Positively Beautiful: Jack Mackenroth

By: Rick Andreoli

In "Writes of Passage," members of the LGBT community were asked to write letters to their younger gay selves, offering the love, advice, perspective and wisdom they would have needed in order to come out. This letter is from Jack Mackenroth, a New York based fashion designer who is probably best known as a contestant on season 4 of Project Runway. Jack is positive, proud, and shows no shame in this letter he offers up to his younger gay self.

Dear Jack,

I'm writing you this letter because as I watch you navigate your way through your final year of high school I see that you are really struggling and could use some words of hope.

Right now I know your world seems small. You are just trying to get through each day without being called "faggot" or being punched in the hallway. You wish you were invisible and I even know that you have considered suicide. But just take a deep breath and have confidence in the fact that when you leave this place your world will change, you will find others who accept you just as you are, and they will celebrate your individuality.

YStarheadshot ou will go to U.C Berkeley, discover San Francisco, and realize that there is a place for you where you feel normal. You will create a group of friends that you will cherish forever who will never judge you.

After you come out during your first year of college, you will realize there are thriving gay communities all over the world and millions of people like you. You will move to New York after graduation and become a fashion designer, where being a gay man is more the rule than the exception.

This is not to say your life will be without struggles. Coming out is not easy but you will handle it with grace. You will find out at a very young age that you are HIV+, and when you do you will dip back into despair—but only briefly because you are resilient. You will create an amazing life for yourself in New York and use your voice to help others struggling with their HIV status. You should be very proud of the man you become. Your voice saves the lives of countless others who you will never know. This may seem like a pipe dream to you now as you sit behind the gym with your bleached hair and black clothes, but trust me, I speak from experience.

Persevere. We need you.

Love, Jack

Read more "Writes of Passage" in our National Coming Out Day section on Gay.com.