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.
First and foremost, know that you are not alone in your feelings and identity. Your dream of living your life to its fullest potential as an LGBTQ member of society is one shared with so many people. You will find people just like you, as well as others who may be different, but who are fully open to understanding you. They will embrace you for who you are when others might not.
What is wonderful, too, is that you are able to help others who feel alone and rejected. You have the capacity to direct the course of your own life and help others find their path. Always be authentic, love yourself, cultivate your strengths, understand your weaknesses, and seek to become a better person.
There will be times when, by choice or by circumstance, you will need to fight to achieve and protect your right to equality. Never settle for tolerance. Acceptance is the path to equality and personal and societal growth. Your uniqueness will contribute to our ever-growing diverse LGBTQ community and don’t let anyone diminish your uniqueness because of your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Being true to yourself will not always be easy. Religious and/or educational institutions, individuals, and even your family may try to convince you that you’re not “normal” and are destined for an unfulfilled life. Don’t believe them! It’ll be hard. You’ll often feel alone and on the verge of ending it all—but hang in there! Focus on your dreams. Take control of the things that you can. Find those people who lift you up and support you.
Don’t ever think that the fight for equality is over. When one community, including our own, is targeted, it impacts us all. Embrace all communities and stand shoulder to shoulder in their fights for equality and acceptance. You will one day need their support. Keep your eyes on the prize and rise above petty issues and infighting. Instead, find ways to value and acknowledge everyone for their unique ability to broaden our love and acceptance of humanity.
Speaking of others, know that there is someone out there who will love you. Someone ready to put your needs before theirs and happily give you the love that you need. You will rise above the noise of hate and inequality and proudly hold your head up as a gay, Latino man with a loving husband. You will know the satisfaction that comes from having a profession that helps others achieve their dreams of a better life and world. Happiness will be yours because when you were young you never stopped believing that you deserved to be happy. Never give up on yourself. Always remember that I believe in you.
With much love,
Jorge Valencia is the Executive Director and CEO of the Point Foundation.
Read more letters here.