Dear still closeted self,
You’re 18, scared and stumbling towards adulthood. Despite a telling obsession with Whitney Houston and Madonna you have only just begun acknowledging that yes, you’re gay. With the benefit of hindsight, let me tell you why it’s not the end of the world.
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger
Your time as a high schooler has taught you to keep your head down and fail miserably at acting straight. I don’t want to pretend the pain of constant bullying hasn’t left a mark. But these struggles have made you are a kinder, more compassionate and stronger person thanks to the growing pains you endured in the living horror movie that being obviously gay in high school can be. However, today an unkind remark is nothing more than water off a duck’s back.
You’ve now learned that being teased and taunted for being girly and effeminate wasn’t your fault. So to the young boy who used to cry on the bus home, be kind to yourself. Keep listening to the songs on the radio that make you feel ok – Lady Gaga is right, baby you were born this way. To all the boys who made you shed tears, trust me today all you have to say to them is “thank you, next.”
Plus, you made it easier for the ones who came out after you – the boys in the year below you will be the first to be able to take another boy to formal. If that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is. Plus plenty of those boys who bullied you – yep, they’re queer now also. Classic!
You Have The Best Years of Your Life Ahead of You
You’ll quickly realise that living in black and white before coming out can never compare to the joy of full colour. Soon enough, all those things that made you a freak will quickly become what people love about you from the moment you explode onto the University scene. It’s crazy to think that the “weird, gay kid” will become an infamous BNOC (an abbreviation for Big Name on Campus, but babe remember you’re still a small name on the planet!)
You’ll organise massive queer parties, manage huge election campaigns and play a leading role in numerous activist movements. The pain you felt as a confused outsider all through school before I came out is what sparks off your passion for social justice. You are just about to enter the wonder years, a time where you will do more and be more than you ever believed would be possible.
But most of all I want you to know that soon enough you’ll find your people. The friends you will make over the next few years will love you unconditionally. Many of them were queer kids who walked the same rough road. With them, you will share moments of true joy. Hold them close and love them fiercely.
Life might get better, but that doesn’t mean perfect
I wish I could promise you nothing but sunshine and rainbows upon exiting that scary, dark and cold closet but I’d be lying. However, I can promise you that you’ll live more honestly, bravely and freely. Soon you’ll start going to gay clubs, experimenting with a smorgasbord of drugs and having a whole lot of sex. You’ll make mistakes, hurt people and still sometimes wonder if you’ll make it through. Please remember that sometimes the going will get a little tough, but you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.
To Live Honestly Is To Live Well
For queer people, life can often be broken into two distinct halves – before I came out and life after the closet. Even today, I often think about the moment you took the final leap out of the closet. You’d just finished watching Six Feet Under with your family and you finally felt ready to say “I’m gay.” Trust me and be brave because this is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.