Open Letter to the Youth of Indiana

03/30/2015 02:45 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Dear Youth of Indiana,

I write to you from the city of San Francisco where Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official, once answered a call from a lonely gay teenager who needed to hear that there was hope. I was that teenager once. I too grew up gay, very gay, in a place that kind of felt like the middle of nowhere. In my youth, openly gay people like Ellen and outspoken allies like the Spice Girls gave me hope. Like you, I looked to the (then fledgling) Internet for gay friends. These friends and advocates all had one basic message: you are not alone and you are loved.

Indiana's Governor may have recently signed a terrible, anti-gay piece of legislation into law, but that doesn't make you or your friends terrible. He may think it is okay to discriminate against people and use religion as an excuse, but millions of people, including people of faith, are quick to disagree. In fact, 69 percent of recently polled Americans said they would like to see federal nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The Governor is grasping at the very last straws left in a coordinated backlash to the reality that our community's freedom is on the horizon, in plain sight.

Today, people who support the fair treatment of LGBT people are in the majority, and there are record numbers of openly LGBT leaders who are inspiring us all to do a little more to ensure equality for everyone: Laverne Cox, transgender star of Orange is the New Black; Kate Brown, the openly bisexual mayor of Portland; and allies ranging from Miley Cyrus to Hillary Clinton. We're all in this together, and we will come out stronger once we weather the fringe backlash. But, we've all got to be involved in order to win, even you.

I don't think young people are the leaders of tomorrow. I think they, you, are the leaders of today. There are thousands of civil rights and social justice advocates ready to support you when your voices against this bill begin to amplify beyond Indiana into the national spotlight. It may feel like we are going backward, but this is just a lost battle in a war we've been winning since before you or I were born. Like generations before, you are needed at this pivotal time in our march towards justice, so please do not lose hope. When you feel safe, speak out for yourself and your friends.

As a depressed and isolated queer young person, I never thought I would one day have a husband, be living in the gayest city in the world, and be writing a letter like this to people like you. But here I am, thriving, and soon you'll be a thriving adult too, because you are not alone and you are loved.