by: Johnny Gall
Dear Me at 13,
You know how sometimes you’ll lie awake at night and just wish you could talk to yourself as an adult and be reassured that everything’s all right and you’re not ultimately heading for destruction? At your service. Unfortunately I can’t promise you that you won’t become those things you’re afraid of becoming. Yeah, you’re still gay, and yeah you’re pretty proud of it. Bordering on arrogant, actually. Rainbow flags and all.
However, that’s not really what you should be afraid of anyway. There are much better things to be afraid of becoming. An old desperate closet case that cruises the bathroom stalls at night and speaks out against homosexuality by day. A middle-aged man married to a woman he has no sexual feelings for, still pretending to be something he’s not. These are the things you don’t want to be. Because, as it turns out, you can’t turn straight. Put it out of your head now. What you can do is live truthfully and with dignity and fight for others to do the same.
And, if it’s any consolation, you’re still not an atheist. Quite the opposite, actually. I know you were worried about that. You shouldn’t be, by the way, because you know some amazing people who don’t believe in God, and some really awful people who do. But also you shouldn’t worry because, at least in the next ten years, it won’t happen.
Anyway, I just want to check in and give you some advice. I know you don’t really like taking advice from anyone, but then again, you’re just giving it to yourself, so hopefully you can trust me on this. I know it’s not in your nature to trust right now, but I’m asking on faith for you to just do it.
First of all, stop freaking out about being gay. It’s all right. I know it’s really hard for you, because certain people make it really hard for you. But listen, I can promise you that, even though you didn’t choose this, you’re eventually going to reach the point where, if given the option, you would choose to be gay every single time. It will eventually become something you love about yourself, which is good. You should love yourself. There are so many things to love about yourself, and all those people who have tricked you into hating yourself because you love men, they can go fuck themselves. (By the way, you still curse like a sailor. Sorry about that.)
Secondly, can you please accept the fact that, at some point, you’re going to stop caring about people knowing you’re gay? And it’s really shitty for you to spend so much of your time trying to make sure no one finds that out. What I’m saying is, stop being so scared to act even a little bit feminine. Stop over compensating by talking about how much you love boobs all the time. Just stop it. I’m not saying come out of the closet now. Because, as you know, you live in a pretty hostile environment, and maybe it’s a better idea not to do so. But don’t base every decision off of what people might say about your sexuality, because there will a come a time when you tell them flat out.
On that note, learn to dance. You’ll really wish you had at some point. And people will say things, I’m sure. Let them. In ten years, half of those people will still be living in Humboldt, several of them will have gone to prison, and barely anyone will have left Tennessee. But you’ll have done so. I’m not saying you’re better than them, so don’t get that idea. But, you definitely don’t want your life to be so dramatically affected by what they think. You shouldn’t care what they think.
Thirdly, stop going to Southern Baptist churches. I know, I know. It can be exciting to be able to hang out with people and to get to go on trips to different places. But eventually you’ll just be embarrassed at all the things they made you believe. They’re not good for you, and they’re not good for your faith.
Anyway, yeah, it may be nice that you sort of fit in, but that’s not worth hiding who you are and changing what you believe. If they can’t love what’s there (and you know they can’t) than you don’t want their friendship anyway. The Methodist church may not have a lot going on, at least where you live, but they’re easier to live with, and eventually you’re going to know a lot of awesome people from there. Stick with it.
In general, just stop worrying. Stop worrying what people think, stop worrying about who you love, stop worrying about being accepted and stop worrying about who you’ll eventually be. Because I’m a little farther along than you are, and I can tell you, everything’s going to be fine. More than fine. You’ve got an amazing life ahead of you, at least the next ten years of it. I don’t want you to have to keep walking around with the world on your shoulders. I don’t want you to have to grow so hard so young. That’ll come, and it’ll come with good reason, but don’t get ahead of the game. Because for every shitty experience that’ll come your way, there will be ten really great ones. It’s well worth it.
So, a few warnings for the future. At some point you’re going to meet a cute boy who smokes and then you’ll want to start smoking so you have an excuse to talk to him. Don’t do that. By the time you really get to know him, you won’t see him in that way anymore. And men are not worth forming addictions for. They’re just not.
When you go to college, you’re going to want to be an English major. Don’t. I’m not saying it’s awful, but you will lose your passion for it. Keep studying writing, but major in drama. I know you don’t have much experience, but it’s where your passion lies. That’s the important part. However, as it turns out, it won’t really matter what kind of degree you get. You’ll understand when you’re older.
Also, I’m not going to tell you what happens on your 23rd birthday, but I will say: take it easy. You’re going to have some great friends who will pay a lot of money so you can eat calamari and tres leches, and you want to keep that food in your stomach, not on the sidewalk. Come to think of it: do the same on your 18th. Too much dairy. (And yes, you are the kind of person who eats calamari now. It’s really not bad.)
Also, learn to eat some freaking vegetables. It’s just going to be harder when you’re older.
That’s all I’ve got for you. I would wish you the best, but there’s no need, because you’re already heading there. Just remember to stop freaking out and enjoy yourself a little bit more. And I know it’s tough now, but trust me, it gets much better. (You’ll understand what this means about nine years from now.)
So take care, and I’ll see you in a decade.
Johnny Gall is so, so very close to completing his B.A. from NYU in English and Creative Writing. He has hopes of moving on to seminary, and then to ordained ministry and works with several groups which advocate queer equality in the Methodist church. He is a feminist, anarchist, person of faith, part-time librarian and an all-around good guy.