A new year always brings mixed emotions, feelings of regret for the passing of time and what has been missed, but also optimism for what lies ahead.
A virgin diary with its clean unblemished pages, perfectly encaptulates the promise of what can be, the unknown future adventures and the expanse of time in which to have them.
One of the reasons we keep diaries is so that at the end of another year or decade, we might look back on all the good and brilliant things we achieved and did; the people we met, the lives we crossed paths with, the places we stood in awe of. But diaries are so much more than just a record of appointments. They are often the only place in which we feel safe enough to voice our most private thoughts about ourselves and those around us; a place to unburden and subconciously work through deep emotional turmoil. For very many years my facade to the outside world was a mask, my true self was only revealed through the words I wrote and the spaces I left between the lines in the diaries I kept through my formative years in the 80’s.
Those diaries make fascinating reading now, but who was I writing my intimate thoughts and memoirs for exactly? Who do we keep these accounts for, and why when we even edit parts of our daily lives out? Is it for our own enjoyment and benefit, so that in our old age we might sit back and reminisce on what a marvellous time we had? Or is it that by editing ourselves, however subconcious that might be, we do so in the hope that one day someone will discover our story and learn about us and see us in a more favourable light? Is it okay then to edit out the bits we really don’t want people to know? Or should we leave in all the salaciousness and debauchery to cause intrigue?
Should we, actually, destroy our diaries before we are no longer around to guard who does and does not get to read them?
Perhaps what lies at the heart of all diary writing is that it validates our lives with some meaning and purpose, and by revealing our hidden selves, that true self we most value and yet at the same time struggle to understand, we reconcile ourselves to that ‘other’ life. Writing it down gives us something tangible and real, and when later we read those forgotten stories, we find the truth in our personal history whispering back at us, telling us how the pieces of our life fit together.
You too may have a hoard of treasured diaries you have kept and want to use as a basis for telling your own LGBTQ+ story. My book, How To Tell Your LGBTQ+ Story is packed with practical advice and testimony from other LGBTQ+ writers who have done just that.