Walter G. Meyer, author of the novel “Rounding Third,” spoke at the Tempe campus Thursday night about bullying in sports, specifically in regard to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“Rounding Third,” published in 2009, chronicles the life of Rob Wardell, a teenager who falls in love with another boy on his baseball team. As their relationship builds, secrets about his lover’s abuse start to surface.
“It’s incredibly sad that this novel is becoming popular now due to the recent attempted suicides by LGBT teenagers,” Meyer said.
Although the book is considered fiction, Meyer said that most of it is based on his own life experiences as a child.
He described his household as being a “don’t ask, don’t tell” zone. At school, he recalled being relentlessly bullied because of his sexual orientation.
“I got an e-mail from an older gentleman who thanked me for using the word iPod on the first page of the book,” Meyer said. “He was happy that people would realize that these horrific bullying events didn’t stop when he was a teenager in the 1950s.”
The event also featured a documentary about bullying called “Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History,” a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The documentary delved into the life of a young boy who endured bullying throughout his middle and high school years because of his sexual orientation. Eventually, his family filed a lawsuit against the school that did nothing to stop the harassment.
The event, sponsored by the LGBTQ Coalition at ASU, was a part of a bi-weekly movie series the club puts on.
Casey Clowes, a marketing freshman who is on the executive board of the LGBTQ Coalition, helps put together these events.
“The films are all LGBT related,” Clowes said. “We do a different theme each year. Last year’s theme was religion. This year we are just doing a broad range of films.”
Rui Rodrigues, a global studies junior, said he has been a victim of bullying during his college career.
“A few months ago, I received a call from a friend that my name and picture had been posted on a website called The Dirty,” Rodrigues said. “It questioned my sexuality and called me a closet case.”
Rodrigues said he felt so uncomfortable that he couldn’t stay at his apartment, and he spent several nights at a friend’s house.
“The post mentioned where I lived,” Rodrigues said. “I was honestly scared for my life. My sexual preference is none of their business. I didn’t do anything to warrant this kind of harassment.”
Meyer has spoken to several colleges, including San Diego State University and Pennsylvania State University and also has had his work published in numerous gay publications.
“The reason I go around speaking to schools is because I can’t go back and save my 14-year-old self,” Meyer said. “I can, however, try and save other 14-year-olds now.”
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