It’s taken me just over three weeks to sit down and record this event. And the headline may be a little confusing. Because surely in 50+ years I’ve encountered people being homophobic. Oh absolutely. I couldn’t even begin to peg down the first time that I heard gay, queer, or the F-slur dropped as derogatory statements. The difference in the past was it was directed at other individuals or broadly against a group, not generally leveled at me individually. I can think of a few stray instances in school but it was at a time where I hadn’t internalized the label. So in this regards, I’m talking about now, at a point in time where I’ve accepted that is who I am. So homophobic remarks have a different vibe now.
And a few weeks ago is not even the first time this year that I’ve encountered homophobia leveled in my direction in the here and now. This year has been a new world for me. However, this was my first experience where it supposedly impacted my livelihood. I won’t lie. I had a feeling that would happen at some point. Maybe it already has but this was the first time someone took the time out of their day to send me an email to that effect.
My main thought after reading this is I question how much of this information is true. If this person has written a book, I hope they have a good editor is all I will say because I’ve presented it warts and all as I received it. The second thing is despite going to all the effort to send me this message they lacked the courage to use their own name or email address. “Hey” is what they put down in the name field. So this is someone who lacked the courage even to put down the name Bob or Sue or whatever, never mind provide a way to actually receive any kind of response. Ultimately it took a lot more courage for me to be open about myself than it takes for them to be a garden variety internet troll.
Honestly though, for a few moments after I received it there was part of me that wondered if it was wise to connect my whole identity to my work after all these years. For the record no where do I say that my art is a result of my sexuality. That’s their own suspicion because I had the audacity to be visible and vulnerable. The thought of being less visible for the sake of my business didn’t last long. I have spent far too much of my life bending myself to fit the world. I would rather take my chances being authentic. And although I haven’t been very vocal about it, I’ve questioned the direction of my vocation in recent months. It was already a feast or famine experience before AI and I’m hitting the point that I wonder if I’d be better off if photography and digital art was a hobby income again.
Regardless I won’t be scampering off to hide who I am. Not for one cowardly email or a thousand. Not even from bigots unafraid to use their own names. If nothing else, I have my tendency of being stubborn in my corner. It may have worked against me at times in my life. Right now, I feel like it’s my advantage for a change.
Decades of my adult life in the closet was more than enough thanks.