Dear Matt R. Salmon ~
I almost didn’t write this letter because it feels presumptuous. It feels presumptuous to me to think I can see the pain and struggle in your eyes without knowing you after watching you on tv for three plus minutes. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about you, Matt. I can’t, because as presumptuous as it may be, I see what I see and it breaks my heart. I want to hug you. I want to protect you. There’s so much I want to tell you.
I must first admit that I have no experience in familial rejection. It pains me to say that we live in a world where I am excessively lucky. I came out to my parents and my brother when I was 14 or 15 and over the course of the next few years we all learned a lot together. Sometimes I led, sometimes they led, but we learned and we grew. As a family. Together. Sadly, many do not share my experience.
You spoke of family support, but I fail to see how your family is supporting you. All I saw was you supporting your family’s lack of support for you ~ accepting their lack of acceptance in order to keep the peace. You spoke of “reparative” therapy, something that frankly could not be more inaccurately named. It is destructive. It is dangerous. It is harmful. It seeks to repair that which is not broken. It seeks to alter something which can not be altered. At best, reparative therapy is like dying your hair. At worst, it is a push towards depression and suicide.
Matt, let me tell you something I fear you’ve never heard before: There’s nothing wrong with you.
I wish for you a peace I did not see in this interview. I wish for you the knowledge that being gay is simply who you are and that the struggle surrounding it has been an unnecessary exercise in torture. A torture with no basis in truth, reason or evidence. A torture fraught with lies and prejudice. I wish for you the courage to reject everything your parents ~ and the world ~ have taught you. I wish for you the courage to reject your parents if they can not follow you in that journey and join you in the understanding that there is nothing wrong with you ~ nothing wrong with your love ~ nothing wrong with your right to be treated equally ~ by your country, your community, your family and your law. I wish for you a family that welcomes your love(s) with open arms. And if they don’t, I wish for you the strength to walk away and understand that the devastation that may come as a result is not your doing. I wish for you the understanding that you are not the one making unhealthy choices. Who you are is not a choice but fighting tooth and nail against the equality of your very own child is. I wish for you the understanding that the sickness, the brokenness within your family does not reside within you ~ does not emanate from you. If there is something sick or broken in your family, it is the fact that your parents have put the mythology of religion before the very real, very obvious pain in their own child’s eyes ~ before your experience and understanding of who you are. Perhaps it is your parents who need reparative therapy. I wish for you the understanding that in simply being gay there is no struggle, no pain, no conflict, no moral complexity, nothing to fix. Being gay is, in and of itself, nothing.
And Matt, can I let you in on a little secret? A secret that informs how I love and how I expect to be loved. Here you go: Love, as an emotion, is worthless. The only way that love has any meaning whatsoever is as a verb. An action. Love is something we do. Love is how we treat one another. Matt, I do not know you nor do I know your parents. And while this entire post has been presumptuous, I will not go so far as to say what’s in your parents’ hearts. But I can tell you that your parents actions do not speak of love. Trying to “fix” you ~ trying to create a world that discriminates against you ~ these are not loving acts. I hope one day that you can see that. And I hope that the day you do there is someone there with strong arms to hold you up, to witness the full scope of your anger and to tell you that you are entitled to every single drop of it.
There is nothing wrong with you. Nothing. There never has been.
I wish you peace.