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.
Congratulations on coming out.
Really, I should say congratulations on being outed. You have known for a long time that you were gay, but finally, you are embracing it. You are also learning what it’s like to be black in America.
You were suspended from a prestigious school for a fight, but the other gentleman was not—though it takes two to tango and it’s on camera. White privilege is something you have learned and were blinded by. You are now embracing four minority distinctions: Gay. Black. Black Male. And Affluent Gay Black Male. Why do I put them all together? Because Zeke, you are born into greatness. Much is expected of those who it’s given to. No matter how much pain and oppression you take on, no matter the physical and mental scars you will face, hold your head up high and know that you have a purpose. For myself, I am just finding that purpose and the details of it will upset you—even though you may have an idea from a past memory of what it is.
Music is our passion, but love is our gift. Remember to lean on family. My greatest mistake is not leaning on family. Family will never break. Friends will. Some friends expect a give-and-take, but you, Zeke, are a giver. When it’s time to lean on someone to protect you, you can only save yourself. But family will always figure out a way to get you.
Listen to your mother. Honor your father. Respect your sister and feel the embrace of your family.
Zeke Thomas is the first male spokesperson for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Read more letters here.