If you fall into one of the following categories, this letter is for you:

  • People who believe that conversion therapy is an effective method.
  • People who think that this is "just a phase."
  • People who think a certain person having a certain haircut makes you "look like a gay."
  • People that believe identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is a mental illness.
  • People who have cut off a friend or family member for being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

It is the year 2018, but we still live in a world where our community is regarded as disgusting, immoral, and sometimes even less than human. What is strange about it is that the LGBTQ+ community is not hated because of some extreme radical belief that the majority of the community holds or some routine act that causes harm to others. The hate simply comes from living slightly outside of what many perceive as normal.

The thing is we're not that different from you. We watch TV in our spare time. We sit down to have meals with our loved ones. Some of us even go to church on a regular basis. We can relate on so many levels, but we do not have the same rights nor are we viewed by society in the same way.

Let me make this clear right now: the LGBTQ+ community does not want more rights than our heterosexual peers; we simply want to be treated the same way. It's not just about the right to marriage.

We want to be able to be open about who we are without fear that our friends and family will think of us differently.

We want to be able to be in public with our significant other without the sideways glances and condescending stares.

We want to be able to accept who we are without worrying that we won't be accepted by others.

We want to be treated like humans.

If it's ridiculous to assume that a heterosexual is attracted to every member of the opposite sex, why should homosexuals be treated that way?

If it's insane to think that you could be attracted to a family member simply because they are the opposite sex, why would that be the case for homosexuals?

The harsh reality for many of the LGBTQ+ community is the fear of never being loved because of who they love and never coming to terms with who they really are. Some harm themselves because of the hate. Others try to kill themselves before they are killed. The battle against mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression is nothing new and all too familiar to many members of the community. All this just because of who we love or how we identify.

We don't have to agree 100 percent. You don't even have to convert to thinking that homosexuality or how we identify is right. All I ask is that you remember that we are people, too.

The next time you disregard someone's relationship as "just a phase," look at us with disdain, or think that we are disgusting creatures, remember that we are someone's child, friend, sibling, or spouse. We live among you as students, teachers, doctors, lawyers, retail workers, baristas, and waiters. We could very well be in your circle of friends, and you might not even realize it.

Despite all the hate and malice towards the community, I can't find it in myself to hate you back. I have faith that there is hope for you. No one is born to hate; it is something we learn to do. Likewise, I believe you can see the community for who we really are.

I don't think you're as bad as you believe our community to be. I want you to be happy, to live a long and healthy life surrounded by people you love and trust. I just hope that one day you can wish the same for us.