On Letting Your Writing Leave the House

Back in 2007, I made a decision that is continuing to pay dividends. I decided to let my writing leave the house.

For years I’d been journaling and writing novels and had even submitted a couple times. I’d sent a few letters to the editor and had begun to feel both that it was part of my calling to start writing for social justice, and that it was important to my development as a writer to start writing for a real audience. So, a little worried about what I might find to say twice a month, I volunteered to become a writer for the Young Adult Catholics blog.

I’ve already written about how my involvement with the blog led to the book deal for Hungering and Thirsting for Justice. It also led to me writing an article for Dignity USA about being bisexual and Catholic. And that’s what led Marie from the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing to me.

A few weeks ago, Marie was referred to me via Dignity USA to discuss her work on creating resources for religious institutions that specifically addressed the needs of ministering to bisexual persons. She wondered whether I knew of resources or of out bisexual clergy who would be willing to serve on the project’s board. I told her that I, unfortunately, didn’t know of any clergy that fit the bill and that I felt my plate was too full to serve on a board right now even if I did fit the description. I did pass some resources along and asked that she keep me in the loop as the project developed.

Last week, she contacted me again because she said my name continued to come up in regards to the intersection of a bisexual and Catholic identity. She wanted to talk to me about a way I could be involved that was “time-limited.” We set up a phone call. I expected her to ask me to share my experiences, perhaps to use as pull quotes in the guide, or to write something, both of which I was totally willing to do. But I didn’t expect her to offer to fly me to New York City so I could attend a one-day meeting with other people of faith to create a theological statement that will be the basis of the faith and bisexuality work they continue to do.

But that’s what happened. And I couldn’t be more thrilled.

When she told me that I kept coming so “highly recommended,” I joked that I was probably just the only out bisexual Catholic in the world. She chuckled and said that might be true. But I know it’s not just that. I know I’m not the only one.

But I might be the only one who is writing about it. And by writing about it, I say to the world, I exist. And what’s more, others like me probably exist, too. And by telling people that I exist, I make myself vulnerable, and in some ways I’ve paid the price for that. But it’s also allowed people to find me who care deeply about the same things that I care about. And by finding each other, we can hopefully make the world better for others.

When I put the phone down, I kept marveling at how none of this would have happened if I’d kept my writing and my thoughts to myself. How none of this would have happened if I’d refused to write “for free.” More than ever, I believe that true writers must love writing enough to write for free, whether it’s in a journal or a novel that nobody sees or a blog that thousands of people see. That writing will pay dividends — whether in benefits to mental health, your checkbook — or even in helping to create the world you want to live in.