I’m not a celebrity chef. I’m not an American Idol. I’m not a fashion designer, governor, news anchor. I’m not a big-shot blogger, bouncer at an exclusive club, hospital administrator, nor do I play any of these things on TV. I’m never going to be on Dancing With The Stars, nor its elder cousin, Hollywood Squares. I’m nobody.
Oh, wait, no I’m not. I am a human being, and that makes me someone who matters to those who know me. SO ARE YOU. Maybe I’m the lady who brings in her cat to the vet on the same day as you. Maybe I’m the person who’s buying a Slurpee and standing behind you in line to pay for it. Maybe I’m a member of your synagogue. Maybe I’m someone you saw on the bus, or at the voting booths, or maybe I was babysitting my nieces or nephews and you came over to play with them. If you know me, then you’ve got someone who cares about you, values your life, and will want very much to provide safety for you if you just reach out and tell me you need it.
I don’t walk up to every teenager or preteen and ask, “Are you gay? Bisexual? Transgender? Questioning? Let’s talk. I want to help.” That would just be creepy. But I’m out here, and so are others like me. If we learn that we’re needed, we will step up. We just need you to be brave one time, just courageous enough to whisper, “I’m being bullied and I need to talk.” If you can bring yourself to say it, just that one time, I will say, “Of course I’m here to listen.”
I mean it. I don’t care what time it is, what day it is. If talking to me could help you hesitate before harming yourself, taking your own life, or engaging in self-destructive behavior, then please, let me do whatever I can for you. If I don’t know what to do, I promise to find whatever you need: a safe place to live if you’ve been kicked out, a hot kosher meal, referral to a health clinic where you can get tested for STDs and document any physical abuse that’s been happening to you, a licensed counselor or therapist who can help you work through the hard things in your life. Anything at all that I can do, please let me do it. It would be an honor to help you, more valuable than any other thing I could imagine doing.
It gets better — and I want to be one of those who helps you to the day when you can really, really know that.