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Modern Family Star Opens Up About Being Bullied: "I Lived Every Day in Fear"

Jesse Tyler Ferguson Michael Tran/FilmMagic

To everyone who bullied Jesse Tyler Ferguson when he was a kid, we have one thing to say: Look at him now!

The openly gay Modern Family star was harassed so badly that…

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"I left school in the eighth grade and I went to a different school," he said last night at the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's Respect Awards. "It was hard. It was a horrible, horrible experience."

Saying he "lived every day in fear," Ferguson also said, "I'm sure a lot of it was rooted in homophobia. I mean, I was an ‘artistic,' kid, which was AKA gay," he said. "I think a lot of people sensed that I was gay and were terrified of that. I think bullying comes from fear and insecurity."

But, as we all know, gays aren't the only victims of bullying. "I was friends with the more eccentric, granola type kids who got teased, too," Ferguson said. "But you know what? We're the movers and shakers of the world now."

Does he think Modern Family can tackle bulling someday or would the subject matter be a little too heavy for the hit comedy? "I don't know if it's too heavy," he said. "I certainly can see Manny [Rico Rodriguez] being bullied, but not necessarily for being gay but just for being different."

Modern Family was honored by GLSEN last night for its positive images of diversity. Guests at the Beverly Hills Hotel gala included Chloe Sevigny, The Big C actor John Benjamin Hickey, Florence Henderson and her Dancing With the Stars partner Corky Ballas, Wilson Cruz, Louis Van Amstel, Dustin Lance Black, country singer Chely Wright and former Rachel Zoe cohort Brad Goreski.

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