BlogHer of the Week: Be Gay About It
"Coming out, I’ve learned, is not a one-time, one-closet deal. In fact, not a day goes by when I don’t have to decide how to manage my pronouns. My closet is a factory of doors and I’ve found that with each door I open, the ensuing reaction has far less to do with me than with the person reacting."
Meet Erika, the blogger behind Be Gay About It. In her recent post, "Opening doors, come what may," Erika kicks off with an anecdote about telling a friend that she likes girls. And then another. And another. Each time she tries a slightly different approach, tailoring her story -- her self really -- to her audience:
"I like girls."
"This is really hard for me to say, but I'm gay."
"…I’m not like … I’m not ….I’m …”
Erika's search to be all of herself with the people who matter to her -- friends who are girls, their boyfriends, their families, her family, her brother and her grandmother -- is a fraught business. She gauges each loved one's likely reaction, gears herself up and goes for it. Each time she has a solid chance of experiencing serious rejection, or just a stunning insult.
She knows it, but that doesn't stop Erika:
"That I have to declare my sexual orientation in my relationships is one of the weirdest things about my life. I have a hard time sorting it out in my head.
"I’m in this closet (or factory of doors) because the culture in which I live built it around me. I didn’t ask to be in the closet, it was imposed upon me. Yet, if I need fresh air, as we all do, it’s my responsibility to open the door. Oh, and by the way, there’s no guarantee that what’s on the other side of that door is fresh air. It might be fresh air, or it might be a three-horned, fire-breathing dragon. Good luck!"
As a writer, what I love most about this post is Erika's ability to build tension through each vignette, and then deliver the punchline and an epilogue via her own emotional reaction. It's high drama, with terrific dialogue and, the best part, the writer's eyerolling and fun-poking at herself. Take this exchange:
"[M]y little brother intuited what I needed so desperately to share and he made space for it.
"He scooted closer to me, placed his arm gently around my shoulders, and said in that jolly, yogi-esque way of his –
“Well, this just makes you more interesting.”
"After I slobbered all over his dress shirt, he turned the key in the ignition. The radio was on and, like kismet, Sheryl Crow crooned:
“It’s not having what you want; it’s wanting what you got.”"
Her lovely prose technique, aside, Erika grabbed me by the motherly heartstrings. Reading her as she signs up for rejection again and again, braving out each moment, seeking the friends and family who will embrace all of her, all of her truth, well, I have to say that her strength of character would make this mama proud if she were my daughter. (And if you'll read her comments, you'll see where she got it. Bring a hanky.)
Erika, congratulations! You are BlogHer of the Week. And thanks to everyone for continuing to send in your nominated posts. Remember to nominate individual posts, not entire blogs, and keep them coming! If you want to check out all the BlogHer of the Week posts, check out the BlogHer of the Week archive.
For Jory, Elisa and Lisa BlogHer Co-founders