To The Scared Queer Teen, in the Wake of This Election
Dear Scared Queer Teen,
I see you. I see you. I see you. I don’t know you, but I see you.
I know this week seems unbearably long. I know this week is unspeakably painful. I know that you are afraid. I’m not going to tell you not to be afraid. I think fear and sorrow and anger are completely rational responses to this election.
But here’s the thing: we’re going to survive. You and I. We’re going to make it.
For a long time, I strung together things to keep me going. I wasn’t allowed to leave (and you know what I mean by leave), I told myself, until I read all the Harry Potter books.
And after I read all the Harry Potter books, I said I’m not allowed to leave until I’ve seen all the movies.
And then all the movies wrapped up, and I said, I’m not allowed to leave until I’ve seen all the Hunger Games movies.
When those movies wrapped up, I found myself on firm enough footing that I could internalize my anchors. I could say that I wasn’t leaving until I had written the books I wanted to write.
Spoiler alert, I want to write all the books.
But this week has been hard. And I found myself reaching for little anchors again. Things to keep my head above water. The two new tracks on the Hamilton Mixtape. Seeing Hamilton in January. My brother’s wedding. My first book signing.
Sadness is acceptable and understandable. But I don’t want to lose you to drowning in it. You are incredible. Yes. You. I know you’re saying that I justsaid I didn’t know you, but I do.
I see you all over the internet and in real life, brimming with tenacity and determination, even when you’re hiding. You are brilliant and full of life and even when you’re not sure that this is a world to which you want to belong, you stay. And God, that’s a feat. That’s a fight that we don’t honor enough.
I know that our world depends on you making it because we’re going to do better than the generations before us. We are. We’re going to talk about sexism and racism, about gender equality and gender as a spectrum, not a binary. We’re going to create safe spaces for the young people behind us, and we’re going to hang on, because that’s what we’ve done. The people who came before you and I, they hung on. They made safe spaces, they organized, they fought back, they mourned their losses, and they hung on.
And to some of you, hanging on means just keeping your head down. We don’t like to talk about this, but it’s important. I want you to be safe. If you’re not out at home or in your community, your safety comes first. That is hanging on. If you can safely be out online and find safe spaces and cover those tracks, excellent. If you can’t, I want you to know that we are here. We know you’re out there. We love you.
Hang on. Stay here.
And if you can, and only if you can in ways that don’t prevent you from hanging on and staying here, fight back.
Write letters to your congressional representatives. Here’s how to find your House representative and here’s how to find your Senate representative. If you need to be anonymous, go by snail mail or call. Tell them about issues that are important to you.
If you can safely do so, calmly confront racism, homophobia, transphobia, and misogyny where you hear it. “Hey, what you just said was [racist/homophobic/sexist]. That’s not cool.” This thread on Twitter is really excellent on how to talk about racism in a way that is confrontational without escalating. You can basically sub in anything for racism and it works.
Read Rules for Survival. It’s long, but good. Here’s the takeaways:1. Believe the autocrat2. Do not allow normalization3. Don’t rely on institutions4. Be mad5. Don’t compromise6. Remember the future
And I’ll add one.
7. Watch out for people more marginalized than you.
We must have each other’s backs. Inside this community of ours, if you’re white, this means queer and/or disabled people of color. If you’re cis, this means trans folk. It means that there are undocumented immigrants in this country who are queer and we need to have their backs too.
I have one more.
8. Be yourself.
We cannot accept the normalization of this candidate as a president, especially with his platform and the unprecedented nature of his campaign.
But we can accept and normalize you, and you, and you, and all of us wherever we fall on the incredibly diverse LGBTQIA+ spectrum. We have to check our internalized misogyny, our internalized homophobia, our internalized and often too vocal transphobia, our biphobia.
There’s work to do inside of this community, and there’s no better time to do it. Be yourself, but demand excellence from yourself in accepting others and their queerness, their expression, their life. Leave your baggage from this white, ableist, heteronormative world at the door.
And if that’s a lot right now, only three days after the election, I understand. Right now, all you have to do is stay here.
Stay here. Make a list of anchors. If you’re struggling to find anchors, ask me and I’ll find books or movies coming out in the next few months, and a few months after that. Don’t give up. Reach out if you need help. You are loved. You are strong. You are important. We queer adults see you and we will fight for you. Hang on.
If you need them, here they are.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1–800–273–8255
Hopeline Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1–800-SUICIDE
Hopeline for Veterans: 1–877–838–2838
For Young People who are LGBTQIA, The Trevor Project: 1–866–488–7386
For Post Partum Depression: 1–800–773–6667
For Young People who are LGBTQIA, here are non-voice options.
TrevorText- Available on Fridays (4:00 p.m. — 8:00 p.m. ET / 1:00 p.m. — 5:00 p.m. PT). Text the word “Trevor” to 1–202–304–1200. Standard text messaging rates apply.
TrevorChat — Available 7 days a week (3:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. — 6:00 p.m. PT).