Bows

I knew I was gay when I was five. In my family, it was the worst thing you could be. My dad called it the dark place. At the same time, he liked that I was good at sports, thought it was hilarious that I was constantly mistaken for a boy, and actively encouraged me not to be feminine in any way. He raised me like a boy.

It felt like a fracture in me: this pull toward girls. I told so many lies. It’s a terrible trauma to bury your essential self in lies. In my early twenties, I broke up marriages. Other people’s, and then my own. Nothing meant anything to me because it wasn’t allowed to mean anything to me. I wasn’t allowed to be gay.

Relationships are plenty difficult without pouring shame and self-loathing into them. I was fundamentally unlovable. That’s how I felt. I lied and hated myself. I hated you for loving me. I hated god for making me like this. I hated my self for believing a god could make me like this and want me to hate my self.

And then I met Mary. I was 35, and determined to change my shape. To be out every where, all the time. To be honest. And me.

I thought it would be hard. I guess it was in the sense that my family could not fucking deal with me being honest. But from the perspective of my own trauma, being out is a gift. The truth is so much easier to live than the crushing terror of shame. Hating yourself is all consuming. How can you really love anyone else? How can you reach out to people when you’re so certain that your heart is cancerous?

Being out was unimaginable to me when I was young. One of my favorite things about Pride is how many young people show up. How big community has become. It’s brave to be honest and open in any culture, but it’s especially brave in a culture where people don’t even want you to pee in peace.

What I will tell you from this side of it, is that the sooner you can see your beautiful heart, the more effective you’ll be at using it. There’s so much community out here, waiting to love you. To lift you up and celebrate you. To see you.

You in your one precious life.

Deserve to be loved in all your wildness.

1 thought on “Bows”

  1. Scary and so exhilarating to realize my own precious life. How much time did I waste trying to please others? What a gift to know my mother loved me just the way I am. I don’t have time for the people who don’t accept me.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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