…one story at a time
17 May is designated as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (Biphobia was added in 2015). As a bisexual writer of lesbian and bisexual women’s stories I do address homophobia.
I’ve experienced it. I’m quite certain I lost my first teaching job opportunity because of it. I wasn’t just told no job or “we’ve decided to go with someone else.” I was banned from ever setting foot on that campus. This was all before any employment protections existed in my locality for LGBTQ individuals.
Also, biphobia led to the stupidest question my spouse has ever been asked — by his own parents — “so she’s leaving you for a woman?” Twenty years later we are still educating his family mostly because — surprise! — I haven’t left him and he hasn’t left me. We’re celebrating 28 years of marriage later this month.
Society has come a long way. Many people no longer blink when they find out a friend, coworker, or an acquaintance identifies as non-heterosexual. We have marriage equality and non-discrimination language that includes LGBTQI+ individuals in schools and the workplace in a lot of places.
However, homophobia still exists. Joining together, these forces have obstructed attempts to pass workplace, housing, or other protections in localities or even overrule local laws by creating federal limitations on enforcement.
As a reader, and also as a writer, I most enjoy stories where reality is acknowledged. It might not be a major plot point, but having everyone just accepting is not fully using the power of our pen. Ben Franklin wrote, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” He recognized what power writers possess to illustrate, to frame, and to educate about issues. (You could say BF was the first transgender writer because he signed so many commentaries as “Mrs. Silence Dogood.”) Writers have always been at the forefront of social change. We have characters wrestle with, and triumph over, life’s ills on a personal level. Writing relatably we make readers wrestle, too, with notions of right and wrong, good and evil, and the complexities of every social issue or problem.
So, on this day, as a writer, I am recommitting to share stories with lesbian and bisexual characters with the widest possible audience. I pledge to write stories that in even a small way will address personal and social human issues. I pledge to use my pen to spread the word of the goodness of love in all its forms.
Maybe in my lifetime I can bear witness to the end of homophobia everywhere.