Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Letter to My Sixteen Year Old Self

I first starting thinking about how I would write a letter to my sixteen year-old self when I first saw them in the Gay Times 25th Birthday issue half expected a meme to spring up out of it. It hadn't done until recently, so as Jennie Rigg was considerate enough earlier to tell me to consider myself tagged if I wanted to be. So as this was already 75% written since the meme appeared on my friends' blogs here you are.

Stephen Glenn

Stephen Glenn
Northern Ireland

Dear Stephen,

You may be only sixteen but already you are starting to struggle with things which all around seem to consider incompatible. Here’s some sage advice from 24 years in your future be yourself and let whatever unravels to unravel.

There are three things people tell you never to talk about in polite society. Religion, politics and sport. Guess what? Yeah you'll become quite adept at talking in and about all three.

Stop wondering why you are attracted to other men more than women, I know you've already started digging through your bible on the side of other studies to try and see what this means to you. One of your early take on things will be one I eventually came to accept so stop digging a hole for yourself. Trust me save yourself almost 12 years of worry and admit to yourself that you are who you are for a reason. As for those around you who you think will take offence if they ever find out. You’ll be surprised how little it phases most of them and many of those Christian friends you have yet to meet will also very much overwhelmingly be by you side. You just need to open up.

When I say open up there is no need to shout it from the rooftops just don't dodge the questions when they are asked. There will come a time when people turn to you on how to balance religion and sexuality, far better if you can do that far earlier and more openly that I could in my twenties, there are people you’ll meet then that need to know that.

As for sport, keep at it. You will succeed at what you put your mind to. There may be a few surprises along the way but you'll be more than capable of dealing with them as they come along. If you find yourself in a position where being the first Brit across the line or getting an Olympic qualifying time come head to head, be careful and who knows. The second is something that you may never be able to get again, but you could easily beat the other man as you are so closely matched on that day. If you follow that advice you’ll save yourself a lot of pain both physically and mentally. But never lose that winning edge that you have.

With that competitive spirit that runs through your genes remember humility and learn from those around you. There will be times in live that you know you know more than the people ahead of you, or alongside you. Bide your time your talent can shine through. Just sometimes we have to experience what it means to not be recognised for what we are so that when we do emerge it is all the greater reward.

As for where you are going to end up in live, you may be intrigued how we end up where we do from my mailing address. Go with the flow. On two three occasions in your life over the next 20 years you will find yourself going to places that you hadn't planned to and not going to several others that you did plan to. Don’t worry things will work out.

On that matter one final note. There will be times you consider ending it all. But you stare at the sea below or at the knife in your hand and remember the good in people that you would leave behind. Keep seeing the good in people and especially yourself. Learn one thing from my life, people will reject you over time, this is their loss, you can get over it.

We'll meet again in 24 years.


Your 40-year-old self.

As with Jennie consider yourself tagged if you wanna be.

* Yeah I know I'm actually posting this from the same house I lived in in 1995 but you know why I've kept the address.


  1. Well done Stephen. This concept does my head in a bit, but when I read letters like yours it makes sense of the idea.

  2. Cheers Paul. As I said I had given it some thought previously so had given it some preliminary consideration.

    I was just wondering what sort of advice I would have appreciated back then that would have made the journey a little bit easier. Stuff that maybe nobody else but an older wiser me could pass on.