Dear Sam,
I know what you are thinking: Brian is cute and maybe a little bit curious about boys too. After all, he’s as entrenched in the theatre world as you are and you are as gay as Dorothy’s red high heels. Well, I hate to break it to you, but he is straight and stereotypes are reductive. The sooner you let go of those, as well as every other straight crush you develop and weird bias you have, the happier you will be. There is no use barking up that tree; there are no fruit on those limbs. Focus your efforts elsewhere.

Now that we’ve got that disappointment out of the way, greetings! It’s you from 2017. Seven and a half years in the future. Much has happened since that spring night in Virginia. I’ll tell you right now: watching the world through rainbow-colored lenses is more colorful than your teenage brain is able to totally comprehend right now. Perhaps “it gets better” (a pithy little catchphrase coined by Dan Savage that you are still a few months away from hearing for the first time) because it gets a whole lot gayer.

Seriously, you will find in time that being gay is not something worth fretting over, at least when it comes to how you live your daily life. Instead, it is a huge blessing. Yeah, in 2017 there are still rabid fundamentalists Hell bent on screaming your faux sins at you constantly, but they are easy to ignore. That said, you are one of the lucky ones with supportive friends and family, as well as strong relationships with other gay people. Falling into a self-loathing trap or looking at other queers with suspicion is not a good look. Love our community and it will love you back.

Heads up: boys will break your heart. Some will be gentle and clear, others will basically take a sledgehammer to your chest. This applies to more than just romantic partners. Friend breakups can sometimes hurt even more.  It is up to you to put the pieces back together. And when you are on the other side of the equation, when you are letting somebody else down, have at least some compassion.

Speaking of compassion, more than a few folks will come to you for guidance on how to navigate this world as an LGBTQ person. A couple will choose you to be the first person to come out to. Some will need you to take them to a gay bar for the first time. Stepping out of the closet is not an easy transition for some people. It takes courage, tenacity, and tact. What you are doing today is brave. Don’t forget that.

Let me be especially clear about something: stop apologizing for who you are. You do not need to explain to anybody why some nights you want to paint your nails and lather your hair with glitter and then drink beer at a baseball game the next day. You are neither masculine nor feminine, not a twink or an otter or some other compartmentalization that our community will try to box you inside of—you are simply you, and that is more than enough for the people that are worth it. In time, they will reveal themselves to you.

So, even though I know exactly what happens next and how life will reveal itself to you, I want you to hold your high with pride. Sure, things are confusing and chaotic now, but I promise it is all worth it. If I can offer one final piece of advice to you, let it be this: come out as yourself every day and everything else will fall into place.

Cheers from your mid-20’s!
Sam

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