Inspired by The Letter Q (Scholastic, 2012), a collection of letters written by queer writers to their younger selves that address the often difficult coming-of-age experiences of LGBTQ individuals, asked several poets to respond with their own letters to their younger selves.

Dear Timothy:

You do not yet know that the cat you are holding will be one of the closest friends you will have for years to come. That your parents will split up. That your mother will become institutionalized. That you will one day become a poet.

Nor do you know that you will not pick up a baseball bat again without feeling shame, the shame of being beaned by a pitching machine, the shame of never being able to get a single base hit while all the other Little League tykes keep rounding the bases and bringing it on home. No.

But you will come to know what it means to feel isolated from other boys, what it means to be a sissy, what it means to be a last or second-to-last pick time and again. You will retreat into your own world, will look for other satisfactions. And you will learn to share your world with those of like mind, like persuasion, even make a friend.

And what you do not yet know is one day you will fall in love with a violist in a city called Houston, and that he will requite your love, and that together you will enter into realms kept in passionate thrall that will become more consequential than all the gods you have heretofore worshipped.

You do not yet know that one day you will marry an artist, how you will invent your own wedding ceremony after living together for almost twenty years, how your closest friends and family will gather at Poets House in Manhattan to celebrate your commitment to one another in the Empire State when gay marriage finally became the law of the land.

You do not yet know that in addition to your husband, there will be other Beloveds who will come into your life and redeem the shame that you have had to endure in order to live the life you are destined to lead, the loves you are privileged to love.

Take heart. The world that you once entered will not the same world that you will be leaving but one that you will have left a better place for all those who will come after, the poems you have written and will yet write bearing witness to all of it.

Love, Timothy