Rod Thomas Of Bright Light Bright Light: Why “Absurd Cultural References” Make Life Better

Laughter goes a long way, the singer explains in a letter to his younger self.

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.

Hello, Rod.

You’re growing up in a pretty beautiful part of the world, but that sadly has ugly opinions about “benders” and “poofs.” This all sounds very frightening when you’re coming to terms with who and what you are, but remember that the Valleys aren’t home to the diversity of people that lots of the rest of the world sees.

You’ve met a group of queer people in your hometown—quite magically—so hold them close and be inspired and energized by them. You feel boring and weak compared to them, and you don’t have their confidence, but one day you will. Everyone has their own journey, and pace, and people need to grow. That’s okay.

Many of the out people you see in the media make you feel even more alone because you don’t feel as fabulous, as confident, as otherworldly as them, but remember that what you see isn’t always the truth. Everyone is a person and people learn how to pull their best qualities together to present themselves in a way that makes them feel empowered and ready to enjoy everything life has to offer. You’ll learn how to do that too.

Be proud. Be fierce. Be determined. But be respectful. Make sure you don’t waste money, that you don’t waste anybody’s time. That you never miss an opportunity. Everything people villainize gay people as, do not be. Do not give people a strand to unravel you, and be the example that YOU want to see. Maybe you won’t be the frontrunner of your field, or the loudest person in a room. Maybe not the first on people’s minds, or one people think of as a star. Definitely not the last person in a club, but maybe the one ready to start the next day with drive and passion to make it count.

You will be someone people look to for advice, for being reliable, and for being true to yourself. And that’s the best thing you can aim for.

Even years down the line, when LGBT rights pass and create new opportunities for people across the world, politics will still be filled with bigots, fascists, and disgusting people who want to push you backward for no purpose other than because they can. Just be better than them. They don’t have lives filled with love, and you and your friends do. Let that keep you strong in dark, dark times, and let it drive you to work even harder to be the kind of person you wanted to look up to when you were still in the Valleys, wishing you could find them.

Oh, and don’t forget to laugh every day, and fill your days with ridiculous things, funny people, and absurd cultural references. That makes life so much better.


Rod Thomas is the musician behind the ‘80s-inspired, electro-pop Bright Light Bright Light.

Read more letters here.

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