It took me a long time to do this; to my friends and family, probably too long. When I say “this,” I mean write and put myself out there. I have loved writing since I was a small child and have been told by many that I was pretty good. The problem was a lack of belief in myself. Throughout the process of writing Shadow Resistance, I frequently asked myself, “why would anyone want to hear what you have to say?” But I wrote; because I felt I had to. I had to put myself out there because the world is falling short on different voices.
I am a Black lesbian from the South. We are essentially unicorns down here but we exist. I spent most of my life trying to blend in with the background, although most people who knew me back in the day would disagree. The fact is, I wanted to be liked, not different. Now, there’s no escaping my difference and it seems that now more than ever, people need to hear from someone who is “different.”
After the last Presidential election, my spirit was bothered, like over half of the voting population in the US. (Thanks Electoral College!) I went through four of the five stages of grief: Denial: “There is no way this is happening! There’s NO WAY this country will take this many steps backwards! Anger: “WTF is THIS?! I thought the “racist/homophobic/misogynistic generation was dying off! I thought people were more progressive than this! Bargaining: “Surely the Electoral College will step in and make this right. I mean, the popular vote!! Please God, I’ll do anything! Depression: “Well hell, if this is the country I live in, I should get ready to be sent off to some gay conversion concentration camp, cause I sure can’t afford to relocate internationally.” Unfortunately, I could never breach the acceptance phase.
Acceptance would mean that this is real. That the country would rather be run by a petulant child simply because they hated the other candidate. Acceptance would mean that the life of my wife, my brother, my father, my mother and many others that I hold dear are given some sort of quantifiable value, and if there is an option between making rich people even more rich and providing basic decency for those who aren’t in their circles, those of us who weren’t lucky enough to win the lottery (be it job, family, or other privileges) can go kick rocks. Acceptance would mean validating that my own existence is beneath people who would do anything for the almighty dollar. Never mind my intelligence. Never mind my character as a person. My value is tied to the color of my skin, what is (or rather is not) between my legs and who I love.
I can never find that as acceptable.
It’s been hard to sell Shadow Resistance to agents. For me, Shadow Resistance is not just a single novel, not just a series of books (I promise, it’ll be a series guys), not just a journey of Dom, Layla, Rose, Vasquez, Robert and Ryan. Shadow Resistance, for me, is larger than a story. It’s standing up and deciding that we DO NOT accept this. We DO NOT accept that the money, power and loud voices of the few, speak for the collective country. Shadow Resistance is remembering that whatever subset you are apart of— be it LGBT, female, people of color or immigrant — we are a community. We must stop waiting for politicians, actors, clergy and activist to make change. Don’t get me wrong, some of these people are trying to do good; trying to drive some sort of positive progress to make sure we are all equal under the eyes of the Law and God. (Or if you don’t believe in God or believe in something else, that’s also A-OK with me.)
Despite my bashfulness (again, some people who know me would argue this) and despite my desire to blend into the background and not be seen or heard, I can no longer stay silent. My words here and in the novel will fall on many deaf ears; it may even anger some people. Privilege often clouds the eyes of the beneficiaries. The fear of losing privilege closes hearts, eyes and ears. In order to bring myself to do this, I had to come to an affirmation that my book, my words, my mind and my heart aren’t for everyone. I had to understand that in this, I would deal with the horribleness of some, with the hopes that the good will outweigh the bad.
But that’s the point of resistance in general, isn’t it? Speaking up for yourself or others who may be subjugated by a “majority.” (Although, let’s face it, they are HARDLY a majority.) Resistance is examining the climate of the country and world and realizing that something is broken and deciding not to sit idly by and tolerate the current state.
Institutional racism, homophobia, misogyny, and class division are not okay. They never will be. The only way to force change is to resist the “status quo.” Nat Turner, Susan B. Anthony, Harvey Milk, and many others took a gander and decided that they had to resist to force the country forward. These people were a resistance in each of their time. Now, it’s my turn.
But I’m still human. I’m still adverse to attention and therefore writing was my way of trying to make a difference.
This is my Shadow Resistance.