Well, technically, I came out.
I write under a pen name and an assumed identity. I’m like the Batman. And I’m like a lot of erotica writers who have their own reasons for writing as someone else.
I imagine a lot of them are like me. I’m a mother to young kids. I’m active in my church. I run in circles where sex is not the main topic of conversation as a rule. And mostly, it’s sometimes hard to explain what it is I do, and why.
But on my main, regular, “real life” blog that is connected with my main, “real life” business, I came out as an erotica writer. I told the world that I’m a secret, closet composer of dirty little stories. So far it’s been mostly an assortment of “good for you!” and other encouragements, and a bit of surprise, but no one has come right out and condemned me for it.
In the logical part of my brain I know there’s no reason why they should. What I’m doing isn’t wrong. I’m open about sex. I enjoy it. Within my own lifestyle and my own sexual habits, I’m really above reproach. But I’m gun-shy, and I think I know why.
A few years back, I was teaching religious education classes, preparing 9th and 10th graders for Confirmation. I’m well-versed in theology and Church teaching and more than qualified to teach it. I’m married, monogamous, I’m raising three children in the Church, I sing in the choir and serve as cantor–for real, I’m more than qualified.
One day on the Facebook I was reading a religious-based news feed and I commented as myself on a thread where they talk about a bishop somewhere being put out that a church-run college was teaching a class on gay marriage in the upcoming semester. He was appalled, as were all of the people posting and voicing their moral outrage. A school has no business teaching anything that is contrary to church teaching! How dare they!
Well, I didn’t see it that way. I live in NH. Gay marriage is here, and it’s here to stay. It’s spreading, too. It’s only a matter of time before it’s the law of the land. And people who object on religious grounds had better suck it up. So I said I thought it was a good idea to teach about it, since it’s here. It’s real. It’s a thing. And what a great opportunity to dialogue about that kind of modern morality in context of church teaching, blah blah blah.
Trust me, I was articulate as fuck.
Not long after, I got a call from the Bishop’s office. The director of religious ed for the whole diocese got an angry email about me from a woman in fucking MICHIGAN. She apparently read my comment, followed me to my Facebook page, saw that I was a religious ed instructor, and went directly to my Bishop to say I should be summarily dismissed.
The woman on the phone had the misfortune to catch me on a day when I was feeling feisty. She had not read my comments. She hadn’t read the article I commented on. She didn’t know the woman from Michigan’s name. But she wanted me to explain why I was behaving immorally in public.
I managed to not say, “Cunt, what the shit?” But that’s about the best that can be said, because I went up one side of this woman, down the other, and then back up the other side again for good measure. I’m pretty sure when she got off the phone, she was wishing she’d never called. I was calm, but I was PISSED, and the bitch knew it.
Luckily, it never even got to my pastor’s ear until I told him, and he laughed like hell at it and congratulated me for standing my ground. I didn’t get in any trouble, per se, unless you consider a thwarted attempt at a dressing-down “trouble”. The crux of my argument was that when I teach Confirmation class, I follow the curriculum. I teach them what the church teaches and let them make up their own minds about whether they believe it or not, just as I’ve done in my 43 years of faith. I keep my personal beliefs separate.
And separation works well for me, or it has until now. I guess after that episode, I found that keeping things separate and more or less hidden from one another is a good way to go. People who are prudish about sex don’t need to know about my proclivities, and people who are here for the pussy don’t need to hear about my latest knitting achievement. (Which, by the way is a Cthulhu cock sock, so there is a bit of overlap, I will admit.)
I’m coming to the point where I know it would be easier to write and promote myself as me, but part of me thinks that while more people know J. A. Reynold’s real identity, keeping her life here separate is still a good idea. People who don’t want to know, don’t have to. They can remain ignorant, and blissfully so. Crossing the streams hasn’t been an issue for most of my friends so far, and hopefully, that’s how it will go.
I’m not keen to have to defend my writing, but the fact is that I’m a published author now, and I suppose I need to be able to stand up for myself when necessary. Because the stories keep coming.
So to speak…