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When I Say Your Names: A Letter From a Gay Man to His Future Kids

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Dear kids,

Take off your Google glasses, unplug your Wii Hologram, and let your father be corny for just a moment. You can eyeroll all you want at what I'm about to say (because you're just like me), but allow me this moment to tell you just how much you mean to me, and what goes through my mind when I look at you and say your names.

I wasn't supposed to have this moment. I grew up believing my life would be marked with solitude and stoic independence, because to hope for something that might never happen is like begging for unbearable pain. Your names were just whispers that lingered in the corners of my mind that I never had the courage to say out loud.

I can tell you about the darkness that I dwelled in as a young man, the mud I slept in, the mazes of my life in which I wandered blindly. I could tell you about the fury that I allowed to consume me whole. It spat me out each time more embittered than the last, it very nearly killed me, it broke me down, it called me a faggot and a pervert, and it laughed at me when I wondered if I was worthy.

But your names, those whispers in my brain, never left me. They echoed and grew stronger even in the darkest of times. They were battle cries when I needed to fight, they were exclamations of joy in happy times, they were tender words when I was wounded, and they saved my life. Sometimes the hope for you was the only reason I had.

Now I can say your names. They are no longer whispers; I can yell them as loud as I want (as I often do). When I say your names, even in anger or sadness, I am overwhelmed: You are real, sitting in front of me, listening to an old man think about a strange time -- just a few decades ago -- when his love was illegal. And you nod your heads with me, trying to grasp this abstract notion, and you think, "Of course we deserve to exist."

As for me, you are an impossible blessing, a miracle from a kinder God, because when I say your names, I also say the names of the countless lives that were dedicated and sacrificed so that we could have this moment. This is why I never take you for granted: I love you in a way that is worthy of these many unspoken names.

I'm losing you, I can tell. It is through grace that you can't begin to fathom what it feels like to grow up believing that you are subhuman, and I promise on my life I will never let you experience it. There is fight left in this body yet, and like I said, I owe you big-time.

I'll stop being corny. This moment was enough. I will sit back and go back to reading. (This thing I'm holding is called a book.) And from time to time, I will peer over the top of my book and look at my family, marveling at the miracle that your names are no longer whispers.

With all my love,
Dad