An open letter of love to LGBTQ+ youth experiencing bullying

the voice and vision of a new generation

An open letter of love to LGBTQ+ youth experiencing bullying

October 17, 2019

To LGBTQ+ youth affected by bullying, 

The world can be lonely, scary, and dark at times. Sometimes the loneliness feels overwhelming and the need to fit in consumes you. Just know that even when there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel that you are worthy, beautiful, strong, and important. This is because you are the light at the end of the tunnel. 

While harsh words will push you down and make you feel insignificant, please know that these words are not an accurate reflection of who you are. You are always worthy of love. You have every right to be unapologetically yourself. If you feel safe to do so, open up and speak your truth. Although it may seem like a hindrance now, your truth will become your source of power and pride. 

In times of struggle, having a sense of support is vital. This is why fellow GLAAD Campus Ambassadors, GLAAD interns and I have crafted these messages for you for Spirit Day. We will always have your back; when you need a hand to hold, read these words and let them be the hand that guides you.

Aedy Miller

GLAAD Campus Ambassador, George Washington University

You’re not alone, no matter how much it may seem that way. Never forget that you have  generations and generations behind you cheering you on, holding space for you when things go wrong, and fighting for you to be you. Pace yourself, give yourself time to heal, learn from the past, and work toward a future that will welcome you with open arms. I’m proud of you, and always know that your ancestors–and *trans*cestors–have your back.       

Athena Schwartz

GLAAD Campus Ambassador, University of Utah

To LGBTQ youth: you are valid regardless of what others say. No one deserves to be bullied and I am sorry this is happening. I wish I could say I haven’t been there but I promise you that there is a whole world full of wonderful people. They see you. They care about you. They support you. You are so incredible and strong.

Ted Ravago

GLAAD Youth Engagement Intern, NYU

I think the piece of advice I would give is that you should always remember that survival is victory. Although everyday may seem like a battle - and that is utterly exhausting - every single day that you are still living, you have won another battle. I used to think it would never get better. When you’re being harassed every single day, it’s hard to imagine a life where things are okay. But I promise you that things do get better. You just need to keep living, keep getting those daily victories. Some nights, it won’t feel like you were victorious, but I can guarantee to you that the fact that you are still here is proof of your win. And another important part is that battles never have to be fought alone. Everyone needs help at one time or another. There are thousands upon thousands of people who are ready and willing to listen to you and help you however they can.

Syd Stephenson

GLAAD Campus Ambassador, University of Oklahoma

If I could give any advice it would be to find your chosen family. Whether it’s online, at school, etc. They will give you strength. It doesn’t fix everything, but it helps a lot to know you aren’t alone and have people in your corner. Just having one supportive person in your life can do wonders for your mental health.

Liam Gillin

GLAAD Campus Ambassador, Marist College

The advice I would give to LGBTQ+ youth who are going through bullying is to reach out to people that they love and trust. Sometimes we feel that we cannot do anything because we fear that things won’t be solved. There’s so much support through friends, family, and online resources to reach out to. Put your time into what you’re most passionate about and heal and grow through what you love.

Katarina Spisz

GLAAD Campus Ambassador, City College of California ​

My advice to LGBTQIA+ youth who have experienced - or are experiencing bullying - is to try to find community either online or offline, talk to a trusted adult or friend to provide support in confronting or stopping the bullying, and to remember that you and your identities are valid now and forever. We live in a hetero-patriarchal world, where people in the LGBTQ+ community are not accepted in their fullness (yet), and some people who receive those messages do not stop and think about what they are doing and why they are doing it. Bullying is a form of discrimination and can have lasting affects on youth (I speak from experience). What helped me cope and realize my validity, was that I am not alone. You are not alone! It may take a little time to find people who can relate to you and who will support you, but I guarantee you will be able to find at least one person to start with. Also, if talking to people is uncomfortable and that seems a step too far at the moment, if you are on social media then following LGBTQIA+ accounts to help inspire you and affirm your gender and your sexuality. Most importantly, you are not alone - and there are people who are thinking about you and who are rooting for you!

Sophia Su

GLAAD Campus Ambassador, UCLA

Spirit Day is when my peers and I show the world just how passionate and powerful, how driven and outspoken we are about creating drastic changes to the stratified institutions which exist today. I have hope in a future where LGBTQ youth no longer face disproportionate amounts of harassment for being who they are innately, and I want to help foster a world in which they feel fully comfortable to embrace it. We are trailblazers, writers, speakers, artists, scientists, humans– we are unstoppable when we come together, determined. When we unite to empower our minorities, we leap forward with the great achievements for our world.

Somaya Gupta

GLAAD Campus Ambassador, NYU

Spirit is a form of pride to me. It means despite all the challenges that come with being lgbtq+, we still love our identities and community, and celebrate it. There was a time I didn’t have spirit in my queer/trans identity. I used to always say to people “I don’t come across gay, right?” So now that I’ve experienced a shift away from that mindset, it’s important to me to encourage other people to do the same. While I still despise homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, etc. it doesn’t get me as down as it used to because I love being LGBTQ+ What is a piece of advice you would give to lgbtq youth experiencing bully: know that there is NOTHING that can justify people treating you poorly for simply being yourself. You are valid and beautiful exactly how you are. Finding communities online can also be very helpful in further understanding yourself and realizing that you’re not alone.

Breona Couloote

GLAAD Digital Editorial Intern, City College of New York

For LGBTQ youth who are experiencing bullying, continue to love yourself. Do not let others tear you down. You’ll find people who will constantly love you for you and will stand up for you! Channel that negative energy into something positive.

Jaq Jefcoat

GLAAD Campus Ambassador, University of Southern Mississippi

Regardless of what you go through, there'll always be a light to guide you on the path to your dreams and goals. Take my word as a future teacher: you are loved, you are appreciated, you are important, you can make a difference. I've been in your shoes and almost made mistakes that I regret and almost cost me the chance to live authentically. There are things that only you can do by being you! Never give up hope no matter what.

When homophobic remarks are hard to ignore, and comments online make you feel small - remember that you are the light. Don’t let the negativity take your spark away. Be bold and dance through life with your head held high. Take time to care for yourself. There is nothing wrong with slowing down your pace, and taking life one deep breath at a time. 

We see you. We hear you.

Kaylie Duffy is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and junior at the University of Central Missouri studying Psychology and Womens, Gender, & Sexuality studies. She is a WGS ambassador for her campus and has worked on educational programs for her campus and the community that allows the audience to learn about advocacy for those who do not have a voice. Throughout her time as a WGS ambassador for UCM she has focused on advocacy through social media. 

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