As part of the GRNW 2014 conference keynote on Sept. 20, 2014, we asked five writers to share the messages they would send to their past or future selves. We are happy to share these messages with you.
Below is a message from author Radclyffe, who you may also know as Len Barot, President of the LGBTQ press Bold Strokes Books.
Dear Len –
Radclyffe here – your writer self, the one you never thought could ever be real. No one told you when you were growing up that girls could be all the things boys could be – like cops and firefighters and mailmen and doctors. No one for sure ever mentioned being a writer – if you were a boy or a girl. That was something people a lot different than you became. So you looked around and tried to see where you might fit, but you couldn’t find yourself anywhere in the kids and families and grown-ups you saw. You looked ahead and couldn’t see yourself, only what you couldn’t be.
Then you read that book, remember? Doctor Kate it was called. You were ten maybe and you knew that was it. You wanted to be a doctor and do something that mattered, just like Kate. It all started with a book. So many books, but for so long, none about girls like you.
Remember the play you wrote about the astronaut? You made the leader a girl, because why not? Why couldn’t that happen? You were eleven. You wrote lots of stories about girls who did the things you wished you could do after that. But you never once thought of writing as anything other than a place to put your secret wishes and dreams.
Then for a long time you were too busy to think about much except becoming a doctor, until I popped up again a couple decades later and wrote some stories about women like the one you had become. Women who loved women and were happy about it. Lesbians who lived full and satisfying and noble lives. For a while you and I shared space pretty well – you worked days, I worked nights.
And then something extraordinary happened – we found a place to share our stories with other people, pretty soon, lots of people. And you discovered that writing matters, too, and not just for you—because what we write and what we read and what we share has power. The power to teach, the power to learn, the power to create community. The power to say we have the right to love and live as we choose – come celebrate with us.
So, I am glad you finally figured out that the thing you never thought you could be has turned out to be what makes you whole. You, me and a book. Just like at the beginning.
See you soon, Len – we have another book to write and so many more to read.
Read more of the 2014 GRNW Keynote, “Write with Pride.”
About the Author
Radclyffe has had a lifelong passion for the importance of affirming and validating literature for the LGBTQ community and brings more than twenty years experience in both writing and publishing to Bold Strokes Books, one of the world’s largest independent LGBTQ publishing companies. She is a retired surgeon and full time author-publisher, she has written and published over forty-five novels as well as dozens of short stories, has edited numerous anthologies, and, writing as L. L. Raand, has authored a paranormal romance series, The Midnight Hunters.