Chloe decides it's Olivia's laboratory that she's after...
I’ve had three coming outs. I’ve always been a bit of an overachiever.
The first coming out was perhaps the least predictable or maybe the most, depending on who you’re asking - apparently the image of me in a white gown being presented at a cotillion makes perfect sense to a small percentage of my friends. You’d have to ask them what it is about me that screams debutante.
The second coming out was just as much about me as it was about me and Jamie. No white dresses in that scenario. The fact of Jamie made it difficult for me to ignore my internal lavender menace. And in time, I came to appreciate the automatic clarity of having someone on my arm to make plain what was otherwise rendered invisible - mainly due to my chapstick, if not lipstick presentation. Invisibility, thy name is femme of color.
The third coming out has been a much more difficult process. It’s been the room of my own that I’ve resisted the most. To claim physical space to do the scribbling that I’ve been doing since I figured out how to make my awkward left-handed grip work in the service of handwriting short stories and other musings - albeit in very tiny scrawl that is a challenge to read, has not been a claim that I’ve been willing to make in any way beyond that of a somewhat engaged amateur.
Yes, I do the things that other writers, more professional writers do. I seek out community at far-flung writers’ conferences. I admire phrasings that often take place in the quietest moment of a narrative and hold them close as if they were my own private discovery. I even take to the blogosphere, but you know this.
You know more than this. You know that I’m a writer. You know that I’m a writer in the same way that I knew I was a debutante before I was presented at my cotillion and in the same way that I knew I was a lesbian before I was presented to Jamie.
But it worries me, this act of writerly self-affirmation. The idea of putting myself before an empty screen or an empty page deliberately in the service of making that space less blank and at least on some occasions better than it was when I found it, activates a distancing self-protective nonchalance that I didn’t recognize until my wife (not long-gone Jamie) offered me a room of my own in which to write. To be a writer. This offer, by the way, is no small thing when you live in a Brooklyn brownstone.
The chronic weight of continually disclaiming something about myself that is so fundamental exposed itself as something too heavy to bear in the light of that sun-filled raw space, adorned only with Vitsoe shelving not yet filled with the work of other writers.
As Flannery O’Connor said, the truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. And so with a weak stomach, but a strong spirit, I’m changing course. I’m telling myself (and you) what I’ve known all along.
The room of my own is optional, but the declaration is not.
I am a writer.
Time to go find some blank spaces to fill.
-Ara Tucker, 2013