I’m sitting here in my house listening to music that isn’t mine. We’re having work done (leaky windows), and the workmen have music. It’s good music, and I know you need something to listen to when you work, so I totally understand and don’t mind. But that music that isn’t mine got me thinking.
Why did I decide to put a gay woman in Where the Heart Lies? Heaven knows when I was writing her character, I felt like I was listening to somebody else’s music.
Lulu is a divorced mother of a five-year-old girl who befriends Alicia when Alicia moves to Hillsborough. Lulu is tough. She divorced her cheating husband and took over his sex shop in the heart of downtown Hillsborough. (Okay, there is no sex shop in downtown Hillsborough and probably never has been. I made it up, so don’t go looking for it!) Lulu worries about how her sexual orientation will affect her daughter, whether she grows up with one mommy or two. She’s able to shake off the disapproving looks and whispers that follow her around. She’s not a gossip, but she does enjoy the power of knowing who shops with her, and she hates the fact that her mother thinks her ex-husband “turned” her gay but she’s resigned to it.
Freud would probably say that Lulu is a part of me, but I don’t think that’s right. I think Lulu is a conglomeration of the things I’ve learned about the gay community over the years, even from my limited contact. Because I listen, I can hear their music, even though it isn’t mine.
I wish we could all remember to listen to other people’s music. Whether you’re ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative or (like me) somewhere in between, listen. Every community, every family, every individual has music and a story. Listen to it. The music may not be yours, but you might appreciate it, even if you don’t enjoy it.