It’s been a rough month so far and it’s only November 12th. We’ve weathered the elections and took the House back. More than one hundred women have been elected to the House of Representatives, which is a blowout. LGBTQ candidates won a record number of midterm seats. We did not retake the Senate, but we have to start somewhere. All in all, it was far more positive than negative. Words mattered to those who voted for them.
Then Ruth Bader Ginsberg fell. Anyone on the blue side about had a heart attack, and Facebook was filled with offers of ribs, lungs, and anything else our Justice might need. Times are tough, and many words were sent out in the form of healing thoughts, prayers, and loving light. They must have helped, because our Supreme Court Superhero is back on the job. Through all of this, one thing stands out. Words. Words matter. Who says what words matters. Who doesn’t say words matters.
When I started writing, I didn’t do it for anyone but myself. My stories could carry on as long as I wanted to write them. It didn’t matter what anyone but me thought. Then Ellen Hart (I was in her mystery writing class at the Loft in Minneapolis) pulled me aside, and long story short, I wound up as a lesbian published in the mainstream with a lesbian protagonist. At the time there weren’t many more people than Ellen and me navigating this path. Today, I’m happy to report there are a slew of LGBTQ authors sharing their stories with the world, both in the mainstream and in LGBTQ publishing niches. We are pushing our stories into the ether. Because words matter.
Recently, I was lucky enough to be one of the authors featured at Bookstube at the Bierstube in Hastings, Minnesota. The Bookstube is made up of rabid readers who are incredibly gracious and generous. One of them (a straight woman) told me she picked up one of my books at the library, and really liked it. I was incredibly heartened. One of the reasons (once I became published) I wanted to maintain my presence in the mainstream was because if someone got a hold of one of my books from the library, they might see themselves (as a gay person) represented in print for the first time. Someone who’d never come face to face with a queer person might pick my book up, read it, and realize we are people just like everyone else. It’s all because words matter. Words have power. Words have meaning. When they are flung loosely and without care by the leader of the free world, words cut. Words hurt. And they can heal.
No matter what, we need to keep speaking our truths. Speaking our hearts. Because words matter. They matter to the world, to help make it the place we all want it to be.
How will you make your words matter?