My best friend of 20+ years (now my partner) Nixon came out as trans nearly four years ago.
There was tremendous fear, especially in those initial days. Would his family accept him? Would he lose his job? How was he going to tell his grandfather? Would our friends be accepting? I wanted to wrap him up in my arms and protect him from the outside world.
Word traveled throughout his peer groups. Emails and private messages on social media started pouring in. The bulk of the letters and messages contained such gems as “If you loved your mother you would kill yourself.” All in all, he received a total of 168 pieces of hate mail. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This wasn’t just a couple of pissed off college classmates. This was letter after letter from people who felt justified in their bigotry and empowered to barf that hate all over someone that I loved. I wanted to track each of those ass-hats down and kick them in the proverbial nards. I wanted to strike out at them as they had struck out at my love. I felt utterly impotent.
I took a step back and turned my attention first to my dear love. He was doing his best to turn from the bigotry and dig into the trans community to help where he could. He used the hurt to fuel true change. His actions reminded me that fear and hate cannot build anything that sustains. Only love can do that. My dad emailed me with words of encouragement and love. He wanted Nixon and I to know that we were not alone. Our families stood with us during this time. He ended the email with “time doesn’t heal all wounds. Love does.”
Thus, the P.S. You Are Loved Project was born.
I would use my skills as a writer and community organizer to collect a letter of love and encouragement for the trans community for each of the letters of bigotry he had received. I had no idea at the time how much of my life this project would consume. It has been a slow-as-molasses labor of love. It took nearly three years to reach our initial push goal of 168 letters. People from all over the world are still reading and sharing letters. Many of these countries are places where it can mean death to come out as transgender. For a moment, they can find community and connection. The letters are a lifeline.
This week saw a nearly unbelievable upsurge of traffic to the project’s Facebook page. The reach of the letters extended by twenty thousand. People are reaching and searching for a handful of hope. Our work is far from over. I refuse to allow my fear for our collective future in the coming days, weeks, and years to keep me from fighting back with love. Writing a letter is something that anyone can do. It is a tangible need that you can fill.
How can you help?
There are a couple of simple ways to make a difference.
First, Take a minute to read a couple of letters. Although the project started out for one person, it really is for all of us. Be encouraged. You are not alone.
Second, talking about the project and sharing on social media. Your platform could catapult these letters into the hands of those who need it most.
Lastly, Write a letter. It doesn’t have to be long or intricate. All I ask is that it is honest and heartfelt.