"You have heard, O Lord, their taunts,
All their designs against me,
The mouthings and pratings of my adversaries
Against me all day long.
See how, at their ease or at work,
I am the butt of their gibes."
Stop. Put down the gun, the knife, the rope, the pill bottle. Choose life. Stop for a while, and, please, listen to what I have to say -- I've been where you are. I have never told anyone this before, but I feel that it is incumbent upon me to tell you my story.
I know how you feel -- six years ago, I was where you are now. I felt isolated, scared, damaged; I thought the only way out was by ending my life. I'd been hiding who I was for years by that point, because from everything I had seen -- in movies, songs, politics, TV shows -- there was no such thing as a successful gay person. My dream (to be president), the entire life I saw for myself, appeared to be at odds with something fundamentally unmovable within me. So I sat, naked and crying, in my bathroom, clutching a bottle of pills.
At 16, I'd been called every name in the book: "faggot," "homo," "queer," yes, even "pinko." I'd listened to my childhood friends say that things they didn't like were "gay." I'd fled from bigots who tried to run me down with their car.
I know how it feels to be desperate for an end, no matter how it is attained. I tried convincing myself that I wasn't gay; when that failed, I tried pretending instead. None of it worked. I still felt depressed, afloat at sea, alone despite my numerous friends. It is difficult to convey, to those who have not experienced this, how deep the sadness and desperation was, but it was there.
To this day, I can't put my finger on what convinced me to put down that bottle and pick up my computer, but I thank God every day that I did. I wept as I wrote what was without a doubt the hardest email I have ever written, coming out to my closest friends. It took me another two years before I was brave enough to tell everyone.
I won't lie: being out is not easy. But I am a stronger, happier person for it. Every moment that I have lived since then has been a gift. Not all have been happy, but I have come further and done more than I could have imagined alone in that bathroom. I've graduated from college, I've had boyfriends whom I've loved deeply, I have a meaningful job and wonderful friends with whom I can be my entire self, not just parts of me.
To those who doubt that there will be a better tomorrow, I ask your patience -- hope is on the way -- and your help, for you are needed. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have come far from where we were six years ago. We are no longer invisible or mere tokens in American culture, we can serve our nation openly and proudly, and we have our federal government's protection against hate crimes. As Eugene V. Debs, union activist and frequent candidate for president, once said, "Let the people everywhere take heart of hope, for the cross is bending, the midnight is passing, and joy cometh with the morning." With every day, we are one step closer to equality, one stride closer to an end to the bullying and harassment.
It's been years since that night, but I couldn't help recalling it as I, only a few days ago, read Deuteronomy 30:19: "I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life..." When I, only 16, considered death, I chose life. In the midst of depression and loneliness, life may not seem the easy choice, but it is the right one.
May you, too, choose life. May you live to marry your wife or husband. May you live to find your dream job. May you live to see your parents accept you. May the road ahead of you be as long, and longer, as the road thus far has been difficult. Be brave -- the world needs you.
Please, know that you are loved, and live.
If you are in crisis or are still considering suicide, please call The Trevor Hotline: 866-488-7386.
You can also email or Gchat me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Noah Baron on Twitter: www.twitter.com/noahbbaron