HELLO AMERICA!—I recently received an extremely moving letter from a young high school student, because of the kind of message it is, we will refer to him as “Lindsey Morehouse” who lives in Portland, Oregon.

DEAR MR. ST. JOHN: I hope you don’t mind my writing to you this way. Since I was 12 years old, I’ve always dreamed of being in show business. Being an actor appearing in a great musical has been a dream I’ve had all my life.  Unfortunately, where I live, there is no real understanding of that kind of thinking. If you’re not kicked around on a sport’s field and putting a ball in a basket, then you’ve got no notice.  As a result, you end up walking a very lonely road.

I tried talking with my dad about how I felt but somehow, even he couldn’t understand.  The only thing he could say, “Hell, man, just go out there and try. Don’t sit around a cry about it!”  I even tried to play soccer, basketball, but all I could hear in my mind, some kind of music, mainly classical.  I couldn’t wait to get home to hide away in my room to listen to Gershwin or Bach, not rock or the stuff most of young people my age are obsessed with.  I even tried smoking “pot,” but doing that a few times, my depression only got worse!

When I tried to talk to my mom about what I was going through, she just said what I needed possibly was a girlfriend. Hearing this, I remembered there were a few girls that no one seemed to want to score with and I decided to see what would happen if I tried. Well, there was one girl, a very plain chick with freckles even up her nose it seemed. No one even had lunch with her in the lunch room; she was a loner and suggested an attitude that she couldn’t care less. Well, I decided she would be perfect to ask out to see a movie. When I approached her, she looked at me as if I was crazy!  She even laughed in my face and said, “Why in hell would I want to go out with somethin’ like you?!”

Driving home, I began to think about everything; I had to face who and what I was. Suddenly, a ton of painful memories took hold of me. I was seriously unhappy.  Looking in the car mirror, the image that shot back at me was a plain white boy with freckles with red stringy hair with no real shape.  When one of the ugliest girls in my school told me to get lost, I felt doors where closing deep inside. It was a lonely walk to nowhere! The dream of being on stage or in films seemed to be a dumb idea.  Possibly, the only theatrical character I might be casted in was as a clown!

A few weeks later, I decided to go in the bookstore, after all it had always been the way of escape. I could settle in at a table and escape into a world with people who wouldn’t be afraid to get close to me. That is when I found your book “Hollywood Through the Back Door!” When reading what you experienced at being raped at six years old; forced to live with an alcoholic father who brutalized weekly your mom and yourself, I had to buy the book. I even stopped to read a chapter on my way home, I simply parked the car and read. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. A few days later in my room, I finished reading your book and that is when everything that made me want to not live, disappeared! Man! The way you managed to survive in Hollywood, especially as a Black guy, simply filled me with a new kind of energy.  If you could manage to achieve all the things you have, then I thought why in hell can’t I?

Hey man! Your book is a kind of survival in my life. I have even decided to enroll in a “writing” class.  I have discovered that simply being able to clearly express my feelings has given me determination and a reason to love myself no matter what I look like. So, Mr. St. John, thank you for being there; whether you know it or not, you are helping a lot of people who simply need to hear that no matter what, everyone is special in their own way.

THANK YOU, LINDSEY, your letter meant so much to me! Please don’t give up your dreams!  No matter how many stones are thrown in your way, if you genuinely decide who and what you are, keep smiling and for goodness sake when you decide to sing your special song, PLEASE stay in tune!