I had two polar opposite experiences last week that convinced me that queer people need safe spaces to raise their voices and write their stories more than ever.
First, I read in the newspaper that the Pope declared that being gay isn’t a crime—sure, it’s a “sin,” but not a crime. So comforting.
I haven’t had time to unpack all the feelings that exploded through my body when I read that headline, but here are a few:
The Family Outing is a memoir about an entire family who came out of the closet and is one of the mentor texts in the courses inside WRITE YOURSELF OUT, my community for LGBTQ+ writers.
Queer stories matter. They matter for the writer. They matter for queer—and straight—readers.
And we need safe spaces to discuss these stories. And to write these stories.
All this talk about queer life, queer community and really anything queer is still a relatively new for me. After all, I spent the first 50+ years of my life identifying as a straight white woman, with all the privilege that entails.
But over the past seven years, I've learned what it feels like to be the only queer in the room. To have to think about what’s safe to share and what’s not. To have to decide whether to reveal my queer identity—or not. To feel somewhat like a fish out of water even when I’m in spaces where I know that my queerness is accepted.
Where I can hold my wife’s hand or give her a kiss and not have to think twice about it. Where I can talk about chosen family and the pain of having family members who were less than accepting when I came out. Where I can share my later-in-life coming out story and know what the people in the room get it. They get me.
There's nothing like being in community with other queers to feel totally like myself.
That’s why I’ve created a community for LGBTQ+ writers because it’s hard to be the only queer writer in the room.
And besides, LGBTQ+ writers are better together.