Lately, I've noticed a marked decrease in desire to blog. Call it low blogging libido. In fact, I've kind of stopped reading blogs, newspapers, magazines and twitter, which I used to scan constantly so I could feed my blogging needs. They seem to have lost their charms, a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.
A lot has changed since I started blogging on March 24, 2006. Part of this, too, is the yearly cycle of academic life, and the Fall is a really busy time. And part of this is my own life cycle, moving into my 50s, well established in my second career, wanting to retreat into my shell and coast. I'm writing a book on transgender law, and I love doing that kind of academic research, but it is by its nature essentially solitary. Something in me wants to connect with others around our growing LGBT movement, which is finally starting to gain traction in the wider world. But what is it that I want to say? I've tried a few new things in an effort to spark something, but everything seems to fall short. What happened to my voice? Why has blogging become such a chore?
Fortunately, I had the chance to spend this weekend with Bil and Jerame with the express purpose of talking about our vision for Bilerico. Spending time with these blogging gurus is like plugging your toaster right into the central power station. I left DC with renewed vision and a feeling of new purpose. My low blogging libido problems are solved! Blogging is sexy again, and no messy gels or creams.
In analyzing my demotivation, and speaking with Bil and Jerame, I realized that the reasons I started blogging no longer really hold any juice. I started my own blog in 2006 because I wanted to talk about the research I was doing on trans employment issues and reach HR people who needed to know what to do. There was very little on the internet about the topic, and I felt strongly that I wanted to change that.
I started reading Bilerico avidly in 2007 because it gave voice to the topics I care about with a combination of smart analysis, an understanding of race, class and gender intersectionality, and skepticism but not cynicism. When the invitation came to apply to blog on Bilerico, I thought it would provide a bigger platform for my workplace law research, my area of scholarship in the academic world. I soon found that I valued being a part of the Bilerico family and connecting with readers, and wanted to branch out into other topics on Bilerico to connect with a wider audience.
Then I got caught up in the fight for ENDA in June of 2009. I spent hours working on that every day, which was both difficult and compelling because I felt so strongly about the issue. But when ENDA died at the end of 2010, so did a major motivator for my blogging. My old motivator -- wanting to get research out there on trans workplace issues -- didn't return because nowadays there is a lot of info on the internet about trans workplace issues. That's not to say I can't continue to help in that area, but it doesn't hold the urgency that it once did for me.
That's not to say that I don't want to blog any more, but the riveting fixation provided by my academic research and ENDA isn't there. (ENDA is around, but not likely to go anywhere in this political climate for some years.) I am not content posting snippets about random issues to drive traffic, or screeds unconnected to making a difference out in the world. I enjoy writing analytically and critically, and working towards some particular goal against which I can measure achievement, and that takes research and time. But I have lots of other things going on, and without a strong motivator, blogging becomes a chore rather than the delight that it has been for me in the past.
Well, Bil and Jerame and I talked about blogging and Bilerico and visions this weekend, and I saw something that I hadn't seen before. If Bilerico is about anything, it's about creating a panoply of voices that are overlooked by more mainstream media. While it's true that the mainstream media is paying a lot more attention to LGBT issues today than it was even a year ago, that is largely limited to marriage and the military. We have been so oppressed for so long that there is a long backlog of important issues that need to be brought to public attention. Another thing that The Bilerico Project does well is to showcase talented bloggers. My case is a particular example. When I started blogging for Bilerico, I was unknown outside of my little circle of friends and family. Now, all sorts of people know my name in the worlds of politics, news, LGBT media and academia, which is both flattering and a bit alarming. By virtue of this, I have a little bit more edge to make a difference for the important but often overlooked issues that are important to me, and it is easier for me to move from online thought to offline action because people know my name and they know what I represent.
And so, Bil and I sat down and created a "vision" for the blog. It may need a few tweaks, but here's what we came up with, and I find it incredibly exciting to gain clarity about what I'm doing on this blog.
Our vision: The Bilerico Project seeks out voices that are overlooked by mainstream LGBT publications, and gives them exposure next to well-known community figures. We mentor these voices to become the next generation of leading-edge thinkers for our community by helping them to create a robust dialogue with the community and by bringing their ideas from online thought to offline action.
I think that's pretty cool. Of course, vision isn't enough. One must create a sense of mission and have a strategy to carry it through. We did create a "mission statement" and a strategy as well, but I'm not going to burden you with those here. The important points are in the vision statement.
Thus, I'll begin spending my time on Bilerico in three ways. First, to give exposure to less well-known bloggers who write interestingly and compellingly on the important but overlooked issues, and to try to help create dialogue with the community on these issues. Second, to continue writing about trans issues, but with a specific purpose in mind. Many good things have started happening for trans people, and I read news items about them, but they seem to be decontextualized. How did they happen? Who and what are driving these developments? What do we need to do more of as a community and how do we make that happen? Third, I want to work on moving from online thought to offline action. Blogging is at its most exciting when it makes good things happen. It's not enough to decry the bad things that happen, at least, not for me.
As with any new venture, I'm not sure how it will work out. But I'm excited, and I hope that excitement will be productive. Thank you, Bilerico readers, for being a force for good in my life. And thank you, Bil and Jerame, for fixing my toaster.