So yesterday at about this time, I was on my way to the public library to work on my writing--without my laptop, because I can't leave my blog alone when my laptop is around--when I decided to check my email, just one last time. You know, before I couldn't check it again for several hours. Lord knows what might happen if I didn't check my email for several hours.
Turns out I had an email from feral geographer. Who? I asked myself the same question. The subject read, "You've been added to Queer Canada Blogs!" What? Still didn't make any sense. How many times have I received an email from someone I didn't know, where I was concerned that, if I took the chance and opened it, my MacBook might become infected with a bug. Again I read the "From" and "Subject" lines, and, curiosity getting the best of me and realizing the risk to my computer was likely minimal, I decided to open it. I'm glad I did.
Here's what the email said:
I'm feral geographer and I blog at http://www.feralgeographer.wordpress.com . Along with Mae Callen of Driving Fast on Loose Gravel (http://maecallen.blogspot.com), I'm working on creating an active blogroll of queer blogs from Canada and/or by Canadians. The project is called Queer Canada Blogs (http://queercanadablogs.blogspot.com), and we've added This Gay Relationship <http://thisgayrelationship.blogspot.com/> [in case you didn't realize it, that's the name of my blog]!
Please check it out and let us know if you have any suggestions for other blogs we can add.
Knowing I had to leave for the library right away--noon is my self-imposed deadline to get writing--I sat in my chair at my work table for a few more moments to ponder the email. Then, taking just a few more minutes, I clicked on some of the links to determine if the websites referenced were legitimate, or if I'd been duped (I approach everything with a measure of skepticism and cynicism; that's just the way I am).
When I accessed the Queer Canada Blogs blog, I perused it quickly; frankly, couldn't make out what I was looking at (because every blog has it's own distinct format that needs to be negotiated around); and decided to check it out later, when I arrived back home after my writing session at the library and had a few minutes that didn't cut into my writing time. Then I closed Entourage, shut my computer, grabbed the laptop bag I'd already packed, and left.
But I felt different about myself after I read that email. As I readied myself to leave and walked out the door, I felt...exhilarated. I felt lighter, carefree, happier than I've been in a long time. After diligently working on my blog for almost a year, composing nearly 250 posts--my goal is to write that many by my blog's first anniversary--I'd been discovered (well, I hadn't been discovered, my blog had, but I still felt like I had). And I was thrilled to no longer be unknown.
True, I've been fortunate indeed to have a handful of supportive and empathetic readers who've graciously travelled with me to places I never dreamed I'd go when I started writing my blog on February 27, 2009. And I'm grateful beyond measure to those readers and their contribution to what I've written. But how could I deny not being excited by a total stranger locating my blog in cyberspace, where the vast majority of websites, blogs, and the like, will never be discovered by the average person, because there are just too many of them. This is one time, perhaps, when being gay, and having a blog with gay content, has a benefit.
As I drove my car down ___ and turned onto ___, I was distracted. I tried to imagine what having my blog included in a blogroll could mean--everything from having more readers, who decide to become regular followers, to, if I was very lucky, literally being discovered by a newspaper, magazine, or publisher that liked my voice and wanted me to write for it (all right, I realize that's total science fiction, but it happens to some writers, doesn't it?). Was this the sign I'd been waiting for that all the time and work I'd put into my blog since last winter had been for good reason after all? Then, as I saw all the children play in the brilliant sun in the yard next to the road, I remembered I was driving by an elementary school, and I had better observe the speed limit of 30 km if I knew what was good for me.
Excitement turned to concern as I merged onto Lougheed Highway and proceeded downtown. I tried to recall some of the posts I'd written, some, like Chris's and my move to ___________ and setting up our new home, that were innocuous, but others that expressed what could be unpopular opinions about gay men and gay life in general. I knew that what I'd written over the months had been exactly how I felt, and that I hadn't held back anything, because, even though my blog was on the World Wide Web, it was not well-known and, presumably, wouldn't be seen by a lot of people.
