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50/50 Fall 2008, Exercise #8: Letter of Persuasion

Letter to a young homosexual

Dear much younger self,

This is a warning from your future self. Ignore it at your peril.

I’m afraid you probably will ignore it, because you aren’t looking for advice. You’re looking for absolute answers, and you have some very limited ideas about where to look for them. You will not find any of the answers that I can give you in the places you’re comfortable looking.

There is so much I could tell you, but what I wish for is the chance to stand at your shoulder when the opportunities to make choices present themselves to you. I would stand there and whisper into your ear. “Desire is good. (Or at least not bad.) Trust it. (Or at least don’t fear it.)” Or maybe, “Give in to your feelings.” Or “Use the force, Luke.” Hell, I don’t know if even that would get through to you.

No, see, I’ve gone off on the wrong track already. It’s not about desire. You’ll figure out desire on your own eventually, and you’ll get to understand it before you understand the nature of truth—not big Truth, I’m talking about your truth, i.e., the truth of who and what you are. You’ll start making sense of desire before you get a handle on love or discipline or loss or sacrifice or compassion.

Let me be blunt. Come out! Come out now, or come out soon. Come out to everyone you know, starting with yourself. Don’t think about right and wrong. Focus on honesty. You were always an honest guy. You may not know a thing about hard work, but you could be trusted. It’s eating you up inside to have to lie to your parents, your siblings, your friends. Stop it! You’re killing yourself slowly with the lies. You know it’s true. I’m not telling you anything new. What are you waiting for, your next nervous breakdown? You can be that honest guy again.

I need to tell you something about yourself that you don’t know: You are fearless. I know, you don’t feel fearless. But your fear is only a byproduct of your double life. The fear of being found out, the fear of being exposed, the fear of being known for what you are—the fear is a lie. It won’t survive the light of day when you finally do what you need to do.

Note: The prompt for today is to “Write a letter to someone specific in which you attempt to convince or persuade him or her of something.” This is the beginning of a letter to myself that could serve as a template to someone else who needs to hear it as badly as I once did. There’s an awful lot more to say.

© 2008 Edward F. Gumnick

1 comment to 50/50 Fall 2008, Exercise #8: Letter of Persuasion

  • Julie Brown

    Ah, damn! You write so well. I especially like the idea of standing at someone’s shoulder as that person makes a decision. Also, that desire will sort itself out, but compassion, discipline, etc., not so easily. All pure truth, elegantly expressed.

    It is strange to me that what I take away from your writing so far is comfort. Another way to say it might be that you are reaching your audience, or at least this member of it.

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