By A.J. Llewellyn
The past few days have been an exercise in pain..as if somebody is ripping my heart out of my chest without anesthesia. I have been in despair and total agony. I have fantastic friends who have all given me advice but I simply have to address the big fat elephant sitting on my chest.
A former co-writer chose to tell people that I am a woman and the whole thing has exploded into a vicious vendetta that yes, was of my creation, but honestly was not meant to harm anybody.
When I started writing M/M four years ago I was advised to do so as a man. I chose initials instead of a name and found very quickly that I was very comfortable being A.J.
I relished the freedom being A.J. meant for me as a writer and person.
I very much identify as a man and no, I have not had surgery but I live as a man and my former co-writer knew this.
I feel as if a deeply personal struggle is being challenged and questioned…even ridiculed. It is nobody’s business, but I feel now that the next thing that will happen is for my detractors to reveal my real name.
I have an alternative career that would be destroyed if this were to happen. I feel as if this is what the detractors want.
When I started writing four years ago very few M/M authors did public appearances. My friend Michael did ONE appearance for me signing books at an event, an experience I chose not to repeat. I maintained his pics on my site, fb and twitter accounts because people who came to the signing knew him to be me.
Over the last few years people have suggested coming clean, getting rid of the pics…or even replacing the photos with somebody else so I could do more signings.
Of course, I did not do that.
I chose to do nothing. Partly it was because I feared a lack of acceptance. I feared rejection.
I haven’t exactly set the world on fire with sales but I found a niche, a voice, and then I partnered with DJ Manly, a fantastic person and brilliant author who doesn’t deserve any of the stuff that is happening as a result of all of this.
I cultivated AJ from my own experiences and feelings. I am AJ. I just don’t have a penis…yet. There are plenty of people writing in our genre who are not men and I feel their silence as all of this is happening.
When I did that book signing in 2008 I was not comfortable in my body, nor did I feel like I could come out as a woman. I liked being a man. I felt, like so many others that I was a gay man trapped in a woman’s body.
Part of why I have never revealed myself as ME is both because my work has already alienated my family who call me a prostitute and because it has also affected my career. I lost a job I love when I told a fellow co-worker what I write. They fired me because I quote, write porn.
My friend Michael appeared as me for ONE book signing. I was so excited about having my first paperback published.
The whole POD thing was new and my book was not available in the stores.
I was desperate to sell some copies and organized my own book signing.
Michael was kind and did his best as AJ. He was there for me but obviously it didn’t go very well… and AJ went incognito.
In a way it’s a relief to not have to hide behind Michael’s pics anymore but the viciousness of this attack still has me shell shocked. I can’t sleep or write. I simply don’t know what to do. I have removed his pics from my site etc but I don’t know what else to do except to say I am sorry to all my readers who feel lied to. Believe me, everything I have written in blogs and private emails is true. I love you all and love the emails, cards and IMs I receive…I am sorry if any of you feel duped but believe me it’s weighed heavily on me for a long time. I feel my work is strong enough to stand on its own whether I am male or female.
Yes, I am a biological female but I identify as a man and wish to be known that way. This is my personal preference and my hopeful desire in the future.
I apologize to DJ and Serena who are my treasured friends and co-authors. I love you both more than words can say and hope you can forgive this explosion that was not my choice…but in the end, is all my fault.
I sincerely hope my readers will forgive me and will keep reading my books. The past few days have been so agonizing I have felt suicidal. I want to thank my wonderful friends who have shown support. I am sorry I let you all down. All I wanted was to write…it’s all I still want to do.