I don’t know your story.
I cannot imagine how you feel.
I can’t fathom how difficult this road has been for you: the swirling storm of the questions inside your head, the hidden fears you’ve had to constantly keep at bay, the incessant worries about the responses of those you love to your full truth—and to have to endure all of it while living inside a space that does not feel like home.
There’s no way to place myself inside your shoes or your skin and even begin to understand how much it hurts be the target of the scalding hatred of strangers simply for existing, the way that must wound your heart and alter your days and hinder your joy.
That is a reality I’ll never know and I so hate that it is your reality: not that you are who you are but that people are who they are in response, that your inherent beauty is met with such undeserved ugliness.
I just want you to know that I see you, that I am for you, that I am in your corner as you struggle to simply be and to breathe freely and to step fully into the dreams you have for the future.
I want you to know that I am fighting for you today as I am able, and that I will keep fighting for you because you are so worth fighting for.
I want you to know that even though it may feel that way inside your head or in your home or at your school — you are not alone. I and millions of other people believe in you and want you to have every opportunity to live this life as the most authentic version of yourself; people who celebrate you fully and support you without reservation.
I also want you to know that I am sorry.
I’m sorry for the people who injure you with taunts and threats and sermons and laws and fists, because they are somehow threatened by your existence. That is a reflection of their ignorance and fear, not of your worth.
I’m sorry for those who terrorize you in the name of a God they also claim is love. They do not speak for God. They only speak for their bigotry-addled, polluted hearts and for the distorted religion they have inherited from people who failed them. They are strangers to love.
I’m sorry for the silence of people who should have spoken up when you were mocked and made fun of by strangers, when you were the object of jokes spoken in your presence, when your dignity and your rights were used as cheap culture war props of pastors and politicians, when those you counted on for refuge refused to provide it.
I know there are difficult days ahead for you, and that these words won’t magically make your worries evaporate or silence the bullies or give wisdom to the hateful people in your path.
I only hope these words can be a companion in the days when the fear feels like it will overwhelm you, when the sadness threatens to swallow you up, when the monsters are prevalent and close, when there seems to be no safe space to simply rest in your truth, when you begin to believe that no one around you sees or loves or believes in you.
I see you.
I love you.
I believe in you.
So many people do.
You may not feel that way when you are in your home or when you walk through your neighborhood or when you watch the news about your nation. But the world is so much larger than those things, and one day you will get to experience that wide-open, expansive space and you will do it surrounded by a fiercely loving community that sees and respects you as you fully are. In that day, you will no longer need to strive to feel known and welcomed, you will simply realize that you are.
And one day you will be able to step into the day as all of you, as fully you, without limitation or restraint, you will be home.
Until then, please know that I and so many others are standing with you from here and cheering you on; that we will work to change legislation and to renovate hearts and to shout down the bullies because you are worth that.
Be greatly encouraged today.
The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com