I’m going to make the assumption that most of you who read my blog are also aware, to varying degrees, of what has happened in the last few days subsequent to my last post. If not, and you are interested, I suggest you go back and read some of the links provided in the comments because, quite frankly, I can’t be arsed rehashing what has happened.
I did debate whether or not to write a follow-up post; however, I have no desire to ignore the current situation and I think there will be more benefit to an open, honest discussion as opposed to, well, vitriolic bullshit.
Having said that, I also struggled with how best to approach this post. Do I attempt to prepare something thought-provoking? No, I won’t. I think others far more eloquent than I have already done this. Do I provide my usual sarcastic and facetious take on things? No, I won’t. I think to do so would be glib and dismissive.
Do I try to address the comments and accusations people have made about me? No, I won’t. I think it would just further inflame the situation and degenerate into further nastiness… let’s face it, probably by me. Do I justify my previous post? No, I won’t. As I think that would just be buying into the reactionary culture of victimisation.
Well. What to do then?
It was my answer to the question above, of trying to justify myself, which made me realise what I had to do above all else. This was, whether I liked it or not, to take responsibility for my actions.
You see, it was me and only me, who wrote the post which was the catalyst for the controversy currently dominating the m/m romance community.
Do I regret publishing it?
No… and yes.
No, because I still firmly believe that raising and questioning the appropriation of a GLBTQ identity as well as incidents of offline bullying, which was at the heart of my post, was – for wont of a better term – the ‘right’ thing to do.
But also yes. Yes, because there have been several real victims of this incredibly intense and unfortunately sometimes aggressive and confrontational situation, and that is something I do regret.
In particular, there are two communities that I, inadvertently or not, have offended or caused turmoil in. One being the GLBTQ communities for ignorantly perpetuating an over-simplistic or binary view of gender/s and sexuality/ies (as a Twitter mate very generously explained, although they may be wincing right now at my description); and, the second being the m/m community itself.
In relation to the latter, although there have been times when I’ve been completely disillusioned, I’ve also been interested and encouraged by how many people within the m/m community have engaged in this debate and some of the thought-provoking comments made.
Unlike others, I don’t think such contention necessarily results in division. Rather, I believe open and constructive conversations can lead to increased understanding and much stronger connections… and who knew I could be a half-glass full person?
So. Maybe I did know what to do with this post, after all.
Finally, I want to reiterate that I alone am responsible for my actions.
If you wish to place the blame on someone then it’s obvious…
Clearly, you should blame my parents.
For not only instilling in me a commitment to always stand up for what I believe in, but the knowledge, as I’ve said before and will likely say again, that you don’t shit where you eat.
Those who dared:
ouaqquwcgk on my confession dkmhwgijnw on random awesomeness Kris on maybe it’s me, but… kaetrin on maybe it’s me, but… Kris on maybe it’s me, but…
It's definitely been a learning experience. I HOPE for all involved…
Brave you, dear friend. *hugs*
Ya did good. And I agree with Chris.
It's rather sad that everyone had the lesson of “people lie on the internet” reinforced because many people don't. I'm sure it will make some people question on-line friendships or relationships which is kind of sad because that's how I've found my best friends. But shit happens, you move on and don't let it poison everything. It needed to be exposed for what it was, now people need to deal. Hugs.
blahblah…I love you
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Fuck them! You never named the person by name. It was assumed who you were talking about.
I was in your shoes a few weeks ago where I dared to ask a question on twitter about an individual or individuals and never mentioned them by name. And yet I get thrown to the wolves because it was assumed I was talking about a specific person.
Walk away from it all and let them kiss your ass on the way out.
I love you, hon. *hugs*
I love you too.
In the immortal words of Sean Kennedy “I'm here”.
… I'm thinking of having that printed on a T-shirt – do you think SK has copyright over it??
hugs coming your way K Lady. 🙂
Kris, from what I understand, you had no knowledge that Llewellyn identifies as a man– in fact, it seems as if you understood that he was a cisgendered woman. That your original post prompted him to come out as trans is not something that you could have foreseen. For that reason, I don't think that any reasonable person can vilify your actions.
