Dear Thomas Sanders,
I’m not sure if you’ll ever see this letter, but I sure hope one day you do. I’ve been trying to decide the best way to approach this, and it’s been a tough one. Do I talk about how much I love your videos (especially the Story Time and Disney Pranks)? Do I mention that your YouTube videos are some of the greatest content I’ve seen in a long time? It’d be easy to spend this letter fangirling about the amazing content you make, but I think for me this letter is much more than that.
To make it simple, this letter is to say thank you. Thank you for all that you do, and I hope you realize just how much of an impact you have on people. I have never once felt out of place when watching your videos, or interacting with the fans you have. You’re so inclusive, right down to your pretty amazing “Guys, gals and nonbinary pals!” catch phrase. Could you call that a catchphrase? Well, I’m calling it a catchphrase.
Since it was released, I have probably watched your Having Pride video about 3,000 times. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I watch it often. Each time I watch I find something else I resonate with, but the one that made me laugh the most was when you talked about how you have to come out multiple times, because there’s always going to be someone who didn’t know.
Well… I was one of those people that either didn’t pay enough attention, or never put 2 and 2 together, but I messaged my sister a couple months ago after seeing your “Everyone in this room is totally straight…just kidding, April Fools!” vine. The wheels slowly started turning and when the realization happened I gasped audibly. I said to her, “OHMYGAH DID YOU KNOW THOMAS SANDERS ISN’T STRAIGHT?!” And she said, “Uh, yeah, he’s totally made that obvious so many times. How did you not know that?”
I felt pretty silly that I missed all the clues (and there were PLENTY now that I go back and look!), but then when you made that comment about coming out multiple times I couldn’t help but laugh and go, “Yeah, I’m part of that problem!”
But I digress…
When you published the pride video, it was the first time I ever had the opportunity to listen to people speak openly about their sexuality and identities in that way, and it moved me. Recently discovering my pansexuality meant I had a lot of questions, many of which I felt strange about asking because I am married, and far beyond the time of exploring it the way many get the chance to. I was comfortable with the discovery of my pan-ness, and I have no regrets, but even in such a connected world it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one with a certain issue.
To hear my feelings validated by not just you, but all your amazing friends was such a moving experience. I don’t really have a strong LGBTQ friend group where I live and I almost felt like in that video, I was sitting on the sofa with your friends and really just exploring these topics with you. There were times when you put into words the feelings and notions I’d been having that I just couldn’t put a finger on, and for that I’m grateful.
You talked about repression of the feelings you had, and I feel like that point hit home pretty dang hard. My feelings have always been constant, but due to many circumstances beyond my control, I felt the need to repress them and it took a lot of self discovery before I could adequately understand how I was feeling. I just went about my life, whether it was in denial or just being that naive, thinking that I was straight, and straight people felt how I felt (spoiler alert: they don’t!).
There was also something that Joan said (I think it was Joan) that personally accepting who they were was far more meaningful than actually coming out, and that absolutely resounded with me. When I discovered who I was sexually, I spent a good 3-4 months just trying to understand it. I spent a lot of time trying to come to terms with it, and trying to just understand what it meant for me and my life. Coming out, for me, was a much more internal and personal journey of accepting something I had so perfectly suppressed my entire life. When I did decide to come out publicly, it was less about my friends and family knowing, and more of a declaration of personal acceptance.
Not only did this video help me understand more about myself, it also educated me on how to handle situations with a variety of different people. I’ve always been such a strong ally to the LGBTQ community, but understanding how I can make interactions easier and more comfortable was still something I was figuring out. If anything, regardless of whether or not you identify as LGBTQ, that video is a must see for allies of this community. It offers so much wonderful information, and I give it 17 thumbs up.
The Pride video, among so many others, just prove to me that you’re just an overall amazing person (as if that wasn’t already established). You talk about topics in your videos so eloquently, and they are so freaking relateable it hurts. I mean that in the most positive way of hurt though. You are one of the few human beings on this planet that can bring together such a diverse community and they all get along (which is hard to do in the age of the internet!). I think that just goes to show that there are just people in this world meant to make an impact, and I fully believe you are one of them.
You are such an inspiration – you are so wonderful and kind and understanding, but I don’t feel like these words really do it justice. You have a platform thanks to Vine and YouTube that you are using for all the right reasons. You are using your channel to educate, to inform, to make people feel like they have a safe space to exist as themselves fully.
I don’t think I can every thank you enough for just being who you are, and expressing yourself in such a raw, honest and educational way. You have impacted so many people, including me. Hopefully if you ever go on tour again, I can find a way to come to your show and thank you in person.
Never stop educating people. Even if one day you stop making videos, I hope you continue to positively impact the lives of everyone you meet. I have high hopes you’ll do that though, because…like I said, I think it’s just part of who you are.
Thank you again for all you do, you have no idea how much it means to people like me!
A Pan Fander
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