and called ugly and fat and queer and foreign and perverse and gluttonous and lazy and filthy and dishonest and yet all the while remaining invisible heals me, and heals others when they hear it — those who are suffering right now. If you are going through this kind of shit today, try to remember that I lived through it and now thrive. I fucking thrive.
My former bullies pay extra to come backstage and meet me after shows, and I pretend not to know them in front of their friends. It is the most divine pleasure to exact the revenge of the brutalized child that resides within. Don’t consider suicide. Consider revenge. Consider what I get to do now. Know that this could be your life, too. Grow up and let anyone try to contend with the adult you. The grown-up you will be fearsome and tremendous, not only for all the pain you have endured but also because you have survived it. I cannot wait to meet you, tall and mighty in your grown glory. Stay here so we can eventually come together and be friends. Stay so you can tell me your story. I need to hear it.
I love the It Gets Better campaign, and I want to tell you that it not only gets better; it gets amazing, and don’t leave before you can witness it firsthand. Stick around for awhile. The best stuff comes later in life. It just does. You’ll see. You just have to trust me on this one, but you will be glad that you did.
There were a few things that saved me, like the young gay men my father employed at his bookstore, who would ride me on the back of their café racers, motorbikes that were butch yet classy as hell, built for speed first and beauty next. They’d tell my father that if I got tattoos, maybe then I would have friends, and this is true today, as if they had been telling me my fortune. I have tattoos, and I have many, many friends.
Music was like a hot bath I could escape into, steamy and warming me to the bone. I still am comforted greatly by sounds. Chord progressions and lyrics were my cliques and confidants. Songs sustained me more than I can say here, more than I can explain in words.
Comedy was the key to everything. I grew up fast and controlled my future by bringing it on faster than it naturally unfolded. I cheated myself out of a childhood but then got a running headstart into adulthood that no one else could keep up with.
All these things help me still, revive me when I feel weak, and remind me how far I have come and where I am going.