ZodGory (zodgory) wrote in ohnotheydidnt,

Author Becky Albertalli, "Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda" aka "Love, Simon", Comes Out as Bisexual

YA author Becky Albertalli, whose book Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda was adapted to screen as Love, Simon a few years ago, has come out as bisexual in a Medium essay: "Anyway, all of this is to say: I’m bi. Sorry it took me so long to get here. But then again, at least the little red coming out book I needed was already on my shelf (in about thirty different languages)."

Her essay also goes over the online scrutiny she's faced leading up to this and that this is not about validation.

-She writes that as someone who grew up in a "conservative southern US suburb" she never really had a frame of reference for the crushes she'd have on both boys and girls and never really processed how her draw to other girls were feelings of attraction. It was when she was writing the sequel to Simon, Leah on the Offbeat, that she began questioning her own sexuality

It was my first time writing a love story between two girls — actually, it was my first time writing from the perspective of a character who’s attracted to girls. I worried I wouldn’t be able to feel what I’d need to feel in order to write a convincing love story.

Turns out, that wasn’t a problem — and maybe that should have been my lightbulb moment. But denial comes with its own kind of logic. I was just immersed in Leah’s perspective, I decided. It was all part of my process. Definitely just a writer thing. And none of this had anything to do with the small handful of actresses I openly crushed on. Because the thing is, I was straight. At least I was straight if you rounded up. Was heteroflexible a thing?

In retrospect, you could say I was beginning to question things.

-On the intense online scrutinizing of her sexuality when Love, Simon came out followed up by the sequel book

But in many online spaces, my straightness was a springboard for some — legitimately important — conversations about representation, authenticity, and ownership of stories. And for some people, my straightness was enough to boycott the film entirely.

Then Leah on the Off beat came out about a month later, and the discourse exploded all over again. There were thinkpieces based on the premise that I, a straight woman, clearly knew nothing about being a bi girl. There were tweets and threads and blog posts, and just about every single one I came across mentioned my straightness. And when Leah debuted on the NYT list, authors I admired and respected tweeted their disappointment that this “first” had been taken by a straight woman. [...] But the attention and scrutiny were so overwhelming, and it all hurt so badly, I slammed the lid down on that box and forgot I’d ever cracked it open.

[...] Because the thing is, I called myself straight in a bunch of early interviews.

But labels change sometimes. That’s what everyone always says, right? It’s okay if you’re not out. It’s okay if you’re not ready. It’s okay if you don’t fully understand your identity yet. There’s no time limit, no age limit, no one right way to be queer.

And yet a whole lot of these very same people seemed to know with absolute certainty that I was allocishet. And the less certain I was, the more emphatically strangers felt the need to declare it. Apparently it was obvious from my writing. Simon’s fine, but it was clearly written by a het. You can just tell. Her books aren’t really for queer people.

You know what’s a mindfuck? Questioning your sexual identity in your thirties when every self-appointed literary expert on Twitter has to share their hot take on the matter. Imagine hundreds of people claiming to know every nuance of your sexuality just from reading your novels. Imagine trying to make space for your own uncertainty. Imagine if you had a Greek chorus of internet strangers propping up your imposter syndrome at every stage of the process.

-On why she's coming out

Why do we, again and again, cross the line between critiquing books and making assumptions about author identities? How are we so aware of invisible marginalization as a hypothetical concept, but so utterly incapable of making space for it in our community?

Let me be perfectly clear: this isn’t how I wanted to come out. This doesn’t feel good or empowering, or even particularly safe. Honestly, I’m doing this because I’ve been scrutinized, subtweeted, mocked, lectured, and invalidated just about every single day for years, and I’m exhausted. And if you think I’m the only closeted or semi-closeted queer author feeling this pressure, you haven’t been paying attention.

And I’m one of the lucky ones! [...] I’m hugely privileged in more ways than I can count. And this was still brutally hard for me. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for other closeted writers, and how unwelcome they must feel in this community.

Even as I write this, I’m bracing for the inevitable discourse — I could draft the twitter threads myself if I wanted to. But I’d rather just make a few things really clear. First, this isn’t an attempt to neutralize criticism of my books, and you’re certainly entitled to any reactions you might have had to their content. Second, I’m not asking you to validate my decision to write Simon (or What If It’s Us, or mlm books in general).

But if I can ask for something, it’s this: will you sit for a minute with the discomfort of knowing you may have been wrong about me? And if your immediate impulse is to scrutinize my personal life, my marriage, or my romantic history, can you try to check yourself?

Or how about this: can we all be a bit more careful when we engage in queer Ownvoices discourse? Can we remember that our carelessness in these discussions has caused real harm? And that the people we’re hurting rarely have my degree of privilege or industry power? Can we make space for those of us who are still discovering ourselves? Can we be a little more compassionate? Can we make this a little less awful for the next person?

Read the whole essay HERE/source
Tags: books / authors, coming out, lgbtq / rights, lgbtq film / media
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