ACT UP Activist Jay Blotcher: “Good People Get Arrested For Taking A Stand”

Blotcher writes to his younger self, stressing the importance of defying authority and calling out government criminals.

This letter is part of our inaugural editorial series, “Letter to Myself,” in which we asked 40 remarkable queer people to write a note to their younger selves.

Dear Jay Bruce Blotcher of Randolph, MA:

There you are in your wood-paneled living room, sitting much too close to that black-and-white TV, two fingers wedged in your mouth, watching Batman.

I know, it’s much easier watching Batman than going out and playing in the neighborhood. After all, the kids on Desmond Road and Thayer Circle are always too eager to remind you that you are chubby, you have ugly glasses, you throw like a girl, you have darker skin than everyone else, you have a girl’s bicycle—a hot-pink sting-ray with a banana seat—and, worst of all, you’re adopted.

So, you sit and watch Batman and Robin and you play with your Batman cards. (All five series that you buy at Gilroy’s up the street.) Or you disappear into your comic book collection. And you keep the world at arm’s length.

It looks like everyone is against you. But they’re not. Not really. Kids pick up on your fears, your insecurity, your discomfort with yourself. And being kids, they pick on the easiest targets made available to them. You happen to have several. If you just pretended their taunts didn’t bother you, they would turn from tormentors into friends.

You know the way Batman battles criminals on a Wednesday night and wins the fight by Thursday night? One day, you will get the best of your foes. Not only will they stop picking on you, but they’ll start admiring you. As lonely as your life is now, you will one day have busloads of friends. The very reasons people once steered clear of you will be the reasons why they flock to you. By junior high you will be that weird, creative kid who intrigues people. By high school you will bloom. By college you will be popular. By graduation, you will be a New Yorker with hundreds of friends.

Most importantly, you will finally figure out why you are glued to the TV, cheering on the relationship between Batman and Robin. (Hint: It has to do with liking boys. You will finally embrace that feeling—as early as junior high school—and begin a fulfilling life.)

It’s hard to imagine now, but you will become a crime fighter—just like the Dynamic Duo of Gotham City. You will find the courage to come out, be an openly gay man, become a writer for gay magazines, and eventually transform yourself into an activist with ACT UP. You will shed the frantic fears and conformity instilled in you by suburban living. You will defy authority and call out government criminals. You will prove that good people get arrested for taking a stand. You will inspire others and, after many years of struggle, you will finally be honored for your activism.

As for the adoption thing, there’s good news: One day, your birth mother will find you. Finally, you will understand who you are, where you came from and why your skin was the darkest in all your classes. (Your birth father was Puerto Rican.) These days will offer equal amounts of laughter and tears, gains and loss, love and death, but they will make you much stronger.

So, enjoy your time with the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder. These role models are helping you grow to be the person you will be. They are preparing you for an exciting life yet to come. All these changes will take much longer than a two-part TV episode. But they will be worth the wait. Trust me.

And yes, years from now you’ll still have your Batman cards.

Love,

Jay at 57

Jay Blotcher is a founding partner of Public Impact Media Consultants and continued LGBT activist.

Read more letters here.

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