I was so grateful recently to be asked to write a piece for The Queer Bible: a website that invites queer folks to write about the people who have inspired them. Check out these amazing pieces on Laverne Cox by Paris Lees, Kate Bornstein by Juno Dawson, Lola Flash by Juno Roche, and Karamo Brown by Timothy DuWhite, for example.
For me the choice of who to pick was an easy one. S. Bear Bergman is an inspiration to me as a gender warrior and as a writer, but more than either of those things, as a person who values – and embodies – kindness in their life and work.
The Queer Bible invited me to write a personal piece about what Bear means to me, so I wrote about kindness, and about writing and gender, and about how the relationship between writer and reader can be another kind of vital relationship which challenges conventional ways of understanding and valuing relationships (a theme that both Bear and I both write about).
On a grey London day in March 2014 I took my seat in a small theatre above a pub to see S. Bear Bergman talk. I wasn’t familiar with Bear’s work: a partner had invited me along. I was accepting every social invitation I received at the time because I’d just relocated to London and knew that I had to start the long, slow work of building up some kind of friendship network. I was coming out of several years of self-imposed isolation following a tough experience of media shaming and the collapse of relationships and community that followed. I’d just gone through yet another painful break-up. Things with my family were strained. I didn’t have many close people at all.
Bear was reading from his new essay collection. Like all of his books this includes stories which are funny, thought-provoking, poignant, and frequently all three together. This time, following the birth of his son Stanley, the focus was on relationships with family of all kinds – biological and logical – including people – as he puts it – who share bonds of blood, of marriage, of wine, and of glitter. Read more…