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The lesbian space opera launches

On February 22nd, my novella All Things Mortal was officially released to the public. I'm so grateful to all the friends and family that came out to support me that night at McNally Robinson Booksellers. If you weren't able to attend, here's a transcript of the speech that I prepared for that night. Enjoy!

 I want to say thank you to everyone for being here. I honestly can’t tell you how much it means to me to have you all come and support me.

 Writing this book was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I’m not even just talking about the work or the hours I put in writing, editing, designing. I’m talking about something else that’s a bit harder to explain. I remember starting this project and being so excited and full of hope, and then somewhere down the line the reality of everything that I was trying to do kind of dragged me down. The pressure just mounted. My anxiety and depression kept creeping up and trying to convince me that what I was doing didn’t matter. And at a few points during this project, I actually believed it. In short, I felt a little lost as I tried to continue writing this thing. There were a lot of doubts.

Writing this book was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.

Writing this book was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done.

But I realize now what I was missing during those times of stress. I had forgotten something important. I was so focused on making my deadlines and making it perfect that I was completely ignoring why I had set out in the first place to write it. And I want to share that with you now.

I knew I was a queer little kid from a pretty early age. I was fascinated with female movie stars just as much as the male ones. I had crushes on girls, but I didn’t know how to quite put a name to it back then, growing up among kids who’d make gay jokes and didn’t take things like diversity and inclusion so seriously. And I’m not blaming them either, because that’s the kind of society we had all grown up in. But I felt like I didn’t have any real LGBTQ role models that I could aspire to be like, so I kind of just tucked those feelings away for another time, a problem for another day. 

 Then when I was thirteen, I went through one of the hardest periods in my life where I was diagnosed with clinical depression, and I knew then that there were parts of me that were screaming for attention inside, and that I couldn’t ignore anymore. And that’s when I fully “came out” to myself. It would be five more years before I would tell anyone else about my identity as a bisexual woman, but there was a certain joy in the fact that I came to terms with my identity so young. Still, it was lonely and there were a lot of doubts about whether I would be accepted by those around me.

I’m telling you some of my story now because I think I wrote All Things Mortalas a kind of story that my teenage self would have needed back when she was alone and unsure and maybe questioning whether things were going to be okay. 

 In the years since my coming out, I’ve experienced a wide range of reactions from others. Mostly positive, I’m glad to say. My parents maybe didn’t really understand at first, but they tried to be supportive too. My friends were just the best ever and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. 

 But there was hate too. I’ve been laughed at, I’ve seen people say that my identity isn’t valid or that it’s a phase, that you’re either gay or straight and it’s one or the other so you’d better make up your mind already.

 I’m lucky to live in a country that has legalized same-sex marriage. I’m lucky to live in a city that can hold a yearly pride event without any serious protests. I’m lucky to have friends that love me for who I am.

 So now I’m happy to report that those doubts that plagued me before are slowly creeping away. I’m falling back in love with my book again. This weird, wacky and wonderful little lesbian space opera that I don’t even really know where it came from. 

 I know that hate still exists, and maybe it always will. What I wanted to do with a book like this is maybe just spread a little joy. If there’s one person that can read it and feel seen or heard or represented, then I know I’ve done my job. Because I think sometimes it’s the people who have been the most silenced that most deserve to have their voices heard.

 The main character in my book has no voice. She can’t speak. But I wanted to show that you can still have power and be the main character in your own life even though there might be people who are trying to silence you. 

 Thank you.

Laurel JohansonComment