In light of recent events, I decided that writing this blog post was happening within minutes of waking up. This needs to be said.
Growing up, I didn’t have books that I saw myself in.
Wait. Let me explain. . .
I’m white, but I am not straight. I am not able bodied. I live with several chronic illnesses. I live with mental illness. I lived through a nasty divorce. I lived in a home that wasn’t safe. I lived in poverty. I lived day to day, wondering where my next meal would be – and if it was fresh enough to actually eat.
I never saw myself in books.
It wasn’t until late in high school where I finally found a book with a gay main character, but by then – it was too late.
I had already lived through hell. I was still living through hell. I was in a place where I couldn’t come out. I was self harming, I was knee deep in a dark depression. I lost about forty pounds. I wouldn’t eat when there was food. I watched a parent in and out of a psychiatric hospital.
All while trying to find a safe place to escape, and I turned to books.
I couldn’t find myself in them.
Not a single one.
My story is not an agenda.
My story needs to be heard. It needs to be told. This is a story that may save a life. This is a story that cannot be erased.
When we don’t see ourselves represented in the every day world, so many of us turn to books to find ourselves. And many of us, still struggle to find those books. To have them in our hands, to cry as they read because they’ve found themselves.
Not being able to see ourselves represented is damaging. It leaves scars. It isn’t something that disappears overnight. We fight daily to make our stories heard – we know how important they are.
We know that by sharing our stories, putting books into hands that need these, we can change lives. We will change lives. We will save lives.
Our story is never an agenda. It never will be.