To All the Daniels in the World

 

Dear Daniel,

I wish I could have been your mother. There are so many things I would have said and done.

I would have raised you with the knowledge that people are people are people, and that bigotry is never okay.

I would have assured you, at every stage along the way, that you are beautiful, worthwhile, valuable, and loved.

I would have provided for you, not so that I could later act as though you owed me something, but because that would have been my job, as your mother. I would never have equated providing the most basic of human needs to a debt you owed to me.

I would have taught you to think for yourself, to question things like tradition, to form your own opinions and values based on logic, and your own instincts. To choose and walk your own path with your head held high, regardless of what the people around you might think, as long as you weren’t causing harm to others. I would never have demanded blind faith in either me, or in some bogus religious tradition that many people use to justify despicable things like hate, bigotry, homophobia, sexism, racism, and xenophobia.

I would have earned your respect, by treating you with empathy, kindness, nurturing, understanding, and love, and by teaching you how to treat others the same way, regardless of any inborn characteristics they might possess.

I would have let you tell me about your life, your feelings, your reasons for choices you made, or the person you are. I never would have dismissed or belittled you for being who you are.

I would have made damned sure you knew how very proud I was of you, for having the remarkable courage to stand up in an environment where so many stand against you, and refusing to back down. I would have had your back against any who might try to deny you the right to be whomever you are, to love whomever you love, and to be treated with dignity wherever you go. I would have taught you how to weather those horrible challenges, while making sure you knew that you didn’t have to weather them all alone, not while I lived.

I would have been proud to tell people that you were my child. Proud  to be seen with you. Proud to have everyone know that this brave, amazing soul was my son.

I would have fought for your right to not have to hide one of the most basic aspects of yourself from the world, whether in school, in our neighborhood, in church if you chose to attend, or in any other situation. Anyone trying to force you to conform to some bigoted standard, anyone trying to deny you of the dignity of your basic human rights, would have faced, in me, a tireless and passionate and unyielding advocate who would never be silenced while your rights or dignity were threatened.

I would have given you all the love every child should have from their parents, and never wavered in my commitment to see you grow into a happy, self-confident adult who would never doubt his mother’s pride and love for him.

I would have loved you. I would have nurtured you. I would have helped you find your own path, and learn to walk it unapologetically, sure of your place in the world. I would have given you a soft place to fall for those times when you failed, and all my admiration and praise for your successes. I would have given you the encouragement and guidance you needed to keep trying.

Dear Daniel, I am so very sorry that you didn’t have a parent who would do all of those things. I am sorry you aren’t my son. I love you, even though I don’t know you, and I ache for the horror and struggle that must have been your life, until now. I’m not your mother, but I am so very proud of you. You are a brave, strong, beautiful person, and you deserve a family who is worthy of that beauty. I hope that you understand that family doesn’t necessarily mean relatives, and that you find a family who will give you all the love, encouragement, and support that your relatives never did.

Please know that you are not a disgrace. You are an exemplar. You can move mountains, and no hell can hold you. There is no god worth worshiping who would promote anything other than loving and supporting you.

Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is someone to be pitied. They are simply small, frightened, ignorant little cowards who are intimidated by your light.

Screw them. You do you.

SHINE.

 

 

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