So, to start off with, I am recycling a post I wrote a short while back, because I don't know that I could actually say any of this much better than I said then, and I don't know if I have anything much to add. Granted, I wrote it on a day when maybe my back was up, and I was feeling more mouthy than I usually do, but nevertheless, here it is, because it all remains true.
I have to say something. I've kept a lot of silence on this issue for forever, because I hate drama and controversy. (I'm a Libra. I don't *do* conflict. I resolve it) But there it is. I'm going to say it: I'm a woman. I write man-sex. And here comes the arrogance: I've been told I do it passingly well.
So that's that. I know there are people out there who will never be able to make an informed decision on how well or poorly I managed to write about gay men, because they will never read one of my books *because* I am a woman.
So be it. That is about you. Not me.
But you sort of make it about me when you tell me I have no right to do what I do. When you say I'm only doing it for the money or because I'm some sort of perv who gets off on it. When you tell me I am not and cannot possibly be sympathetic to your plight because I'm a woman, I'm straight, and I don't know your struggles.
Well. Let's label, if that's what me must do. I'm *not* straight. Never have been and I know how it feels to be invisible, misunderstood (like right now, for instance, you don't think this attitude is bigotry, misogyny, judgmental, patronizing or demeaning?) and I know how it feels to be told I am "Other" "Wrong" "Misguided" "Confused" Well. Okay, that last one is accurate. I won't quibble about it because I was confused for a very long time about myself, who I am and who I wanted to be.
But no longer.
I'm a woman who is good at what she has chosen to do with her life. I'm a mom, and I have wonderful kids. I have a husband who has gone to the mat for me because he loves me, and I love him. I write stories about what it means to be human, in love and confused or scared or hurting. I write about how it is possible to be strong in the face of all the world, the people you love most, and complete strangers who've never met me telling me "No" and finally finding the strength in myself to rise up and say "Yes. In your face, YES!"
And yes, I did just change pronouns in the middle of that last sentence, and that should tell you something. I am not writing about you. I'm not telling your story. I'm writing mine. This is me. My life, my work, my soul, and this is what the universe has brought to my door and told me it is my right to do. No, not my right. What it IS RIGHT FOR ME TO DO.
So keep your judgments and your opinions and your labels and don't read my books if what I am offends you. You don't have the power to make me stop. You don't have the power to make me go away. Your judgerment is all about YOU.
My writing is about me. You want to know who and what I really am? Read my stories. It's all there. Peel away the layers and look at the truth. It isn't about you.
Thank you. Because I'm stronger now than I was when I didn't want to say any of this out loud. I'm braver and I'm better, and that's because of you. If that wasn't what you intended, well, rethink your strategy, maybe, because I believe in me and what I do. That won't ever change just because you don't believe what I believe.
I know a lot of people get stuck in the turnstile of straight privilege when this topic comes up. And one of the hallmarks of being a person of privilege is that one rarely recognizes that one is privileged. At the end of the day, every last thing a person says or does comes from their own heart, filtered through their own life experience. The theory of privilege and appropriation would stand if I claimed I was speaking from the life experience of gay men, if I proclaimed to be writing about the truth of gay men's experiences in the world. I don't claim that, because that isn't where my stories come from or what they are about.
I write about life as I know it, love as I experience it, the world as I see it from my own unique vantage point. If I want my stories to sound and feel authentic from someone else's vantage point, I ask them to read it and tell me what they think, whether that person is a gay man, a recovering alcoholic or their family, an HIV councilor, or a BDSM Master, photographer, mechanic, or construction worker. That's called research.
There are gaps no amount of research will ever fill in, though. For those I have to look inside myself and find my own truth. I have to fill in that outline of the world with all the colours of my own rainbow because no one is ever going to see those colours the same way I do. And that's okay. They have their own rainbows and their own way to express them. These stories are mine, splashed across the pages for everyone to see, and I know full well my colours will change by being observed through another's eyes, and that's okay, too. After all, red, blue and yellow are only the beginning...
Follow the rainbow and visit the other posts, and if you're interested in a book of mine, leave a comment and your email, and, tell me which one, and I'll see if I can't fix one of you up with something nice.