No matter how bleak this midwinter might feel, please do remember that there is abundant good in this world. There are angels among us.
A very good 25 December 2021 to you, gentle reader! Whether it is Christmas day to you or just another Saturday, I sincerely hope that today is nothing but kind to you and yours.
This year is almost done. This will in all likelihood be my final blog post of 2021. How kind has this past year been to you? Please be honest here. It is perfectly OK to have had a difficult year, and to be open about it. A great many of us have not had the best 12 months imaginable.
No matter how bleak this midwinter might feel
No matter how awful this year might have been to you and yours, no matter how bleak this midwinter might feel right now, please do remember that there is abundant good in this world. There are angels among us.
In this post, I want to revisit some words I wrote for my dear friend Kate Griffiths-Lambeth, which were published five years ago today (on Sunday 25 December 2016). This post, entitled Angels around you at all times, was part of a series of advent blog posts originated by the lovely Alison Chisnell, then curated by Kate for a number of years. If you cast your mind back, 2016 might not be recalled by many as a vintage year. Those were testing times. These are testing times. But the well of human kindness runs just as deep today as it did a half-decade ago. Everywhere, there were and are beautiful souls who did and do go above and beyond to help those around them.
Might I please wish you and yours an abundant and wonderful 25 December 2021? And now, here are my words from this day five years ago…
Angels around you at all times
For much of this past year, the world has seemed an appallingly cruel place. There has been much to make a heart feel heavy and hollow. Comfort and joy – those traditional fixtures of the festive season – might seem in short supply. But even in these times they are still there, as abundant as they have ever been. Angels are not on high. They are around you at all times. You just have to ask for their help.
“I can’t believe people care about me like that, and they don’t even know me.”
Hearing these words brought tears to my eyes in public at the start of this month.
These words come from a story that seems – the more I think about it – like a modern-day, real-life It’s a Wonderful Life. Angels play a key role in this story. So does Twitter.
The tears came as I was walking to the train station through the bustle and tacky Christmas lights of a noisy and busy part of South London on my commute home. I was listening to an episode of RuPaul’s consistently delightful What’s The Tee podcast. He was talking to his podcast co-host – and fellow Drag Race judge – Michelle Visage about Jake.
The media recently picked up on Michelle Visage using Twitter to crowdsource help for Jake, a gay and trans teen from Elizabethtown, Kentucky (you can read one brief account here). Jake’s mother had banished him from the family home on grounds of his sexuality, telling him by text message (as Visage recounts it):
“We didn’t raise you to be like this. That’s not the way God wanted it. No, you can’t come home.”
Jake set up a Twitter account to reach out to Michelle Visage, who shared a screengrab of the text message, and asking for reassurance that life might get better for Jake from the wider community.
She responded to Jake with words of support and reassurance, and shared Jake’s situation with her own Twitter followers. “Floods of tweets” came through, with people offering moral support, help, jobs, food and shelter for Jake.
Both Jake and Visage were overwhelmed and humbled by the love and kindness out there. Through the advice and support offered by Visage and legions of perfect strangers, Jake has made tentative progress with his mother and been able to move back into the family home. He is by no means out of the woods (“I fear for him” when Jake raises the trans issue with his mother, says Visage). But Visage is there for him. As is a new support network of thousands of friends.
Michelle Visage is humble about her role in Jake’s story:
“I knew that I don’t have that many followers – 290,000 or whatever. All I did was tweet it and it got picked up. But it wasn’t meant to be about that. It was meant to be about – anybody would do this. And thank you so much for this help. And because of this help, this kid saw that he was loved. It just goes to show you how strong and how resilient and how amazing our community is when we pull together.”
RuPaul takes up this theme:
“I wonder how many people have this story to tell? So many people go through this. And so many people survive. I’ve said this before. There are angels around you at all times. But because you have free will, they will not intervene unless you say: ‘I. Need. Help.’ Boom. It’s done. And that’s what happened with this kid.”
Angels. Friends rallying to offer support. This could be a modern It’s a Wonderful Life. No man is a failure who has friends.
Back in 2014, I wrote the following about our hostess in the advent blogs series, Mrs Kate Griffiths-Lambeth:
“I said to Ailsa Suttie earlier this year that Kate is perhaps the closest person to an angel that any of us are ever likely to meet. Kate has time for everyone, judges no-one, and is generous with her wisdom and support. Here are some beautiful words from a post she wrote last year: ‘Life is so short, but it offers an amazing journey, it would be a shame not to appreciate and enjoy each precious step.'”
There are angels around you at all times. Kate is one. I want to thank Kate for all she has done and does for me, for our community, for perfect strangers about whom none of us but Kate will ever know.
Please join me in raising a toast to the wonderful Mrs Kate Griffiths-Lambeth. And if you are on Twitter, please, please tweet her a Christmas message of gratitude and love.