My heart was broken this week, but not in any way anyone would expect. A video was messaged to me from a close friend who really suggested that I watch it. The video was recorded during a very wild revival at a Christian church. A timid, young man named Andrew Caldwell was asked to come up front. The preacher asked him what he needed to change. He grabbed the microphone and declared he wasn’t gay anymore. He said “I like women. I love women.” Over and over he said it. “I will not carry a purse, I will not put on makeup, and I love women.” He began dancing very wild like, and as he danced, several men came up and danced around him, leaving him in the center of the circle. He began to run up and down the center aisle, and when he was finished, he was given 200 dollars and he sat back down.
Normally, when I see a video like this I usually let it go. I usually don’t consider it my business to police people who decide to go back into the closet. I’ve been down the hard road just as they have. I know how hard it is to keep yourself in the spot light. That is not what troubled me in the least. When I saw that video, I saw the man I was last year. There was the look of terror in his eyes. His entire body was trembling, and while he danced, he was crying. I’m not talking about a few tears. No, I saw a broken man. I saw a man who could hardly stand to live any longer. I saw a man who had given up on the chance of anyone truly loving him. I saw a man who was forced and paid by the church to say he wasn’t gay, when all the while he knew it was a lie.
I have decided to reach out to this man the only way I know how… Through an open letter.
Dear Andrew Caldwell, I love you. You don’t know me, but you don’t have to know someone to care about them. Only a year ago today, I would not have been able to write this letter to you. I would not have been able to say the words I am gay. I gave you those three powerful words in the beginning for a reason. I love you was the very thing that saved my life. The words I love you, spoken by a true, sincere person, was the very thing that kept me from suicide. I meant what I said. I love you. I am the youngest and only son in the family with two older sisters, but if I had the chance to have a younger brother, I would imagine him somewhat like you. I will tell you another thing. You are beautiful. You are beautiful just the way that you are. So what if you want to carry a purse. So what if you want to wear makeup. That is who you are, and who you are is just fine. You are not damaged. You were made perfect. You are exactly how nature intended for you to be. Believe me I know the look that I saw in your eyes, because it’s the same look I gave myself in the mirror for years. I gave you three words in the beginning, now I will give three steps that will save your life, and I just helped with one of them.
- Believe that you are loved, and that you are perfect and beautiful just the way that you are.
- Be nothing more than exactly who you are.
- Be true to yourself. Do not let anyone tell you that you are damaged or a lost cause.
I hope you are able to read this letter, Andrew. Just as one man did with me, I know that I am loved. Now I can spread the love chain on to you.
You’re in my thoughts. Should you ever find this, please, come out of the shadows. Your hanging off the edge of a cliff, and my hand is reaching out. If you look hard enough, soon you may find others offering their hand to you. When that happens… Take it.