In my upcoming novel, THE CLIMB, the main character, Skyler Phoenix, writes a letter to hate shortly before summoning the courage to come out. In the wake of the Orlando shootings at the Pulse gay nightclub, I decided to share the letter with you, since in effect, I wrote it. I realize the names of other characters won’t make sense out of context, but I think the power behind the letter will still come through. ~Damien
You suck. You make life miserable for no reason except to get off on a false sense of security and a pseudo power trip that ultimately means nothing to anyone except yourself and maybe a few misguided followers. Unfortunately, you think that your hateful message will succeed in keeping kids like me the closet or from achieving our true potential, whatever that may be. You think that your message glorifies God or benefits humanity in some great way when really, it hurts the very beautiful people who are God’s creations. Your message hurts the collective of humanity because sometimes you succeed in shutting down the right a voice in the crowd. But that voice could be the voice that cures cancer, the voice that could be the next president, or the voice that does the next amazing thing and moves humanity forward.
Hate and hurt, two peas in a pod.
You think that by using religion hurtfully, persecution, or blatant bullying, that you will somehow keep us quiet, keep us hidden, and keep us out of the way. You think that we will just shut up and take it because our sin is not your sin, because we are not you, because you are better than us, because you have God, because you have righteousness, because you have whatever you think makes you superior to us. Sadly there will alway be someone you can beat down, someone you can belittle, someone you can hurt to feel better about yourself.
But it stops with me today, because I know the truth about how you work, and it is a simple truth: Hurt people hurt people. I know this is true because I have experienced it all my life. People who truly love do not hurt others, and if they do, it’s an accident. People you win over who are broken, who are fearful, who are afraid, they are the ones who learn to hurt and hate. They instinctively protect themselves by lashing out at others. Some do it better than others, unfortunately.
For Sean McMahon, his alcoholism caused him to hurt so many people. Whether it was hereditary, a disease, or a choice, I’ll never know, but he never wanted to help himself. And in that anti-choice, he made the choice to hurt everyone around him.
For Rebecca Tinsdale, I see it clearly now. She had no sense of self-worth except for what she was told was acceptable and what was not. She couldn’t make up her own mind, couldn’t think for herself, but rather completely relied on someone else to tell her what was acceptable and what was not. Even when faced with the reality of overcoming this constraint in her life, she resorted to her black and white worldview. The Moshers were the same, unknowingly twisted with your sick agenda.
But Hate, you are at it again, trying desperately to hurt me and keep me down by introducing new players—Daren and Annika—on to the field of my life and stunt my progress and journey toward self-acceptance…for no reason at all, except to thwart love. You tried to strike me down when my mom died. You tried to tear me down at the McMahon’s. You seemed to have given me a break at the Tinsdales, but when I wanted to choose love, love of myself, and to be myself freely, you struck again. But I see you now. I know you’re game. I’m on to you.
In just, I dunno, six or so weeks now, I’ve been treated with more dignity, more love, and more respect than I’ve ever been shown in my life. Love is finally winning again, showing me your true, dark colors. I have seen the love between Dale and Liara, the love that overcame her inability to conceive, the love that I share with my brother CK now.
So ultimately, you have failed, Hate. You won’t have power over me any more. You won’t have power over anyone I can help. You won’t have power over people who truly love and aspire for greater things in life, but above all, aspire for self-respect, self-acceptance, and self-love. I promise you that no matter how hard you try, I will try harder. I will not let fear rule my life any more. I will proudly join the Gay-Straight Alliance at school and I will be an out-and-proudie. I will help others like Tommy stand up to bullies like Daren, and who knows, one day, just to piss you off, I might befriend Daren. Wouldn’t that be something?
And so, I say to you, quoting the great Optimus Prime: “I rise, you fall.”