A focus on inclusion in the community
Depressed, Lonely, Scared, Queer? Leave a letter, We’ll write back. Love Wins.
It was incredibly moving to see how desperately these kids needed to connect with someone who accepted them. Further, it reminded me of the struggles LGBT youth are still facing today. For this reason, I decided to formally invite my neighbors to drop us a line if they were experiencing challenges as well. In June of 2020, I made signs out of left over pegboard my sister had given me and some acrylic paints we had on hand. One read “Happy Pride, Take a Flag” with a flowerpot of pride flags next to it. Another one read “Depressed, Lonely, Scared, Queer? Leave a letter, we’ll write back. Love Wins.” and we bought a small mailbox to hang up underneath it. During this period, I also ordered a second flag pole and purchased a “Black Lives Matter” flag to hang up on the other side of our garage. I don’t know what I was expecting. I think I was feeling disconnected to people the same way we all were. And I assumed that if five teens contacted me, there were probably a few more that were afraid to or hadn’t thought about it. What I got was letters and notes from people of all age ranges and backgrounds. One was from a delivery truck driver who opened up about their drug addiction recovery and was struggling with their family trusting them again. A few were from likeminded neighbors showing support and introducing themselves. One letter was from a young woman back from college, a first generation college student, who was having a hard time connecting with her parents who were proud of her but didn’t understand what she was going through. There were also many kids, ages 10-18, who were afraid to come out to their parents and just needed someone to share their identities with. Slowly we saw our little flags spread down the street, like weeds of inclusion as the 80+ flags we offered were collected throughout the month.
The moment that made me the happiest, was when a trans boy stopped by to chat. Near the end of our conversation he mentioned that his friend made him a friendship bracelet and he really wanted to wear it, but it was pink. My husband, an artist that was wearing a rainbow of colors that day, stopped him and said, “Don’t replace one toxic set of beliefs with another. If you want to be a boy who wears a pink bracelet, be a boy who wears a pink bracelet! Don’t let the opinion of others keep you from being who you are!” As this boy received validation from a man who was also wearing pink, he grinned bigger than I’ve ever seen, eyes tearing up, as he put on his bracelet and left.