Perspective

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Identity, Representation and Writing

Narrated version here

Identity is a weird thing, I’ve spoken about my sexual ID and mentioned my neurodiverse brain. I’ve never spoken about my ethnicity except to say that I’m mixed.

I’m such a mutt. Historically, I’m what happens when early European settlers intermarry into different native tribes, then the escaped slaves do the same.

I have a rather large dose of European ancestry from the UK (except Wales) France, Scandinavia, Spain, Portugal, Russia and Eastern Europe as well.

I have mixed African ancestry, as closely as my grandfather, who was Kanien’kehá:ka and African. We can’t find out where his parents and grandparents came from because they were slaves or descended from slaves, or they were native and any student of history knows what happened to them.

On other lines I have Tunisian and Egyptian ancestry. On the other side of the family there is Mi’kmaq, from my grandfather.

I’m related to the English, French, Spanish, Swedish and Danish Royal houses. (Some quite closely.) Lol, don’t get excited, a lot of people are when you trace the ancestral lines.

But you know what? I was raised in a poor, white, European cultured family in a similar town in a similar state and I never knew about my relatives who weren’t white because they weren’t talked about, not until I’d reached my teens, and then it was only the ‘proud natives’ that were discussed.

I had to dig through our family genealogy to learn more. I’d long suspected it, being a student of history, and I’m proud of all branches of my ancestry.

One thing I won’t do is to write something that can harm, when I have no experience with it. I can write about the confusion I feel at being of mixed ancestry. I could write about the struggle I’ve felt being raised prejudiced only to find out how ridiculous that is, given where my family comes from. I can write about a lot of things in regards to identity. I can write about my longing to know more of the ancestors I can find nothing about. (I have both slave owners and slaves in my family lines, all from a particular place in Virginia, but I can’t find more about the one side, guess which one?) I’m privileged because my skin is light, I do the best I can in each moment to use that privilege to help and not harm.

I will never point to my ancestry and say, oh look, I have XX DNA, that means I get to write what it’s like to be rez raised Native. Because my grandfather left the rez to marry my grandmother, I can talk about sacred practices, right? WRONG. I can write what it feels like to be POC in this messed up world because I have a lot of POC ancestors, right? Nope.

I can’t. I haven’t lived on the rez, either of them. By marriage I could live on the Huron rez too, but I don’t so I can’t know what life is like. Why in the world would I try to write something I don’t know? I wish I had the answer to why so many people feel qualified to write things that do exactly that.

Just like, even with my ancestry, I can’t know what it feels like to live in a darker skin.

It seems a very simple concept to me, yet so many people, so many writers seem to think it’s okay to rep things they aren’t or don’t know.

Kink. Something that is close to my heart. THAT I can and do write because I live it, I know it. I’ve lived it for 20 years. It completely blows my mind that there is a huge chain of books and movies about kink, that represent it badly, dangerously even, and few people except the kink community seem to care.

Being Neurodiverse, yeah, I’m okay writing what that feels like to me. I’m sure it doesn’t feel the same to everyone, but it is something I feel okay representing. Because (say it with me) I’ve experienced it.

I usually write characters who are mixed, because I’m okay with repping myself in that way, I know how powerful it feels to read that part of myself in fiction, and I can authentically give that back.

I can’t give back what if feels like to be latinx, even though, yes, Spanish and Portuguese is a large, recent part of my European ancestry. I wasn’t raised celebrating the day of the dead, so no, I don’t do it. (I do practice the celtic day of the dead, because I started practicing that one early in life and I do know it.)

I can write accurate rep on what it feels like to be raped, I can rep depression and anxiety and chronic pain. I can’t rep a lot of things and I’m self aware enough, I hope, to know it.

I do write a lot of futuristic novels where the color of ones skin or the mixed quality of their family ancestors isn’t relevant to the story line. None of my futuristic novels are ‘issue’ novels. I’m an anthropologist by training, and everyone is going to be one shade of brown or another in a thousand years or so. It’s the reality of what our humanity will become, always assuming we aren’t dead from our own stupidity by then. (Yeah, I said it, it’s stupid to be killing the planet we live on out of greed.)

Representation is important! I can’t even imagine the real, harmful damage the series of shades books have potentially done.

I know how damaging it has been to me, being demi-sexual, and never having seen that repped in fiction.

So. If you’re a writer. You write. You write good stories, I hope, and if you are called to write things, to rep things, you don’t or aren’t, please tell me you’re getting a sensitivity reader to vet things for you. I hope to hell you’re listening when they tell you something hurts or that’s not the way it is.

