You don't know me. Hopefully, at 3 years old, you are too young to know fully everything that has just happened in your life.
I am a gay man. I consider the LGBT community my family. Among the 50 people who died in Orlando this weekend, 49 of them were what I consider my queer brothers and sisters. One of them was your father.
The news tells me that your father said, after seeing two men kissing, that you should never see something like that.
I write hoping that you will grow up in a world where you will see that--and where that simple act won't bring forth devastation.
Let me explain. By the time you're my age, gray will streak my hair. My joints will ache more. I won't be able to go days and nights without sleep, as I've done this week in Orlando, sharing the stories of the people we lost.
I write to you now to say, of all things, that I'm sorry. In the recent anger and turmoil rocking my family, I'm sure few would say that. But I am sorry.
I'm sorry my world is a place where two men kissing, two women kissing, could somehow lead to devastation.
I'm sorry we could not provide a world where your father could have known the joy and love of my people, the LGBT people, the people who take as their proud standard the luminous rainbows that you will likely draw yourself with preschool crayons.
I'm sorry we could not provide a world where the faith of your father was safe from malicious pretenders who ravage all nations, who kill with impunity.
I'm sorry we could not provide a nation that keeps terrible weapons out of the hands of the troubled, the wayward, and the malcontent.
I'm sorry that, if recent reports are true, your father could not have found a home among my family. Our love is deep and rich, even now, and has been cured by decades of tragedies both small and large.
In a different world, your father, Omar Mateen, may have been a different man. But that is not the world we gave you. And that is not the man he became.
At your age, the world you will inherit is the world my generation will build for you, now, this very moment. In that world, two men will kiss. Two women will kiss. In that world, we do not turn children's eyes away from love. We teach love, we express love, and we hope that love shines among the darkly swirling foundations of a world racked by conflict.
Your father did a terrible thing. He took lives. He took love from this world. But a son losing a father is not a thing to take lightly. As you grow to know the man he was, know too the men and women he took from us.
Their stories should tell you that the simple sight of two men kissing--what your father tried to hide from you--is only the tiniest spark of what joy it means to be LGBT. The victims' stories radiate with a love that turns all hearts to it as flowers follow the arcing sun.
One day, you will know us on your own terms. I hope the world we leave you is better than the one that spawned this horror. I hope you come to know us as people seeking love and shelter in others, just as you will. You do not have to be your father, or your grandfather.
You will grow to be your own person. This loss cannot define you or condemn you, no more than it can the families of the victims or the LGBT community. We promise you and your generation a better world. Pray that we succeed.