In honor of pride month, we've asked our LGBTQ+ authors what PRIDE means to them. Please welcome Katherine Wyvern to the blog today.
When I was writing the first book in my loosely interconnected ”transgender trilogy”, Woman as a Foreign Language, I came across a beautiful quote by Eddie Redmayne, who had recently starred in The Danish Girl, and had suddenly become an advocate for transgender rights. He said, "If gender is on a spectrum, where one finds oneself is completely unique.” This is something that should be almost obvious, but is not.
Whenever I see the rainbow flag proudly displayed, I think sometimes that the rainbow truly represents that spectrum, but also the divisions that still exist within the queer community, where much language is wasted in obsessively (and sometimes aggressively) labeling and subdividing people’s identities and sexual orientations.
The words themselves have such changeful meanings, that what two years ago could legitimately be called a “transgender trilogy” should now probably be relabeled a “genderqueer trilogy”. It’s confusing, disheartening and ultimately counterproductive when vocabulary gets ahead of the content in any discussion, but such is the queer world.
My interest in writing genderqueer characters stems from my own gender confusion, for which I have no name and no label, except perhaps that rather beautiful umbrella term, “questioning”.
“Questioning” seems the core and the matter of the issue to me. Questioning gender is just one more form of the quest of human beings all over the world to find their true place in the grand scheme of things, which is not necessary the place where fate has dumped us.
This deep questioning of place and identity is a terrific premise for any story, if not for a person’s own peace of mind. It is also part of why I never wrote outright transsexual characters, and found much more interest in characters for whom gender exploration is not at all a one way street, and who don’t feel they are one thing or the other, but rather, truly, some changing, indefinable, nameless hue on a spectrum.
Incidentally, these are possibly the most numerous transgender group, and the one that finds the least expression and representation in the media.
I found it most therapeutic to write a transgender story set in Victorian times, A Muse to Live For, exactly because of the lack of established language at the time to define this issue. It was liberating to know that I could avoid all labels because at the time there were no labels, and that I could freely explore both the ingenuity and the inadequacy of the language in dealing with such topics.
It’s also my true experience of growing up with a genderqueer identity in a world (provincial Italy, thirty years ago) that had absolutely no concept of it, and where the discussion of this topic was not “taboo”, or “frowned upon”, or “loaded”, but simply “non-existent”.
Pride month is a time of noise and extravagant colourful displays, but I do hope it comes with deep reflection. So many people both in the western world and in less democratic countries, still struggle in silence, sometimes in real physical danger, to find expression and legitimacy for their identities and orientations. Unless we extend our protection to these people, and lend them our voice for what they cannot say, our pride is and will remain pretty shallow.
There are many LGBT rights organizations supporting human rights around the world. Consider celebrating pride month with a donation to one of these.
"This is one of the most beautiful romances I've ever read."
An artist lives to create. When Nathaniel’s urge to paint died, so did his will to live.
Until the night he meets Gabrielle.
Gabrielle may be just a poor prostitute, but she has the beauty of a Pre-Raphaelite stunner and the otherworldly aura of a fallen angel. She also has a secret. Gabrielle is Gabriel, and when Gabriel’s dark past comes knocking and Gabrielle must abandon her new career as an artist’s model, Nathaniel’s whole world comes crashing down again.
Better to die than living without her love, and the breathtaking creative drive she brought him. But it’s dead easy to die for a woman. Any fool can die for love. To live for it, that takes altogether more courage, doggedness, and imagination.
A MUSE TO LIVE FOR is available here: