Friday, July 17, 2015

I Am a User of Words, A Teller of Stories; A Writer

Those closest to me know that I find it difficult to call myself a writer. It feels false, fake...sacrilegious toward those who actually make their living as writers. There is evidence to the contrary however. On my own blog (you know of it if you're reading this) I write about my life--the exciting, the boring, the funny, the past, the present, the NSFW. On this same blog I've even published fiction. Some of it (both fiction and the non) goes over with a bang. Some of it fizzles. I keep writing. I have something to say. I am a user of words, a teller of stories.

There there's the more than two years worth of blog entries on my Huffington Post author page. That sounds weird to say out loud and looks even weirder in print--'my Huffington Post author page.' The truth is, it exists. Here's the link: Check it out if you haven't already. I've been published on HuffPost over 30 times. There's no pay from contributing to the blog on HuffPost, but it's a chance to get my opinion, my take on a subject, my life experience (good or bad, funny or sad) out there for others to read. And you know what, people actually connect. People can identify with me. People reach out to me either through the comments section or through Twitter. I am never more moved than when someone says to me that they feel exactly the same way and they're so glad someone put it into words.

There is strength in knowing that someone out there is feeling same way you do; is experiencing the same challenges in life. I've never pretended to myself or others that what I'm experiencing is unique to me, but there's such a sense of community when you find other people who've been there done that or are still there doing that.

Religion throws the most fuel on the fire when I write. I'm homosexual and have very strong feelings about my religious upbringing. In the two years that I've been submitting my story to HuffPost I've grown stronger as a person. I've found more courage to speak openly and unfiltered about my feelings regarding my religious past. Writing has provided me a way to work through some of my issues--confront them head on--that even talking to my therapist couldn't accomplish.

Yesterday I published a piece titled I Will Never Repent for Being Homosexual on Huffington Post. I struggled with the title of this piece. Much like I struggled with writing it. During the process of putting my thoughts and feelings into words I found myself unable to sleep twice. My thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences continued to swirl through my brain. Even with the help of a sleeping pill I couldn't resist the pull of this piece. At 3am one morning I was awake thinking about my life and the piece. Thanks to the help of a few people who read the initial drafts I managed to craft a strong, passionate piece about being raised in a world where just being born homosexual was considered a sin. Thanks to the collaborative help of an editor at HuffPost I was able to give the piece a strong title.

The piece was published on the front page of Huffington Post. That's never happened to me before. Those are my words. That's my story. That's my opinion. I wrote that. It came from my childhood fear and my adult frustration.

This morning I took a moment to engage with those who had taken the time to comment on the piece.  I expected that the conservative religious right readers would be the ones commenting and condemning me, but what I found was people thanking me for putting there story into words, people supporting me, people telling me to be happy, love my neighbor and I'll be fine. For the first time in many posts, I engaged with my readers. I took the time to thank them, to write back to them, to show them my appreciation for supporting me. I even took the time to write back to those who, through carefully chosen words, suggested I continue to live in fear.

I'm still finding courage every day to live my life; to create the life that I want to live. But I'm tired of being afraid of other people's opinions and I'm tired of being afraid to give mine. As a writer I've been able to express myself more freely than I ever imagined. My gift is my ability to tell my story.

I am a writer.