Just had a good conversation, that I’d been afraid would be fraught. It started out with me a little shaky, honestly — my voice was sort of wobbly on the phone when I explained the issue.
I’d been approached some months ago to be part of the Little America project by Epic Magazine. They’ve done some profiles of immigrants, as a deliberate humanizing counter to the conservative nationalist media narratives, and they were expanding that into a book, and wanted to know if I’d be willing to be interviewed.
I took a look at the profiles online (link in comments), and really liked what they’d done there. Brief, first-person accounts, compelling and sympathetic stories. Good work, great mission, so I said yes.
There then followed a series of interviews, and this is where I started to get uneasy, because after initial wide-ranging conversations, they mostly focused on my erotica writing in my 20s — which, okay, is a significant part of my life, and I can totally understand why folks might want to write about it and include that somewhat unusual story in this kind of collection.
But a) it was a long time ago, and I honestly have forgotten a lot of the details, so I got a little stressed when they were pressing me for what I or various other people said, b) I started fretting a bit that it might turn into some kind of exploitative scandal piece, which would be deeply irritating, and c) I was mostly worried that somehow, in the many hours of interviewing, I might have said something that could be interpreted in such a way that it would hurt my parents or the rest of the family.
They finished the interviews this past week, and scheduled a photo shoot for tomorrow (Monday). I started fretting immediately, and by Friday, was worried enough that I ended up writing to them and asking if I could see the draft before they published it. They said no, which honestly didn’t surprise me, as I think that’s pretty common for journalistic interviews — you don’t want the interview subject to slant the narrative to make it extra-favorable to them. Fair. If they’d just said no, though, I might have pulled out right then; I was considering it.
But the editor of the project offered to talk to me and go over the rough contours of the piece. She was kind enough to make time on the weekend for that, which is really going above and beyond, and I hope her bosses appreciate her. And we just had a great conversation, and I’m now reassured that the finished piece will be honest, sympathetic, and mostly not focused on my parents. Whew.
There’s a few sentences about how my parents reacted when they first learned that I was writing about sex and putting it on the internet, but nothing they haven’t heard me talk about and write about before. I think it’s okay if their friends hear, yet again, that my parents were not thrilled about that.
There is some sexy stuff too, but y’know, that’s fine with me. Some of it was a long time ago, and I may have had trouble remembering the details, or even remembering what it felt like to be that somewhat hormone-driven girl. But it was obviously a significant part of my life, since I spent close to a decade as a sex activist. And I still think it’s incredibly important to normalize talking about sex, which is such a huge part of human life and society. And of course, also talking about queerness, and poly, etc. and so on.
So for this particular piece, I’ll take off my politician hat, and my mom hat, and my professor hat, and my foundation director hat, and even my science fiction hat, and will drag that dusty sex activist hat out of the closet.
Hopefully it still fits.