Posts Tagged With: LGBT

Why write about sexuality if you’re not gay?

My debut YA, My Invented Life, centers around big SECRET that drives a wedge between sisters that used to be close. The secret has to do with sexual identity. When the book hit the stores, interviewers often asked me what inspired me to write it.

This question always made me squirm. The easy answer would’ve been, “I wish that funny, uplifting stories with lesbian an bi girls existed back when I was a teen.” Unfortunately that would’ve been a lie. I am not lesbian or bi. I don’t have any LGBT family members. Nor LGBT friends in HS. The challenges of growing up gay did not occur to me until much later. I’m that lame.

In fact, my biggest post-pub fear went something like this: LGBT readers and authors would scoff at my lack of “credentials,” laugh in my face, call me a fraud, or much worse. (False alarm, btw. I learned later that people like me are called allies. I felt very appreciated by the LGBT community.)

Luckily, the interviews were written, so I had time to develop cogent answers.

Reason A: I was inspired by events around my high school reunion. A number of my classmates came out around then. I asked a few about their experience in HS, and was somewhat horrified by their answers.

True.

Reason B: I wanted to write an uplifting story that focused on a friendship between sisters, and how a secret can ruin a friendship. I didn’t want the “coming out” itself to be traumatic.

Also true.

However, the biggest reason didn’t occur to me until after the book got published. Here it is: I can identify with the pain of LGBT teens that hide their true selves from friends because I grew up in the same situation.

Only different.

My mom died when I was five. She didn’t die in a car wreck, of cancer, or in any tragic, yet socially acceptable way. She killed herself. My Dad insisted that my sister and I keep it a secret. I mostly did. But the secret made me feel ashamed. Dark. Dishonest. Disconnected. Fringe.

And that is why I believe in telling the truth, even if it makes others uncomfortable. Some day, I hope to live in a world where we aren’t afraid that others might judge us for who we really are.

Categories: My Invented Life, Real Life, the love of writing | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Remembering Matthew Shepard

Online reviewers have called My Invented Life a lot of things.

Hilarious–AfterEllen.com

Charming–Lauren’s Crammed Shelf

Witty and Satisfying–Library Lounge Lizard

These words are all very gratifying. I’m always happy when someone gets my sense of humor 😀 I’ve also gotten comments about how I address the issue of sexual orientation in my novel. One blogger in particular, Anna of Book Nerds, mentioned she was glad I’d included Matthew Shepard in my story.

Matthew Shepard was a college student in Laramie Wyoming. One night at a bar, two teen-aged boys offered him a ride. Instead of taking him home, though, they tied him to a fence in a remote location, beat him, and left him there. All because he was gay. The next day a jogger found Matthew and got him to a hospital. He died later from the injuries.

I had heard Matthew Shepard ‘s story before writing My Invented Life. But as I wrote, I learned more about him and read the Laramie Project, a play based on the events surrounding his death and the trial afterwards. The play moved me deeply. So I included Matthew in my novel as part of Roz’s personal awakening.

After languishing for twelve years, last month the Matthew Shepard Act was passed by Congress and signed into law. For the first time in history, LGBT people are protected from violence under hate crime law. Read more about it here.

Categories: My Invented Life | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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