I’ve been thinking about the #ownvoices movement a lot recently. Whilst I don’t think writers have much of an excuse not to write diverse characters, there’s no denying that Own Voices need to be given representative weight.
But whilst this was at the forefront of my mind when I started writing my latest MS (see this blog post), what I didn’t take into account was just what the process of writing was going to cost me.
My main character is a cisgender, homosexual man, and I am none of those things, so whilst this was not ‘my story’ in this way, the events regarding the character’s mental health is very much my own history, and indeed my present. Writing has always been cathertic for me, and this process of giving up comfort rather than taking it was different and not always easy.
What helped, as always, was talking to people. And I got an excellent chance to do so at the My Kinda Book Club event for the #ThisIsWhoIAm tour-stop in Nottingham. The authors present had written books that were both their own and other people’s stories, and that really chimed with me. Ultimately, we are also the work we create, and for the first time I felt really comfortable with having shared so much of mysef on the page. It wasn’t sensationalist or sexed-up, it was real, and I knew it was real. True, it was only one experience, and experiences with health are never universal, but it was honest, and it IS mine.
Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood display
The terrible events in Orlando, Florida this week have hit me harder than expected. I was and am sorry that I wasn’t able to get to a vigil in either London or Nottingham, but followed the live-tweets and Periscopes of those who were there. I am devastated that queer people have been the targets for a vile hate-crime, but other people have expressed the rightful anger and disappointment at the American government’s response more eloquently than I am able to, right now.
Regular readers of this blog will know I took the plunge into a very public coming-out in September, when I was interviewed by the BBC. I haven’t spoken much about what followed, but although the majority of my friends and family were supportive and kind, there have been people who have asked why I ‘bothered’ to out myself when I’d married to a man. Why I felt the need to say I was bi, when it apparently didn’t matter. Well, actually, it’s for that exact reason. Because it does matter. Because I am straight-passing, more or less, but I am still queer.
And given how much I’ve been focussed on identity lately, it’s made me want to take up the queer space I am entitled to, and to use it for the good. I want to be more vocal, and for me, that will be through my writing. Reading and writing books can do so much to help this still very homophobis world. We do need diverse books. We do need Own Voices. We do need libraries. We do need each other.
I am Lucy Lapinski. I am twenty-nine. I am a writer. I am a friend. I am a bisexual person. I have a depressive disorder. I have a son. I once ate a spider for a dare. And I am proud of who I am, today.