While Llewellyn's situation as a gay transman sheds light on some of his deception, and makes this drama far more complicated than anyone understood it would be, it doesn't change his reputation within the m/m community as a condescending, hyperbolic, emotionally manipulative, reactionary, sockpuppeting gaslighter.
While I'm sympathetic to his situation, I won't allow myself to be manipulated into blaming readers for being upset at having been lied to. Coming to the realization later in life that one is both gay and trans doesn't erase the impact of your actions prior to the announcement of your identity. Llewellyn lives in the world and therefore must face the fact that other people are real and have real feelings and it's not just about him.
I will welcome him with open arms as a gay transperson. I will not, however, give him an entirely clean slate.
I very much appreciate your public support of me. Regardless of whether or not we always agree, you guys are pretty fucking awesome and I'm lucky to count you as my mates.
Having said that…
Oh, c'mon. You knew that was coming. ;P
Having said that, this post wasn't about me being a victim or feeling pressured to make an apology. It was about taking responsibility for my post and what has occurred since.
As one of the very wise and articulate members of the M/M Goodreads group wrote, 'action, reaction, consequence'. I took an action, it had a reaction – no shit, did it – and there are consequences.
One of these is taking some ownership and copping a few things on the chin.
This was what I was taught and this is another thing which I fully believe is the 'right' thing to do. And I am 100% okay with that. 🙂
Alaina, thank you very much for commenting and may I congratulate you on your remarkable turn of phrase.
“… and makes this drama far more complicated than anyone understood it would be…”
A truer statement was never made in relation to this situation.
A number of things have occurred that, as you say, couldn't have been foreseen, but let's hope that something can be learnt from them… if people are willing to engage openly, that is.
I have done some research and reading as well as been lucky to have a generous Twitter buddy sharing their experiences about 'identifying' as androgynous. I have much more understanding now, although I'm by no means a so-called expert, about being transgender and gender queer.
What an extraordinarily challenging journey for any person to go through.
I can't even begin to imagine such an experience and have a great deal of admiration and respect for anyone who battles be true to the core of themselves.
Some people needed a reminder that it is not all sparkly and pink clouds.
( hugs) Kris
You know I'm being very careful not to stick my oar in all over the internet about this one, but for the record, I think your original reasons for posting were perfectly valid, and you didn't name any names. With the information you had available at the time, the situation did look exceedingly dodgy. I'm not talking about the gender deception, which I don't have a problem with, but the blogging about gay issues from the “perspective of a gay man” (not just mentally, but physically male) was very odd.
You couldn't have predicted the level of hate and vitriol this would kick off in some quarters. However, taking responsibility for their actions is something the other main players in this don't seem to have done yet, so good on ya.
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The thing is that this story is still completely murky, especially with DJ Manly who is now changing their gender on FB daily to prove that gender is irrelevant.
Here's the truth, DJ and AJ: gender IS irrelevant when it comes to writing skill. What isn't irrelevant is deception and appropriation. What about your infamous purported relationship? That seems to be one thing both are avoiding discussing. They advertised themselves as being a gay couple, and played upon that, knowing that the community would love it – that two of their own had found love through co-writing together.
Here's a personal story. I believe Armistead Maupin helped save me when I was a teen. His books were the first that I ever read that showed me gays in a positive light. That showed me I could love, and be loved, and survive in a world I thought was out to get me at times.
And so I also looked up to Maupin, as he was a gay man who had survived and wrote the life he knew about. I would have been crushed if I found out he wasn't really gay, or a man. Not because of his writing – that still would have been great. But the authorial persona and the role model would have been nothing but a lie.
Anyone who thinks this is about transphobia on our behalf is also being insulting. I mean, really?
This is a complicated subject. But AJ Llewellyn's “coming clean” isn't exactly that so far.
