Why I Write: Because I'm Not Always Brave

Last night, I posted Ask Any Scientist! to Young Adult Catholics. The post argues against using “science” as a justification of homophobia. I knew as I was conceiving of, writing, and publishing the post that I was more likely to get flamed for it than to get support, as the commenters most active on that blog are those who like to pick it apart. My tone was a little more snarky than usual (homilies against same-sex marriage tend to bring out the snark in me), and even when I take the least offensive tone possible, my posts about women’s ordination and just treatment of GLBTQ individuals always get flamed.

For a moment, this made me wonder if making the post was worth it at all. Because I get weary of having people rail at me as if I’m a terrible person because I disagree with what my institution dictates that I believe. It always feels like a personal attack, as my Catholicism (and my feminism, and my bisexuality) are all core facets of my identity, so that attacking any one of these things feels like you’re attacking me and not an idea. I am Catholic. I am a feminist. I am bisexual. These are not ideas. These are the realities of living in my skin. I’m sorry if my reality is offensive to you (actually, I’m not. But I am sorry that I can’t live out my reality and speak my truth in peace, when doing so isn’t hurting anyone.)

Sure enough, the first comment I got on my post was one comparing my argument to the reasoning that eugenicists use. Often, I don’t even respond to these comments because it’s draining, and these people are never interested in dialogue. This time, I did respond. Whether I have the energy to continue the conversation remains to be seen.

Last night as I was deciding whether to go through with the post or not, two things pushed me forward. One was my deadline. I didn’t want to miss it, nor did I want to switch gears at the last minute when I’d struggled most of the day deciding on a topic to begin with. But the second reason was by far the more important one: I wondered, if we are not able to write about what we truly believe, if we are not able to write from our core, even when what’s at our core is pain or embarrassment or snarkiness or fear, then what good is writing at all? If I allow fear to start dominating my writing, then I lose a certain amount of integrity as a writer. And sometimes, my writing self is the one place where I feel my integrity remains intact.

Because here’s the truth: I let fear dominate my actions in real-life far too often. Although I write about being bisexual, there are still people I’m not “out” to in my real life. As my marriage to a man approaches, there are hundreds of people who I know now and will know in the future who will never see me as anything but straight, and I don’t go out of my way to correct them. Last week, I bit my tongue in response to two homophobic remarks. Both times, I rationalized my silence based on “professionalism” (since both happened within a work context.) Both times, I knew why I really remained silent: fear. Fear of being uncomfortable. Fear of having my professionalism compromised. Fear of “forcing” my ideas on others. Fear of many things, but ultimately, just plain old fear nonetheless.

Obviously, I don’t try to hide that hard. The Internet is not exactly a private place, and publishing is not exactly a private act. I know that a quick Google search could lay bare the many things I don’t always talk about in my day-to-day life. So I do consider this writing, knowing there could be offline repercussions, as an act of bravery. But sometimes, my writing feels like the only place in my life where I live up to the type of bravery and honesty I value. And that’s why it’s so important to keep doing it.