Fiction has power, and as the wielders of the pen, we have to be aware of what kinds of messages we are sending out into the world. We really, truly do.

I hope that if I ever feck up and write something that badly reps anyone or anything… (I’m human, and even though I try very hard to get it all right, I’m also fallible)  I hope that someone kindly tells me so, and I know I will listen. I will apologize and learn to do better.

Tidying up as Avoidance Strategy

So, I’ve known my website needed a bit of work for a while… mostly in the menu section because it was a right mess.

I’ve also been meaning to post my NYCmidnight flash fiction story now that it’s getting close to the judgement date.

So, I cleaned up the menu’s and posted the story and went to the forums on NYCmidnight to link it.

All of this to avoid some necessary line edits. It’s not easy being your own boss. Now I must horsewhip myself into doing the edits, ’cause they really do need to be done.

 

Sexuality and me

There were a few great threads on twitter tonight about representation of asexuality in fiction. (I retweeted, so they should be relatively easy to find.) Since it struck a chord and I kinda almost write sexy smexy books, I figured since I’m in a wordy mood, I’d attempt to express this part of me.

I identify as grace. AKA Gray Asexual (Wikipedia definition), so how the hades can I write kinky sex?

well…

A bit of history. For most of my life I’ve felt broken. Like the thing that made the world go ’round (love/relationships) was a puzzle piece that just didn’t fit in my life. It’s not that I didn’t have sexual/loving relationships. If anything I started early, but it wasn’t out of actual ‘desire’ to do so. I started having sex around the age of 16, (in the early 90’s) and it was with my boyfriend. I wasn’t with the person because I liked him, I was with him because he treated me decently and because it was an escape from a really terrible home environment. (that sounds so very cold and horrible, but… kids, damn, they make hard, life wrenching choices like that every damned day in so many demographics, and those types of stories need to be told. Childhood isn’t pretty for everyone, ya know?)

I had sex with him because A) I loved to read, and most of what my mom had to read was romance, and hey, all my fictional heroines were doing it (whether they wanted to or not… in case you ever wonder if fiction matters, it kinda, really does) and I thought it was what I was supposed to be doing. B) Peer pressure from the boyfriend, horny young guy about  year older than me and definitely NOT grace/ace.

Did the fact that I was raised uber-Christian matter? Yeah, it did, just not enough. I had plenty of guilt. Did the fact that my parents refused to see me as anything other than a pre-teenage girl with a frilly canopy bed and a doll house matter? Yeah, in the wrong way…

Did I enjoy it? No.

We were both virgins, so, no, I don’t know that we ‘could’ have really had fun, except that I’ve talked to a lot of people who were virgins together who had a great time.

If I asked him, I’d hazard to guess he enjoyed the process. It always left me cold, distant and just, disinterested.

Frigid.

Cold.

A bitch.

You hate me.

You can’t love me.

____

I heard all of these things.

‘What’s wrong with me!’ Rang through my soul so many times. Here I have this great guy (and for the time and environment, he really was. I bear guilt to this day that I wasn’t ‘enough’ for him).

_____

I should treat him better.

You should marry him (thank gods I didn’t when he asked, I’d have made him miserable)

Fake the orgasm, he won’t be able to tell. (Heard that one from a friend, made my relationship better for a while, I guess, on the surface.)

____

I broke it off when he asked me to marry him. I’d been away to university for a year at that point, and I… realized I didn’t miss him. I realized that it was a burden to be around him, to ‘perform’ sexually for him.

I had a rebound relationship (including sex, cause I did. not. know. that. asexuality of any type existed) with one of my best friends. It ruined the friendship, of course.

I tried sex with girls, because hey, if I couldn’t enjoy it like everyone around me was enjoying it with a guy, that made me a lesbian right? (For years I thought I was a lesbian, really. Cause I had better relationships with girls.)

Nope.

Bisexual? Maybe? (I’m pansexual, by the way… now that I have a label that actually fits me)

In my early 20’s I was ‘dating’ exclusively girls, by dating, I mean fucking, because I had friendly fuck buddies but no defined relationship.

I went to a really big event and met my husband. Man, I fought so hard against falling for him! I didn’t want a relationship with a guy, hadn’t worked the three times or so I’d tried it before, and he lived well over 8 hours by train away from me… in a different freaking country!!

