I remember the first time I ever thought about taking my own life.
I was eighteen. I had just gone through the most traumatic event I’d ever been through and I had to go to prom not twelve hours later. I knew that if I told anyone what had happened, they’d never believe me and so I didn’t… and prom is still—twenty odd years later—kind of a blur. I mean, I remember the big moments, but not the stuff I wish I remember… I don’t remember talking to my best friends, and I barely remember what one of them wore. I only remember my prom dress because it was a good day with my mom and because I wore it a few times afterwards to The Church, a goth club in Dallas, Texas. Everything of that day was overshadowed by the fact that I couldn’t think about anything but what had happened that night, and truth be told, I still have problems when I think about it.
So let’s set a few things straight on the outset. Number One: I’m a gay woman and I’ve known that I was gay for a long time. Number Two: I was raised in a very Christian household located in the buckle of the Bible belt (Texas). Number Three: I came out quite hesitantly in 2008, in Las Vegas, Nevada… but I am still not out to my family in Texas.
Coming out, for anyone, is not an easy thing to do. I don’t think it’d be any easier for someone who had the perfect circumstances versus someone who didn’t. You come out twice, really—once to yourself and once in some public fashion. I remember standing in my bathroom, staring in the mirror like the nice book suggested, and saying those words. I am gay. Do you know how hard it is to get around the programming? For me, it was 33 years of it… and so looking myself in the eye to say those three words—I am gay—was emotional. It’s surreal to look back, only seven years later, and see how hard it was for me…
… and then I think about what it must be like to have been Leelah or Cameron or Taylor, to inherently know that you were born in the wrong body. To wake up every morning knowing that the bullying you’ll get at school won’t just be over a stupid club thumb (true) or because you’re fat (true), but because the kids at school have been raised by bigots. To know that when you come home, you face more of the same.
To know that you have nowhere to go to feel safe, and loved, and needed.
It breaks my heart to think about these children, these wonderful and beautiful children, who feel so very, very alone—as I did when I was their age—and who also endure so much. It breaks my heart because I didn’t think it was possible to live through it, but I did. I had an amazing friend named Rhonda held me tight and talked me down in the wee hours of the morning after prom. I think that the only reason I made it through is because of my two best friends, Rhonda and Holly. Support is a necessity! Without it, I wouldn’t be here writing this post.
The National Suicide Hotline posts frequently on Facebook and whenever I see the ads, I share them immediately. I also share the messages from organizations like To Write Love on Her Arms, The Trevor Project, and It Gets Better; I share them because it does get better. Easier? Only because you become practiced at it and you realize exactly how much you can take… and because you do find friends that become family. You grow, and you grow stronger with each day that passes and each new obstacle you face. You bloom and you grow some more. You get better and as you get better, life gets better. You don’t get over it, but you get through it. Each day, you go through this process and each day, you get to the end and realize that you made it.
The key to it all is this: you may think you don’t have someone to be your champion, but you do. You have YOU and you are STRONG. You are BEAUTIFUL. You are AMAZING. You are WORTH IT. Bigots will always exist and they will always try to chip away at you, but YOU can weather them. YOU can do something they don’t want you to do and that’s LIVE.
And remember this: WE LOVE YOU. Even if you don’t take away anything else from my post, read these words over and over and over until you know them and you can hear us saying them to you: WE LOVE YOU. We love you for all of what you consider to be your weaknesses and for every single solitary strength you possess. We love you because you are YOU. Perfect and wonderful you and we will ALWAYS love you and we will ALWAYS fight for you. Family does not stop with blood and you are family.
So never give up. Never give in. Always keep fighting because you are worth fighting for, and this life of yours—it is worth fighting for! I will keep fighting—for you and for me and for all our brothers and sisters.
I am including in my post the specs for a giveaway. In the comment box below tell me: 1/ what makes you happiest, 2/ what song gets you through the hard days, 3/ what is your favorite word and why… and I will choose one winner on May 25 to receive a copy of both World’s End and Butterflies are Free!