One of my biggest pet peeves about being a blogger is how many people refer to me just as "Bilerico." To them, the blog and I are interchangeable. "I'm so happy to finally meet Bilerico," they'll say or, "You're my favorite blog."
Last week when I went to Austin, I appointed contributor Joe Mirabella the official Bilerico, but even he got sucked into that "I'm Bil Browning" trap. Actually, I wanted him to be Bilerico, but didn't express it very well. (I'm crazy enough; we don't need another me.) I see Bilerico and Bil Browning as two separate entities, but lately lots of people have started to merge the two.
So what's the difference between being Bilerico and being Bil Browning? And who did I choose to be the public face of the site this week while I'm in Los Angeles?
This week, the role of Bilerico will be played by Dr. Jillian Weiss. And my personal rant about being "gay famous" (aka "Bil needs a vacation") is after the jump.
Bil Is Not Bilerico-like
I'm odd and I know it. I'm quirky, tend to spout off at the mouth quite a bit, and I'm rather a nervous person. While the site has quickly grown much larger, I haven't managed to become suave and debonair.
Bilerico, however, is witty, culturally savvy, and very intelligent. It's well versed in feminist issues, queer theory, the current thinking behind trans issues, and all the latest political gossip and news.
When we have parties or I make appearances, I realize that I'm representing the site. In effect, I have to become Bilerico and Bilerico is hard to do. It can be very draining because the expectations are incredibly high. After all, the site has some of the smartest queer minds writing for it; so whoever leads it must be super awesome, right? Not always.
When I'm Bilerico, I feel like I have to be smart, witty, and sociable. I have to look good, I have to sound good, and I have to make a fantastic first impression. I don't want to sound stupid and I want to live up to the readers' expectations. That's a lot of pressure.
In real life, I tend to talk too much and the more nervous I am, the more likely paraphasia will become a problem. (Verbal paraphasia is where you substitute one word for another like "I'm going to the library, I mean, post office." or "Robinson Caruso is a pompous jerk, I mean, Rush Limbaugh." Both of those have happened, by the way.)
I'm not the smoothest talker but add in a serious case of nerves and I'll be a wreck by the end of the night. Writing is my strong suit, not small talk, but if I screw something up and realize it, I get even more nervous and it all goes downhill from there. Throw a lot of traveling and time spent in the Bilerico role, and it's a recipe for disaster for my mental health.
Taking a Vacation
We've done a boatload of traveling lately and all of the trips have been blog-related. We've seen so many new cities and had so many interesting experiences and once-in-a-lifetime moments that I don't regret any of it, but it's been somewhat exhausting.
I'm really looking forward to this trip because, for the most part, I'm leaving the site behind. It's rather freeing. For the next week, I don't have to be Bilerico. I can just be me because it'll only be Jerame and I hanging out, goofing off and enjoying each others company again like we did before Bilerico was even a consideration.
We both work full-time on Bilerico Project and our office is at home. We haven't had a real vacation in over eight years. Until now. By the time you read this, we'll (hopefully) be flying over the Midwest on our way to beaches, sightseeing, and general silliness.
We're staying a couple of nights at contributor Jeff Sheng's house and the rest will be spent agenda and schedule-free. Bilerico Project has a strict publishing calendar (7am - 7pm every half hour or hour on most days - 15 posts per day on average). Our vacation will not be very structured.
Shouldering the Responsibility
As the site has become bigger and bigger, being the public face of the site has become a huge responsibility. That's why we hit upon the idea to have a new "Bilerico" when I go away. It helps to separate me from the job of being a primary voice on the site.
That person would write more articles, really letting their personality shine through, and get quite a bit of face time on the site. And, really, whoever is on the front page a lot helps to shape the direction and feel of the site. It's a great opportunity for a contributor to get more exposure and add to the Bilerico culture.
Part of it is leadership via personality, but Projectors are a really sharp bunch and don't put up with much bullshit from our writers. Some of you are truly brutal. Personally, I like it that way because it keeps me sharp, but it takes someone with a strong constitution to willingly attempt to lead such a rowdy bunch.
Dr. Weiss is well up to the challenge. She's been an almost daily contributor for months now, has her own fanbase, and is one of my better friends. She gets Bilerico and all of our collective quirks. She knows she has to be smart, irreverent, and I'm confident she's got a celebrity girlfriend stashed somewhere.
For the next week, she is the face of the blog. Jill Weiss is Bilerico.
Be nice to her. Don't play rough unless she asks for it and you've set up a safe word beforehand.
See y'all next week. I'm on vacation. If you need me, e-mail Jill.
*No, that doesn't mean that Managing Editor Alex Blaze won't be here. He'll still be doing all the real work like editing and scheduling posts. Jill's doing my job; she'll spend her time instant messaging with Alex, Phil Reese and Austen Crowder, talking to Waymon Hudson on the phone, and then, after realizing she's wasted all day "communicating," she'll write a post about a half-naked queer celebrity.