I wanted to say thank you.
A few weeks ago I made the decision to set up a GoFundMe to help fund my trip for BEA. This was… a really, really hard decision. I’ve never liked asking for help, especially not financial help.
When I set up my GoFundMe, I was scared. Scared that people would think I was asking for too much when I didn’t deserve it, that I was lazy and needed to make the money myself if I wanted to go. (I’m certain that anyone who’s ever set up a fundraiser for themselves has had similar fears.)
Well, turns out some people did think that.
When I first saw Those Tweets, I immediately thought “they’re right.” What was I thinking asking for this? I should be working harder at finding a job, I shouldn’t go, I should find a way to give the money back to the people who gave it to me, I shouldn’t have ever thought that people would want to donate to me, I don’t deserve this, I don’t deserve this, I don’t deserve anything. 20 minutes after meeting my fundraising goal I didn’t think I could possibly go to BEA now that I knew a bunch of people who knew who I was hated how I got there.
And then???????????? An amazing thing happened.
My friends and colleagues started sharing my GoFundMe, explaining the work I do on GayYA, and saying So Many Ridiculously Kind things about me and So Many Smart Things about poverty-shaming, making sure the YA community is a safe space for teens, and how making diversity flourish often requires financial support.
People I’ve never spoken to before donated, tweeted me support, followed me. People going to BEA (including amazing amazing authors and editors and agents?) said they hoped they’d see me there. I gained 350 Twitter followers in a day and a half.With every tweet, every donation, this is what I heard:
You do belong. You are deserving. You have done work of value.
Which is something I haven’t felt in a very long time.
This year I’ve felt like a useless lump. Some of you know that my mom has been on chemo for stage 4 cancer this past year, and that I have basically been her primary caretaker. That means dropping everything else in my life for days on end when she’s having a bad week (which, incidentally, is why I haven’t been able to get a job until literally this week). It means extreme emotional drainage at all times. It’s scary and it’s hard and it’s made time move so slowly and so fast at the same time. I’ve had emails sit in GayYA’s inbox for months on end. Some of them I STILL haven’t responded to. I’ve tried to do what I can, but it’s been hard, and I’ve felt I & everything on GayYA has been incredibly worthless this year. I’ve felt like a failure.
But. Yesterday. Yesterday, I learned people still see the work that I do manage to do. That it’s appreciated. That it’s valued. And that… that means the world to me. That is more than I could ask for, and to have my trip for BEA surpass its funding goal by so much on top of that? To be approached by people I’ve never spoken to just to tell me they support me and are glad I’m going to BEA? It means so incredibly much to me. I cried a lot yesterday, and none of it was over the negative tweets. It could’ve been. But instead it was tears of gratitude and joy about how damn kind people are.
I’ve ended up raising $2,271, from my goal of $486. I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with the overage. I may use it to attend other professional conferences so I have more opportunities to grow GayYA & further the ❤ for LGBTQIA+ YA. Or I may use it for things like GayYA’s site hosting. But I’m going to make sure that it goes into something that somehow gives back to the community. Because wow, y’all. You were there for me. I’ll never forget it. And now I want to make sure I’m there for you.
One last thing– what upsets me the most about all this, is that I’m a teen and most of the people who’ve been shaming my decision are adults. I have an awesome support network around me, so I’m OK, but what if this had happened to a teen who didn’t have that? It’s not worth saying much more than this, because I know the majority of adults in the YA community value and support and defend young people. But it still makes me sad and scared that it’s a thing that can happen. Most importantly, I want to say this to my fellow teens: if adults are ever doing Not Okay things in your direction, let me know. I want to know, and I have lots of friends who want to know. Like Wes said:
Lesson learned from catching up: you come after @findmereading or any teen, the community comes for you. I’m so proud of everyone.
— More Alive Than Not (@epicbooklover) April 28, 2016