Washington, D.C. – John R. Cepek, national president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) issued the following open letter to youth in light of the mounting reports of bullying, harassment, and suicide among youth:
I know it may seem strange that you’re getting a letter from someone you’ve never met. To be honest with you, I feel a little odd writing this letter to people I’ve never met. But this is a difficult time, and I want to make sure that someone delivers an important message to you.
My wife and I have two sons. We think that they are the best kids in the whole world. They’re very different, with very diverse personalities, talents, and interests. One of the other things that makes them different is that one is straight and one is gay.
But the important thing is this: we love them equally.
That’s why it is so painful to us to read the reports of the kids out there who have killed themselves because somehow they felt that their lives were not equal or worth living, either because they were mercilessly bullied and teased for being different, or tortured because they were gay.
That’s why I’m writing to you today. There have been a lot of people out there sending some important messages your way. They’ve been telling you that there are people who can help, and that it is going to get better, and your job is to be strong and stick it out. You should listen to them, because they’re right.But as a dad, I want to send you one more message. Here it is: there are people who love you and accept you for who you are right now. Whether you’re gay or straight, it doesn’t matter.
I hope that your parents are among these people. I hope that in the same way I’m proud of both my sons, someone is proud of you just because you’re there and because you’re alive. You deserve that, no matter who you are or how different you feel.
But if for some reason you don’t feel like you’ve got that support, I want you to know that there are parents and families who love you. Maybe they’re people you already know. Or maybe they are people like me who you haven’t met yet, and the other parents who belong to a group that I’m a member of called PFLAG – Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
So if you’re reading this and feel like no one loves you for you who are today and who you’re becoming, I want you to do something for me. I want you to go online to www.pflag.org and find a PFLAG chapter near you. Contact them and tell them your story. Ask them for help. Tell them what you’re experiencing, and tell them what you need. These are families who understand what is happening and who want to support you.
I can’t imagine a world in which either of my kids felt like life wasn’t worth living because people rejected them, and I have a hard time imagining what some of you might be going through right now. But please know that you’re not alone. There are people to talk to, and families and friends nearby who will support you and your own family, too. All you need to do is ask.
I hope that one day we will meet and I’ll know that you made it. You deserve to be happy, you deserve to be alive, and you deserve to be loved. Lots of people agree with me on that. Trust me.
John R. CepekPresident, PFLAG National