Tag Archives: LGBT

Who do you write for?

Or, to be perfectly, stuffily grammatical about it, For whom do you write?

In either form, it’s a question that is put to the writer often, either by his overactive superego or by those who don’t or won’t read him.

It’s a question posed a week or so ago by a writers’ group to which I’ve belonged for two or three years, a group I call Twelve Old Ladies and One Old Man, though to tell the truth, or something like the truth, our ranks have been swelled lately by one more old man.

I was reading  the first part of a long story I wrote several years ago, a very unconventional story in both form and, evidently, content called “Bird in Hand.” The first-person narrator, a married man, eyes other women and admires their asses.

Oops! That’s the word that got the ladies excited, I fear. They dismissed the piece as something gross and nasty about “horny men,” a genre that was popular back in the 1960s. So, you see, “Bird in Hand” was only 50+ years late on the scene.

Yes, the story is about a horny old man — but much more than that. As the title implies, it’s about marriage itself, about fidelity, about solidity, about what my old mother, may she rest in peace, used to call “sticktuitiveness,” for isn’t that what we need in marriage or other relations in a contemporary world of nothing but distracting pleasures?

When I wrote the story, or when I revise it, do I imagine an audience? An ideal audience? What the hungering hordes in the fictive hinterlands might desire?

I’m afraid I don’t, not even in itty-bitty ways.

I write what I feel and what I need to express  … to get it off my chest, as they say, the stuff that is bothering me.

And it evidently bothers others, at least the ladies, which is their right certainly.

If you look through directories of little magazines in Submittable or Duotrope, for example, you can find the widest, wildest variety of tastes and topics imaginable, everything from church broadsides to pornography, with the churchly in one form or another, for better or worse, taking precedence over the porn. (By churchly, I mean journals that are seeking to validate their preferred audiences and topics, whether “LGBTQ+” — be sure not to omit the + — or “the marginalized” or “diverse” others. I mean journals with a moral, or moralistic, mission, with values that you’d damn better not forget, you poltroon, even as you’re writing.)

If I wanted to be perfectly moral, or moralistic … if I wanted to be commercially viable, I would certainly write for a well considered audience. I confess, however, I’m unable to do so. I simply hope to express myself with enough skill and patience that the result will always find an audience. I write for myself, as others have said, and trust that there’s enough of me, and enough humanity in me, to shine through to those who are looking for a glimmer.

Writing, again, is working in the dark and working in a deafening silence. The clamors of the critics are the first thing that must be shut out. And the roar of the crowd the next.

 

Little Debbie

Yesterday voted early, in the affirmative, for a human rights ordinance in Fayetteville giving LGBT people the same rights against discrimination, in jobs and public places, that the rest of us are said to enjoy.

The forces in the negative have spread fears about transgender people besieging women and girls in public restrooms.

These fearmongers, I fear, are reacting largely on the basis of their own hysteria about sexuality — its depth, its power, its variety. They are on the straight and narrow, affirmatively straight and narrow, and will not venture off the road on which they’ve trod and been instructed. (They’ve read the manual on straight relations, and are glad to be straight, rigid, erect on a matter of such all-consuming and unthinking importance.)

civil rights ordinance
Alderwoman Adella Gray introduces a proposed civil rights ordinance on the steps of the Fayetteville Town Center.

So it was strange, my eyesight was strained, my belief systems strained, too, challenged, you might say, when after last night’s bike ride with the Meetup group, we repaired to JJ’s, a sports bar on the west side of town, where the hamburgers are thick and the young waitresses too, thick and delicious, and I visited the men’s restroom not to rest but you know what. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, as if produced by magic or hysteria, but a man named Little Debbie!

I swear, his shirt said Little Debbie on the pocket, and I thought it a strange and surpassing wondrous thing that a man would go about with a name like that emblazoned on his shirt pocket and puffed up proudly. Now he didn’t try anything, understand, or get fresh with me, and I assume it was a he because he sure looked that way despite the name.

It was the aura of uncertainty that unnerved me. In the climate of uncertainty about sexuality, in this voting season, which is the same climate of uncertainty we enjoy year round, that man with a woman’s name spooked me.

Who knows what he might have been doing in the can? Just peeing and washing his hands? Are you sure? Do you know for sure?

Who knows anything about this knotted question, this sex thing? Whether we’re 14, or 34, or 64, who knows? Even in this greatest of all countries that ever existed, by jingo, where Little Debbie is free to come and go as he pleases, where Lil Wayne and Miley Cyrus twerk and jerk out what the rest of us are not allowed, where God is in his heaven and all’s right with the USA, where Donald Trump denounces immigrant rapists and killers, I have to confess that after all these years, said to be in the upper 60s, by the gods, I know next to nothing about sexuality. And thus would like to invoke, here and now, the same freedoms that we’re voting on for LGBT folks.

Don’t tread on me, you see, and my sexuality.