Are you thinking “I didn’t know he’s writing his memoir!“?. That’s OK, so was I when a friend asked me for ‘the latest update’ yesterday.
My reply was that there are no immediate plans for one; which is true enough. But the question rattled through my head overnight; why wasn’t I writing mine? I talk, often, about making sure every one who wishes to share their story, can. And I do love telling ‘little anecdotes’ at the thinest of excuses.
I believe there are a few reasons for my hesitation.
My Coming Out story is a reminder that, even 40 years ago, not everyone had to survive a trip through hell to live openly. Such tales are an important counterweight to the still-too-common stories of struggle against oppression and rejection. But they aren’t the sort of deep drama people seem to gravitate toward. Also I feel that my Coming Out, much like my confrontation with addiction, may come across as self-congratulatory; things were relatively easy for me, ‘just ’cause I’m so great‘.
Now part of that is probably based on “my trauma isn’t as terrible as others’” – an ongoing struggle to work through that one. But I am a 61 year old, white, cisgender male in North America- not sure how deeply that resonates these days. Sales of my poetry chapbook (pictured here; available at Amazon) suggest not well.
My years of activism also feel less dramatic, as I was most often ‘one of the rabble’ rather than a leader. A worker bee that morphed from fighting for legal protections against discrimination in employment, housing and government services to the task of raising funds for people with AIDS, sitting at their bedsides, mourning their passing even if/when their biologicals did not. My activism, right from the start, including celebrating queer sexuality- all the more so once the virus erupted and the urge for many was to withdraw into celibacy. My stories don’t quite match those of Oscar Moore, but I certainly didn’t shirk my duty in that regard.
Yes, surviving all I’ve gone through is an accomplishment worth celebrating– not sure that it really makes a compelling book.
The second reason is that I know all too well just how faulty my memories are. Between such ‘corrupted files’ and memories I’ve repressed or lost, weaving together a book that doesn’t read like a random one-third of someone’s bad acid trip seems impossible. Some memories were lost to such bouts of recreational chemical use; although I managed to avoid scandal. Others have been blocked as a survival technique. My year of therapy (sounds like a book title) have helped, but without ongoing access to a professional, ongoing memory recovery is slow.
And even if those missing memories are restored, it’s clear to me that some portion of the stories contained there interweave with those of other folks. Some of which are not mine to tell.