Monday, June 12, 2017

Let Our Pride of Love Save Us, Please

I am a voracious reader. Books, stories, tales. They really matter to me. Genre and type do not.

I even love reading the cereal box and highway signs on road trips (just ask my wife, she loves it).

Debating whether I was first a writer or reader is too much like the great chicken and egg debate—just pointless mental masturbation; but I believe I was first a reader inspired to write.

At first I didn’t care what I wrote.
Anything was fine so long as I was telling a story that gets at the heart of what it means to be human: an endless journey of growth, punctuated by amazing adventures in learning.

I actually didn’t care about fame or visibility of any kind, but especially as a lesbian.

In my little heart of hearts, I don’t want who I am to matter to potential readers as much as I want the story I am telling to matter to readers.

But then I realized something very important, for myself as a reader, and in my profession as a writer . . . something I already knew from my work in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, but just failed to translate to other domains of my life . . . stories matter the most to us when we identify and empathize with the people involved.

For some readers, like me, that probably means identifying with the characters; but for other readers, maybe many other readers, that could mean identifying with the author.

While this doesn’t have to happen on any demographic level, including sexuality, it does have to happen on a genuine level. Even if I don’t necessarily view my sexuality as all that important to my personal identity or career, society does. The world does. And that great external force of perception means my sexuality shapes my experience on a genuinely visible level.

As such, my lesbian voice as an author and in the representation of my characters, is much more than a matter of my pride. Visibly living that pride is the only way I can create a story genuine and artful enough to inspire empathy and spread compassion.

Being visibly proud of my sexuality and telling stories involving characters like me may help others connect to my stories and find what they need. I have so many LGBTQ friends who need evidence that someone accepts them, that someone is proud to know them.

Some of my friends were disowned by their embarrassed families and left homeless as teenagers. Some gave their lives with honor to serve their country and were buried without their still-embarrassed -family at their gravesides. Some were passed over for promotions because their organizations were embarrassed by their identity, and one was shot because she looked a little too butch.

I now realize that when I claim with pride my LGBTQ status, when I use my lesbian identity to proudly create art, I actively help put an end to these horrors. I change the salient story to one of a happy lesbian author, writing about LGBTQ characters who grow beyond hate to find health and happiness.

I hope you will join me in being proud of your identities and above all, in being proud of our ability to accept and love many identities. I hope you will help me change our salient stories.

Please, be proud enough to share who you are, because someone else out there (a reader, another writer, a musician, a mother, a sister) needs to know you too, if we are all ever going to discover how love saves the world.
Rehearsing our first dance for our Texas wedding, proudly supported by friends and family. Credit to AzulOx Photography.

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