Content Warning: Bullying, Stalking
Anyone who was actively bullied in school can confirm that the experience can be terrifying and detrimental to our ability to live our lives.
Sometimes we start pondering what lengths we’d have to go to in order to get our bullies to stop, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Voodoodoll967 went to an out-of-state university to distance himself from his hometown and his high school bullies.
But when one of them popped up at his university, the Original Poster (OP) wasn’t sure what to do next.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for accidentally outing my bully?”
The OP received a lot of negative attention in high school after coming out.
“I (19 Male) was bullied ever since I came out (I’m gay) in 2018 by a group of boys.”
“At the time, I spoke with teachers and counselors, and my parents did as well, but they did nothing to stop it.”
“One of the guys, who I’ll call ‘Tim,’ was the worst. He would follow me around, calling me names, and making sexual remarks like asking if I was the ‘boy or the girl,’ and stuff like that.”
“Again, nobody said anything to him or any of the other guys. Which, honestly, I’m not even surprised now since that was a small town in a very conservative state.”
“I was called into the principal’s office once, and he told me that I should stop complaining about my classmates because obviously they wouldn’t hurt me or try to touch me inappropriately because they are straight.”
But the problems didn’t end with high school graduation.
“After graduation, I went to a college that’s out of state as I wanted to get as far as possible from my hometown.”
“Unluckily for me, when the school year started, one day I ran into Tim, as he had chosen the same university.”
“He tried to become my friend for some time until I told him I didn’t want him to be my friend and, quite honestly, didn’t even want him to talk to me.”
“We live in the same dorm, and sometimes we run into each other, but I asked him to ignore me.”
But Tim would not drop the issue.
“A few months, after he messaged me on Instagram and asked me to meet up with him because he wanted to talk to me.”
“I assumed he wanted to apologize for the bullying maybe, but as I said, I didn’t care for his apologies, so I told him everything was okay between us, but I really didn’t want to talk to him.”
“Ever since then, I’ve started running into him more than before. I thought I was paranoid because this guy scares me a lot, but basically, he confirmed it.”
“He told me he recently realized that his sexuality wasn’t what he always thought, and he also realized that he was always ‘playing’ with me because he actually liked me.”
“I wanted to say something else to him, but as we were in a small place and alone, I told him that was rough, but I wasn’t interested, and he should look somewhere else.”
As a response, Tim returned to his old ways.
“That happened nine or ten months ago, and ever since, he has been making my life h**l again.”
“He follows me around, and I’m scared. I tried reporting him, but since he lives in the same dorm as me, I don’t have enough proof to make them think that he was following me.”
“I’m scared he might hurt me.”
The OP did the only other thing he could think of.
“Since nobody was believing me, I exposed him on Instagram with some messages that he had sent me and some photos I took of him following me.”
“I didn’t explicitly say he was gay. I posted some screenshots of his harassment, along with some other evidence. In the messages, he was asking me to meet up with him, and he made some romantic and sexual comments, even though I told him to stop several times. That’s what I posted.”
“Some of my old classmates follow me, and the news about Tim being gay has spread in our hometown. I haven’t seen him around lately.”
The OP later wondered if he’d gone too far.
“A few days ago, he messaged me and told me I ruined his life because now his family disowned him, along with some other stuff.”
“I have him blocked from every social media, but he makes new accounts to message me. I did tell him I was sorry for the outing after getting that last message, but then I also blocked that profile.”
“I feel bad because I know how hard it is to be queer in our hometown. I really didn’t think about this before exposing him, and now I feel like an a**hole.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some pointed out that the OP needed to be his own greatest advocate.
“NTA. You have to look out for yourself. There is no rule that all gay people must band together against all homophobes. He has made your life H**L.”
“I do feel for him, I am sure his life is bad now, and he has struggled with his true self for a long time. But he brought all of it on himself, and you owe him nothing.” – Ok-Palpitation7573
“NTA. This person is not ‘bullying’ you. This is ABUSE. Let’s just call it as it is. He is an abusive manipulator. Do not engage in any more contact with this person. Block him and any threatening messages, save them, and get a restraining order.”
“From the sound of it, he did stalk you, and I am not sure if he is still doing it. He is obsessed and will do anything to get your attention. Anything he says, do not believe him. He is now going to use this situation as a ‘reason’ for continued abuse or make you feel sorry for him, that you owe him something.”
“You do not owe him a thing. Yes, you can feel bad for outing his sexuality but stop yourself at that. This boy has an abusive personality. He has been emotionally abusing you for too long. You came out a long time ago. That was very brave of you. You are strong enough not to take this from him anymore.”
“Do not let him turn the table on you. He is purposely making you feel this way. This is HIS FAULT. ABUSERS NEVER SEE HOW THEY TREATED YOU, just your reaction to their abuse.” – Apprehensive_Cod4251
“I felt like I was going to throw up at the part where he admitted he likes bullying you because it gives him a power trip and then attempted to frame it as just playing around with you. He may as well have just said, ‘I get off to the idea of you feeling unsafe around me’ when he told you that.”
“Please, please, PLEASE escalate the situation regardless of how much anyone might try to convince you that it’s not a problem. Tim isn’t just a bully. He’s a creep that sounds like he’s not afraid of pushing boundaries regardless of what the consequences may be.”
