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Can I use #ownvoices tag when I'm not sure of my orientation?

Discussion in 'Sexual Orientation' started by CharacterStudy, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. CharacterStudy

    Regular Member

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    I write novels. An editor has advised me to use #ownvoices as an LGTB+ tag for my (so far) unpublished novel, if it applies. I already use it for disability, but I'm uncertain I qualify on LGBT+. I don't want to use it unfairly, so I'd like your opinions, based on my personal situation below, as to whether it would be reasonable to use the #ownvoices tag for bisexuality.

    #ownvoices is a tag you can use to alert agents, readers, etc to the fact the writer has personal experience of the experience in the book - whether that be disability, LGBT+, race etc.

    My novel contains a main character who is bi. I would say I personally currently identify as uncertain, potentially bi, for the reasons below:

    I'm in a happy hetero marriage, all my relationships have been hetero. I've had a couple of intense friendships with women, which, looking back, I wonder about, and some LGBT folks have said sound like little crushes. I was totally clueless at the time.

    I grew up in a conservative rural area and as a teenager I remember not being sure of my orientation, but plumping for 'straight' eventually because I liked guys, and I didn't realise being bi was a possibility. At school someone once spread a rumour that I was gay, so I got quite a bit of flak because of that. Maybe it made me reluctant to dig deeper into myself.

    I've always supported LGBT rights passionately. When I started writing this current story I came to identify very closely with my bisexual MC. I started noticing women more and more, but wasn't sure whether that was because I was identifying with my bi character, or because writing him was allowing me to explore my own orientation. I then realised if the book was ever published someone would at some point ask me my own orientation so I tried to work through that, and ended up working through all the common 'coming out' issues - what would my family think, etc.

    I think if I was ever single in the future I wouldn't rule out women. I'd probably stick 'bi' on a dating profile and see what happened, but I think I'd be more likely to go for a guy. Of course, I'm happily married so I'm hoping being single won't happen!

    I find a small number of men attractive (I have 2 clear types), but when I find them attractive I really do drool over them. I probably see one fanciable guy in every 50 or so, I'm picky, but I've noticed I tend to end up dating blokes who I'm friends with/know well. In the last couple of years - since writing- I've become aware that I notice women too. I find maybe 1 in 20 women on the street attractive (and again I have 2 clear types), but it's less drooly. I'm not sure whether that attraction would lead to anything.

    I've always been in quite a masculine professional environment, often as the only woman (am not particularly butch though). I get on really well with men, as friends. In fact I find most women (unless they're a bit like me), hard to click with but that may be because I didn't know many until the last few years. A recent (male) reviewer noticed my male characters are much better written and natural than my female characters. That's because I 'get' men. I feel like women are as much a mystery to me as they stereotypically are to men.

    If, in this hypothetical dating site scenario, a woman I found attractive asked me on a date, I think I'd go and see how I felt, and I'd ask out a woman I found attractive (I'd warn her though!). I can't really imagine me being with a woman romantically, and I'm not sure whether the physical attraction would translate into anything physical, I think I'd have to try, to know.

    I suspect that itself puts me somewhere on the bi scale. I'm not sure, but I'd guess most entirely straight people wouldn't even countenance a date with someone the same sex.

    Outside of LGBT helplines and you lot only I've only told one person for sure. If asked outright I'd say I was slightly bi, but more like 90% straight. I've never been able to just come out (ha ha) with that though, though I have tried to psych myself up to it.

    Having spent a couple of years now trying to work out my sexuality and being really quite confused, and going through all the 'what would my family say' stuff, I feel somewhat qualified to write my closeted bi character at least. I haven't been really upset as I really don't feel there's anything wrong with being not straight, but it has been a bit tortured. I've also found myself unexpectedly upset when someone told me that bisexuals don't really exist.

    But can I really claim #ownvoices, if I'm not entirely sure myself, and am probably only a bit not-straight? Or may even have somehow used my crazy writer's imagination to imagine myself into being bi?

    What it comes down to is, if I was published as an #ownvoices author, and then, say in an interview, all that stuff above came out, would LGBT people on here feel I'd tricked my way in?
     
  2. AbsoluteNerd

    Regular Member

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    Location:
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    Gender:
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    Gender Pronoun:
    She
    Sexual Orientation:
    Bisexual
    Out Status:
    Some people
    Personally, I think it's perfectly valid. I haven't been interacting with the larger community for very long, so I can't speak for others, but I think it would be fine.
     
  3. CharacterStudy

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    Thanks AbsoluteNerd, sorry for the late reply and well done for wading through all that! I think on reflection I do fit the category.
     
  4. Foxfeather

    Regular Member

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    Location:
    NYC
    Gender:
    Male (trans*)
    Gender Pronoun:
    He
    Sexual Orientation:
    Straight
    Out Status:
    Not out at all
    :astonished: You got a publishing deal? I've been trying to publish novels for years and no success yet.