‘I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me.’
When The Good Men Project saw this Humans of New York post, we asked our editors and writers to offer some words of hope and encouragement to the brave little boy in the picture. If he reads this, he will know there is at least one warm, accepting, supportive community that will be there for him as he grows up and navigates his way in the world. Here is what members of our group wrote:
Christopher Anderson: I’d like to say to this young man—how you feel today is how you feel today, and it is okay to be scared. It is ok to wonder and worry about whether this is a safe world. It is also okay to be angry, because it is not ok for other people to treat you with anger, unkindness, and hatred because of who you are. As you can see, there is no shortage of wonderful, loving, and supportive people in this world. But all the support in the world doesn’t make all the intolerance and meanness that is out there go away. Know that you are not bad for being who you are. You are not bad for being different and unique. You are not weak for feeling fear, sorrow, and sadness. You are, if anything, amazingly strong for being willing to speak so openly about your fear. Your courage and openness will make you a target in some people’s eyes – and that is a reflection of their meanness and smallness. But even knowing that someone who treats you poorly is more about them than about you doesn’t make the sting feel any less painful. Believe it or not, your sensitivity is a strength. Cherish and nurture it. It will help you grow into the kind of person we need more of in this world.
Rebecca Clare: I would tell him that I am sorry he is afraid. I think all of us, homosexual or not, have something about ourselves that makes us afraid that people won’t like us if they get to know the real us. But we have to be brave and try anyways, understanding the truth is, gay or not, not everyone will like us. And we have to be okay with that at times. There will be so many people who will like you and love you and your being gay won’t even factor into it. For lots of us, sexuality is no more an issue than the colour of your eyes.
Nicole Franklin: I know. I wish we could reach him directly. My heart …. Hoping, praying, loving this young man from just north of Manhattan.
Sandy Roffey: The right people will love you for yourself, and if they don’t, they’re not the right people.
Edie Weinstein:I will tell you what I would tell a child in my life if he felt the way that you do. There is an entire world of people who will love you for who you are, will accept your choice of who you love and will be by your side as you grow into a remarkable man. There will also be people, who in their confusion, hatred and fear, will not see the beauty in you. Although some of them may use their own beliefs as justification for disliking you, without even knowing you, I feel sorry for them. And some will like you, not knowing much about you and some won’t like you for the same reasons. You get to choose what you believe about yourself. I encourage you to choose love.
Trish Everett: We are all afraid in one way or another that we wont be loved or liked as we are, and it only by learning to be as we are that we can loved fully. And those who don’t like you as you are will miss out on knowing the beauty of you. That is their loss.
Theresa Byrne: My young friend: Every single person on the planet, including the president, has something they are afraid of and people that don’t like them. You already have the antidote-you have COURAGE. It’s like your own superpower. You will find people that love you, and you’ll stay away from those that don’t. Because you will also have the superpower to know the difference.
Hilary Lauren: My son is also gay, sweetie. It is scary and strange, and it can make you feel like you have done something wrong, just by feeling. But many people are working hard so you will always feel loved, validated and supported. They protest, write to politicians, churches, family members, whomever they need to. You have support out there in the form of people you have never met. So when you feel alone, please remember you are loved. You are worth it, and you will find happiness if you believe in it. I love you and I don’t know you, but I do know your beautiful, aching heart. Please have faith you will find a meaningful future, one that fills you up with purpose and joy.
Theresa Byrne: (Adopt me Hilary Lauren)
Hilary Lauren: Anytime, sweetheart. You come on ova!!
Theresa Byrne: I want all of us to take that little boy out to someplace amazing. Fill up his cup.
Cameron Lee: There isn’t a lot of hope. You’ll have to be strong on your own. People don’t always shower you with love and acceptance.
Louise Thayer: I don’t want to lie to you and tell you that it’s going to be easy, but there are so many people blazing a trail for you right at this moment. You are loved and appreciated for your truth and honesty. I wish acceptance and courage and strength for you and I have a strong feeling that you will amount to greatness in spite of any difficulties you might face. You are not alone xx
Rob Watson: Hi, young man. I was you. And in some ways, I still am. I am gay, and I fear that people won’t like me. But I’ll tell you two very important things. One is, that the problem is not being afraid, it is whether you will have courage. Courage means you HAVE fear, but you walk through it anyway. I can tell you that being gay can be fantastic, stupendous and magical, but you need to tuck the fear under your arm and be courageous to be yourself … and all those people you are afraid won’t like you? They will. More importantly, they will respect you. And the Second, as far as your future, I can only tell you that I have achieved every dream I wanted when I was your age, and at a time when gay men weren’t supposed to accomplish anything. You? We have made the world safer for you, just for YOU, so that you can be whatever you want to be. The only way that can be messed up is if you don’t dream. So dream young man, dream big. Put all your energy into that dream so you forget you were ever afraid.
Jed Diamond: I’m not homosexual, but I’m short, slightly built, and like to read. I got ridiculed by many others and beaten up by some. I learned to love myself, just the way I am, in all my magnificence. Being who we are isn’t easy for anyone, but never give up on the beautiful, unique being that is you.
Photo—Humans of New York/Facebook