Music

Allison Ponthier’s Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community

This Pride Month, Billboard asked artists to write a series of love letters to their LGBTQ fans, highlighting what the community means to them as people and as artists. Below, Allison Ponthier thanks the community that “loved me before I knew I was worthy of love,” and offers them her love in return.

Queer people showed me what queer love was before I knew it existed.

One of my earliest childhood memories was a family trip to a lake for Mardis Gras. I didn’t know what a gay person was then, but I knew I loved playing in the sand and eating King Cake with my uncle’s best friend. They were always together. I thought about what it would be like to have someone like they had in each other—a person always by your side, living together, laughing together. I didn’t understand it then, but that relationship I was so taken by at such a young age was the first loving gay partnership I ever witnessed, even if no one told me that’s what it was at the time.

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Around age 12 in North Texas, I had the terrifying suspicion I had a crush on my girl best friend. I thought about the year before, when a dance classmate had told me that being gay was “a man loving another man,” with an expression that told me she thought it was bizarre. I wondered what this meant for me, a girl who likes a girl. I prayed that I didn’t invent it. But a small candle burned inside me, and I thought of my uncle and his partner. I hoped that if I found my girl, I could be just like them.

Queer media gave me representation, before I knew I needed to be represented.

One day after school, I was on my broken laptop looking for shows to pass the time. I was 14 and lost in every sense of the world. There was a gorgeous, powerful woman in an ad for a television show with a peculiar name: “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” I had never heard of Miss RuPaul. I had never heard of drag. But I knew it was something I wasn’t supposed to be watching, so I literally hid in my closet and watched every episode available.

Drag queens changed my life. As a shy girl who didn’t relate to my peers at school and had a hard time at home, I attribute my survival to the only piece of LGBTQ+ media I had ever seen. It was silly, creative, hilarious, and emotional. And for the first time in my life, I realized that hope was out there for me.

Queer spaces gave me a home before I knew I could feel at home.

At 18, my only respite from chaos was at Station 4, a gay club in Dallas. They put big, ugly Xs on my hands and I danced the night away in my own corner of the world. In the real world, I felt misunderstood and unwanted. But as soon as I entered S4, almost as if I was stepping through a portal, I became someone that loved to be around others and wasn’t afraid of those around me. I loved the drag king that lip-synced to me, the queer woman that taught me how to dance, and the trans bartender that yelled at me for trying to wash off my Xs to look cooler even though I was never going to drink. (If for some reason that bartender ever sees this letter, you were right. Thank you.)

In this place, I learned that not everywhere was like the Texas I’d always known. This version of Texas, full of life and love and celebration was the home I didn’t even know was waiting for me. Thank you to queer Texans for showing me what it means to be Texan.

The queer community loved me before I knew I was worthy of love, and now it’s my turn to say: I love you.

I love you for redefining what family can be, especially chosen family.

I love you for showing me that true happiness can exist for us.

I love you for your creativity and sense of humor, against all odds.

I love you for watching out for each other and speaking your mind.

I love you for persisting and existing just as you are.

I love you for being a survivor.

No matter where you fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, how you present, or if you’re “out,” I love you. Thank you for what you’ve given me, just by existing.

Love,
Allison Ponthier

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