Dear 18 Year-Old Chris,
1) It's ok. You are not confused. You are not wrong. No one knows, and that's fine--but stop viewing yourself as evil. You are not sinning. You will not burn in hell for the way you feel. You don't need to make any decision now. Just stop hating yourself. Stop begging God to take it away from you. Stop imagining getting into a car accident and dying. Stop lying in bed dreaming of the day you will die so you won't have to deal with it. Stop begging God to kill you so you don't have to think about being gay. It is not wrong. You are not wrong. You are beautiful.
2) There is no god. No, really, there isn't. I'm sorry. Just start thinking about it, and suddenly it will make sense. Everything you've been told so far is a lie. Angels, Heaven, Demons, Hell, Noah's Ark, The Second Coming...it's all a lie to control people. You'll go through months of shock. It won't be easy. But don't let that destroy you--in the end, it will only make your stronger.
3) Learn as much as you can. Don't treat school like it's only keeping you back. Stop treating it like a social hour and start reading and studying. You're good at math; stop telling yourself otherwise. You'll thank me later for this.
4) One day a bum is going to introduce you to some of the world's greatest literature. Read those books. Cherish them. You won't realize the significance of the bum until after reading the books. But after reading them, don't treat them like gospel. Treat them as great stories of fantastic inspiration, but don't let them ruin friendships, jobs or your personality. Continue to love and appreciate every individual, no matter what. Refuse to give up belief in every single human being.
5) On July 11th you will make the best decision of your life. Do it. You'll be forever grateful for it. Revel in that grand moment of victory. Revel in the fact that you love who you are, that you are a beautiful person and you do not hate yourself for being you.
6) You will see someone working in a restaurant and will want to talk to him. Do it. He will turn into a great friend. You will spend a magical few days together. You won't see him for over a year, but you will dream of him and live your life in anticipation of seeing him again. You'll spend ten days together and it will feel like nothing else matters. It will be pure bliss. When he is gone, you will continue to think of him. When you see him next, he will end up completely breaking your heart. You are going to cry for hours. You will be all alone. It will be miserable. It will feel like everything has caved in. It will hurt to even hear his name. But don't let that hold you back. Your most memorable times will be when you lived uninhibited. The tears, the pain, the sorrow, the anger...in the end it will all be worth it.
7) Don't run away whenever you feel a problem arises. They won't go away.
8) The inkling you have to move out of DC and see the world? Take it. You'll know the city to go to. It will be your first choice and you will love it. And if you ever get tempted to move back to DC so you can drop out of school, live at home and work in an Irish Pub...DON'T DO IT. Stay where you are and GRADUATE!
9) Without tossing out your pure joy and your innate love of people...do not trust everybody. You will meet a lot of people who will mislead you. Enjoy them for who they are, but do not be so willing to believe everything you hear.
10) If you take some time off between High School and College...that's fine. You won't regret it. But just don't take too much time off.
11) Your father will never be your mother. Accept it, move on.
12) If you meet a short guy at karaoke who asks you to go back to his hotel...DO NOT DO IT!
13) After July 11th, tell your grandparents you are gay. Might as well tell the whole family. One day you will get a phone call that your grandmother passed away, and it will be too late. She will have died not knowing that you were loved by a truly great man.
14) There will be a day you pull into a gas station and find a cat. You'll think that although you are allergic, you can still give him a home. Probably not a good idea, unless you really want all of your furniture torn up.
15) You are going to have some amazing times. You will travel all over the world, meet incredible people, work at a ton of different restaurants and you will live almost a fairy-tale life. You will meet celebrities and Senators. You will spend time in some of the world's greatest cities. You will have very few worries. The stories you will collect will be so crazy and bizarre that they will either be on Sex and the City or To Catch a Predator. Yes, Chris, your life will be that crazy. When you look back on those times, it will seem like something out of a book. Enjoy those times, live them to the fullest, do not let anything hold you back, because one day you'll finally settle down...and you'll miss those days of reckless abandon.
Chris, I love you. You don't love yourself right now...but in the future, you will. You will love yourself and your life more than anyone you will ever meet.
~23 Year-Old Chris