An Open Letter to LGBT Youth

You are not alone

Image: AP//Matt Dunham

Dear LGBT youth in America,

When Donald Trump won the election I spent most of the night cradled in my husband’s arms, sobbing. Then I got so angry with the world I put my fist through our kitchen wall. I can only imagine what it must have been like for you that night and in the days since, without anyone’s arms around your shaking shoulders, with no one there to help you grieve.

For those of you living in Trumpland, I can only imagine how it must have felt to watch your family, friends, and neighbours celebrating the victory of a man whose running mate believes in torturing you to try and turn you straight.

Hiding your terror from (and of) the people who are supposed to unconditionally ensure your safety and happiness gets easier with practice, but it is always painful. It is not something you should ever have to do. The next day at school, I’m guessing, was worse than the last. The bullies and the brutes are emboldened, and one of them is about to sit in the Oval Office. You may feel isolated and beaten down. You may feel frightened. You may feel unsafe at home or in class.

But know this: you are not alone. You never will be.

Those of us who have been through what you are dealing with now had hoped you wouldn’t have to. We hoped the world and the people in it would be better than they proved. But they didn’t, so we will fight. We will fight for you and for ourselves, and for our friends and neighbours. We will fight for those rights only recently won — and they were hard-won — as well as those we have yet to secure for you. Never doubt that.

Most Americans agree that we should have the right to marry the person we love. Most of the country genuinely thinks it’s already illegal to fire someone or deny them housing because of their sexuality, even though it isn’t in a majority of states. They think so because they believe it should be. Most people in this country do not see us as an Other, even if your classmates or teachers might. Donald Trump cannot change that now.

My generation and those before came out in droves. We campaigned. We made ourselves known to our friends, our neighbours, and our colleagues. We forced them to recognise our shared humanity. And it worked. It’s much harder to place your boot on someone’s neck when you have to look them in the eye and tell them why.

You are not abnormal. You are not worth less than anyone else because of whom you love or whether you were born into a body whose sex doesn’t match your gender. There are millions more like you, and you are never, ever alone.

If you are scared, if someone hurts you — if anyone tries to make you feel as if who you are is not okay — reach out to your friends, your family and tell them why you’re hurting. Reach out to other students you see being victimised for their race, creed, sexuality, or gender and let them know that you’re suffering too. Band together. Support one another as best you can.

If you can’t do that, reach out to us. We’ll be here to listen, to advise, to support, to show you that there is beauty and goodness in the world. There are so many people in this world who love you and want you to be happy exactly as you are, even if it doesn’t seem that way. We have been where you are now, and our strength is yours for as long as you need.

So you may be afraid, you may be despondent, and that’s okay. We are as well. But you have to be strong. You have to be stronger than the bastards who say you shouldn’t be the way you are. You must be unyielding in your conviction that you are you and nothing will change that or take that away. Stand up. Do not give them an inch.

Whenever anyone tells you to hang your head in shame, hold it high and make them look you in the eye. We will have your back when you do.

Love,

Oliver Keane

P.S. Here are some resources if you need them:

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