Regret ~ Outside the Margins with Brigham Vaughn

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Opposite directions towards right and wrong

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.


~Brigham Vaughn

About Brigham Vaughn

Brigham 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.

Contact Brigham:
Twitter: @AuthorBVaughn

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6 thoughts on “Regret ~ Outside the Margins with Brigham Vaughn

  1. That is a dilemma and I’m afraid my personal solution may not help you. I pretty much give the full answer when people ask what I write. My author name is not a secret for anybody on my personal page in possession of at least half a brain cell. But then I’ve pretty much reached the stage where I refuse to worry about whether or not people like me. At some point in the past (long before I even thought about writing) I asked myself the following question: If they can’t take me as I am, do I really want them in my life in the first place? And it turned out the answer is no.

    But, this weekend there’s a poetry festival in my library and on Saturday evening there’s a flash fiction workshop which I’m hoping to attend. That may well involve ‘outing’ myself to a whole host of people, and if the writing group meeting in my library anything to go by they’ll all be my age or older. We’ll see how that goes. It’s not impossible I’ll be the talking point of the town for a short while. That’s okay, but the prospect does make me somewhat nervous.

  2. Helena,

    Thank you for your lovely response. I actually have a much, much harder time with people I’ve known a long time than people I’m just now meeting. I enthusiastically share it with new people. But being honest and potentially severing an already established relationship is very, very hard for me.

    Best of luck at your poetry festival and flash fiction workshop!

  3. I’ve been in your shoes with coworkers and friends before and when one of my favorite people in the world from my childhood, who was essentially a grandmother to me after mine died, asked about my writing for the same reasons: to support me. I denied the grandma-like woman, mostly because of my own assumption that a Lutheran, farming women in her late 80s couldn’t wrap her head around my writing. I think she’d be fine with it, but I worry about how that would affect her relationship with my mother, who still lives in the same town.

    It’s scary. I feel the same way about lying as you described. I slowly came out to work friends about my writing if I trusted them not to make it an issue. I quit before many knew. I was an oddity to most. They simply didn’t understand until I told them I was bisexual. Suddenly what I wrote was okay. I don’t get that, but hey, whatever.

    I took my time “coming out” about my writing, standing up to bigoted comments said w/o thought out of fear. But in the last year, I’ve started telling more and more people. About a year ago, I told my daughter’s principal. O.o Haha. I don’t tell everyone. Not everyone deserves to know. But when you feel the pull, you might be surprised by how accepting people are around you. I had a random experience at Staples, of all places, when I had business cards printed for Pride. After I’d dropped off my USB drive, the woman who helped me called her friend over (who later was our cashier) to show her my job and tell her it was best job she got to print all week. It made her month. We never know where we will find interested readers, supportive friends, and people telling us secrets they’ve kept for years because finally they met someone that was open about their reality.

    Regret happens, but there will be a next time. There will be more perfect opportunities. Just think of these two dinners as a warm up. 😉

  4. That’s such a huge question. Personally, I have a very hard time being friends with someone where I can’t be myself, and I’m just a weird cisgender woman with depression and a quirky sense of humor, but I don’t have any friends locally–partially because I had a really bad situation at work and I have an extremely hard time trusting people on more than a superficial level. I do get lonely. I know I should try to make friends, but I’m afraid of getting stabbed in the back. What, you’re probably wondering, does this have to do with your situation? I think it comes down to how important it is to you that your friends know the real you. From what I know of you online (I’m friends with you on FB), you’re a successful author, you’re a kind person, you’re funny, and you’re a great friend to the people around you, as well as the fact you get along with your parents. You’re awesome. I think it would be really sad if they didn’t appreciate you for accepting you for everything that you are. But I know things don’t always work out that way–my cousin is gay and married to the man he loves and his parents don’t accept it. As far as I’m concerned, it’s their loss, because they’re both wonderful. But even his oldest brother, who is uncomfortable with the idea, still supports him because they’re brothers, and that’s more important. I don’t know if that helps any with the question of your friends. Your aunt is harder in a way because she’s family, but even then, sometimes it’s just a matter of education. Maybe? I really hope you’re able to come to a decision you’re comfortable with. I think sometimes the hardest decisions are the ones we make to be true to ourselves. {{hugs!!}}

  5. I hate that this has to even be a decision you have to dwell on. It should really be as simple as if it comes up in natural conversation then talk about it, If not, then no worries.

    My daughter came out her junior year of high school. We are a traditional, conservative family. That said, I’m episcopalian and watched my church family get torn apart when the national church wanted to ordaine homosexual priests. It was a sad time. I lost many friends during the division, and my old church has literally been torn down to the ground (the empty building sold rather than people finding a way to work together and salvage the building, property, and relationships). I feel the events with my church family began a preparation in my heart for when Kat came out to me years later. She’s 20 and has lost friends due to her sexuality; my now ex-monster-in-law has been very vocal on how my daughter is going to hell. I like to point out that being gay isn’t in the “Top 10”, but adultery is, and she’s committed it multiple times.

    But I digress.

    After four years it’s no big deal for me to tell people my daughter is gay in normal conversation. If they don’t like it, well they can piss off.

    I can see your two dilemmas. With your aunt, it’s probably a discussion that only needs to happen should the opportunity presents itself in the most overt way. Meaning, it may not be a conversation I’d worry about having ever. In regards to your former coworkers, next time you’re together, should it come up share the info about your writing with them. Then if they ask why you chose writing LGBTQ fiction, you can go into the bisexuality. But in both cases I, personally, wouldn’t force the topic. If it happens organically, go with it. If not, then don’t be bothered.

    And don’t regret your “inaction”. Life is too short to worry over the shoulda’ / coulda’. At least you see your missed opportunity. You’ve obviously learned from it and won’t let the same thing happen again. Should the opportunity arise, and the moment feels right, you deal with it then.

    Chin up, dear heart.

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