Thank you so fricking much

Hi everyone,

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:

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8 thoughts on “Thank you so fricking much

  1. This is so awesome, Vee. I’m really looking forward to hearing all about your experience at BEA!! I once was at a Loft conference, wow this is like, three years ago? And that was where I first heard about The Gay YA–I thought it was an amazing idea then, and I still do. Thanks for keeping me thinking and on my toes! 😉

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  2. I don’t know you and didn’t know about this situation, but I’m in awe of teens who Achieve Things (like my friend Michael who started the Teens Can Write Too blog chain and then ended up doing even more incredible things). I always wanted to be one of them and never did and then missed my chance (I’ll have to try and be a 20-something who Achieves Things), but had I known about this fundraiser, I would have tried to contribute. Good on you for doing things even when life is scary and stressful and people are mean. Sounds like you deserve many, many good things.

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  3. I somehow missed all this yesterday! The only thing I know is that I’ve been having a really stressful and long week and yesterday I came home to your tweet recommending people on Twitter and saying such kind words that it made my day a little brighter.

    And reading this, I decided to put aside (for now at least) the anger I feel because of those people who judge and really know NOTHING about you; and center my focus in the amazing thing that happened to you yesterday, because you’re special, you matter… and overall, there are more nice and kind people, than bad ones.

    I hope you have an awesome time at BEA, sweetie ♥

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  4. I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t familiar with you and your work until some of the tweets started stinking up my TL a couple days ago. I wish I could say that I was surprised at the self-serving BS I saw from the representatives of the privileged white adults. But I’m thrilled and moved that so many people (also adults) stepped forward to support you emotionally as well as financially.

    Our system is stacked against people who aren’t in that privileged class. It’s heartening to hear that so many people understand that, and choose to support someone who’s clearly got so much important work to do, if she only gets a chance to do that. That’s you, in case you were wondering. You so totally deserve this support, There’s no doubt in my mind we’re going to hear such great things from you.

    Everything’s gonna be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. NEVER give up. 🙂

    Sending you lots of love.

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  5. Hi, Vee — I am so delighted that you were funded and then some for this conference, and I am feeling a little bit Mama Bear-ish on your behalf because some people were ugly to you about it. Maybe the lesson here for both of us is that there are lots of kind, helpful, generous people in the world and most of the time, they drown out the haters. (I am almost 50. I still need this reminder sometimes.)

    I teach children’s & YA lit at a university outside of Philly. For years I shared an office with a beloved colleague, a specialist in LGBTQIA YA, and between her book hoard and mine we had 12 bookcases full of treasures to share with our students, including our Big Gay Bookshelf. And you know what? Students LOVE finding out about this literature. They LOVE learning that there are resources within the CL/YAL world that are specifically dedicated to queer teenagers and literature by/about them. Since I discovered you, I mention you frequently in my classes as a wonderful addition to the larger discussion of LGBQIA YA. I know from my students’ reactions how important your work is, and how many people it has touched just in my small sphere.

    So — I wish you a wonderful conference. And as a daughter whose mom battled cancer, I send you a big hug. I hope that our paths cross in person someday.

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