Way back in July when I started this blog, I had the thought that it would be semi-anonymous. That I would use my name and not have a problem with readers knowing that I live in Salt Lake City (since, after all, you need to know I live in Utah in order to get a lot of what I’m talking about) but that I would not let anyone who knows me in real life know that I have this blog or give them the address. I figured that the chances of someone who actually knows me finding this blog on their own were slim to none. So, my second post was a very personal and political one. In fact, so far it’s the only overtly political post on this blog, an amazing fact when you consider that I am a very outspoken and active the-personal-is-political person. In this post, I link a conversation I had with my brothers to a heinous crime that I had read about. I was NOT saying that I thought my brothers were the same as that murderer. I was pointing out that there were theoretical and rhetorical path between the sentiments expressed by them and the actions of that monster. The point of my post was that homophobia is subtle and insidious and can be found even in the coolest and most understanding families (and people), not that I think that my brothers would want to kill my baby. Let me repeat that: I do not think that my brothers are like the murderer that killed his 3 year old to keep him from being gay, I was only saying that the underlying thought beneath the conversation they had with me contains an ideological first step on a slippery slope that expresses its nadir in the form of monstrosities and NOT that I think my brothers are monsters.
After I wrote that post, I felt better about both the article and the conversation. I forgot about it and moved on to blog the funny, frustrating, and ultimately-of-little-social-importance (except, of course, for the birth of my daughter) moments of my life. Meanwhile, it became apparent to me that letting some friends know about the blog would be a good way to keep them caught up on the movements of my life without having to write the same email over and over again. They could read my posts and I could spend my email time asking about them and getting filled in on their lives. Plus, I can’t keep a secret to save my life. An effective spy I would not make. That’s where the trouble began. One of the friends to whom I gave the blog address read the post mentioned above and decided to tell my brothers about it. My brothers got very worked up over what this person told them. The story spread throughout my family and the small community of my brothers’ and my mutual friends. Anger, miscommunication, and hurt feelings ensued… all without my knowing about it. This has simmered for weeks, and now will take longer to work out. I will, of course, apologize for their hurt feelings. But I don’t think I’ll be removing the post. Why, you ask? Because I meant what I said, even if I didn’t mean for it to be taken the way it was. And I don’t think I was being petty or small when I wrote it, because if I felt I had been petty or small then I would remove it even if I did feel it was true. Finally, I don’t want to start second guessing what I write for fear it will upset my family, but more on that a little further down. First:
If you come to my blog, and you read something that offends or hurts you or that you feel would offend or hurt someone you know, please comment, email, or call me and let me know. Most likely I hadn’t meant to offend and will apologize and clarify. Please don’t release bombs without making certain you have the story and the intention correct. If you can’t bother to talk to me first, then at least don’t spread the negativity.
This issue has me thinking about more than a rogue blog post. Though the blog post is important because I’m using this blog to start to organize my thoughts and memories into something I could use to write a book of something… non-fiction, short stories, poetry, I’m not certain yet. But that post represents more than a fleeting bad day or a transient fear. It represents an obsession of mine – the rampant, and acceptable, homophobia that is attached to almost anything associated with children. The fragile straightness of children is used to justify every piece of anti-gay legislation, every moment of state-sanctioned hate towards LGBTQ people. Think about it. If you can find an instance of political anti-gay rhetoric that does not involve protecting children, let me know so I can revise my theory. So, though that post itself will not be in a book I write, the feelings and thoughts contained within it will. The fact that I can find traces of that rhetoric in my family is hurtful to me and the family I’m creating. The fact that I pointed it out (particularly in such a public forum) is hurtful to them, especially since they’ve come so far in such a short time (I do not want to discount that, they have been wonderful, I don’t have the family horror stories that so many of my friends have). How do I balance this and keep my voice? What sort of responsibility do I have for their feelings?
Complicating the dilemma of balance, responsibility, and voice is the fact that I consider myself to be primarily a confessional poet. Sort of. As much as I am any kind of poet. I take intimate, often painful, sometimes piercingly beautiful and private material from my life, shape it and broadcast it to the world. Or it will be broadcast to the world when I get around to getting more than just a couple poems published. But I don’t live in a vacuum. These moments involve others as well. And then the age-old question rises up: when you use your life to fuel your art, what responsibility do you have to the feelings and privacy of the ones who share that life? Should I run everything I write by them all to get clearance? Should I say fuck them all and write whatever the hell I want? Should I write only what I feel is true and large and respectful and then stick to my guns regardless of possible hurt feelings? That’s what I’ve done in the past, but I’ve never had this problem with my family before. Usually it’s a friend who complains that I’ve made them out to look like a terrible cook or a horribly insensitive lover. Of course, the reason my family hasn’t complained yet about my writing is that I generally take care that they don’t read what I write. But as I get things published, I won’t be able to control who sees what. So, that last option is the one I’m going to continue to use to try to guide myself with, but what do others think? Are there options I have not considered? Has anyone else run into this problem, either in the blogosphere or in their own non-blog writings? Does everyone hate me? Cause, you know, I, like most poets, write in order to get people to love, admire and worship me. If that’s not happening, then I need to rethink my motives or my method.
PS – Despite this situation, I still think that in general it was a good idea to let some friends know this address, just in case you’re one of my friends and wondering if I’m still happy to have you reading, I am, just keep paragraph #3 in mind…