I’ve been writing novels for young LGBTQIA folk for more than a decade now. I started when I was 32, which may sound old to some of you but is MUCH closer to 17 than I am now, more than a decade later.
One thing I’ve learned is that some things are universal, and some things aren’t. Some parts of the teenage experience come very naturally to me, because, yes, I was one once. In case you don’t believe me, here I am with my best friend from high school on graduation day. In, um, 1989.
So yes, I was your age once. Which sounds pretty Captain Obvious, but in some ways it isn’t. I just read a novel in which a character explains that people who meet you later in life will never REALLY be able to imagine you before that age. It’s just not possible with our brains. So I guess you imagining me as a teen would be a little bit like me imagining Judy Blume as a teen. Only I’m much, much, MUCH less famous. 🙂
So I was once a gay youth. That’s the term we used back in the 1980s. Much less inclusive, no? I absolutely do know what it feels like to feel alone, to feel like the only one, or one of the only ones, who understands what it feels like to be different. I don’t know, however, what it must be like to grow up TODAY, which is different in so many vital ways. Social media. The Internet. Increasing visibility of LGBTQIA people. Gay marriage.
With all that in mind, I wanted to write you a letter to tell you some things about you, in case on a certain day you will have forgotten them. If you are like me, there will be MANY days when you forget who you are. And I don’t mean forget like you might lose your phone or your keys. I mean in a more elemental way, sometimes we “forget” how fabulous/wonderful/flawed/human/fill in the blank we are.