My Love Letter To The LGBTQ+ Community

To the LGBTQ+ community, this is my love letter to you. I write it at the beginning of Pride Month 2017.

I know we live in hateful world sometimes, like, seriously, it sucks. People are killed daily for being who they are but I urge you to look past the hatred in this world and use it to inspire you to express who you are. I encourage you to campaign for progress and equality each day but I wish for you to do so whilst being who you were born to be. Do not hide in the shadows out of fear of judgement from small minded folk who are missing out on your wonderful soul. You deserve to live life in the limelight just as much as anyone, showcasing every inch of your mind and heart. Whilst there are hateful people out there who will do anything to tear your identity apart, there are also loving people out there who wish to build you up and appreciate you, regardless of your gender or sexual orientation and you should focus on those people and surround yourself with those who love you for you, not those who wish to change you to make themselves feel more comfortable. Those who have an issue with who you are are not worthy of your precious time on this planet because life is too short to live a life of terror and sadness. Despite what those people say, you are worthy of recognition and respect, both from the world and from yourself. The phobic ideas they are trying to inject into your mind are poisonous and no good will ever come of a world on which those attitudes are based. If anyone has a problem with you being you, it lies with them and you should never feel the need to change a single thing about the way you live your own life to please people whose brains seem to be stuck in the past. Educate them and talk to them about the world and how beautifully diverse it is but, at the same time, don't let them put you down and don't get into the habit of believing they are superior to you, simply because they fit the cookie cutter society created sixty years ago. They are amazing, they are powerful, worthy of adoration and deserve to live a full life as themselves, but so do you, and I urge you to never deprive yourself of any opportunity that you get to be completely and utterly you.

What makes us different makes us special. Different is often used negatively but why should being different be bad? Surely the planet would be boring if everyone was the same gender, had the same sexual orientation etc.? You are special because you are different and there is never any need for you to be like anyone else.

We all deserve our best chance in life and you should give yourself your best chance by being unapologetically you at every moment. You should celebrate your identity and say to the world "Hey, this is me!" Love yourself in the way that you love other people and in the way that you wish to be loved because a life void of love is meaningless. Love is the fundamental thing which threads the fabrics of society together and unites us as a whole so feel a burning fire of love within yourself at all times and use it to spread positivity and joy. Encourage others to be who they were meant to be and ensure they know they have an army behind them, supporting them through this journey towards self acceptance. Be there for your LGBTQ+ friends as they embark on a mission of self discovery in a world which sometimes wishes for them to be anything other than them. Have their back, speak up for them, defend them, uplift them, advise them.
Be proud of who you are as it becomes increasingly more difficult. Fight through adversity and smash through barriers put up to keep you from being happy. Whether you are gay, lesbian, trans, pansexual, bisexual, asexual, non-binary or whatever you identify as, use that as a strength and embrace it. Even if you don't have things totally figured out yet, that's okay too! Identity is a confusing thing, especially in a world which constantly wants you to suppress yours. I understand that it's tricky to know what you want to label yourself as and that your mind may change frequently, but there is nothing wrong with being unsure. Things will click soon, just give it time and don't put your life on hold for the sake of figuring out who you are. Live your life and you'll figure things out along the way. Do whatever you need to do to explore your identity and do so without regrets. It's acceptable to feel something one day and to not feel it the next, it's okay to think you know who you are and then BAM everything turns on it's head. The world is ever changing, which is what makes it so exciting. Just keep pushing forwards and you'll have a light bulb moment at some stage. Even if you don't, even if you never fully understand who or what you are, it doesn't matter, as there are far more important things the world should be worrying about than boys who kiss boys, girls who kiss girls...besides, no one ever really knows what the hell they're doing with their lives anyway! We're all confused about something and it's okay for you to feel confused about your sexual orientation or gender. It doesn't make you weak and it doesn't make you pathetic. If you want to ask for advice on figuring yourself out, do it! Don't apologise for being wrong, making mistakes or not having a clue about anything. Open your heart to people and those who are supposed to be in your life will accept and aid you in the best ways that they can.

