What would you say to your 13-year-old self if you had the chance?
Dear Thirteen-Year-Old Me,
There is potentially never a more shaping time in ones life than the torturous years of teenagehood. If 80’s movies have taught me anything it’s that everyone deserves their very own coming of age story. Ideally we’d all get our own Molly Ringwald moments as a teenager – we’d kiss over cake, or bond through detention, or maybe we’d own our very own collection of questionably embellished bowler hats. However, being Molly Ringwald isn’t as easy as it seems, in fact for most of us – especially when we identify as part of the LGBT community – we rarely happen to get the teenage coming of age story we truly deserve.
I understand you are currently struggling through your very own version of hell on earth – minus all of the actual flames, of course. You’re struggling with your sexuality like so many have before you, and I am writing to warn you of what is to come. You’ll soon be entering the second stage of your senior school career. The first stage was realising that you might, actually, possibly, be kind of gay. Next you are going to spend a long time hoping – and literally praying – that you aren’t, a fairly wasted effort when everyone else already seems so certain that you are. Then, for an even longer time, you are going to play one of the least convincing roles ever, the role of a straight boy. Seriously, the time that you played Mayor’s Assistant #1 in your year six production of Rocky Horror was more convincing – and that wasn’t even a real role.
Throughout all of these stages one thing will remain present and consistent all the way, and that is how alone and isolated you will feel. You’ll believe that no one else has ever felt, or worried, or been bullied the same way ever before, and this is most definitely not the case.
Hindsight is honestly 20/20, much like it’s a cold-hearted bitch, but I’ve learnt a lot since my teenage years, so allow me to bestow some wisdom onto you – you awkward and quiet baby gay.
Firstly, It gets better, you’ll no doubt hear this a million times throughout your life, but that makes it no less true. Year on year since coming out I have personally found life has kept getting better for me, so by no means assume that where you are now is where you’ll be forever. I don’t want to fall into the rhythm of a long-winded and overtly rambled speech on the importance of being oneself – especially when it can all too often feel like the entire world is pushing against you to be someone else. However, please try to be you. Closed-minded people will always find issues with change and difference – and while we may know that whom we love makes absolutely no difference to who we are as people, those kinds of bigots will always struggle to understand that. Trust me, in the long run you’re going to regret pretending to be someone else much more than you could ever regret being true to yourself.
When it comes to the actual bullies I’m going to borrow a few words from the founder of TheGayUK, Jake Hook, have “the bravery to confront them,” know “that when you push back that bullies rarely know how to respond and once you’ve taken away the power of their words they get bored and move on.”
I think he, like many other members of the LGBT community, would agree with me when I say, “Screw the haters, be proud and be brave”.
One final thing, remember you’re not alone. You are a part of a huge, loud and supportive community that all know exactly what you’re going through because most of them have already been there themselves.
You’ll be okay. You’ll be fine. You’ll be grand. You’ll be gay.
Twenty-Five Year Old You
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