I just want you to know that I love you, and that stepping up and taking responsibility for one's actions takes courage. *hugs*
Oh, and…you are not responsible for how other people react. (I'm still bad at learning that one.) Only for how you act. And yes, certain actions can result in stronger reactions, but…that's the Russian Roulette humanity plays every second of every day. IDK. All I do know is that after reading your initial post I had no idea who the author in question was (maybe that makes me an idiot?). But I felt (still feel) that you thoroughly laid out (in the post) the reasons why you felt like you did. And I should probably say more, but my mind has gone blank… (((Kris)))
Well said Sean…
This reminds me so much of:
And so many of the same commentators who are now saying poor AJ crucified Mychael Black.
Sean: Very well said indeed.
I'm de-lurking to comment in general about These Things, not necessarily about you, Kris!
Like Jo, I've been keeping out of this publicly.
And I'm afraid to say, that's part of the issue, IMO. Many of us are too wary – scared? intimidated? weary? angry? confused? busy? – to comment. And so these debates fall to the people who feel most strongly, and/or – more hopefully – have useful data and guidance to add. I'm not saying we should or can all join in, but it does mean the public view is inevitably skewed.
Likewise, we don't and can't know all the details of most of these situations. I've found it dangerous in the past to comment when I'm only on the sidelines. And, like Tam says, people lie, and for all kind of reasons, not always malicious. Bloody disturbing when, like her, I've met some really genuine and mature people through my online life.
But I'm angry that it's *all* people talk about in some places, and the *way* some people talk i.e. with a vicious, blatantly cruel glee, aided by the relative anonymity of the net, without any interest in discussion or any other POV. Especially if/when there's backlash on the communities like you say.
And, no, I'm not going to comment on specifics of this Drama here, now. Just ramble on with my pompous comment until Blogger eats it :).
This was a well-phrased and generous post. And inspired some more *constructive* discussion :).
I am sad for both sides of this issue—and I never felt that the accounting Of AJ's life or secret was malicious–but unfortunately many turned it into that. Thank you for giving breathing room to a fierce and hostile situation. Again, my heart is heavey for all of you.
As one of your many lurkers I just want to say that your awesome and while I think you have no reason to apologize I applaud you for taking responsibility for your post without making yourself a victim because that clearly doesn't always happen.
Your original post didn't give names and while it left me wondering it wasn't what caused this drama. I think this was a circus just waiting to happen and even without your post it would have occured, it was just a matter of time. Hopefully once it all blows over the m/m community will be the better for it even if its a little bruised.
In Oprah's wise words: when someone tells you who they are believe them.
What AJ Llewellyn has told me is that he is a liar (at least) and an irresponsible/deceitful person (at worse). His online reputation kept me from becoming a fan and the work that I'd read did not inspire me to buy more.
His decisions are not your burden to share. You've taken responsibility for what you feel you have done (which I don't think was anything extraordinary). Unless and until I've seen the same from AJ Llewellyn, in my eyes, you have shown me your character…. and I still like it 🙂
Standing tall is never much fun, is it, sweetie?
*hugs* You're doing a brave job of it. And this too shall pass.
Oh, Kris, I still love you. You didn't name any names in your posts. It is a complicated situation. I admire you educating yourself on transgender issues. I have my opinions on this, but I'll leave it here in public as just saying that I believe that hiring someone to impersonate you at an event is odd.
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Thanks for all the comments and, in particular, for those who have delurked to say something whether it be a message of support or to speak in general about some of the issues raised. Good on ya. It's greatly appreciated.
My apologies beforehand but I'm only going to respond to some of you because to be honest I'm still feeling overwhelmed by everything that has happened these last few days and, well, there's the whole lazy arse thing I've got going on, which is exacerbated by a lack of coffee this morning. ;P
Sean, brother of my heart. 🙂
It was you sharing your own story and our conversations about what Armistead Maupin meant to you, which has increased my understanding about the enormous impact such things can have on someone who is struggling with their gender and/or sexuality. It has also made me passionate about appropriation of GLBTQ identity/ies… as you know and others now have noticed.
