I hope this finds you well, I know we really haven’t spoken in a while. That is my fault really, I let life get the better of me. I forgot to take time to enjoy living, something we both know I should since I’ve come close, too many times, to not being a live.
I read something today that made me think of you. I haven’t stopped crying since I finished the article, and my hands are shaking as I write this to you. I’m writing because I have so much to tell you; so much that I never took the time to actually say. Ironic, the last time you and I spoke about this issue, was the day I sent you a message that changed my life. Do you remember it? I remember clearly what I wrote that day through AOL Instant Messenger.
I had been upset, because I was afraid. I wasn’t afraid of being gay. I was afraid of the world. I was afraid of what they would do to me, what they would say, about something that felt so natural, so right, to me. It was, you knew who I was before I admitted it out loud, because it was such a part of me that it was natural. It is natural. The next day at school you hugged so tightly that I thought I would cry right then and there, and you said that I had no choice, that I was coming over to your house for a “gay day.” You had me laughing so hard as you told me about the movies we would watch, and the things we would talk about, and I knew in that instant that I was going to be okay.
Your girlfriend at the time laughed with us, mostly because she had won the bet. I told her after I told you that night, because you told me I should tell her because she was chomping at the bit. I won’t forget what she said to me after I confirmed her suspicions.
“It’s going to be okay, Faith. We are here for you whenever you are ready to tell the rest of the world. We will give you a queer family so you know that you are loved and wanted. We will always be here for you.”
That weekend I slept over your house, and we watched movie after movie about being gay. We watched, If These Walls Could Talk 2, and But I’m a Cheerleader and countless more movies, with other titles you said we would eventually watch. We talked, about life and ourselves. We talked about what I felt, the crushes I had (The one I had on you hehehe), and you never made me feel unsafe, or scared. You warned me about the people who would hate me. You warned me about the school we were in. But you would have my back; you and your friends would give me the place to go to when the world hurt too much to bear.
I never thanked for that. We both know I dealt with a lot during those years. I dealt with the anger inside of me, and the darkness, but never once did I feel self-hatred for being who I was. Sure I hated being fat, or being picked on, or for being poor. Yes I had low self-esteem, but I had a power in my sexuality that I never thought possible. Even when I wanted to kill myself, it wasn’t because being gay hurt…it was because everything else hurt. I grew up loving this crazy culture I was thrust into thanks to you, and finding refuge in it.
I was lucky. I may have never fought for my own self-image issues, or for my self-esteem as a person….but I fought the world when it dared to attack me for who I loved. I fought with such vengeance that when you graduated, as much as it sucked, I knew I would be okay without you. You prepared to face the world as a strong lesbian. I knew who I was in this sense, and although the label has changed since then (I’ve come to identify myself differently, but I’m still part of the rainbow), my identify as a member of this world has never faltered. This is thanks to you, to your girlfriend, your friends that laughed with me, and joked with me, but stood up for me when I didn’t know how to yet. In a way, you saved me from a fate that thousands of kids are not being saved from, and I am grateful.
I am grateful for your existence. I am grateful for the soft smile you shared as I told you what I was afraid of. I was grateful for the firm hand on my shoulder, and the watchful eye you had over me, even when your own world was falling apart. You will always be a part of my soul, and I owe you more than I can ever dream of repaying. I promise to do everything in my power to share the love, and wisdom, and laughter with the kids that are growing up now. They need it as much as I needed it then. So thank you… for teaching me, and for showing me, and for loving me. I now have the voice to do the same.