But now, in light of the inclusion on Queer Canada Blogs, I could expect more people to see it, people who didn't know me from the next gay man, who would not know that my heart was in the right place, but who also wanted more than anything to go on record as expressing thoughts and ideas that I held to be true and that meant everything to me. What would total strangers think about what I'd written, and I could I expect to receive less than supportive and encouraging comments from those who were really offended by my opinions? I couldn't worry about that now, I told myself, as I tried to keep my focus on the road without injuring myself or, God forbid, anyone else.
At the library, after entering the quiet study room and setting up my work space with the papers and books I'd brought, my mind continued to wander to the prospect of my blog being far more public than I ever imagined it would be. And I was still concerned about someone seeing it who would be angry at my assertions, insulted by them even, but I told myself this was no time to censure what I'd written. The last thing I saw myself doing was reviewing all of my posts on gay relationships and being gay and making scrambled revisions to them to ensure they were more appropriate for public consumption.
The fact is that I'm entitled to my opinions, and my blog is the one place in the world where I can express them in a public forum and go on record for what I believe to be true. And what I believe to be true is neither outrageous nor radical, not by any stretch, considering the opinions some people have on other subjects. And what I believe isn't unique either. I'm sure many gay men hold the same opinions I have about other gay men. Just because we're all gay doesn't mean we necessarily agree with or support each other in everything we say and do. There's too much diversity within the gay community to guarantee that.
Over the several hours I spent at the library, I did a reasonable job of keeping my mind on what I wanted to accomplish, but, near the time I had to leave, I took out a piece of paper and began to make a few notes on other posts I could write and add to those already published on gay relationships and being gay. If my blog was going to be included in a list on Queer Canada Blogs, by God, I'd have to be sure I had a majority of posts on issues affecting gay men. I'm sure not too many of my potential new readers would be that interested in my musings on moving from Victoria to Maple Ridge, renovating our home, hitting the age of fifty, or the challenges an aspiring writer faces.
And, yet, those are as much a part of me as being gay is. Each of them can be looked at within the context of being gay and being in a long-term gay relationship, which is exactly the reason why I haven't split them off into separate blogs. They prove a point that I've tried to make repeatedly in my posts about being gay: I'm a human being first, and gay second. Meaning I experience all the same things non-gay people do: from the stress of a move from one geographical location to another; to discovering what a mid-life crisis looks like when you arrive at a pivotal age; to taking a big risk by leaving a secure job in favor of pursuing a life-long dream.
As I recorded new ideas for posts on the subject of being gay, I realized I'd already written nearly everything I wanted to, expressing opinions I'd long held, in some cases repeatedly over a number of different posts. In the weeks and months to come, I'll do my best not to repeat myself again, although, admittedly, overlap will occur because some of the things I believe to be true about being gay affect many different facets of life.
And, sometimes, I believe that what I have to say now, although similar to what I said before, might be more meaningful, because I've had time to think of a more effective way to say it, or because I was better able to get my mind around the thought I had. Above all else, perhaps, my blog has been a testing ground for helping me to better understand how I feel about what it means to be gay. What I write here isn't just for the benefit of other people; it's for my benefit too. I still have much to learn about myself, which I know will help me with whatever I go on to write in the future.
What I'll continue to do as I write this blog is express my truth about what it means to be gay and to be in a gay relationship. And I'll do that without concern for whether what I have to say could anger new readers I've gained from my blog being included in Queer Canada Blogs, because that can't be a consideration when I sit down to write.
Ultimately, my blog is for me and about me. The first and only person I need to make happy with it...is me. Don't get me wrong, I hope what I write will continue to appeal to all different kinds of readers, willing to join me on my journey, but a writer can never try to write what he thinks other people will like. It doesn't work that way. He can only write what he likes, and, if other people like it too, so much the better.