Thank you so much for sharing that story here, VBB. That was so brave. I love you.
Anon: Well, well, well.
How history repeats itself… and how interesting how things within that history can have such a remarkable change.
Thanks for the linkity.
Kris, as you know, but as some people commenting and attacking you may not know, I took the decision to link to your post and name names without consulting you in any way at all. I don't know you, and indeed, I feel it's rather rude of me to comment here because of that.
But I named this author for a couple of reasons – one is that they were engaged in genuinely harmful behaviour outwith the gender issue (and that behavious is still wrong even now he's stated he's transgender.) His behaviour since my 'outing' has confirmed that naming him was the right thing to do.
The other reason was that the innuendo was hurting the innocent. As you are aware, the habit of straight women claiming to be gay men (and there's your appropriation right there – it's not a matter of writing under a male pseud but writing under an assumed identity if you're straight and claim to be gay, just as it is to be white and claim to be black etc) has meant that actual gay men are being told they're fakers. Why should real gay people suffer because of the misbehaviour of straights?
Now this author is not straight, and say's he's trans, and I respect that. But neither of us knew that – no one did. More than that, there are still many issues which have not been covered by his 'apology' – like the faking of a romantic relationship with his co-author, the publishing of 'real' articles about gay life and sex.
I know very well that some of your commentators here don't criticise your actions but are aiming plenty of criticism at me for mine. I don't feel I've done anything wrong in the least. There's nothing gleeful in my anger at this author's actions, or at the moronic way his supporters and apologists have behaved. I hate liars, I have manipulators, and I hate bullies. I also hate hypocrites. So looking back, I would do nothing different *except* to have made it clear from the start that you didn't authorise me to link your post or name the person, nor did you encourage it. You have no foreknowledge of it, and I'm deeply sorry you've caught shit for anything I've done.
Some of the people commenting here are showing a quite different face to the author in question to what you're showing Kris. Shame on you.
Jo & Clare: I appreciate you adding your thoughts here. I understand what a difficult situation this must be for some – authors and publishers in particular – who may have strong views, but feel unable to voice them because of their weariness.
Clare you said…
“… with a vicious, blatantly cruel glee, aided by the relative anonymity of the net, without any interest in discussion or any other POV…”
Yes, this is something that I have been accused of myself. I'll cop to some of that; however, the unquestioning acceptance of one POV and the unwillingness to actually 'see' let alone discuss the central issues raised by myself and others has had me shaking my head many a time over the last few days. That is something I don't understand at all.
But then again I am a Libran. ;P
Sammy & Amanda: Thank you both for commenting and for the acknowledgement that there are two sides to everything. As I said in a response to a comment on the last post and above to Clare, is that I also need to take responsibility for doing that and I do.
Amanda you said…
“Hopefully once it all blows over the m/m community will be the better for it even if its a little bruised.”
This is something I hope as well. More than that, I believe it is achievable if people are willing to have open discussions and listen to all POVs.
Ingrid, Orannia, Mariana, Angelia, Em & Juni:
As I said, this has been all about taking responsibility for my post and what has occurred since. I think it was 'right' to do, not necessarily gutsy or whatever.
And, yep Angelia, I have to say it bloody hurt to write and post. There was much wincing on my end, but that bloody Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder…
Who knew I had one. 😛
Ann: As I've already typed to you this morning, we did have a discussion – well, as much as a discussion as anyone can have on Twitter – about the linkage.
Regardless of when we had the discussion or if I'd had an issue or concern about the linking to my post, I wrote it and published it. Once it was in the public arena it became the spark for this situation and that is my responsibility alone. Not yours and not to the others who have linked to it since.
In addition, because I did put it out there, I do not believe I have any right to turn around to you or anyone else and cry victim and demand that you take the link down. That's dishonest, unethical and complete and utter bullshit. I hope to hell that it is not something I would ever do.
