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Ironically, this 11th letter in the 30-day letter writing challenge, is meant to be written to someone who is deceased; and today happens to also be “spirit day.” Today is the day that folks around the world are wearing purple to remember all of the GLBT youth who have recently chosen to take their lives in the face of bullying and gay bashing. I write this letter to you.

Dear GLBT Teens Who Are No Longer With Us,

vi.sualize.us

It seems strange to write a letter to a group of young people who will never read this. The sad fact is, you’ll never read anything now. Not the next great American novel, not the next copy of Rolling Stone, not the next birthday card from your best friend. You opted out. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Yeah, well…I earned that right…been there, tried that, and lived to tell about it (trust me, there is a letter for this coming soon and I’m dreading every day that brings the writing of it closer).

I know that each and every one of you felt that you were taking the only possible step toward relief. I know that your life was a living hell. I know that others were making you feel utterly alone and completely freakish. I know you felt this was the only way out and your lives were never going to get any better. Really? You never stopped to think that perhaps this too shall pass and that maybe you were throwing away what might have been a truly full and incredible life? I get it, trust me, I totally get it.

Here’s the thing. Except for a lucky few BMOCs and prom queens, captains of cheerleading squads and football teams, high school is fraught with major suckage. Those four years were the worst of my life. My only saving grace was that I hadn’t come out yet. The knowledge was there—that base sense that I just wasn’t quite like 90% of the other girls—but I wasn’t ready. I was too busy running around killing off my lungs, liver, brain cells, and reputation in order to quell the unabated misery from a pretty traumatic freshman year. I wouldn’t try to hit the eternal snooze button until I was 28. Suicide wasn’t in vogue back then and frankly, I just never thought of it.

You, however, were driven to the point that you saw no other way out. You expected the rest of your lives to be filled with anger, harassment, violence, and discrimination. You couldn’t see past it. You couldn’t see that even though you might have to deal with some of that in the future, by taking your lives you were robbing yourselves of every single moment of happiness to come. And there would have been many. The GLBT community is tightly knit. We try hard to take care of our own. You had peer counselors to reach out to. You had your “elders,” those of us who’ve gone before you and taken the same kind of heat and come out on the other side. Each and every one of you had at least ONE person who loved you enough to mourn your passing and they would have been there had you reached out for a helping hand.

Do you want to know what you’ll miss? Love. There is someone for everyone and even if the moral majority views us as an abomination? We live for love. You missed out on finding your soul mate, your anam cara, your future husband or wife or significant other or partner. You may have had a family together. You may eventually have had grandchildren. At the very least, you’d have had a strong group of friends who would have laughed with you during the best of times and cried with you during the worst. But, you’ll never experience any of that, will you?

To your peers who are struggling with the idea of staying and toughing it out or just checking out now and standing down from all the bullshit—I say this: Think about one single moment in time that you would miss out on and tell me if it’s worth it. This time is fleeting. It may seem eternal, but it isn’t. It’s a blip in the continuum. A drop in the proverbial bucket. If you can’t defend yourself at the risk of being hurt at the hands of others, for God’s sake, please go to someone else for help. Find a family of choice, seek out the local Metropolitan Community Church and become part of the congregation, tag your friends, call the suicide hotline, get a therapist, talk to God.

You are not alone. There are millions of us out here and we have each dealt with discrimination in one form or another at some point in our lives. Those of us that are still here have learned to make the best of it, and let me tell you, as someone who tried and failed, I am so very thankful that I am still here. I am nearly 46 years old and I LOVE my life. As queer as it is, I thank God every single day for one more chance to live in this earthly realm and receive the bounty that has been given me.

To you who are no longer with us? We miss you. We do. I pray you haven’t died in vain and that others will know they are not by themselves in this. To you who are still here? Glory hallelujah! Stick around—it only gets better.

With so much love from a stranger who lived.