“You deserve not to be afraid of someone who is obsessed with making you feel like you’re in danger to the point where you had to do what you did in order to get people to believe you.” – Solgatiger
“Maybe I am paranoid, but it’s weird he came to the same college as OP. Did he intentionally follow him there? I don’t know. I am just getting heavy stalker vibes. NTA, by the way.” – kookiekat7
“Hey OP, I don’t know if your college works the same way mine did, but if they have similar policies, you can get a college no-contact order (basically a campus-level restraining order) pretty easily without hard proof. This will make it so that if either of you contacts the other in any way, the administration can enact consequences such as expulsion for the person that initiated. No contact is exactly what you want, so I’d really recommend looking into it.”
“I got a no-contact order on someone I shared an extremely small major with solely based on my own allegations, and it was a relief to have. It can’t stop the stalking, but it can put up another wall between you and him that will prevent you from being paired up in group activities, being messaged on social media, other people talking to you on his behalf, and so on.”
“The Dean of Students handled it for me; definitely go to people higher up in the college than your RA (Residential Assistant) if that’s the only person you’ve talked to so far.”
“NTA.” – MateuszRoslon
But others urged the OP to be careful about outing other people.
“I think it was a d**k move to out him as being gay. OP sounded like he did it out of frustration rather than a sense of justice. I feel for OP, h**l. He walks in my shoes. But it’s difficult for someone whose family at least tolerated his sexuality to understand what it’s like to lose everything you have based on something you cannot control.”
“He’s not losing everything because of something he could control. He lost it because his family would rather have no son than a gay one. Perhaps this is healthy for the bully, but now he has absolutely nobody to turn to because of his sexuality, and I don’t wish that on my worst enemy… and I would feel horrible if I was the cause, even if I hated the guy.”
“Two things can be true at once. You can think outing him was a d**k move, while also thinking he needed to report, ferociously, the harassment. Reporting it on Instagram does nothing to solve the harassment, and I have a hard time believing OP was searching for some justice by posting to Instagram.”
“You don’t report crimes to Instagram. You post there to make everyone aware. I’d also question what he said in his posts that tipped people off that he was gay because the setup sounds like he spilled the beans pretty fantastically.” – NavSur
“Outing someone is basically never okay. It’s not a matter of it just being embarrassing or stressful. People get killed over it.”
“But I also don’t think OP is the a**hole for being scared of this guy and deciding something needed to be done. And I’ll be honest, our society does a really bad job of telling guys what kind of resources are out there if they are being harassed, and it doesn’t usually take them seriously even when they find those resources. I understand why op might do these things, even if they aren’t right.”
“Although I too do question how explicit op was that the other guy was gay. Can’t really judge that unless we know what was actually said.” – LazuliArtz
“OPs safety is, of course, number one priority. I was pointing out the fallacy in the other person’s argument.”
“I would have advised OP to post the same thing on social. He’s being stalked and followed by Tim and feels threatened. Include the proof. Don’t include the part about Tim being gay. I think Tim is clearly the bigger AH in the situation. It’s not measurable. I just think outing someone on social media is also AHish which has an ESH label.” – imusto74
“NTA. It’d be one thing if you just exposed him for revenge. That would be cruel and wrong. But he was following you and threatening your safety. You released that information to add context to why you believed your life was at risk.”
“Stalking is a serious thing, and it’s often related to intimate partner violence and toxic masculinity. You were just showing that indeed it was related to those things (even though he was never your partner, it shows that he had a romantic intention and soured).”
“OP, I hope someone is taking your concerns seriously. It’s often brushed aside even for women, so I can’t imagine the authorities taking this behavior seriously for men, either.” – DNA_ligase
“Obviously, he’s an absolute AH, and being gay doesn’t excuse his behavior, but I’m not sure you made a smart choice by outing him. He kept his harassment non-physical for now, but he might become violent now that his life has been ruined. I would’ve reported his harassment to the police and asked to be put in another dorm.” – Moon_spirited
“He reacted poorly to the development of his own sexuality and took that out on you. He’s still taking it out on you, with his refusal to take no for an answer and generally creepy behavior. But you intentionally (not accidentally) outed him, and that is never OK.”
“You’ve done a lot of damage to his life, and while one can say now the two of you are even, what that means is the two of you are evenly TA.” – SparkyClarkson
“Eh, ESH. Moreso him than you, but nonetheless. Like, I’m not taking Tim’s defense. I was also a victim of homophobic bullying, and I think anybody who does that is a s**tty, s**tty person. They are the architects of their own unhappiness, and they have no right to forgiveness unless you’re willing to give it to them.”
“That being said, I think that outing someone carries a certain violence in that act, too, especially for someone from a more conservative place. Tim sucks, but what you did goes beyond self-defense and fully into the territory of not cool at all.” – el_pobbster
After receiving feedback, the OP shared a quick update.
“Thank you really for all of your comments, no matter your judgment, because it has helped me gather up my thoughts a bit.”
“I’m still trying to decide if I should keep pushing the school authorities to do something about him. I might wait a day or two before making anything because I don’t want to regret it.”
“I haven’t seen this guy around lately, so perhaps he’s given up, and everything has finally ended.”
“I’ve got a lot of thinking to do over this because I don’t want to f**k things up now that things seem to have stopped.”
The subReddit confirmed for the OP that he had done what he needed to do in order to keep himself safe, though some felt some guilt for what might have happened to his bully.
Outing someone is never an okay practice, but because the OP was feeling so afraid, and since he did not pointedly and maliciously out his bully, most were able to excuse the action in this case.
LGBTQ+ Youth can get help through:
- TrevorChat — 24/7/365 at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#services
- TrevorLifeline — phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386
- TrevorText — Text “START” to 678678. Available 24/7/365.
- TrevorSpace — online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends at https://www.trevorspace.org/
- Trevor Support Center — LGBTQ youth & allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/trevor-support-center/#sm.0000121hx9lvicotqs52mb1saenel