Thursday, March 8, 2012

Open Letter to Senate President Pro Tem David Long: Save the Plate

Dear Senator Long,
It's time to cut through the rhetoric and time for a straight up conversation.

I understand that you finally found a loophole that you think will get rid of the specialty license plate that will provide needed fundraising to the Indiana Youth Group, a great organization that helps LGBT youth.  You believe, according to the Indianapolis Star, that the IYG violated the terms of its specialty plate contract with the state and that the contract can be voided.  The Star also reports that the BMV has allowed other groups to do the exact same thing that you believe will void the IYG's contract.

I know you are a busy man, and I know that this is a busy time for you, but I hope you will read this and remember it.  I want to tell you my story.

When I was a child growing up, I always felt different.  I didn't understand why, but I just wasn't like everyone else.  I could never understand the feelings inside myself and why they weren't like the feelings of other young people my age.  Thus, I felt alone, ostracized, and like an alien.  I hatched many plans to kill myself.

I never tried to end my life, but, for many years up until my early teens, I thought about it daily.  Thankfully, I had the best grandmother a boy could have and patient, loving parents that helped me through all of that.  They didn't understand everything, and I never told them everything at the time.  They just knew that I had a lot to give to this society, and that I shouldn't end it all because I was different.

It was not until later in my life that I truly understood what those feelings I had when I was little meant.  I put it all together in my brain, and, finally, at the age of 21, I stepped out of the closet and into this person I am now.  I hadn't changed, and I had not become anything different.  I just stopped worrying about what others thought.  The truth is that I was free, and it felt good.  I haven't had a thought of killing myself since, and I would never do it now.  I love this life, and no one is going to bring me down.

It was those formative years, though, that were the toughest ones.  I only wish that I knew about the IYG when I was young and all the wonderful things that they do for young people.

I first heard about the IYG when I was a new teacher.  I had a student who identified herself as a lesbian that mentioned those three letters and all that they had done for her.  Since, I've grown more familiar with the great organization and the many services they provide for our young people that feel different, just like I did.

I guess I don't understand why this is something to object to.  Why helping people like me is such a bad thing when we have study after study that shows that LGBT youth end their own lives and face bullying and other awful things at a higher rate than their peers.  I can't understand the logic even from those who profess to be Christians.  The "Christian" thing to do is to lend a hand to those in need, and that's what IYG does.

My family saved my life, but, for many young people, the IYG is the only place they can turn for a friendly face and for someone that understands them.  Then again, I would never expect you to understand that.

Please tell these young people they matter.  You don't have to understand them.  Just know that what you're doing will affect them more than you ever know.  It's up to you.

Thanks for your time,

P.S.-Thanks to my wonderful mom and dad and to my wonderful Grandma Easter who always taught me, before it was popular, that, "It gets better."


Mary-Elise said...

Thanks for reminding why I do what I do for IYG.

IndyDem said...

Thanks for sharing that, Jon. It was a great letter and only the heartless would not be moved.
Keep standing strong! I[m proud to call you my friend.

Lawyer said...

I hope Senator Long takes the time to read your letter. It is a compelling story as are the stories of the young people living on the streets because their families have ordered them to leave their homes. You were blessed with a loving, supportive family. But for young people who are not similarly blessed, IYG and people like you are there to help them. Bless you.