In another shining example of winning social media, Hillary Clinton commented on a Human of New York photo of a young gay teen. Humans of New York, the celebrated photo project all of your friends point to when describing what they wish to undertake the minute they get a camera over $500, regardless of their knowledge of photography or practical experience ("It's going to be like Humans of New York, but [with cats/lizards/babies/tea cups/My Little Pony plush toys and the Bronys that love them."), routinely gives us what social scientists refer to as "all the feels." Yesterday's image of a gay teen worrying about his future made our collective Grinch heart grow three sizes then break, especially when Facebook initially removed the post for yet unexplained reasons before it went back up. As of the writing of this article, it has earned more than 489,000 Likes, 50,000 comments, and has been shared more than 41,000 times, which makes me feel less proud of the number of people who Liked my new profile picture (it's...slightly less than half a million).
The photograph, which depicts a young teenage boy looking forlorn and on the verge of tears, is especially powerful juxtaposed to the celebrated Supreme Court ruling last week. Yes, the LGBT community has taken a step closer to equality, both socially and under the law. But in one image and 17 words, this photo highlights a truth that may have been forgotten in the rapturous applause: marriage equality isn't where members of the LGBT community take a collective sigh of relief that the struggle is over. From job discrimination to prison reform to dumbasses who apparently get off on being hateful, the LGBT community and its allies still have a lot of work to do. This young boy is a heart-stopping embodiment of the fact that living as a gay person in America still brings with it a great deal of fear.
Fortunately, the response to the photograph has been overwhelmingly lovely and positive, including a message from Hillary Clinton, who said,
“Prediction from a grown-up: Your future is going to be amazing. You will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you – there will be lots of them.”
No, you're crying.
I hope this young man can take some time to go through all the comments and draw some comfort in them, from the people who know exactly how he feels, to the people who don't know how he feels but want to support him as he makes his way through it. And when he sees the hateful morons spewing their idiot garbage, I hope he notices that they are in the minority — and that they usually have way more spelling and grammar errors. America and the world, even in a largely liberal, progressive city like New York can be terrifying for a gay person. But it gets better, and based on the past few weeks, it looks like it might get a lot better faster than we may have hoped.