He recalls one particular incident as an adolescent walking home from school when a girl, sitting on her stoop, hatefully yelled out “What are you looking at, faggot?”
“I should have yelled back, “Nothing much, moron” but was so shocked by the random hate,” he explains. “That incident helped fuel my later drive to reach out and give support to anyone who’s the victim of bullying.”
It’s also a big reason why he is part of the new short film, BULLIED: A True Story based on the Life of Frankie Cappello.
Written and produced by Frankie Cappello and directed by Kathrine Narducci, the film tells the tale of Frankie, a young boy growing up in Little Italy, an Italian neighborhood in New York City, in the late 70s’ and early 80s’. It was a time when being different was even less accepted than it is today, and boy, was Frankie different.
“I was not like the other boys in the neighborhood,” he explains. While most little boys in Little Italy were into sports and girls, he was into singing, dancing and acting. His childhood chums were all girls who enjoyed playing jump rope, hopscotch, and Doll Day. “They had Barbie dolls and I had my GI Joe doll,” he remembers.
For Frankie, the bullying rarely happened at school. Luckily for him, he attended Catholic school with fierce nuns and their rulers who kept everyone in line.
It after school when he was alone that he feared most. “If I was walking down the street and saw a few kids walking towards me, I would walk the other way or around the block because I knew they would start in with me. I made it a point to always avoid trouble.”
However, trouble often found him. It was usually when he was playing, walking about or just sitting by himself and that the neighborhood bullies acted out.
Like most kids, Frankie didn’t tell his parents or anyone at home about what was happening. He chose to handle it on his own; a mistake many kids being bullied today make.
One important step Frankie did make was learning Karate to protect himself. “The bullying didn’t stop until I took action and demanded it stop,” he says.
“My advice to kids being bullied today is to stand up and build up your inner strength so that no one can break you.”
He also encourages kids to “Be you, do you and love you.”
“Together we can stop bullying,” he continues. “Today, I’m able to look back at my younger years and know that I what I’ve been through in my life has made me the man I am today. I want my story to help others understand that their life matters and they should never blame themselves or harm themselves, and before someone harms them, they should tell someone and ask for help.”
Visit bulliedatruelifestory.com for a listing of websites for parents and children to find help.