The end of my first full, self-employed work week is tomorrow. It's been a helluva ride, and I literally just started.
I was struggling for the last few months thinking about whether I should come out publicly as genderqueer and queer while I'm doing my little self-employment tango (you can read about my plans at johncs.com). Genderqueer-ness is a sort-of newly accepted part of my own identity, and queerness is also not something I've ever been the most public about.
Being out publicly is terrifying. I knew it would make a lot of things harder.
I often post to the subreddit /r/design_critiques when I make stuff on my own, and this week I was designing and building johncs.com. Regularly when I post into that subreddit some angry butt will come in and yell at me. This time was no different, except that the thing I had built was exposing a part of my identity that is wrapped up in blankets/grenades of emotion.
The first line of my website is:
Hello 👋! I'm a grown-up queer kid tryna make snazzy stuff and do some good. They/them please.
And the first piece of feedback I received on my design was:
Who are you writing for? I mean no disrespect, but while your age and sexual identity are important to you, they are likely not the first priority of anyone interested in collaborating in a professional capacity.
This was a tough thing to read right out of the gate. It's the thing I was most scared of happening, someone taking offense to the identity I'm putting forward. It made it worse that it's dressed up in pretty words.
I don't feel like I have the vocabulary or the knowledge to talk about why I think this comment is shitty, at least in the way I want to. But I recognized it as a microagression I normally see pointed at people of color... "Do you really need to mention that your black? What does your race have to do with this?" or "Can you make this character's skin lighter?" because blackness is something that can only be present when you're specifically talking about race, otherwise these people would like "one cis white man please and thank you".
Amusingly someone else's comment that said:
Nobody with money gives a shit about you or the things you want to do, except maybe your parents. If they wanted to do good, they'd donate to a charity or a school.
Didn't bother me much. Even though it gathered 6 upvotes, which is a lot for that subreddit (so lots of people agreed with this shit-flinging comment).
It's too obviously abusive to really get me down, and also a ridiculous comment. I'm fortunate enough that lots of people have told me directly that they're excited about what I'm doing and want me to succeed (including my parents), and some have even generously given me their time and energy. I'm certainly anxious about whether I'll succeed generally, but I know some people care about me.
But the first comment isn't obviously abusive. It's subtle, and nagging, and made me feel confused and sad. So fuck that person in particular, fuck you "MyCrookedMouth", whoever that is.
The rest of the week went alright honestly. I got the site up how I wanted, though I was hoping more people would sign up for my mailing list 😅. That's alright though, I know I'll need to hustle and sell my kickass product ideas as well as myself to gather the audience I need.
But I was definitely hoping that I'd make a Tweet and Facebook post and several thousand people would send me various messages like "I love you John and you're amazing, here's a bunch of money to make these cool things. We believe in you. Also we think your hair looks great." Alas.