Writing is Selfish

When I was much younger, I hid from the painful and terrifying reality of my world by way of fiction. Always the active imaginer, I took refuge in the halls of Hogwarts and Rivendell, creating a new life for myself in some magical context that would be exponentially and indubitably less painful than the real world. Hell, even the halls of Wuthering Heights held less pain for my youthful mind than my own home in Rural Illinois.

Through the years, I must have read at least ten thousand books. With each, I discovered a bit of myself through characters. Seeing characters with some similar attribute succeed gave me hope that perhaps, one day, everything would be okay. I would find people who truly loved me unconditionally and accepted me for all my eccentricities. There is a long list of books I would claim, without fear of hyperbole, saved my life.

When the stories I created in my mind became too much, I began writing them down. I learned rather quickly that I had a knack for both writing and storytelling. At age eight, I determined that what I wanted to do with my life was to write books and stories that would help to save the lives of other young readers that came after me.

Now I am an adult, pressured at all sides to figure out what to do with my life that will both support me financially and fulfill me spiritually. I’ve become pretty entrenched in LGBTQ+ advocacy and activism, and the more I think about, do, and help people, the more fulfilled and impassioned I am. While I do still write often, between blog posts like this, a couple of novel bits, and a memoir on my self-acceptance and coming out, I sometimes feel quite guilty for it.

Who is my writing actually helping? Blogs have a way of reaching people a bit more easily than novels and memoirs. I feel somewhat less guilty expressing my thoughts and feelings—predominately in regard to the state of LGBT policy and advocacy—in this medium. But when I put pen to paper to work on a novel or a memoir, I feel overwhelmingly guilty. Even if those works end up helping someone, make someone feel represented, or gives them hope, writing fiction and about oneself is selfish in some way.

I am telling my own story in the hopes of helping other people. Is it even a worthwhile pursuit, or would my time be better spent working toward getting my degrees and becoming someone who could enact real change on both micro and macro levels?

Do I deny myself one passion for another? Are my stories of queer characters in fiction or my own abused and self-denial ridden life meaningful to anyone but myself? I don’t know. And I guess I never will.

In conclusion, writing is selfish. Being a writer is a selfish pursuit, but conveying information is essential. I’m not going to stop being a writer in the off chance that maybe one life may be touched or saved by my words or my experiences. Because in the end, that’s really what I want to do with my life, I want to save the lives of others, both because I’m on a divine mandate from Hades to stop the needless influx of queer youth who commit suicide at a 400% higher rate than their straight peers and because I was almost one of those statistics. I know firsthand how painful being queer can be both in communities that do not accept us and those who do. I love humanity too much to let anyone suffer the way I have. If that’s selfish, so fucking be it.

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Unity

Firstly, I’d like to wish everyone a remarkably happy Pride Month: to wish luck to everyone planning on coming out this month, to wish strength on those having a rough time due to bigotry, discrimination, and family troubles, and love to those with the luxury of being out, proud, and relatively unafraid.

The most amazing part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Ally, Asexual, HIV-infected/affected, and Pan/polysexual (LGBTQQIAAHP) community, and also the most daunting for us activists, is the sheer size and diversity of its people. This community is arguably larger and more diverse in needs and members than any race, religion, or ethnic group on the planet, simply because we come from each and every one of them at least a hundred times over. I mean, just take a good, hard look at the acronym and the ten distinct communities that make up this conglomerate. It is our greatest asset and our greatest weakness.

In any group, regardless of size, there’s bound to be disagreements and in-fighting. In a group this big, those disagreements, once harmless and relatively constructive, become lethal. Wars break out between factions that seek to elevate themselves at the expense of others. Not to sound too Abraham Lincoln, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Our community is no different. We, as queer people, have a responsibility to protect each other. We face similar struggles, and we have common goals. We should be standing united, not fighting ourselves. A war on two fronts never works. It’s almost as effective as trying to invade Russia in the winter.

It can be said, and is certainly true that there are prejudices in our community against some of its own members. That’s an inevitability. How we respond to those prejudices, however, is the important part: we can 1) ignore it and wait for the community to dissolve on its own, 2) fight back and help the community to actively destroy itself, or 3) seek to educate others and correct their misconceptions. Lack of understanding plays a huge role in prejudice, after all. Educate others regardless of your dissimilarities. Together, we can take acceptance and success. Divided, we fall back into the angry, closeted hole we’ve worked so hard to escape from.

Our needs are vast, wide-ranging, and sometimes confusing to outsiders. Many “allies” delude themselves into thinking that by giving “the gays” the right to marry, we’ll go away. We won’t, and we shouldn’t. They think marriage and military service is good enough. It’s not. We won’t go away until there is a cure for HIV, until the lifetime deferral on blood donation for gay and bisexual men is removed from FDA policy, until the rate of suicide amongst queer youth is equal to or lower than that of their straight peers, until the concept of homophobia and violent/sexual/verbal hate crimes are things of the past, until the practice of gay conversion therapy is banned, until each and every trans person gets their preferred amount of medical and psychological care, until every trans person feels safe using the restroom of their preferred gender, until discrimination based on gender and sexuality is eradicated, until non-binary individuals are treated by society at large with the respect they deserve, and until we have achieved genuine, true, and pure equality legally, societally, and culturally. No one facet of the LGBTQ+ community can achieve these things independently. We require the unified voice and support of everyone.

We are an endangered species. Obscene numbers of us are actively trying to kill themselves, through substance abuse, unsafe sex, and attempts at suicide. All of us are being hunted. There is still no cure for HIV; instead, we’re kept constantly fighting HIV-discrimination and at the mercy of insurance companies and big pharmaceutical companies. Violence is perpetrated against us by those who are supposed to protect us: our families, our teachers, our doctors, and the police. The culture that is unique to our community is being suffocated as the larger American society proselytizes that this will all stop if we assimilate to right-wing family values.

Assimilation is annihilation. If we seek to thrive instead of mediocre survival, we must unite. We must come together, sort out our differences, and fight for each other regardless of gender, sexuality, and lifestyle. We are, each and every one of us, valid in how we live our lives, who and how we love—and fuck—, and how we express ourselves. Protect your Queer brothers and sisters as much as you protect those choose to live more conservatively.

Seek out inclusive groups, and strive to make more groups inclusive. Let’s learn from each other and be the supportive extended family so many of us never had. Refuse to let any of us be silenced, even if your voices and priorities are different. Make good, inclusive role models for generations that will come after us. Show people in power that we too will be successful. Spread your colourful wings and fight back when they spit misconstrued quotes from bastardized religious texts or vague “family values” at you. If we stand together, we can be the most formidable, loving, most protective family the world has ever seen. They snark about a “gay mafia,” let’s give them one. Take the necessary steps to protect our human rights: our lives, liberty, and our pursuits of happiness.