He Couldn’t Read It, So He Wrote It, a guest post by Justin Arnold

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I could write my own community’s experience in fiction. Growing up in a small, red-state town, I was told a lot of lies. Being gay was a foreign, mythical creature that us “good folk” didn’t know too much about. As rare as vampires, and more dangerous than werewolves. Gay people were, it felt, the wicked witches of the woods.

I can still feel the anger of my 16-year-old self while listening to adults debate whether or not kids like me should be allowed to go to prom like every other kid. I can still hear the insults, the slurs. Smell the breath of bullies getting in my face. I didn’t even know then exactly how gay I was. But I guess the oracle who knows these things (Maybe it’s RuPaul?) ran to the town square and alerted them. I was the spooky, wicked witch come from the woods. And they made sure I put together that they knew.