In partnership with Hope in a Box and in commemoration of Pride, we held an LGBTQ+ Lit Contest that asked high schoolers to share how LGBTQ+ representation in books inspired them and impacted their lives. The following is the Grand Prize-winning contest story.
Dear younger me,
To the kid who would stay up much too late at night to watch YouTube short films about Queer kids just surviving,
To the young kid who did not know that they were not quite a boy or a girl,
Dear a young queer who felt much too drawn to their best friend and her smile,
You are loved, no matter what others might say.
You have not yet read Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
or heard of the metaphorical dial,
You do not know why you do not like the term girl for your soul,
You do not feel like anything other than who you are
But I promise that does not mean you are broken.
Dear child who has not yet cried tears over the ending of Aristotle and Dante Discover the
Secrets of the Universe,
You have not yet realized that you are both Dante and Ari, trapped inside your mind,
worrying about what is right and what is wrong,
The dear adolescent who has not yet kissed their best friend and ruined everything,
But as Cameron Post shows, that event is not the end,
It is simply a new beginning.
Hello to the child who considers ending it all if only it means peace inside,
Peace inside is a false narrative pushed by those who do not have Pride,
You should not wish for peace,
Wish for love and hope and fire and joy and sadness,
Wish for any emotion that proves you are real and complete.
I wish I could talk to you hours and tell you of the story that would change your life,
I want to tell you that it is perfectly alright to love Dante, with all your being,
I wish I could tell you that the character of Ari would make you feel more seen for the first time,
I want to tell you that even when the sky is falling apart, there is always a clear desert on the
One with no rain or birds falling from the sky,
Just your best friend’s hand in yours as you both stare at the stars,
If only I could tell you what Cameron Post will teach you in a few years,
When bad things happen, it does not mean the end,
You are resilient and no one can pry your heart from your soul.
Dear younger me who has not yet read Garvin’s masterpiece on the complexity of gender,
To the child who has not yet found the word ‘nonbinary’ to describe themself,
I wish I could tell you that one day you will be so comfortable in your own skin that you will
stop hiding behind hoodies in the middle of summer,
I want to tell you about the moment that everything seems black but you paint it white in your
mind, just like Riley.
Dear younger me, I wish I could tell you all the stories I have read and all the love I have felt, ‘
You will fall in love with so many characters, over and over,
But none will ever touch your heart like Cameron, Ari, or Riley,
For they are the first time you will ever feel truly seen and complete.
Dear Younger Me.