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A letter to: My closeted self

"You’ve got so much to learn about yourself, and you’re going to love every single part."

To myself, but hollow,

It was a wild ride getting to the place we’re at right now. You spent the first seventeen years of your life drowning so far in denial that even you were surprised when you crushed on a guy for the first time. You were merely a simple ‘straight’ boy, sat sipping lattes with a friend in Starbucks, when the realisation washed over like a wave and suddenly your world came crumbling down around you. You didn’t know you were lost until I found you. 

Life before then was strange. Maybe only in hindsight, it seems like the years leading up until seventeen were muted, with the saturation turned down, while you joked and wrote and dated and functioned on the day-to-day, skirting all the while around an unavoidable truth. If you could stand where I stand now, you would see that everything is not fine, and you’ve convinced yourself that a pond is an ocean. Your denial has created walls you can’t even see. You do theatre and write poems and like reading, but when bullies call you gay and use slurs you don’t understand, you are sure it’s just because you are different and, because of some odd stereotypes, they are just adding 2 and 2 and getting 5 because they don’t know any better. You can’t consider, even for a second, that they might know you better than you do. I think that’s what crushed you the most once you realised that you looked at guys the same way you looked at girls; it meant that every person who had ever assumed your queerness had been right. And, more importantly, you had been wrong. I’ll never be able to reconcile the pain you went through for those first few months, and loneliness, and the fears, and the questions running around in your head; how will I have kids? Who will I marry? What actually is gay sex, since I was never taught it in school? If I kiss a guy in public, will I get hurt? And then, in a deeper voice, echoing above the rest – how do I tell people, and what will they think?

I’m sorry about the friends you’re going to lose. For the friends that won’t understand; who find it weird; who make it weird; who will see you as predatory; who will become predatory; I’m sorry about the people who will make a hard time worse. There’s nothing more isolating that introducing the people you care about to the ‘new’ you, and having them reject you off-hand like they never even cared to begin with. It might throw everything you think you can rely on into question for a while. But I don’t want you to worry about everyone. Your family will welcome you with open arms and nothing will change at home. You’re going to grow, and meet people who love you as you are, and who don’t flinch or wince when you come out to them. The friends that stick by you will stay stuck like glue, and they’re going to prove to you that you’re not a different person; you’re just whole now. And you were never better before you knew the truth – you were missing some really important parts, and those parts are going to end up making you into a person you can’t even imagine yet. And realising you’re different to the person you thought you were shouldn’t be scary; it should be exciting. You’ve got so much to learn about yourself, and you’re going to get to know all of it, and you’re going to love every single part, and it will be worth all the crying and moping you’re doing right now. Nothing worth having comes easy; especially not freedom.

Coming out isn’t a walk in the park for anyone. Your experience was relatively positive, despite all the turmoil you went through, because you’re still going to end up surrounded by people who love you and care about you, queerness and all. You’re following in the footsteps of thousands of people who have screamed, and cried, and fought, and died for the right to love and live proudly, and that’s what you’ve got to do. You’re blessed to live in the middle of a revolution where being proud of your sexuality is easier than it’s ever been. And that’s not to say it’s easy, because it’s not; we’ve come so far, but we’ve still got so far to go. The journey you’re about to embark on is going to be beautiful and formative, even in spite of the bumps in the road, and I can’t wait for you to see the world around you in colour for the first time.

You can do this,

I love you,

Aaron x

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