I posted the following on my personal Facebook page today.
The attack in Orlando left me gutted.
I’ve spoken a lot about it with friends and have been trying to figure out what I can do. I’ve signed petitions, I’ve written to various members of the government, and I’m going to donate a short story to a charity anthology that will benefit the injured and families of those who died.
It’s not much, but it’s something.
A comment someone made on Facebook made me think though. She has multiple Facebook accounts (as do I) and she mentioned how silent her “real life” account has been. How no one is talking about what happened. How no one is coming together to grieve or console each other. How different it was from the one she uses for her writing. I checked here to see if that was the case. If my “real life” account was as silent. It wasn’t. And I’m glad. But it made me think even more. It made me think about the fact that I’ve been silent about what I do for a living.
So I guess this is my coming out of sorts.
Most of you know I’m bisexual. Many of you know that I write. A good number of you know that I write LGBTQ romance. And yet, I’ve had the privilege of keeping them separate. I used a pen name. I didn’t announce what I wrote to the world.
At first, it was because I was working at the hospital. After all, in Michigan, I could have been fired for who I am. I could have been fired for being bi. I could have been fired for my writing. If you think that sounds far-fetched, truth is indeed stranger than fiction. I know writers it has happened to.
By the time I quit to write full-time I was so immersed in the LGBTQ writing community that I was almost never on my “real life” account. It seemed pointless to make a big deal about it. Most of the people I am close to already knew.
But part of a part of my hesitation was because I was scared. Afraid of rejection. Afraid of the consequences. And, to be frank, afraid of the hatred.
If I didn’t tell you before now, I’m sorry.
My silence has never been because I’m ashamed of who I am and what I do. I am proud of what I write. I am proud of my community.
It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t have a plan for my life until I realized I could write. Writing has anchored me and shaped me in ways I can’t begin to put into words. Every time I say I am a writer I say it with a sense of wonder.
But I know I have been very privileged to be able to pick and choose who I am out to.
I used quotation marks around the phrase “real life” because my writing IS my real life. My sexual identity is my real life. In the past few years, the lines between my birth name and my pen name have blurred. A few months ago I tried to sign in to a yoga class and couldn’t figure out why it couldn’t find that name in the system. I’d used my pen name. I answer to either. I am both.
I have deep respect and understanding for the people who stay hidden. Many times, there is no other choice. As we saw this past weekend, hatred runs deep. There are grave consequences for being out and proud. Until the world changes and everyone is safe, each person deserves to make that decision for themselves. In their own time.
This is my time to stand up and say: my name is Brigham Vaughn. I write LGBTQ romance. I am bisexual.
There may be little I can do about what happened in Orlando. But I have a voice. And I am tired of being silent.