If you could magically transport a letter back in time to your younger self, what would you write in that letter?
This is the question addressed by 64 acclaimed LGBT authors in the newly released The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves, edited by Sarah Moon.
Each vignette is made endearing through the author's personal address—some pieces are snarky, some sweetly comical; all voice support for their younger self, which bespeaks the book's objective to the queer youth of today. This book is "It Gets Better" with substance, substantive anecdotes written in diverse styles, in diverse voices, and intended to speak to every queer youth—and, specifically, the nerdy, literary queer youth of today (yay!).
Literature does, to echo a line repeated variously at Monday's Lammys, save lives.
Here are some excerpts written by the authors to their younger selves:
"Worry less. Use what the world has given you.... And, in your writing, do stop trying to conform.... Literature is moved forward by writers who insist on their own particularities, and even their peculiarities. Critics don't matter, not over the long haul." —Michael Cunningham
"Everyone is afraid of what queer means and you will be the first to find out.... Write in your diary, go where it's warm, i.e., toward people who act like they like you, and bear in mind that some of them will also seem weird. Pay attention to how the person FEELS when you spend time with them, not how you will look when you show up with them in your world." —Eileen Myles
"You're right to be terrified. Love, in the fullness of its power, will turn you inside out.... I know that you desperately want someone to love you, to see you for who you are and to not only appreciate that but to buoy you up, floating. I promise you it will happen. A day will come when your fear will crumble in the face of a need to leap into the unknown that is love. Wait for it." —Malinda Lo
"The moment-to-moment sensations of the body do not lie. Use your body as a barometer.... I am suffering now as a direct result of your lack of sensitivity to the indications of your body. You pushed too hard. You did not trust your instincts and you did not trust the other bodies around you.... How can I encourage you to trust your body and the bodies of those around you in the moment-to-moment unfolding of your life and the lives of those around you? As Aristotle said, we find meaning in relation to those around us. I am aware now that what you do with your body and how you move through the world matters. You carry it all with you, through time, in the body." —Anne Bogart