I keep stopping and starting.
Long ago and far away, I didn’t just write personal essays, I blogged them. Over time, I stopped doing that, because while decades of people on the Internet telling me to shut the fuck up never worked in the moment, over time it erodes you.
This site then sort of morphed into my occasionally talking about my life and more often talking about media I loved. Think really hard, and I bet you can guess how that went too. Then Erin & I got a book deal, and another, and other, and most of my blogging was done over at Avian30 in service to that: New releases, my complex feelings about romcoms, the latest somewhat political dust-up in Romancelandia.
And then a funny thing happened on the way to the literary HEA (Happily Ever After for you non-romance types). The genre I was writing and publishing in suddenly and abruptly connected me to the past I had learned not to write, or even talk, about. My childhood — unhappy, sex-segregated, and intensely privileged although actually outside of my family’s means — abruptly made sense, as did the nature of my exile from it. It had been Pride & Prejudice with different dresses, and I had escaped it and the social tragedy of never marrying well by choosing my queerness — not just in regard to my bisexuality, but in regard to my appearance and politics — over everything else.
That lightbulb means I now have a lot of things to write about — including a memoir I long swore I had not interest in. Much of what I have to say, here and in that project, centers on the themes already found here: queerness, class, exile, and loss. Being a tween and teen in the ’80s in New York means I grew up clumsily amid two dying worlds. The first, a New York Society that didn’t know how to stop believing in its long-expired relevance. The second, the New York arts scenes collapsing under the weight and terror of AIDS. My parents were painters.
For all that I once talked about these parts of my life enough to be scolded for doing so, I’ve never really talked about them. I showed people what was beautiful about them, even when I was trying to describe what was terrible. In part, this happened because I didn’t really understand them or what had happened to me in them. For me, wounds have always been a seductive thing, as has been the attempt to borrow privilege to salve them. Sometimes, it seemed the only way I could survive.
At 43 I have been partnered to a woman for nine years, have just started wearing makeup every day in the last three months, and am, at the moment, working on a romance novel about two people who are utterly different from me but who happen to both be evacuees from childhoods not so dissimilar to mine.
I’m going to start posting more here. Not, for the moment, systematically. Or, perhaps, with any great art. But I have stories to tell that live at the intersection of one world that probably should have died out by now, and another that should never have incurred the great losses it has.
That’s strange. And cut into me and difficult. And it deserves my words, in large part because it’s how I acquired the ability to do anything of interest with words. We’ll see how it goes.
22 thoughts on “Reboot”
I’m looking forward to reading the missives from this past universe of yours—the bits that you’ve shared in your Glee commentaries are fascinating to me as a rough contemporary (5 years older). I came out into the same temporal space, but in the Bay Area and much more passively than it seems you did. But I remember.
Nice to see you. I’ll be here, there or wherever reading your words.
I have always loved the way you write, the way you tell these stories. I am glad you’ve found places to send them out into the world.
Well, not yet. But thank you for always having been a supporter of it. You’ve always been one of the people who reminded me to keep going.
Of all your writing, I have always most loved your personal essays, and I’ve missed them. So I’m looking forward to this 🙂
Welcome back. I’ve missed you. I think it’s appropriate as I began to type a reply, BBC began a feature on Romance novels with a spotlight on the Ripped Bodice bookstore. Since I started following LFT, I was fortunate enough to hit the NY Times and USA Today bestsellers lists for my paranormal romance works, both of which have a queer core. It’s been a wild ride and it’s fun to tell people honestly, “Gay werewolves pay my rent.”
It seems appropriate as someone who also experienced the AIDS epidemic while flying in and out of NYC and its various art scenes (in full disclosure, I’m a left coaster, and my arts background is more firmly placed in San Francisco and Seattle). My first Lover died of AIDS (we had met while we were working with the Kinsey Institute and went on to serve nationally with HIV Prevention for the American Psychological Association and other agencies. I certainly learned much about grief and loss–we were running workshops for health care providers because it was so common to encounter people who had lost literally hundreds of patients to AIDS, but had not had an opportunity to mourn that loss because as soon as a bed was empty, it was immediately filled.
To our surprise, after all of our years as therapists, we found one shared factor–even though the primary reason people were attending our Grief and Loss workshops was because they had lost someone to AIDS, there was “unfinished business” concerning the loss of a loved one that had nothing to do with HIV. It was the loss of a sibling, or a parent, of a grandparent, of those from, as Maupin has said: your “logical families” rather than your “biological families.”
As an American Indian, I was raised with the concept the World goes in cycles. I encountered you first via a LGBT media site that naturally celebrated Glee. The site was sold to Logo. I remain friends with its creator and we have both been involved with The Real Story Safe Sex Project. Those of us involved have taken gay or bisexual characters from our YA novels (I publish my YA under Ty Nolan) to use them in free stand alone works giving a supportive message on safe sex. The original plan was to take it in the direction o the It Gets Better Project, since the HIV infection rates among gay and bisexual young males continues to rise. We didn’t anticipate how much rejection we would face, particularly among the openly gay directors of HIV/AIDS service organizations. We were told over and over again–they feared funding cuts and criticism because any formal outreach to queer youth could mean funding cuts and homophobic attacks accusing such organization as “recruiting” the young “to convert them” into “the homosexual lifestyle.” So their response was to do nothing for queer youth when their needs have been so great on so many levels.
Cycles turn. Logo renamed the site but started methodically doing a death of a thousand paper cuts routine of removing the real community sense of the original AfterElton.com, and then the little that was left was removed as an independent site and incorporated into the organization that owns Logo’s media site, NewNowNext. Things sprout, they flourish, they die–and sometimes, they seed other growth.
I’ve missed your insights, your style–and in all honesty, your queer core that always called to mine. Welcome back to the Circle.
Oh my gosh, I totally know about The Real Story Safe Sex Project and didn’t know I knew someone connected with it. I don’t seem to have the wiring for YA, but every time I see mention of this project I’m like “Erin and I should do this!” because wow do we have long intergenerational discussions about how much I totally need there to be safer sex details in stories where it could be easily avoided (either because of fantasy or because it’s a PG-13 story where it really never needs to come up).
Thank you for all of this.
Have missed your voice here RM. Glad I will see more of it.
This is excellent news. Can’t wait to read it! All of it.
We don’t talk much mostly, but I will continue to read your words whenever and wherever. The stories you tell must only scratch the surface of the stories you live and the stories you are, but I care about the stories I’ve heard from you quite a bit and am additionally grateful, as a queer millennial, for any windows you choose to open into that world that should not have been left to die.
(I didn’t realize this would not display my name–at least, it isn’t displaying on my mobile–so hi, this is Laura, aka roses-in-december!)
Oh hey, yes helpful!
I am really, really glad to see this. I respect your professional work but I “met” you through your personal writing and look forward to connecting with that again.
you’ll laugh: I finally got to this post via your LJ link roundup, having missed it the first go-round. in conclusion: ❤