Prizm News / April 30, 2019 / By Ken Schneck
Cleveland’s Lara Lillibridge discusses what it’s like to put her life as the child of a lesbian out to the world
By Ken Schneck
A lot of queer stories have been printed on pages…but most certainly not this one. When Lara Lillibridge published Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home in 2018, the Cleveland-based author pulled no punches in putting forth a riveting and unconventional memoir of her childhood in an atypical household. As she is about to release Mama, Mama, Only Mama: An Irreverent Guide for the Newly Single Parent, Prizm chatted with Lillibridge to get her take on bravely telling the important stories that others might hesitate in sharing.
Girlish puts the reader so up-close-and-personal with your unconventional childhood. What was it like seeing yourself on the page?
Everyone always asks if writing Girlish and detailing the abuse in my childhood was cathartic. And I say, “No. Not really.” To write a book like that, you have to put yourself back in that space and relive everything. Then, when you’re done with it, you can really be sick of your own story. My narrator is more distant than me as a person, so that gave me the little bit of space that I needed.
How did you see Girlish affecting your relationship with the LGBTQ community?
I was afraid I would face rejection from the gay community after putting out there that my mom is a lesbian and her partner was abusive. But the gay community embraced me. It gave me an even greater love for the community and provided me with a place as someone separate from being my mother’s daughter. After I released the book, I had the opportunity to figure out how to fit into the community on my own. I learned that there really is space for more voices in the community, and those voices are welcomed.
What were some of your favorite responses to Girlish?
I have received a lot of responses from people who have been abused in same-sex marriages. A lot of people have come up to me to say, “People wouldn’t believe I was abused because I was butch. There was no way I could be abused because I wasn’t tough.” Other people said, “Being queer is so incredibly hard on its own. You have to be seen as stronger, so you can’t talk about mental illness.” To be able to create space for these conversations was really freeing for other people. But I think the responses that have meant the most to me have been, “Your story helped me tell my own.” Whenever I hear from queer-spawn children, that means a lot for me because there are so few of our voices in print.
With your next book about to be released on surviving as a newly single parent, what advice to you have for our readers who have found themselves in a similar situation?
I want other people to know it’s ok to not be perfect. Don’t give in to that Facebook, Instagram, everything-is-perfect representation of life. We’re all disasters. But be gentle with yourself, love your children, and accept that nobody out there has all the answers.