Friday, June 26, 2009

Not in that closet any longer

There is fairly new-to-the-romance-community reader who posted at AAR recently. She is overjoyed to have found such a place and such a community made up of dedicated romance fans. But she confessed she was still 'in the closet' as far as her reading preferences went.
I really identified with her because that was me for a very long time. Even after I found the romance community; after I started blogging, I still didn't tell many people in my day to day life how deep into romance I was. Some may have known a bit - perhaps that I enjoyed a good romance now and then, but I never made a point of telling people and if asked would duck the question or kind of mumble out the words. I think I'm your classic people pleaser and I didn't want anyone looking down on my choice of reading material.
But I've come along way in the past few years and practically everyone I have contact with - my friends, my coworkers, my family know exactly what I read and I don't feel embarrassed or ashamed any more to tell anyone. I realized that when the movers came a few weeks ago and when they saw all my books and that they were pretty much all romance, I didn't even flinch when he commented on it. And what a glorious feeling that was after hiding it for so many years.
I'm not exactly sure what got me to the point where I am today, when I can go into a bookstore and plop down some of those books with horrid covers or explicit covers and not feel a moments qualm about it. I think it's a number of factors.
  • I have matured - yes that still happens even though I'm in my fifties. While I still like people to like me, I'm not concerned if they don't. I'm at the place where I don't feel I have to justify my reading tastes to anyone. If they don't approve or make some kind of comment; though to be honest, no one has taken that approach with me, it's too bad for them. If they've never tried romance, and chances are they haven't if they have a negative reaction, they are the ones missing out.
  • Being a part of the romance community has allowed me to see what an intelligent, thoughtful and well rounded group we are. Whether a college professor, an assistant DA, a lawyer, a doctor or a homemaker, as a whole, we are smart people who should be and often are respected.
  • Getting to know authors and seeing them as the dedicated artists they are. And there is no question they are artists, only their canvas is a blank screen and their true talent is in telling a wonderful story. I've read the very occasional book outside the romance genre and there is no question that authors who write romance are just as talented if not more so then many authors who write in other genres.
  • Besides just being part of the romance community, I've know had a chance to meet many other aficionados of the genre or fellow bloggers *g*. Having that instant connection to someone I've never met before and sharing a passion with them is wonderful. I know this might not make too much sense, but in hiding or being ashamed of what I read somehow almost seems to affect the relationship I have with them. If I deny or don't admit how I've come to know them, then that seems to deny a part of them and of me.

It's taken a long time to get to where I am now and if there are others who are still reluctant to 'come out of the closet' themselves, I understand, truly I do, because I hid there for so many years. But if anyone is thinking of breaking out and being proud of what they read instead of slightly ashamed and worried what others may think, I encourage them to do so. It really is a great feeling to be proud now of what you read instead of hiding it!!


And in other news....

There are those defining moments in time where something stays in your memory for the rest of your life - where you were when you heard JFK died. Where you were when you heard Princess Dianna died, where you were when you heard Elvis died and now there is another one I will always remember - where I was when I heard Michael Jackson died. I know we are going to be hearing this over and over and over the next little while, but we did lose one of our greatest musical talents on Thursday.

I grew up listening to his music - he wasn't that much younger then me - hard as that is to believe and while I never counted him as one of my favourite musicians, there is no question I did love many of his songs. I remember how terrified my oldest son was when he first saw the video for Thriller - one of the best music videos ever made.

But he always struck me as such a lonely and sad kind of person. Only someone desperately unhappy with who they are could do to themselves what Michael Jackson did with all the plastic surgeries and that makes me sad. He was such a genius musically and it's disturbing that he never could accept himself. I watched a lot of the coverage and one item stood out. Lisa Marie Presley commented that when she married him, she hoped she could help him, that she could get him past the lost soul he always seemed to be, but she couldn't. It seems to me that he surrounded himself with vultures who didn't care about him as a person; who wouldn't stand up and say no - those kinds of actions are not good for you; they are inappropriate and will hurt you. And that makes me sad. He was a young man - and even though he was 50, to me he was still a young man who was so easily hurt and trusted the wrong people and the wrong advice. As for the charges he faced, I never really believed them. I can't say for sure whether they were true or not, but I tend to think not. I think he was looking for the innocence that he never really had in his own life.
And although as I said, he wasn't one of my favourite artists, still I admired him tremendously for his talent and what he contributed to the world.
Of all his songs I've loved over the years, this one is probably my favourite.


Marg said...

This was one of my favourite songs as well. RIP Michael Jackson.

Stacy~ said...

I'm still partially in the closet about my reading tastes, but that's just me. Working on it.

Michael Jackson's death hit hard. It was just so unexpected. I hope he's finally at peace.

Mary G said...

Hi Kristie
Awesome blog!!! My fave MJ song & video is "The Way You Make Me Feel". As for being in the closet, I still am at work. Not that I'm hiding it but I've been there so long we always joke around & needle each other.I just don't want to hear about it. I even have books that I'll read at work in the lunch room & the kind I read on the way home & at home. Those are in my purse (remember the purse discussion at Kelsey's). Some book covers are just too HOT for work. If people at work ask me what I'm reading, I'll say a comedy or a suspense deleting the word romantic. You're right about coming out of the closet though. My reading has made me who I am today. The go to person for spelling & grammar & trivia so I should shout it out!!! Thanks for the food for thought.

Mari said...

You know, now that you said it, yes, he did always seem unhappy. Kind of tortured. I didn't expect to feel sad about him passing. But I am. For the person I remember him as when I first started to listen to his music as a child.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

I'm still kind of in the closet, at least with my work colleagues. Yes, Michael Jackson seemed totured to me and I can't help thinking and wishing he is at peace now.

My favorite song I think is "Billie Jean." Listening to all the songs playing on the radio now, I can't help thinking how talented he was and what a shame his fame cost him so much. He became so bizarre in such a "Citizen Kane" Howard Hughes kind of way. Such a talent. I was listening to one of his songs just driving home tonight "Shake Your Body Down to the Ground" and I was just almost dancing in my seat, it's such an irresistible dance song - I can't "not" dance to it. MJ reminds me of my college and post college years, It's made me very sentimental listening to all his songs again.

Aymless said...

I hope MJ is happy now! *sigh*

Leslie said...

I'm out of the closet but I do notice that I still place my books "cover down" whenever I set them down. Could be something I picked up in the 80's with all those over-the-top Fabio type covers. :)

MJ - What a shock! He seems to have had such a messed up, sad life. :(

Jessica Coe said...

I'm out as well, too, but it took me ages to finally admit it! Aging definitely helped; I'm now much more comfortable with who I am, so I don't care what people think. Bottom line: people should be happy when anyone is reading, whatever it is!

My favorite MJ songs: Man in the Mirror and Dirty Diana.

AnimeJune said...

I love your post about the romance closet. I'm still a relatively new reader, and I never found myself in the closet. Know why? Because i was introduced to romance novels in the first place by blogs and bloggers who lauded the wonderful aspects of romance without being afraid to rip into the appalling examples of bad romance. The Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels were a big help - sassy, well-read women who suggested some great romance reads and also convinced me that reading them is okay.

orannia said...

I think I'm your classic people pleaser...

*raises hand* Me too. and I'm trying to break it!

The good (or bad) thing is that I don't really get teased about what I read because most people like to comment on the amount I read...or that I read at all *looks pointedly at family*

As for MJ...Billie Jean is still my favourite :)