I thought about it, and figured one more try with a guy… cause I really, REALLY liked this one. We got each other. (I’ll be honest, head over fucking heels in love within three days, it still strikes me as ridiculous that I fell so hard and fast for a stranger, but here we are, still married 18 years later, so maybe we did something right.)

Sex with him was afuckingamazing. For the first time in my life I GOT it.

I understood what the big deal was! (We’re talking lightning strike momentous proportions here people.)

That’s what gray asexuality (specifically demi-sexuality) is like for me.

It would have helped so much if I had known what it even was when I was a kid. (So, all of you wonderful people who can write/rep YA with Ace/Grace characters? Please, please write these stories, publishing, please buy and put them on the damned shelves!!)

For a demi-sexual (talking about me and those I’ve read about, and the friends I’ve talked with who ID as such) it’s the emotion and close relationship that makes all the difference in the world to the enjoyment of sex.

Now, I didn’t actually learn that the term ‘demi-sexual’ or ‘grace’ or ‘ace’ even existed until last year. (Here’s another iota of info, I’ve been a sexuality educator, it was not covered in ANY of my classes preparing me for teaching kids about sex… how’s that for horrifying?) That’s right, I was 39 when I learned the definition. (Another lightning strike) and realized that… holy shit… I’m NOT broken, or frigid, or bitchy or cold.

I’m grace. I’m demi-sexual.

Being polyamorous, I’ve had relationships with others in the 18 years my husband and I have been together (so has he, and we together). Only one other time have I enjoyed sex, and it was with my girlfriend, who… yes, I loved.

You’d think I’d have clued in, right? I was in my late 20’s when I fell for her (we were part of a quad together) love=good sex?

I didn’t. Which is why knowledge and stories and fiction are so very important.

So back to the first question. If I’m grace, how can I write kinky sex?

Simple answer. ‘Cause when it’s good and I’m with someone I love? It’s off the charts amazing and I’ve a way with words. 😉 I also have a great deal of experience with kink and with great sex (now). Add to that a rather vivid imagination and I get sex scenes that sizzle (not my words, those are beta-readers words)

So. This long ramble is my way of saying, please, write the stories (if I could write YA I so would, there are girls and boys and gender-fluid and non-binary and non-gendered people out there right now, just like I was, doing things they won’t be proud of later, because they don’t get why they are different). Publish the stories. Above all, educate yourselves and your kids if you have them about all the wonderful variations of sexual expression humanity can enjoy.

-Kaelan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being human

I haven’t blogged for a bit, because I’ve been human. I turned 40, which wasn’t that big of a deal to me. No where near as life shaking as I’d expected it to be for certain. Maybe that’s because I’d been really ill for about a week before.

Docs still don’t know what the hell it was, but my throat and face swelled up so much and hurt so badly I couldn’t drink. Thank gods for modern chemistry, I couldn’t have taken much more of that kind of pain. (… and having fibro, I’m used to pain) It wasn’t strep, but it had so many similarities it might as well have been.

It’s taken me a while to recover my strength. (I chuckle when saying ‘my strength’, I’m not strong, being chronically ill… maybe I should just say that I’ve sort of regained my level of ‘normal’?)

I’m back to my normal, but I’m not sleeping well because of life stress. We’re moving to a smaller house, which requires some purging of stuff. How the hell we managed to accumulate so much stuff I’d really love to know, but we have and now I have to purge it.

My youngest and last child started pre-k/junior kindergarten today and I admit I bawled like a little baby. I made it home first, though.

You know, depression never really goes away, you just learn to cope with it. All of this life stress and my lack of concrete success in finding an agent who likes my work makes depression and anxiety and self doubt rear it’s ugly head again. I have good days and bad days, like most people who cope with these issues.

Some days are full of self care in the form of comfort food and binge watching tv series. Some days I’m ripping through my word count drafting three stories, though since I can’t even sell one I have that ‘why the hell am I doing this’ issue with the writing. I can only answer (again to myself, sometimes talking to myself is the only adult conversation I have in a day until my spouse gets home) that my writing is my calling, my love and on some days, my sanity.

So, all that emotional blathering to let y’all know I’m still here, just have been more ill than usual, coping with life shite and self doubt, but that I’m still writing. I may have a new short story for you all in October. If the publisher of the anthology doesn’t pick it up by then I’ll self pub it so you can have something new to read. (It’s another suspension scene, paranormal, I had a lot of fun writing it).

Again and always, thanks for reading my words. Without you, I’d only be a writer telling stories to myself.

-Kaelan