My Message to Gay Teenagers: Please Don't Leave -- You Are Worth the Whole Tomato

There comes a time when you are alone in your own little kitchen at night, looking at a tomato and thinking, "It's just me, so should I slice this and waste half or just go without?" that can make you think of John Donne. It is an unlikely comparison, but I assure you it makes sense, because John Donne, a 17th-century English poet, wrote, "Every man's death diminishes me." If that is true, then every person standing alone at their kitchen counter late at night wondering if his or her worth is less than a whole tomato diminishes my own self-worth. So I want to tell you what you are worth.

You are worth being kissed, and not just any kiss but the type that sends pulses of electricity through your body and feels like the answer to the hunger that has been trapped inside you for a thousand years and sucks so much air from your lungs that you think you will never breathe again.

You are worth being giddy every time you see him at the end of an absence, whether after an hour, a day or a week, and having your heart skip a beat uncontrollably as his face lights up when he sees you and flashes a big, goofy grin.

You are worth being objectified by someone who loves you so much that he can't keep his hands and eyes off you as you pass through the room. You are worth being pinched and slapped on your rear end because he loves you so much that he can't see anything but physical perfection.

You are worth being loved unconditionally by your parents, your siblings, your friends and your other half, for the person you are and not the person you will become, not the potentially new and improved you but the one on Tuesday morning before you have washed your hair and brushed your teeth.

You are worth a big wedding under a big, white tent with a thousand twinkling lights on a perfect June day, a wedding where friends and family laugh and cry and make embarrassing toasts and drink too much and dance and hug you and kiss you and tell you that they wish they had a love like yours.

You are worth a marriage that is legal in the eyes of the federal government, in all 50 states and in all countries.

You are worth great sex, without guilt or shame but with wild abandon and frequency, sometimes just for the pure animalism of it and sometimes for the intimate act of joining your souls, but always consensual.

You are worth a pet name: pookie, sweetie, boo-boo, schmoopie, honey, handsome, hubby, dumpling, darling or monkey-butt.

You are worth being a parent, no matter how your baby comes into your life, and regardless of whether it's a child, a dog, a cat or a mouse.

You are worth spooning late at night in your bed when the moon casts soft shadows, and in the early-morning half-light, surrounded by the scent and warmth of his skin when he says "five more minutes" and you wish for 500 more years.

When a gay teenager in Mississippi, a middle-aged man in Chicago or a lonely housewife in Kansas wonders if they will ever be loved and decides that life is not worth living, then I am the lesser for it, because your worth is my worth. Not so very long ago, I decided that I was worth the whole tomato. So are you.


Need help? In the U.S., call 1-866-488-7386 for the Trevor Lifeline, or call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

This post appeared originally on William Dameron's personal blog, The Authentic Life.