On Fear and What (Not) to Publish

I realised as I was writing that I was afraid. This piece of writing is an attempt to explore that fear and what it means ...
I don’t feel fully able to write what I want to write here. I don’t feel fully able to say what I want to say — not if it is going to be published and searchable and searched and seen. Isn’t that interesting?

I’m afraid of Google search and key words and being found and being found out. I’m afraid of these words being read by someone who feels as though they have something to protect, and somehow, what I am writing is threatening that thing. I’m afraid of retaliation. 

(Isn’t it interesting that when I try to type the word ‘retaliation’, my fingers want to type the word ‘relation’ and so I have to delete it and go back.)

I am afraid to type out the names of people — even fictional ones that have never existed anywhere other than in my head — out in full. So I use initials. I am afraid to talk about places — even places I have never been and never been to — so I focus on vague geographical landmarks that could be confused or misconstrued. I squint and blur my eyes on purpose.

It stops me, this fear, from naming names and naming places. It stops me being specific. It makes my mind race with the ways I could be putting myself and those I love in the way of harm. 

Isn’t that interesting? In light of what I am trying to do — in light of the fact that I am trying to go to places in my mind that I am too afraid or too unsafe to go to with my body, in real life. Perhaps I am not safe enough or brave enough to go there even in my mind. Not if anyone can see where I have gone and follow me there. Not unless I leave my Queerness behind. Not unless I leave myself behind.

To be Queer is to be afraid, perhaps. To be Queer is to be told you cannot go, cannot be, cannot say.

I am ashamed of this fear. I am ashamed because I sit here in my safe warm flat in this safe city and I am still afraid. I am ashamed because I know people — real people, not just names in a book, or initials pasted onto invented somebodies — who have had to flee. To run with their lives. Leave everything behind. They had to get on a plane or a train or a bus, or into the back of a car, and then arrive and tell someone in a uniform that they weren’t safe to go home anymore because they were Queer. Because someone thought they’d threatened something and that that thing needed protecting.

I am ashamed because I post links here to journalists who write about the things I am too afraid to say. Ashamed that I draw attention to their names and want to hide behind my own. Ashamed about the folder of things I’ve written but haven’t published yet and might not publish at all. Well, we all know I’m not cut out to be a journalist. Or a soldier. Or a fighter. Or a survivor, even. Any of those man things or woman things that those men and those women do. 

Perhaps the fear has nothing to do with it. Perhaps they felt the same thing and then when they had to run they just ran. Perhaps when I need to run, I will run too. Perhaps the fear gnawed at their stomachs with every word they wrote but they attached the file to the email and sent it to their editor anyway. Or perhaps they read this and wonder why I feel this much fear. Any fear. Safe here, in my warm home in this safe city with this money from the German government. Perhaps they won’t read this far at all.


Brave to do what? To stay and change it? Even if we pay for it in blood? In days lost? In fear? 

Fear stops me. 

Perhaps fear stops us all.