DOE: the right to be honest

painting, "From Strength to Liberty" -- figures entwined, reaching, pushing, stretching, dancing

"From Strength to Liberty," by Javier Azurdia -- click on the image above to see more of his gorgeous work.

I started to type in my motto as the title of this post, but only got as far as “lobertis…” and I had to stop and delete it all and drink more tea. Still fighting off, battling (dang it — the military metaphors are all over us!), wrangling with this cold, but I think I’m on the backside now. Got some great healing advice over on facebook — thank you! I’ve had lots of tea and veggies and rice and miso broth. I’ve got these soups I make when I’m sick that always just look awful when the sick is gone — but they do the job!

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Today’s supposed to be a Declaring Our Erotic post. With this cold here still clogging up my nasal passages, I’m not feeling like I’ve got all that much erotic to declare.

I do want to remind you about tomorrow’s podcast with Jianda Monique!

And I want to remind you, too, that the next erotic writing workshop is one that’s open to all LGBT/queer survivors of sexual trauma or sexual violence, and begins Thursday, Oct 7.

This is going to be a powerful opportunity for queer survivors of all sexes and genders to come together in one space and write our full and complicated sexualities. We get to write fantasy, we get to write other people’s fantasies, we get to write things we’ve never done and never will do but think about sometimes, we get to write whatever erotic we want. We practice releasing the self-censor, we practice releasing this idea that there’s only a small range of erotic desire that’s “ok” for us to want or think about, we practice trusting our writing voices to take us wherever we need to go, even to where we didn’t know we needed to go.

I’m telling you, it’s going to be gorgeous. Will you join us? Or, too, can you think of someone who might like to know about this workshop? Would you pass the word to them?

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I think I must have written about this before in this blog, this motto: “Liberty is the right not to lie.” Attributed to Albert Camus, but I first came across it as the epigraph to Pat (now Patrick) Califia‘s devastating book of lesbian erotica, Macho Sluts. (This  book is what made me queer.) (Well, the book, and the hands that passed it to me, and the community that contained us all. Thank goodness to these.) (Of course, if I weren’t already queer, the cover of the latest edition of Macho Sluts would do the job, without question.) (The quote is also included in Tillie Olson’s absolutely amazing book, Silences.) (I’ll stop with these now.)

As a young person under her stepfather’s control, even from over a thousand miles away, I almost never felt free. Something opened in me, though, when I read that phrase. Lying was, for me, one way to get free, to say, You don’t have control over every aspect of me — I will still have control of my words, of the intersection between my word and deed, of my honesty. You can’t force my every truth from my lips, though he tried.

This quote, this idea, liberty is the right not to lie. The right to be honest. The right to tell the truth. Not just about desire, as Califia was doing and urging — but, yes, too, about desire.

Perhaps my stumbling (or, rather, my being encouraged to stumble) across this quote was the beginning of his end. Anyway, it was a continuation of my opening. And I hold it still close to me, regularly: What am I not being honest about? Is that living into liberty, into liberation? Our liberation will be in our ability to honestly tell our lives, our truths, our experiences, our longings,  our fears, our dreams.

Lying can be a place of freedom for awhile, a survival strategy. Internalizing it, though, in my experience, is a place of death, of self-silencing.

For your write today, if you want to take 10 minutes, consider for yourself Camus’ phrase: “Liberty is the right not to lie.” What does it mean for you? What comes up when you read it? Start there, and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Thanks for being there, for reading even the sick-typed words. Thank you for the good work you’re doing today, for your powerful writing. Thank you.

2 responses to “DOE: the right to be honest

  1. Thank you so much for your thoughts and comments, Jianda! I like how our words can bring an experience into others — such a powerful capacity we have within our grasp!

    xox!
    Jen

  2. Mmmm…every little post or “write” you write here is like a little novella/memoir/how-to.

    Thank you!

    The right *not* to lie. Thanks also for explaining what that quotation means to you. I’d been rolling it around in my brain and tossing it to my heart for the last little while and your words made it easier for me to see it.

    Too, your words about your workshops and the infinite possibilities therein also make it easier for me to see, feel what they’re like.

    Bellissima!

    xo,

    jianda