If you are closeted, that's okay too, and it doesn't make you any less worthy of equality and it doesn't make you a subservient member of the LGBTQ+ community. People remain closeted for a variety of reasons, perhaps they want to make sure they are comfortable with themselves first before letting other people in, perhaps they just want more time to learn and explore, perhaps they may feel unsafe if they were to come out. Whatever the reason, remain closeted for as long as you like as long as you feel safe. If you believe your well being and safety were to be compromised should you come out, it's okay to wait. For example, if you fear your parents would throw you out of your home if you were to come out, it's fine to wait until you're in a stable position and able to support yourself. Don't feel pressured to come out quickly just because you think it's what everyone else is doing. Everyone's journey with their identity is different and you do not have to follow the same path as your friends or your LGBTQ+ idols. Just do what feels right and take your time. Take it day by day, minute by minute, second by second. Remaining in the closet should be your choice though, do not allow anyone to force you into being closeted when you are fully ready to share who you are with the world. And, if people try to out you when you aren't ready, it's okay to deny what they're saying. If one of your friends tells the group they think you are gay but you are still closeted, it's fine to say you are not. Outing people is never cool and is something nobody should do, although, people often do it without thinking because they may not be struggling with their sexuality themselves and so don't see what the big deal is. Remember that being closeted is not the same as lying.

To those struggling with your gender, again, it's okay to not know and it's okay to explore and cover all grounds before making a decision or, you may never need make a decision. Gender is a social construct and however you identify is valid. Don't let anyone force you into doing things you don't want to do and never apologise to them for the way you are. You needn't conform to their stereotypes and you don't have to do anything to make it easier for other people to figure out what your gender is. If you want to wear a dress, if you want to wear a suit, if you want to use male bathrooms, female should be able to do that freely. Allow people to ask questions and educate them but don't be afraid to put them in their place if they get it wrong. If they use pronouns incorrectly, call them out and ensure it doesn't happen again. If they misgender you, I'm sure they would much rather you clear things up instantly than creating an awkward atmosphere which lasts for years because you were too shy to tell them they weren't right. Don't worry about making them feel uncomfortable because they'll get over it, whereas you may not if you remain silent. Male, female, neither, it doesn't matter at the end of the day. If you know, then that's cool but remember there are, once again, more important things going on in the world and your gender isn't the be all and end all of everything. What truly matters is how you treat people and the energy you put out into society.

The LGBTQ+ community has come a really long way and society is now more open-minded and accepting than it has ever been. Sure, there is a long way to go, there are still challenges, double standards and prejudices facing the LGBTQ+ community, but we shall get there, one day and one pride flag at a time. There are now far less ramifications for expressing yourself and people are more willing to listen to you and learn your story. People are coming out every day without giving two hoots about who knows and who cares, which is so beautiful. People are being wholeheartedly themselves without letting the shackles of society's norms hold them prisoner. The progress truly blows me away. Global ideas about gender as a restrictive binary social construct are gradually breaking down. Attitudes are changing. Not everything is black and white anymore. Not everything is "male or female" or "gay or straight." We will prevail against ignorance and bigotry soon enough. Every day we remember those who fought tirelessly, died and sacrificed their freedom to allow us to have the freedom which we do. They remain in our hearts as we move forwards to shape a world which they would be proud of.

So, as you read this, today and every day, fall in love with who you are and celebrate your identity loudly, proudly and boldly. You are worthy of appreciation, adoration, kindness and opportunity, always. The world stands in solidarity with you and does not wish for you to face this battle alone. Whoever or whatever you are, your existence is cherished by many and we all long to live in a world in which you can unleash every ounce of your being fully, safely and properly without apologising or feeling the need to justify or explain yourself. You are wonderful and shall go on to live a wonderful life. You will do glorious things for the world and bring light into the lives of many, simply by being your true self. You are a human being, deserving of equal treatment and happiness and I wish for you to never live another day feeling ashamed of yourself. You're perfect just as you are and I love you.

Shine brightly, love loudly.

Emily :) xx

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