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Author confronts inner bullies

Published: Sunday, April 7, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

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A filmmaker and author, Michael Anthony is bringing his anti-bullying movement to McHenry as he strives to help people come to terms with what he calls their "inner-bullies."

He will present "What is it that Bullies YOU? - Redefining the word 'Bully'" at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the McHenry Public Library, 809 N. Front St.

Originally from Wheeling and now living in Los Angeles, Anthony began his initiative after seeking to make a documentary in his hometown.

He returned to Wheeling in 2011 to ask local gay teens the question, "What is it that bullies you?"

He received an overwhelming response, including an anonymous letter that came from a young man named Billy. The letter touched him so much he produced the feature-length documentary "For Billy," slated for release in early 2014. 

The letters kept coming, so he turned them into the best-selling book, "the anthology of anonymoUS," which lead to the nonprofit program "the anonymoUS initiative" at www.iamanonymous.org.

"My hope is that if people read them, they see that even though the stories are very different, the feelings behind them are the same," he said. "If I can't fix someone's problem, I can help them feel a little bit less alone." 

As part of the mission behind  the anonymoUs initiative, Anthony writes, "We are more alike than it seems; even when life leaves us feeling anonymous, we are never alone."

He stressed his initiative isn't "a gay thing or a high school thing," but more abut coming to terms with the way in which everyone bullies themselves throughout life.

At the workshops he hosts, he encourages peopled to write their own letters or emails about what bullies them.

"My talk is about how we all bully ourselves, no matter what age, race, demographic," he said. "We all beat ourselves up about something, how smart we are, how we look, how much money we make."

Anthony received at least 3,000 letters when the initiative began and receives daily emails.  

He's appeared on NPR, NBC, Yahoo, Sirius, "The Advocate" and "the Huffington Post." 

As part of his workshop, he said he will show a preview for the upcoming documentary.

"There are a few surprises in there," he said of the program.

His book comes with an accompanying musical CD, which has been turned into a live stage show. Musical artists that play on that CD will perform as part of the McHenry program, he said. 

"I've done a lot of stuff as a writer. There are some projects you push and push and push," he said. "This is not about me or anyone specific. It's about all of us."

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