Join Prism Book Alliance® as Brigham Vaughn goes Outside the Margins today.
I am not someone who dwells on regret much. If I make a mistake, I usually do my best to learn from it and figure out how to move forward. I try to see it as an opportunity.
But last week, I did two things I really regret. And I’m struggling with how to deal with them.
Both happened over dinner, oddly enough.
The first was when I went to visit my aunt to celebrate her birthday. I don’t have many relatives who are a part of my life anymore. She’s religious and somewhat conservative. She’s not so conservative it’s stopping her from voting for Hillary, but conservative enough that she’s made some disparaging remarks about gay people in the past. This was the first time I’d ever heard them, but my dad had mentioned it before.
This time, it was about gay sex in prison. I have no idea if she was talking about a consensual relationship or rape, and there’s a world of difference of course, but it wasn’t clear from what she said. And I’m not sure she can see the difference.
I froze, because I had no idea if I should respond or what I would say if I did. By the time I pulled my thoughts together, that portion of the conversation had wrapped up and they’d moved on to other topics. I felt guilty on the drive home after.
Two days later, I was at dinner with my former co-workers. We were having a great time catching up over a meal. It was the first time we’d seen each other since the beginning of the summer. At some point, I’d told them about my writing, but they really hadn’t asked for details.
This time, one of them asked me what my pen name is. She was so enthusiastic about it, eager to read my work. I told her no, that I wasn’t going to share it. She looked surprised, and over the course of the meal, she and a couple of other women pestered me about it. They were doing it for the best of reasons, they wanted to support me and my work, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them that I write LGBTQ romance.
I wouldn’t be so hesitant, but before we got to be friends, I overheard her make several scornful remarks about gay people. I have no idea if she really feels that way. Maybe she’s just thoughtless. Maybe her views have changed since then. I really don’t know. I do know that in general, the people at that table are more conservative than I am. They’re good people, caring people. They care about me. But I don’t know how they’d feel if they knew the truth. About my bisexuality or about my writing. I have serious doubts that they would support me.
I am almost certain it would change our relationship.
But I really hate that I didn’t have the guts to tell them the truth.
It was one thing to keep quiet about my writing when I ran the risk of losing my job. But now, what’s the worst that could happen? People would stop liking me. Is that really worth betraying who I am and a cause I believe so strongly in?
What does that say about me as a person that I am not standing up about this?
I don’t like this fearful part of myself. I don’t like hiding or lying (even by omission).
I don’t like pretending to be someone I’m not.
My relationship with my aunt is a bit more complicated and there are a lot of reasons for not being honest with her. But I really don’t have any excuse with my former co-workers. What kind of friendship is it if it’s based on lies? How can it matter that much if something like this comes between us?
Last spring, after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, I came out on my personal Facebook and talked about both my sexuality and my writing. It felt so good to be open with everyone. But apparently my co-workers never saw the post and no gossip made it their way.
So I’m at a loss about what do.
Do I open up to them at our next get-together? Do I send them an email instead? Do I continue to ignore it?
I’ve been mulling it over for days and still have no idea what the right choice is.
And my heart hurts because I’m afraid there’s no way through this dilemma without losing someone I care about.
About Brigham VaughnBrigham Vaughn has always been a voracious reader with her own stories to tell. After many years of abandoned plots, something finally clicked. Now she’s eating, sleeping, and breathing writing and is excited to have finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up. In the little time that isn’t spent writing or reading, she loves cooking, yoga, photography, and remodeling her ninety-year-old home. Brigham lives in Michigan with her three cats and an amazing husband who has always been her biggest champion.
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