On the panel of Place in Fiction with Judith Katz and Elana Dykewomon, Elana says that lesbian culture is like the diaspora but without our families. And the odd thing is that in my nomadic life, I’ve never considered that we’re all displaced. That so many lesbians had to leave their homes in order to radicalize, in order to survive authentically. To realize themselves.
For three years, I’ve been having frustrating roundabout conversations with older lesbians wherein I’m accused of abandoning lesbian stories. Of forsaking lesbian mythology. Crossover stories are, apparently, what I write. I believe I write human stories about people who happen to be lesbians. How that’s a crossover, I can’t imagine. Why are we so determined to hold ground? Why do we want to stay on the periphery instead of drawing the center toward ourselves as Toni Morrison suggests?
But now, talking with Judith and Elana, I think I’ve had it wrong. I think I’ve had a circular conversation with women who are angry to feel less and less relevant rather than the women who want to see our stories recorded and expanded. To see our culture survive our wanderings.
I’m too old to be an acolyte, but I’m ready to run with the baton. I’m ready to carry your stories and my own. I’m ready. I see at last what it means to have this culture survive. To build our cities and protest our displacement. To champion our voices. I see how important our connection to one another is. I see at last. And I’m sorry that it took me so long. I’m sorry that my isolation, innate after 38 years, failed to recognize yours. We can build air balloons with our stories. We can build planets and landscapes. I’ll walk to where you are and learn your story. I’ll remember you and tell how it was. How it is. How we’ll make it. How we created our lives as though from scratch and didn’t have to go on remaking them each time from bone because we found paper and pen instead. Because our stories are built to last.