What advice would you give to your younger self?
In honor of National Coming Out Day, we asked 10 LGBTQ activists, politicians, and celebrities to impart wisdom upon their younger selves in the form of a video letter. From Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown to RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Mayhem Miller, Pennsylvania state legislator Brian Sims to Transparent’s Alexandra Billings, these inspiring public figures offered heartfelt advice and unique insight.
Watch the videos below and read on for the full written letters.
Activists and Politicians
Brian Sims, PA State Representative: Hi, young Brian, it’s me. It’s us. I wanted to let you know that despite your fears and your concerns and your insecurities, that you made it to adulthood! And it’s an adulthood I think you’d be proud of. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “When on earth did I go blond?” and “Boy, is that an awesome beard.” But those things aren’t important. What is important is that you stay strange. That you stay weird. That you keep talking to dogs under your breath when you pass them on the sidewalk, and singing Disney tunes in the shower, and crying at cotton commercials. Look for people in this life that are interesting, interested. Shave less. Dance more. And don’t let anybody ever tell you that who and how you love is wrong. Because how you love and the ways that you love are perfect. And lastly, and remember this, don’t let anyone tell you to skip the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s worth every minute. Follow Brian on Twitter and Instagram
Danielle Skidmore, Candidate for City Council in Austin, TX: Hey girl, it’s me! Danielle. I guess this is a note back to that day in 2009, when you finally came out to yourself and admitted you were trans. And I know how scared you are. I know how you can’t imagine that you can reconcile being trans with living in Texas, and being a transportation engineer, and being a parent. I’m here to tell you that the next nine years will be hard work. But coming out is the single biggest gift you’ve ever given yourself. And you can. You can be trans and be visible. You can be trans and still take care of your son, Peter. Peter will always have a father, and she is awesome. So be proud of yourself. Follow Danielle on Twitter and Instagram
Alicia Roth Weigel, Intersex Activist: Hey y’all! Alicia Roth Weigel here. I’m an intersex activist in Texas, and I waited 27 years to come out ‘til I was good and ready. But there are a few things I wish that my younger self would have known about being intersex. The first of which is that you’re not alone. Doctors and our families can tell us not to share our intersex selves, to avoid persecution and stigma, but that can lead to isolation when really 150 million other people around the world are intersex just like us. That being said, fitting in is overrated. While 2% of the world’s population is intersex like you, there’s no one who’s exactly like you. And that’s something that should be celebrated, not hidden. And the last thing that I’ll say is that honesty is hard, but the truth will set you free. And while every day since coming out, there have been struggles and ups and downs, I wouldn’t trade it for the world because there’s nothing like being loved for who you are, not who you pretend to be. So love to all my intersex-y friends out there. Follow Alicia on Twitter and Instagram
Charlotte Clymer, HRC Communications Coordinator and Transgender Activist: Dear Charlotte, here are some things that I wish I had known when I was your age. First of all, being in the closet should not mean that you lose parts of yourself. I know it’s hard because you’re focused on survival. But if there’s one thing I would prioritize beyond that, it’s making sure that you hold onto the parts of you that make you. Number two, there is no right way to be queer. None whatsoever. You define what queer means to you, and then you’re queer. You’re part of the family. That’s it. If anyone ever tells you that you’re not being queer enough or you’re not being queer the right way, they are completely off base. Three, you don’t have to transition a certain way. You transition however you want. If you want to go in a certain order of steps, if you don’t want to take certain steps, you do that. You transition how you want to, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not transitioning the right way. And finally, love yourself. Always, always, always love yourself and surround yourself with people who love you. Doesn’t matter if they’re friends or family, doesn’t matter if they’re teachers. You just find a way to ensure to remind yourself that you are worthy of love, and you are worthy of being loved. Follow Charlotte on Twitter and Instagram
Pidgeon Pagonis, Intersex Activist: Dear little baby Pidgeon, one day you’re gonna realize that you’re not a girl. And that you’re not a boy, either. And that you were born intersex. And you’re gonna also realize that those doctors, they did all that they could to make you not intersex. And in doing so, they harmed you. You’re also going to come to the conclusion that you’re not straight, and you’re not even binary, either. You’re queer and non-binary, and that’s beautiful, and it’s valid. But because people in our society don’t think that way, life’s going to be a little bit hard for you. You’re going to feel like an outsider, like you don’t belong. And even sometimes, you might feel like you shouldn’t even be alive. Please push through that. Because you’re going to be able to use the strength that you learned in those moments as fuel for your power. As the reason why you get up every single day to fight to end intersex surgery. That power that you didn’t have when you were a baby is something that you have today. You have a voice, and you have power. And you are going to make the world a better place for intersex babies like you, who are born tomorrow. Follow Pidgeon on Twitter and Instagram
Karamo Brown, Queer Eye star: Hey friends! It’s Karamo Brown from Netflix’s Queer Eye, and if I had any advice for my younger self, it would be to take care of my mental health just as much as I took care of my physical health. I was that young guy who was active, who played sports, and it was all about getting in the gym and working on my muscles and making sure that I was physically fit. But I realize that I wasn’t spending enough time on my mind. I was hurting inside. I was feeling a lot of pain from the pressures of feeling as if I needed to come out to everyone. That maybe people would bully me, that people would not accept me. And that takes a toll on your mental health. You start to feel down, depressed, sad. And even though you may walk around with a smile on your face, when you’re home alone, sometimes it hurts so bad inside. And I would tell myself take time to focus on your mind. Take time to focus on being emotionally healthy. That’s where your true strength comes from. Set clear boundaries. Ask for help from people. Because it works. Take care, friends. Follow Karamo on Twitter and Instagram
Mayhem Miller, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 Contestant: Hey, Dequan! It’s us! It’s me, me! But now, your name is Mayhem. I’m here to tell you that you are about to have a wonderful life. A sickening life, a fun, enjoyable life, even though you don’t think it’s gonna end up that way. I’m here to tell you that all your dreams are gonna come true—then some, and more. You’re gonna struggle a lot. I ain’t gonna lie, it’s gonna be rough for a while. You’re gonna be lonely, and it’s gonna be a lot of heartache. But you’re a champion, and you’re gonna get through it. Not only are you gonna get through it, but you’re gonna be an inspiration for a lot of people. You’re going to help a lot of people. So don’t give up. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Keep pushing. Things are gonna get better. Follow Mayhem on Twitter and Instagram
Bex Taylor-Klaus, Actor and Activist: This is a message to my younger self. You are strong and defiant, but you’re denying yourself who you are. Just because the world sees who you are doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be that and prove them wrong. Allow yourself to be exactly who you are because you are powerful. And the minute you step into your own and truly accept yourself, you will be unstoppable. Follow Bex on Twitter and Instagram
The Vixen, RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 Contestant: What I would say to my younger self is you are absolutely right. You know exactly what you want. Don’t ask for permission. Go make yourself happy. Follow The Vixen on Twitter and Instagram
Alexandra Billings, Actress and Transgender Activist: Hi, Scott. It’s Alex. I have a couple of things to say. First of all, you’re smarter than you think you are. Remember in first grade, when your mom wanted you to bring your Boy Scouts badge for show-and-tell? But you wrote a biography on Judy Garland instead? That took research! You’re super smart. Secondly, all of those kids that are chasing you… you’re in danger. Running away doesn’t make you a coward. It makes you a survivor. And lastly, you know the thing that you believe you are that nobody else sees? Well, you’re right. That’s what you are. And once you know that to be true, your survival will turn into empowerment. Remember, we’re all made of stardust. And because that is true, anything is possible. Follow Alexandra on Instagram