The last few weeks, I’ve been keeping my head down. I’ve had a couple amazing client books to work on (Seriously, I’m super lucky that I get to work on such fantastic stories that I often get pulled into the story).

I needed that. Because the world outside of novels has been terrifying me. Between the election and war and then the shooting in Orlando, I needed to escape into others worlds.

I spent a large chunk of my going out time in my early 20’s at the gay club in downtown San Antonio, the Bonham. It’s a gorgeous club, with lots of rooms playing different kinds of music. Converted from a synagogue, it had stained glass windows, rich, polished wood floors, narrow hallways, and a three stall bathroom for the womens’ that was always, always full.

My friends and I would go there, fresh out of college, me newly out to most of them as bi, and them wanting to be supportive. We didn’t go to the clubs to pick up people. We had a rule: You left with who you came with, and if you swapped numbers, you could deal with that once you were sober again.  It was wonderful. We’d dance, drink, and laugh with our friends, most of which were way better dancers than I’d ever hope to be. We frequented the back room, with the techno and ambient dance. Oldies upstairs. Rap/hip hop to one side of the hall, country to the other. It was as diverse in music as the clientele, and I never, once, felt I had to justify my presence. They didn’t care if you were queer enough, or queer at all. So long as you were kind, and enjoying yourself, you were welcome.

When I heard about Orlando, my instinct was to hide. I looked admiringly at those friends who posted selfies declaring their gay pride. I thought about taking one. Then I proceeded to take a day off work and spend it reading a MS.

It took me a few days to sort out why. I pictured my gay club. With the small hallways and the labyrinth of rooms. I never knew where the back doors were, though I know they must have existed. The strobe lights, the TV screens flashing music videos of whatever was blaring through the overheads.

It wasn’t my club, but it was no different, in the way that all good clubs are alike. You lose yourself in the music, in the darkness, in the drinks, in the smokey halls where the bathrooms are never large enough, where the walls have stories that no one will admit in the light of day.

Here’s the thing no one tells you: To those trying to find themselves in a society that doesn’t want to admit we exist, such places are as sacred as any church. It’s the same belonging you find in a library when everything is quiet and you’ve found just the right book for the mood you’re in. In that pint of ice cream with your best friend because one of you fell for an asshole again and got your heart broken, and you’re wondering what it will take before they see just how amazing they are. It’s that feeling when someone seems to take the words right out of your head, and says them so succinctly that you wonder if your words can hold a breath against everything else out there.

Your words matter.

I am bi, with a trans partner who I love more than anything. He pushes me to do more, be more, with patience and humor that I’d never have found without him. It was sheer fate, an impulsive trip to a convention with a lovely girlfriend of the time. She told us to get a room, we got an apartment, after I tripped out of the closet backwards to my parents. Given as my parents still think my being pagan is a phase after 2 decades of it, I’m sure they still think of my being bi as one too. Tough shit. I am bi, and while I may not post selfies splattered in rainbows, it is just as valid as the next one. For those who may need to hear it: You, as you are, are enough. Whether you’re comfortable shouting it from the rooftops or scrawling it in the margins of your diary, your words matter. You matter.

Someday, I’m sure we’ll turn it all into great art, to a soliloquy of dance. Until then, I see you. I love you. Keep being you, in the youest way possible. Because we all only get so long on this planet, and we never know when that time will end.