Here we are on the eve of the most contentious election of our lifetime. Many of you cringe at the mere mention of politics. I get it. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll all be glad to see this dark and ugly campaign finally come to an end. Our good friend and lesbian icon Lee Lynch recently wrote a great blog about the increasing ugliness of our political discourse and the ways it affects our interactions. R.E. Bradshaw penned a passionate piece about the bigotry on full display during this campaign, and the very real consequences for the LGBT community if one party prevails. Neither of these popular authors has shied away from political topics at a time of fever pitch not seen since the days of Lincoln. I grew up in a political household, full of loud and fierce debate, but today’s super-charged social media climate multiplies the tension. Speaking out about hot button social issues that deeply affect our everyday lives as LGBT citizens carries even more risk.
I also think the risk is necessary.
I’m not just talking about the current presidential campaign. I’m talking about us. As authors of lesbian fiction, we engage in brave political speak simply by having the courage to write honestly about our lives. Make no mistake, although marriage equality has been won and bans on gays in the military have been vanquished to the dark annals of our history, we are still in the midst of the struggle for full equality. Just as African Americans realized that the passage of the 13th Amendment didn’t end their struggle for equality—indeed, it continues to this day—our fight will continue for some time. In today’s America, legal discrimination against LGBT citizens is alive and well in many states. With bathroom bills and phony religious liberty claims, our opponents never tire of inventing new ways to marginalize us and criminalize our lives.
Art and literature chip away at the stereotypical caricatures, revealing our common humanity to the wider population. Some document the struggles and challenges in the journey, while others beautifully show our love and life. We are unique and yet the same as our neighbors in all the ways that count. The power of our creativity and willingness to tell our stories are vital for positive change that continues to move the needle toward full equality. I’m proud to be a member of a community of lesbian writers. Our stories dare to declare to the world that we are fully human and worthy of respect, regardless of our differences. Our literature is an act of political defiance and more important now than ever.
We can never forget those in our community who have no voice. Many are still hiding, unable to come out of the shadows. Our stories give them hope and a sense of belonging and maybe even the only positive examples of people like them that they will ever see. When you write stories with LGBT characters authentically and unapologetically, you drive out stereotypes that demonize our community. Your stories are powerful examples of courage that will long endure. Our words change the narrative to empower, entertain, and teach by example. We demand the world see us as we wish to be seen. That is a political statement for the ages. I don’t think we have a choice to remain silent.
Keep writing. Keep supporting LGBT creativity. Don’t forget to vote tomorrow.