Originally published on Crossing Zebras
Autobiography tells the story *of* one’s life while Memoir tells a story *from* one’s life. Memoirs don’t so much relate a life as they explore a topic via personal experience meaning, in memoir, stories from one’s life are usually written to illuminate something more than that individual’s specific experience. Conclusions may be drawn about ‘big’ things like birth, death, love or what it means to be human.
Deep down memoir recognizes that personal experience, no matter how unimportant the author, might have broad ramifications. “Even the smallest person,” to quote J.R.R. Tolkien, “can change the course of the future.” Now I’m no Frodo and neither are you which gets us to the very point of memoir. Even our stories, all of them smaller than pipsqueak Frodo’s, can matter.
If you’re a regular reader of my Crossing Zebra’s pieces (and I don’t expect you to be – I’m terribly unimportant), you’ll know nearly all my pieces narrate some real-life story and then use that story to illuminate something about EVE. On very rare occasions I go the other way round narrating an EVE story to illuminate something about real life. Memoiring about EVE in some matter or other is kinda my gig so let’s get to today’s story, shall we?
In the classroom sit fifteen women and one man. How awkward, this must be attended to.
The professor stands, “Good afternoon and welcome to Women’s Studies 305. I’m Professor Debra Francis, your instructor (not her real-life name), and that fellow over there is DireNecessity (not my real life name), our graduate student assistant. As you can see, he’s a man. Now I’m certain Dire agrees there’s need for women only spaces but the question before us today is whether this publicly funded, college credit class is one of those spaces.”
Holy shit!, I think to myself, I’ve just been legitimized. We’re done with this awkwardness. I raise my hand and wave, “Hi!”
The students wave back, “Hi!”
That moment was nearly twenty years ago and still, it remains a stark memory. I need only close my eyes and the balmy afternoon sweeps back to me like yesterday. By most measures, one would think I was a terrible fit for Women’s Studies 305 Teaching Assistant. I’d bumbled into gender studies where this class was being taught a few years earlier by accident when I took an English literary theory course to fulfil a creative writing minor requirement (my major being philosophy) and I so enjoyed the course I followed up with another from the same professor.
As things turned out this favored professor co-taught with the gender studies department meaning, much to my surprise, I was fulfilling gender studies degree requirements while working on that creative writing minor much like chemistry majors end up fulfilling math degree requirements without specifically intending to. Being a mildly clever fellow, I then took a few cross-listed philosophy courses, a couple cross-listed liberal education courses and pow!, I ended up graduating with dual majors in Philosophy and Gender Studies coupled with a minor in Creative Writing all without doing much extra coursework. Amazingly, the entire ordeal unfolded with me being a white, middle-class, heterosexual male the entire time. Then (‘cause we’re not done kids) I followed up by not only TAing for the gender studies department while working on my masters in philosophy, but eventually independently teaching introductory gender studies classes as well.
Those were fun times. I got to hang with a wonderful group of straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professors along with a delightfully confused gaggle of college kids, plus, once I’d completed the required coursework, I even got paid to do it. Sweet!
Now I’ll be honest, I wasn’t always comfortable, especially early on. These folks and I, we were far from two peas in a pod, not especially similar at all, but one thing I learned is you’re only excluded when you’re actually concretely excluded. When I showed up at the door I wasn’t summarily dismissed. No, except for a few cranky assholes (and what group doesn’t have its cranky assholes), a whole bustle of LGBT folks invited me into ‘their’ space. I was enthusiastically welcomed to the party. Sometimes you just need to show up, try to be pleasant and avoid getting yourself into too big a twist about labels, especially before you meet the people sporting the labels. That’s all I did. Hell, after a couple years I even grew uncomfortable calling it ‘their’ space. Gender affects us all – it was ‘our’ space.
a curious tweet
What do you know? CCP Falcon’s trying to assemble an LGBT Fanfest SIG (special interest group) face to face link up. EVE’s a big place, Fanfest’s a big deal. Seems appropriate to me. While I hope things go well, sadly I won’t be able to attend as I’m not going to Fanfest this year. Still, you kids have fun storming the castle.
the ‘big’ memoir conclusion
I’ve been playing EVE since 2009. Over the last nine years, I’ve willy-nilly acquired a lot of real-life information about my fellow players. I know that some are married and some are not. I know that some have children and some don’t. I know that some are gay and some are straight. I know about divorces and careers and majors and classes and hobbies and food and drink and all kinds of crazy ass stuff. This is what happens when friends get together, especially face to face. Supposed bright lines get fuzzy. Real life leaks. Genuine friends bring everything they are to the table. Authenticity is like that. It’s terribly messy but then again EVE is terribly messy too. Seems good fit to me. Unless you expend mighty effort (and I tip my hat to those that do), space pixels inevitably grow into much much more than mere space pixels. It’s one of the many things I adore about EVE. Like so many of us, it’s why I’m still here nine years on.
So, if you happen to be one of those whining about CCP Falcon’s tweet (que Dirk McGirk), go ahead and whine. While I won’t stop you from whining about the supposedly divisive LGBT menace, I am going to yell at you for making such idiotic assertions. We here in EVE don’t roleplay all the time. Most of us hardly roleplay at all. Much of the time we’re our authentic selves. Our entire authentic selves. Authenticity too is part of EVE. Get used to it snowflake.