I usually avoid events where high temperatures are combined with swarms of people. Mostly, I avoid events in high temperatures and due to the very nature of those events, there are swarms of people there. Every now and then, I venture out on days where the weather won’t be miserable and I won’t hate everything for the next few days while I nurse a horrible sunburn. I recently decided to ignore all of these guidelines and go to Cleveland’s Pride festival.
To be honest, I didn’t go for the flags representing various sexualities, the plethora of rainbows, the men in leather (well, that one is obvious), or the overpriced horrible beer. I actually went so I could hopefully market my book a bit. This meant I was one of those people standing by the entrance shoving colorful cards toward people in hopes they’d be interested. I tried my best to speak with as many young women entering the park as I could simply because they are my main target market. The interesting thing for me was that while those women took the information and would offer a comment indicating their amazement that someone who was obviously around their age had written a book, they weren’t the ones most likely to stop and actually talk to me. For the record, comments like that made my face turn bright red because I am horrible at taking compliments which made me look like the sun had a personal vendetta against me.
Yes, I had been mostly targeting the young women I saw, but every now and then I reached out to an older lady who came through. Granted, one of them came in with a Great Dane puppy and there was no way I was going to miss the chance to pet something so gangly and adorable. Even though there were some I handed a card to directly, others overheard my sales pitch and came over to me. Like some of the younger women, they were impressed and offered their congratulations with a promise of buying a copy. Unlike those other women, they were more likely to stop for a lengthy conversation and there was added weight to the praise I received from the older members of our community and it reminded me why I started writing in the first place.
You see, it doesn’t take long when you’re speaking to a woman born fifty or sixty years ago before you realize that she grew up without books she could identify with. Hell, it was even a struggle for me to find anything. I know my book is tiny and practically unheard of now, but it’s there along with the work of many other authors who are now able to publish books with queer subject matter. The interest is there – it’s always been there in our community – but we can finally print materials accessible to young people who are now looking for them. That’s why if the cards I passed out and the people I spoke with leads to absolutely zero book sales for me, I don’t really care. I don’t care because I was still given the opportunity to show these women, old or young, that things are changing for us, things are getting better. Yes, we still have a long, long way to go, but this is a step. Even if it’s a tiny one, it’s still progress, and it’s still important.