A heartwarming story about a gay man who was comforted by a host of LGBT+ bookshop customers after saying he was thinking of hurting himself has gone viral.
In response to a question on Twitter from writer Nicole Cliffe about “the kindest thing a stranger has done or said to you,” one person opened up about an experience he had while running a queer bookshop.
“I used to manage an LGBT bookstore, when bookstores were still a thing. One night, a caller says he thinks he might be gay and is considering self-harm.
“We were not a crisis centre! But as long as we’re talking, he’s safe, right?”
He continued: “So I talk to this guy and I answer questions, and I try to be encouraging and I’m maybe sounding a little frantic and I’m definitely ignoring the 4-5 customers in the store, and this angel of a woman puts her hand on my shoulder and asks for the phone.
“‘My turn,’ she says. And SHE, this 50-something lesbian talks to this stranger on the phone.”
The story only got better from there, as everyone present displayed their humanity.
“And a LINE FORMS BEHIND HER,” he recalled. “Every customer in that store knows that call, knows that feeling, and every person takes a turn talking to that man.
“That story comforts me so much to this day.”
People were blown away by the kindness of strangers in the viral story
Cliffe was stunned by the viral tale, which has attracted more than 36,000 retweets and likes. She tweeted: “This is so kind I cannot.”
The official account for Netflix show Queer Eye even weighed in, writing: “fully fully weeping rn 🤧.”
Others praised the sense of community queer people can find in establishments like LGBT+ bookshops.
“Thank you so much for this story! I own a LGBTQ bookstore, and have had similar situations happen. Thank you for your bravery!!” wrote one such Twitter user.
Another tweeted: “When people are shut away and not allowed to talk about it or are made to feel something must be wrong with them if they are gay, then they will get desperate.
“Sounds like that person had no one else to talk to and you folks were able to make a difference.”
A different user wrote: “<3 Community is such a wonderful thing. It makes all the difference to know you are not alone.”
“Like everyone else, I’m tearing up. This is so beautiful and heartbreaking.”
— @ZaraLockshin about the viral story
And another commenter said: “So many of us have found safety or provided care in LGBT bookstores. I hope they never go away. Thank you. And thank you for this story and gentle reminder of our connectedness.”
Many people were emotionally affected by the viral story, with one tweeter writing: “All of these stories are amazing, but this made me sob and call my mother.”
Another said: “Like everyone else, I’m tearing up. This is so beautiful and heartbreaking. Hope the caller is doing well.”
A different person commented: “Thank you. You most likely saved that man’s life, and I suspect that you also warmed the hearts of tens of thousands of strangers on the internet. I will remember your story and share it.”