I want to tell you a story.
It’s a story that starts with tattoos, but it’s not about them. Or, not *just* about tattoos.
Bear with me.
When I was 19, I got my first tattoo. I had recently lost an old, dear friend to suicide and I needed something to help me cope with his death. In hindsight, I didn’t do enough research into the studio I went to (one in a college town that catered to young people getting first tats… I was sat next to a girl getting a cartoon deer “with long eyelashes!” on her shoulder blade) and it’s reflected in the tattoo I got. It’s not *bad*. But it’s not great, either.
Still, even now, almost 20 years later, looking at it or touching it reminds me of my friend and it does make me feel better.
That was my first experience with the power of tattoos, and I was hooked. Since then, I’ve gotten several other tats and, finances permitting, will be getting more.
I love all of my tattoos, even the ones that didn’t come out so great, because they are meaningful to me. There’s one on my right inner wrist. I got it when I was emotionally feeling pretty low about my writing. My hope was that it would remind me that, career or not, I was a writer.
Though I love it as it is, it was always intended to be part of a larger tattoo. The bigger design involves the inkwell on my other wrist, and a quote on my inner forearms. The quote is from a song by Coheed & Cambria called ‘Wake Up‘.
An entirely amazing song if you ask me. But my favorite part is the line: ‘This story is for you.’
It has always resonated with me. Like, deep in my soul.
When I told my darling husband about my plans for the tattoo, he said, “Who is ‘you‘?”
My response was automatic. I didn’t even think about it. But it came from somewhere inside me. That place where the lyric had struck me.
I said: Whoever’s reading it.
There’s been a lot of drama lately in the M/M community. Since I’m a newbie on the scene, I haven’t commented much. But I’ve been watching and listening. I can’t begin to speak to all of the issues that have come up. I’m a queer (bi/pan) woman (or something like that… the older I get, the more I question those labels, but that’s a whole other post) in a monogamous relationship with a heterosexual man.
I can pretty easily ‘pass’ as a straight, cis white lady. Even if I don’t feel or identify that way. That’s how others will most likely perceive me on sight.
(As long as I shave and dress “femininely” at least. Again, different post.)
But, during all the brouhaha, a question arose as to who the M/M genre belonged to. Or, rather, some people claimed that since the genre stems from the fanfiction community–which is largely the purview of women–that it is a woman’s space. A place for women writers to write the kind of things that turn them on, for other women who are turned on by the same things.
Regardless of the fact that the thing turning them on is people. Usually gay men.
Although sometimes bi men as well. But the impression being given was that men in general were only tolerated in the genre if they kept quiet. The space, the stories, might be *about* them, but they weren’t *for* them.
That bothered me. A lot.
Now, granted, the world is one that is geared toward men. Most media–books, tv, movies, etc–is made for them, with women as an afterthought. An also ran. That’s slowly changing, but it hasn’t yet.
Some gay/bi/pan benefit from that privilege. Ones that can ‘pass’, anyway. But if they can’t, or won’t, they are often just as subject to the bias as women are, albeit in different ways.
And I do believe that women deserve spaces where they can feel free and safe to be themselves.
But I don’t like the idea of side-lining or pooh-poohing another marginalized group to get it. That feels wrong. We can’t rise above our own bad treatment by treating others badly.
When I write, I’m trying to make something meaningful. I want that for all my work, even the stuff others might dismiss because it’s romance. Or horror. Or erotica.
I don’t just write for me. Or for people like me. I write for everyone.
Seriously, if I had my druthers, literally everyone would read and enjoy my work.
Not that I write to cater to everyone, or to please everyone. But I do like to write things that anyone and everyone could find *something* to like in. Of course, that’s not going to be to case. Different people like different things, and that’s okay.
But I write to that possibility. With that hope.
Isn’t that what every artist wants for their work?
Maybe this is all a crazy ramble that makes no sense to anyone but me. I don’t know. I feel like I didn’t really express my very complex feelings as clearly as I want to. But I also feel like this is very much how I feel.
Just… whoever you are out there, if you’re reading this… This story is for you. They all are.