I’m in awe of my friend Jennifer Lawler, who writes so movingly about raising Jessica. I wish I had half of Jennifer’s talent. But this morning in meditation I finally stopped picking at myself for spending the last few days snarled up in a writer’s block. I realized that I wasn’t wrestling with my skill or talent because my struggle is about something far different: It’s about silencing.
Last week I was present at events that go to the heart of my quest for goodness. These were momentous, life changing events. (I kid you not.) If we lived in a perfect world, I would have written about those events already. But I can’t. I don’t mean that I can’t because I’m unable, I mean I can’t because to do so would be to put another person at risk.
I can’t tell you where or with whom or what. I worry about even mentioning the state where these things happened. I can’t repeat what was said. I can’t report looks on people’s faces. I can’t show their gestures, report their tone of voice. I can only speak about hands in laps, fingers clenched and unclenched and clenched again. I can only mention the rigidity of a face and eyes locked forward.
My silence and the silence of others is required because these events revolve around an individual who is gay and an institution. Even at the end of the first decade of the 21st century to be gay and speak openly is to face life-altering consequences. Because of these consequences, I must slip on my own gag.
And isn’t that delightful for this institution? My silence, the individual’s silence, others silence. Not even a hint of the real story. Not a hint of the pain this institution caused because the one thing that is most forbidden is to reveal details of how institution ground individual into dust.
People can congratulate themselves that they’re doing good because they never have to look into the faces of the people they injure. These good souls — and I think they are good — don’t ever have to hear the stories of the the people they hurt. I can’t even write about the complexities of the situation. I can’t speak about how goodness is being sought and sometimes found. Ain’t that grand?
This is a self-perpetuating engine of evil. That sounds a bit bombastic, doesn’t it? I don’t think so, but how can you know because to tell the story would be to risk an individual.
So yes, sometimes I even bore myself with what I post on this blog. Sometimes the lack of meaty substance is my failure and mine alone, but on days like today my mealy-mouthed wishy washiness comes from somewhere else. And that’s a tragedy.