If you ever doubt representation matters, a story that went viral on Twitter this weekend will remind you.
Mary, a "super-duper gay" employee at a comic book shop in Indiana, shared an encounter she had with a young woman on on Saturday—an encounter she described as "probably the single greatest moment I have ever experienced working here."
For a bit of context, the CW's Supergirl recently introduced a lesbian relationship between Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), Supergirl's adopted sister, and Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima), an openly gay police detective.
Okay, here's Mary's story in her own words (adapted from her tweets)
After the usual Saturday rush, a teenage girl comes in. She looks absolutely terrified and when I greet her she jumped.
She starts going up and down the new release wall and the poor thing looks completely overwhelmed.
So, I make my way over to her and ask if I can help her find anything. She quietly admits that she was looking for Supergirl. We're walking to the Super area when I ask if she watches the show. She smiles a bit and nods. Says Alex is her favorite.
I mention that I'm a huge #Sanvers [Maggie and Alex] shipper and the poor thing just breaks down in tears. I'm trying to figure out what the hell I did to upset her. She's crying and I'm freaking out.
After a minute or so, everything clicks. I'm staring down a crying baby gay. One who was having some big issues.
I tell her that it was hard for me when I wanted to come out, too. She finally stops crying and asks me if it gets easier. We sit at the coffee bar and talked for a while. She tells me that after seeing it all over Tumblr she binged SG.
And when she got to Alex's coming out arc was when things hit her.
She tells me that she's just wanted to kill herself for so long and that she had tried but just made herself sick. But as Alex's arc continued, she said, she realized that she started to see that she could be happy, that she could be loved. She didn't want to die anymore.
For the first time, she didn't want to die because she got to see Alex be amazing and be queer.
She said she came to the store hoping to find something to get her through the hiatus, so she wouldn't fall back in depression. She had no idea gay comic characters were a thing, but wanted to try. I tell her about Batwoman, Midnighter and Renee Montoya.
I pull out my starters which are Batwoman: Elegy, Midnighter, and Gotham Central. I also dug up a copy of The Adventures of Supergirl, just to get her through. Lol.
She had enough cash for one and was torn on which to get. She decides on Batwoman and asks if I can hold the rest for a while.
I was having an internal crisis at that time, because this kid was me years ago. I was barely holding off my own tears. I ended up buying the other three for her and I make her promise me that in 10 years she'll help another queer kid.
So, I'm out 60 bucks—and I cried in the bathroom for an hour—but it was damn worth it.
So, @TheCWSupergirl @SupergirlStaff @chy_leigh and @florianalima the work you do means so much to us. Thank you. So, so, much.
The story has gotten hundreds of replies, retweets and likes.
Thank you to everyone for your kind words and offers of support. I only did what I wish someone would have done for me at that age.— ?Mary? (@sapphicgeek) December 4, 2016
Mary says lesbian crimefighter Batwoman filled a similar role when she was younger.
And since she posted about the encounter, Chyler Leigh reached out to let her know how much the story meant to her.
@sapphicgeek Mary...This story. This right here is what Heroes are made of. You are AMAZING!! I absolutely admire you and will share this!— Chyler Leigh (@chy_leigh) December 3, 2016
In these troubled times, it's stories like this that give us hope.