ineffit: (derek)
 Dear Mr. Shaun David Hutchinson, 

A little bit over a year ago I read your book "We Are The Ants" and I decided it was the best thing I had read in a long time. It speaks to me in so many levels, I had to go back, read it again, highlight all the things that made me cry, and separate all the end-of-the-world chapters. It is not often that, as a reader, we come to find books that make us feel this way, and I cannot thank you enough for that. I don't think I liked YA before this, so I'm going to blame you on that. 

I'm trying to say something specific here, I swear, I just need to put my brain together. You see, I've had depression since I was very young. I thought about killing myself a few times before I was even twelve; I want to believe you will understand why it is important to me to say this. Sometimes, when we are depressed, we think nobody understands. We think, "so what's the point?" And it takes someone telling you that they don't see the point either to make peace with yourself. To understand that, no matter how many bad days there are, there are always good days too. It's hard. But you know that already. 

I'm not a teenager anymore, and I've come a long way, and had a few traumas myself, to tell you that your book was not just a book to me, and no matter how much other people didn't like it, how much it didn't matter to other people, it mattered to me. 

After I read "We Are The Ants" I decided I wanted to read everything else you'd written, and I came across "The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley."
This is what I was trying to get at. Here's the thing: my favorite part of We Are The Ants is that it doesn't focus on the fact that the characters are queer; it's just something that is, and it's okay. The thing about Andrew, it's that somehow it ends up focusing in this fact. 

When I was around the age of ten, someone in my family told me this story. We come from a small town in Mexico, but I never got to see much of it. In that town, there used to live a gay guy that I never met. He decided to be openly gay. He wore woman's clothes and talked 'funny' and wore make-up and had long hair. He was gay. For me, when I finally understood what it was to not be straight, he was a hero. 
One day he was walking down the street, and I'm not exactly sure why or how it happened, but someone decided it was a good idea, an acceptable idea, to throw gasoline at him, and set him on fire. They burned him alive. He had to run and jump in the town's fountain. He survived, and he kept on being gay, but I will never forget that it was okay for someone to set a person on fire just because they were gay.
He wore the scars for the rest of his life, and for everyone who saw him, it was something that was inevitable. What did he expect it he was gay?

Today, gay people can get married almost anywhere in the world, and they have rights, and if you set someone on fire you will most likely go to jail. Today, it's easy for some people to forget that it was not always like this, but I don't want to forget. For some reason, I don't want to forget. There was a guy in a small town in Mexico who got set on fire because he was gay. It hits you like a slap on the face, doesn't it? When you are old enough to understand that these things happened. This things still happen sometimes, somewhere. That people still get killed because they're trans, because they're gay. That we still cannot come out of the closet because we are afraid. 

Rusty reminded me of this, and I cried more than once thinking about him. I don't think a lot of people would understand why I cry. I told several people, when I was reading the book, "they burned him alive," and nobody, nobody could understand what this meant. They burned him alive just because he was gay. and it makes me cry every time. They burned him alive because he was gay. 

I'm still not sure if I'm disappointed with the truth of the book or not. I honestly can't tell what would be worse or what was more horrifying, but I can tell you that I'm grateful for you to tell the world about this. Whoever read your book needs to know: There was a guy out there, who got burned alive just because he was gay. And whether we like it or not, it's something we don't have the privilege to forget. 

As always, thank you for writing. 
Love and respect.

"Maybe we don't matter to the universe, Jesse Franklin, but you mattered to me.”


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