In the LGBT community names and labels are a serious business and it's not hard to understand why. A huge element of embracing identity as members of this community is attaching ourselves to one or more label(s). Whether it be gay, bi, lesbian, trans*, queer, friend, ally, parent, or something else entirely, this label shapes how others perceive us, and in fact, how we perceive ourselves.
My last post, "Where Does 'Queer' Fit In?" looked at some of the complexities and issues with the words we use to describe our sexual orientations. Today, I am going to talk a bit about names. Specifically, in this instance, my name.
"Wintersong Tashlin" was the name I used when writing previously as a guest contributor for Bilerico. That is the name that I consider most singularly my own, even though it is not what appears on my government ID. "Wintersong" is the name I've been teaching and presenting under in both the alternative sexuality and pagan communities for over a decade, as well as being the name on nearly all of my published writing and photography. A mouthful to say, most people just call me "Winter" for short.
Unfortunately, hard experience has taught me that "Wintersong" is a name that closes as many doors as it opens.
The immediate connections it brings up to my work in sex and kink-positive education has caused me difficulty securing presenting work with universities, HIV/STI services organizations, and at least one major non-profit.
My history of writing and teaching in the pagan community is often a detriment as well. As Rev. Emily C. Heath has written about here on Bilerico, spiritual faith and religion can be a controversial and painful topic in the LGBT community.
There is also the inescapable fact that "Wintersong" is not a mainstream sounding name, for the obvious reason that it doesn't come out of mainstream communities. In many ways it is a sign of progress that in order to be taken seriously when writing for the LGBT community today, one can't have a name like mine. There are serious expectations of LGBT bloggers and journalists, and "Wintersong," an asset in other areas of my work, is a potential obstacle here on The Bilerico Project. What one has to say is worth precisely nothing if people have a hard time seeing past the packaging after all.
I don't wear the same outfit to present at universities as I do at a pagan or BDSM events. This is not because I couldn't, but rather because it would distract people from what I have to say. In the same way, here on Bilerico, I will be writing as "E. Winter Tashlin" in place "Wintersong Tashlin."
I think of it as the suit jacket to "Wintersong Tashlin's" leather vest. The outer trappings are different, but who I am and what I have to say stays the same.