In the course of our YouTube work, My husband and I receive many letters from LGBT people who desperately need to tell their stories to someone. Sometimes it's a Thanks for helping them to see that loving someone of the same gender and building a family is possible...sometimes its a cry for help. Very often it is both of these things, and they almost always move me to tears. It does not matter if they come from a teen in Alabama or a women in Saudi Arabia, their messages are often one and the same. Reading these emails has helped me place my own life in perspective as well as helped me understand what life is like for many LGBT people around the world...it can be an emotional ride. I have heard stories of desperation and fear as well as stories of great triumph. In the hopes of fostering understanding and making the world a better place for all of us I would like to share a few of those stories.
In beginning this blog series I intend to share these stories with you in the hopes that you too, will look outside the borders of your life with compassion and understand why the fight doesn't end with marriage rights or DOMA repeals....it's about making the world a safer place for all of us. If you take nothing else away from these blog posts....I hope its that.
And please understand.....Most of the messages I have received are from closeted individuals and those for whom anonymity is paramount. For that reason I share the story but have removed details that could identify the writer. The safety of those who write us is as important to us as it is to them. With that in mind, grab your box of tissues and please read on...
When I read this in my inbox the other day, my heart instantly broke. This young man reached out to thank us for what we had shown him...yet what I walked away with has effected me deeply. The fact that the world is not safe for many of us and that we can not love openly in many countries is no secret...but unfortunately, that is not the end of the crimes that are commited against the souls of LGBT people...some hurts are far worse then what can be done to the body...
Hey guys , I can't believe I am actually writing you this e-mail and I don't know if you are ever going to read it . I wanted to thank you for sharing those beautiful moments with all of us . I am a 17 year-old teenager, and I am from a country where gay people go to jail .
Bryan , that video you made with the letter to all gay teens out there made me cry over and over again . I have known I was different as far as I can remember and let's say that I wasn't the only one who noticed it . I still remember how I was screaming in pain when i was maybe 4 years old because I fell in my room while I was dancing in secret and remember how my dad told me that it should be a lesson for me to not act " girly " again . I remember how the kids in the yard started calling me all the names you could think of just because I liked to sing . I remember my first panic attack and how I felt I was going to die when my classmate called me a " faggot " and my favorite teacher heard it . I remember that look she gave me , a look full of pity .
Yeah , one more thing , I have a brother who dates a ton of girls and who is a million times more athletic than me and who because of that was my father's favorite . I prayed gods night after night . I wanted to be anything but gay . And then I decided to change . I gave up myself for this new person I created . A new me who liked sports , loved playing football and went to stadium for every game . I dated girls , made out with them , and even went further . I started acting all man including the insensitive , i believe vulgar jokes . For a time there I had everyone fooled ; I even fooled myself and thought that somehow I was "cured " till i met him .
He was the sweetest , most beautiful guy in the world . The minute I saw him , I felt it . I couldn't take my eyes off of him . That day I added him on facebook and we talked for the whole night and then we talked the night after and then the night after ... I fell in love with him , the way he smiled , the way he talked , his voice .. everything about him but I couldn't tell him . I was so afraid of loosing him . And one day , he came to me crying his eyes out , he told me that he was going to tell me something even though he knows he is going to loose me forever , he said he never felt anything like it and that he doesn't know what to do .. he told me that he loved me . Today , we have been together for almost two years .
He made me accept my differences . Telling my father that I hated football is the closest thing to a coming out I am ever gonna have , I can still hear him saying " What do you mean you hate football , but you have never missed a game with your brother and I " , but for the first time I actually acted like a man , a real one , and I told him that I hated that fucking (sorry for the word) stupid game and that he'd better sign me up for theater classes :p . He did and am taking theater classes and singing classes now . I am getting to be me .
I am a Muslim Arab and so is my boyfriend . That pretty much say it all . In my country , you go to jail if you are gay . Only 3 people know about our relationship...
...I don't have a lot of hopes nor dreams . my boyfriend and I have talked about the future , and as much as we want us to have a family together , we can't live without our families neither . My boyfriend and I have been each other's first kiss , first time and first love . I love him more than anything in the world and I never want to leave him ever , but he is turning -- and I know that in a few years I would have to give him up for a wife . He jokes about it saying that I will be his best man , but I don't really want to be his best man , I just want to be his man .
We have gone through a lot , and had to deal with everything by ourselves . I don't know what is there for us tomorrow and I don't really believe it's getting any better . But thanks to you guys , I know this for sure : Even if I don't marry the love of my life and we both end up with wives we'll never love as much , I am going to make this my personal fight and defend gay rights as an "outsider" because someday , I want an Arab Muslim gay teen to dare and dream of a better tomorrow , of a better life , a life that he will choose .
Thanks again guys for everything and please keep posting stuff as it allows me to dream , even just for a while . I am asking you to not share any of what I wrote because it can seriously get me in trouble , I only wanted to write this for the two of you . I know it is one LONG e-mail and i don't know if you are gonna read it .
Feel free to write back , I know it would make my day .
Love , Just a guy .
Oh yes, I read them...and there are no words....just no words to describe the feelings this letter brings...only tears...
That this man would reach out to me to say thank you to us knowing that he must give up the one he loves soon leaves me speechless. That he finds hope in the mere possibility of love with a man...even though he only got to enjoy it for awhile is a sadness beyond my ability to communicate. To have that happiness and love, even for a little while, is a wonderful thing. But to have to give up the one you love to fulfill duty is a tragedy beyond human reckoning. I know that this young man will do what he must because anything else places his life at risk but my westerners mind screams out "BUT YOU LOVE HIM!!!!"..DO NOT GIVE THAT UP!!! .and what of the women that they will marry...who will love them? Run away!...get out to someplace safe and give yourself half a chance at real happiness! But I also understand why he would not.
I know that this is not about love...it is about survival. For many gay lesbian and trans people around the world love is a luxury who's price could be your life. And who among us would give up our country or our families for an uncertain future. It's no easy decision to make. Also, the next question is where to run to? Who in the world is willing to stand up and be that safe haven for LGBT people? This is why so many people opt to stay in the places that treat them as if they are not even human and do what they must to be safe.
My heart breaks for this young man and his boyfriend as well as the women they will one day marry. I am happy that he knows that he could be happy with a future husband...that it is a possibility somewhere in the world...but I want with all my heart that it would be reality for him to. The reality is that they world is not safe for him..as it is not for many of us still...but it's why we keep working to make full legal equality a reality here. And when we are done here...we help those who look to us and dream. I pray that those dreams become reality and that they will be alive to see it happen. .....That is one of my dreams....Let's make it happen people....
Until next time dear readers....