There have been many lessons learned from this controversy. One being that you cannot ever hide from what you say or do on the internet because someone is ALWAYS watching.
Okay, sharing links again… I know, I know… but I think if I am increasing my understanding of intergender and intersexuality then so too will you lot! If you don't know already, that is. 🙂
This is a quote from a really eye-opening post by Rowan McBride which really hit home for me:
No one has exact numbers on how many intersexed people are out there because doctors and parents tend to make the gender decision for the child at birth and then hide the information to avoid stigma for the child.
Wow, huh. To read his full post go here: http://rowanmcbride.blogspot.com/2010/02/pondering-rainbows.html
Rowan was also kind enough to share one of his favourite poems by Kit Yan entitled '3rd Gender'. It is spoken word so be sure to turn up the sound… and be prepared to be pretty blown away.
Here are what I thought were some quite good books on intersex, Kris: Intersex in the Age of Ethics by Alice Domurat Dreger, Lessons from the Intersexed by Suzanne J. Kessler, and Intersex and Identity: The Contested Self by Sharon E. Preves.
Thanks heaps for those recs, Em.
I also think that Rowan will be sending me to 'the books' sooner or later when he gets sick of me asking questions. Probably sooner. LOL
You did nothing wrong! Except show how betrayed you felt. You never mentioned any names. I let my disgust show in a more vocal way. Having told you some of what I've been through I hope you can understand why I felt like I did and still do.
Like Sean said I would have been devastated if my hero, PNW had turned out to be something she wasn't. She saved my life and that was before the Internet. She took the time to write and answer all my questions and gave me hope I could survive.
I understand the need for a pen name but to portray yourself as something you aren't and never will be is so far from sucky it is incomprehensible.
The Internet makes it easier for everyone to do so. I mean I'm a 6ft blonde with a 20″ waist…. Didn't you know 😉
My veriword is juriert…. Does that make me judge/jury/executioner ?
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You know I'm always late for everything since I don't have much time to check out my friends' sites/blogs. 🙂 I didn't see this post until a few mintues ago as I was trying to catch up after taking a couple of days off from the Internet, although I did see the original post when someone sent me a link long after everyone else had commented.
You have nothing to apologise for. You didn't name any names in your original post. You called someone out for something that was blatantly wrong and dishonest. If your post was the reason the author “apologised” then we should thank you.
I wrote a post on Friday about my own feelings on this debacle so I won't repeat what I said. All I will say is that I love you, I support your courage for speaking out, and you have nothing to apologise for. You didn't “out” anyone. This author frequently used my site for blog posts in which he purported to be a gay man (not someone who is transgender) and I feel used. Unfortunately, I can't check the credentials of the authors who ask to post on the site because that would be an invasion of their privacy.
I understand a few of the issues facing transgendered people better after I interviewed Rowan McBride a couple years ago, when she explained to me what gender fluid meant.
Take heart and know that your friends, of which I'm one, support you. Don't let the haters get you down.
November 14, 2011 10:42 AM
Tish: Gotta cop to it, mate. To do otherwise is not in me. 🙂
“Having told you some of what I've been through I hope you can understand why I felt like I did and still do.”
Absolutely! Tish hun, I'll say it again and again – you honoured me by sharing your story. I have so much admiration for you… I don't have the words. Never, ever think that I don't understand or accept you.
Else I'll come over there and smack you across the back of the head. 😛
Wave: Thank you for commenting and expressing your support. I too read your post, although was too late to comment wished to, well, say ditto. 🙂
What a god-awful, fucking situation this is for all those involved, either directly or indirectly. So much anger and hurt on all sides, especially to those who identify as gender fluid.
I truly hope we can soon get to a point where all of us can agree that some hard lessons were learnt and come out of it with a better understanding of one another. I think we can.
And, fuck me, I HAVE become a glass half full person.