FAGGOTS AREN’T WELCOME HERE
Kelby lives in Oklahoma. As with Alex, you immediately we see what’s “wrong.” Kelby is about as butch-looking as a high school girl can be and to her credit, she does nothing to feminize herself. She is who she is. She’s not “flaunting” anything; she’s just being Kelby. But in Oklahoma, girls like Kelby aren’t allowed to be who they are, at least, they aren’t allowed to self-identify openly as lesbians, which Kelby has.
You’ll love Kelby’s friends and family. Her friends admit that everyone assumes they are lesbians too but they aren’t, except for one cute petite girl who says she’s “K-gay” which presumably means gay for Kelby. Later in the movie we see Kelby and the K-gay girl walking arm-in-arm.
Kelby relates a story of being harrassed by six jocks in a car, so she steps in front of the car to confront of them. Instead of slowing down, they speed up and the next thing Kelby knows, she’s flying across their windshield. We don’t hear if charges were pressed – we assume not – or the extent of her injuries. Instead, Kelby deflects by saying she couldn’t get hit by something cool like a jeep, she had to get hit by a mini-van.
Kelby tried suicide three times. She’s cut herself.
PEOPLE WE SPENT YEARS WITH … WILL NOT EVEN WAVE TO US
The other hero is Kelby’s dad. “There are people we spent years with side-by-side, coaching their children, that will not even wave to us anymore, won’t look at us.”
Kelby’s mom says that Kelby “grew up in a family that taught Sunday school, and raised her to believe that that was a sin. And I think you feel that way until you’re in that situation, and then it’s personal.”
Kelby recounts stories of how the worst emotional abuse she suffered was from her teachers. They made snide anti-gay comments in class, one even joking about how gay people were burned. When Kelby’s family complains, Kelby’s dad talks about the “plastic smiles” from the administators who promise action but deliver none.
“I love rain,” Kelby says in a later scene. “You know how when people can’t hold it in anymore they cry? The world is taking so much in, it can’t hold it in anymore. That’s why it rains. Cause it’s letting go.” A quaint metaphor. Shots of Kelby’s friends. There’s a Tyler, a Caitlyn, a Brooke. Kelby jokes that she has a 4’10” girlfriend to protect her. It’s an adorable scene and after seeing the isolation of the other bullied kids in the film, it’s refreshing to the viewer to see one with such a loyal band of friends.
Here you see Kelby’s heroism. She stays in her small town so that she can make a change. She really wants this to happen. “I don’t want them to win. Maybe all it takes is for one person to stand up. You’re standing up for all the kids that go through this every single day.”
YOU CAN’T CHANGE IT ALL AT ONCE
Near the end of the film, Kelby reappears. In the most gut-wrenching scene, she says, “I went in to the new school year thinking people were used to me. I went into class and the class was already full and I sat down. Everyone around me moved seats. Every single person. I was the only one sitting in a little circle. That was enough. Maybe there’s somewhere else I can go.”
“We decided as of this week,” says Kelby’s dady, “to pull her out of school here. I never knew what the saying ‘You don’t what a person’s been through until you walk a mile in their shoes.’ I never understood the depth of that meaning until I had a gay child. It has made me completely reevaluate what I am as a human being, to see the ugliness that has come out.”
“It took me a while to realize that you can’t change it all at once. It’s not just going to take me.”
It’s going to take all of us to make this change happen.
Check back tomorrow for the conclusion to this series. Bully opens nationwide tomorrow; watch the trailer here.