HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A man who was bullied as a child wants his hero, who is his former teacher, to be named Teacher of the Year on Wednesday.

Marcos Saldivar, a gay man, was bullied as a student at William E. Kettler Elementary School in Huntington Beach, and he says former teacher Lisa Moloney provided the support for him that made a difference in his life.

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Moloney recalled when Saldivar first came to her.

“He came in crying, so of course, in that situation you know that something is going on,” Moloney said. “And when I would ask him about that, he would tell me that the boys were bothering him. They were picking on him because they had determined that he had characteristics that they thought might mean that he was gay.”

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Saldivar, a USC graduate and now an editor at the Huffington Post, wrote his experience being bullied, and about the life-changing impact Moloney had on him, as he recommended her for Orange County Teacher of the Year.

“I’m gay, and when I was younger, I really had no idea what it was. I knew that I was different,” Saldivar shared. “She always kind of instilled in me that I was special and it was OK to be different, (and) that it was OK to pursue anything that I wanted to do.”

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Moloney confronted the bullies and got them to stop by threatening to call their parents.