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Letter to my teenage self: Rachel H

Hiya honey,

Someone wrote to us at Two:23 the other day and said they were glad they'd seen we didn't all have three heads. It reminded me of you.

You know how, when we were growing up, it was total silence about anything remotely queer. Section 28 in school, taboo subject at church, the odd paragraph in a discipleship book aimed at teenagers.

And subconsciously, your child's mind filled in the gaps. They-who-must-not-be-named - why? Were they physically monstrous, with three heads or whatever? (Don't get me started on the ableism - this was the 80s.) Did the atmosphere turn malevolent when they walked into the room? Would you see physical manifestations of demons? Would it just feel evil and yucky like slug slime on your hand? Because, whatever it is, it must be BAD.

What that's going to mean is that when you grow up to be not monstrous or evil, or observably demonic, but you just REALLY like this friend, and trying to partner up with someone of another sex inexplicably doesn't seem to work, you're not going to associate it with being gay; you're just going to think you're broken.

You're not. (Broken, that is. Gay you most definitely are.)

You're quirky, sure. Learn to live with that, and revel in it. You should probably get that autism diagnosis at some point too.

But you're going to have to learn to trust your instincts because they will rarely be wrong. The way those literalistic readings of the Bible don't make sense to you - you're going to find loads more ways to get life out of this book and your faith will not unravel. Read, learn , listen and expand your understanding and expertise.

Those times you feel like leaders are using their power or Holy Spirit language to manipulate others - you will be right every time. Don't worry about being in the minority.

Don't be afraid of other queer people - they will give you life.

Don't be afraid of the deserts - literal or metaphorical. Those are the times when your roots will go deep and you learn to draw up the water you need for yourself and others, and you will need to be able to do that independently.

Above all, don't be afraid of God. At some point the penny is going to drop just how much affection They have for you, and how much They enjoy who you're growing to be, and the more you believe that and relax into it, the better everything will be. And the more honest you are, the more you will truly be yourself. You will love and be loved.

And you have ALL of Harry Potter to come. You just wait...

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