Wanli OU

Wanli OU


Letter to my 16 year-old self:

Dear Wanli,

You are beautiful. You are special. You are whole.

You may not believe this now, but one day, you will.

One day, you will see that your current internal struggle to resist your queerness — to change and to conform to a society that had no understanding for anything outside binaries — was not your fault. You will realize that your struggle against yourself is borne out of a deep hate and ignorance that runs through the veins of this society. A society that told you when you were a young child that you were different, that people like you are psychologically damaged, and that people like you need to work so much harder just to prove that you are worthy of love. A society that strives so hard to deny your existence.

Confronted with the harsh realities of the lives of other queers who had been outed, you — terrified, lost and with no one to turn to — promised to change who you were. To never let anyone know your little secret. So that you could be safe. So that you could still have a roof over your head. So that you could still be accepted and loved by your family. It will be a long and tenuous internal battle, but you will finally understand that there is absolutely nothing to hide. Nothing to be ashamed of.

Two years from now, you will pack up your bags and move halfway across the world to allow yourself to heal, to grow, and to be loved. You will find communities that support you, and communities that struggle, heal, and grow together. You will realize that your anger towards your family comes not out of a lack of love, but rather, out of the crippling fear of being rejected for the way you are. You will learn to repair those wounded relationships, and you will learn to love each of them deeply again.

And then, nine years later, you will finally gather the courage to come out to them, with the help of your ever-supportive sister, your biggest ally through childhood. You will pick up the phone expecting the worst, only to hear your mom’s voice tremble as she says, “Wanli…I love you.”. That she’s sorry you’ve been so afraid to tell them the truth. That even though she doesn’t understand everything, she will learn to understand. And your Dad, a man who had been taught all his life to not show his emotions, will not mention the event, but will show his respect and support whenever he meets your partner, who is introduced not just as “a friend”, but as your partner.

One day, you will understand that you were worthy of love the moment you were born. You will be proud of who you are, and who you have become. And even though you live thousands of miles away, you will think of all your brothers, sisters, and genderqueer siblings, who, like you, are still struggling against hate. You will find ways to work with them to ensure that kids like you do not have to go through this same painful struggle. You will want them to know that they are all worthy of love. Not just ‘tolerance’ or ‘acceptance’, but love.

Wanli, I love you, your cheekiness, your androgyny, your inner diva, your wit, your tenacity, and your relentless fighting spirit.

You are beautiful. You are special. You are whole.