I've started this blog post on Pride and LGBTQIA resources about half a dozen times. In one, I wrote about the history of the Stonewall Riots and the first Gay Pride march almost fifty years ago. In another, I wrote about a friend who was driven out of our small Catholic high school for being bisexual. But they all felt false somehow, not really quite what I was trying to accomplish.
My deadline looming, I tried desperately to hammer out something. Turning on the TV for background noise, I picked out a comedy special on Netflix called Nanette from comedian Hannah Gadsby. It turned out to be terrible background noise, not because the special was bad, but because it was enrapturing. It starts out pretty funny. Then Gadsby announces that she's quitting comedy because she cannot continue to be the butt of her own jokes. She goes on to deconstruct all the ways in which she has made light of her situation, as a lesbian, as a victim of sexual abuse and violence, as a woman, as a gender non-conforming person, as a member of the margins. She gets angry. She yells. And it isn't funny. But it is extremely powerful.
In an interview about the special, Gadsby said, "I was trying to work out ultimately whether some of my stories could be told onstage and made funny. I concluded early in the writing process that they could not be made funny, if told properly, so I decided to then tell them properly and see what that does to a comedy show. I think we found out: It breaks comedy." Except it didn't break her special or her career. Gadsby's career has blown up, and she has taken Nanette from Australia, to the U.K., and now New York. I watched it on Netflix in my living room in Oklahoma City. And I would highly urge you to do the same.
And then it hit me why my blog wasn't coming together. Gadsby's special was powerful because she was sharing her own story; I was trying to tell other people's stories, rather than my own. My story is pretty boring and wouldn't make for a great blog. But I will do everything in my power to make sure others can tell their stories.
So here is my message to the LGBTQIA community in Oklahoma: The library is a safe space for you, space where you can share your stories. We want to hear them, and we want to help you make your voices heard.
All Out by Edited by Saundra Mitchell