So, if you're a teen, or you know a teen, I want to talk to you. Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you everything is going to be okay. Because it isn't. I just want to talk.
When I was thirteen, I knew I was queer and my parents didn't really care, but I was alone. I consumed media and read fanfiction and pined for a world where the things I loved represented me, even if I didn't know that's what I was doing. I was scared. I didn't know anyone like me. Even though my parents assured me I was fine, even though I grew up without religion telling me I was going to hell, the fact that I rarely saw anyone like me (that wasn't dying on TV) made me hate myself. I wasn't even gay or straight, I was bisexual, and why couldn't my brain at least pick one? Why was I stuck in the middle? I was a freak. I was in turmoil. I didn't see a way out.
When I got sad, I would take it out on myself. I wouldn't eat. I'd scratch myself with safety pins , or worse. I'd isolate myself, stay awake all night. That's how I learned to cope with pain. It has been a very hard road trying to unlearn that. I never thought I'd have to, y'see - I was absolutely certain I'd be dead before I hit age 20.
When you're young, like you are, or were, you don't see life in terms of decades. Most of you haven't been around long enough to know what you can survive. You quite literally don't know your own strength. Maybe you've survived breakups, or your parents divorce, or maybe far worse, but that timeline is so short, everything feels immediate. There's this saying people use that I kind of hate - "when you're young, everything feels like the end of the world." Well, yeah. It does. You haven't lived in the world long enough to know it isn't. That's not your fault.
On Tuesday, this country elected a man so horrible he defies description, and giving him more than a sentence here does him too much credit. He hates people like me, and like you, and your friends. You've probably already read about hate crimes, about people being abused and harassed because of how they look, who they love, how they practice their faith. If you're like me, you're scared out of your mind. That's okay. I'd be concerned if you weren't. It's very, very scary. We have no idea how this is going to play out. If you're queer, trans, a person of colour, disabled... If you're anything but a straight cis white man, things look pretty bleak right now. If I were thirteen, I wouldn't know what to do. It would feel like the end of the world. In a way, that's true.
The world isn't what it was on Monday. America definitely isn't. This election gave a giant glittering stamp of approval to hate crimes, sexism and every -phobia they have a name for. If you're the only person like you, or even part of a small group, in your town, it's going to be hard. You might feel like giving up. How are you supposed to live in a world that hates you? I don't feel like sugarcoating it. There are a lot of people who are fueled by fear and intolerance that are going to say or do things to try and hurt you, and people like you. But I implore you, from the bottom of my heart: do not give up.
Find your friends. Gather your people. Go online, find groups you can talk to and trust. Talk. Be honest. Listen. Learn. Be scared. Be angry. Protest. Make art. Comfort and protect each other. Read about what's happening until it hurts too much and then take time. You're going to get mad. Don't lash out at the people you love, focus it. Turn it into something powerful. You are so strong, and you will survive this, even if it doesn't feel like that right now. That's okay. You don't have to be positive every minute. Know yourself. Challenge yourself. Wake up the next morning. Stay alive.
We need you. I need you. There is no future without you. You are valid and beautiful and fucking magical and I'm sorry I swore if your mom sent you here, but shit is really real right now and why pretend otherwise? I love you. I was you and I still am. People may hate us but what we need, more than ever, is each other.
And you're not going to hell. I promise.
I love you very much.