My latest short story That's Where You'll Find Me plays with the concepts of identity, reality, and memory. As many readers know, I am a fan of science fiction and these themes were made famous by authors like Philip K. Dick among others. Yet, I wanted to bring my love of science fiction into contemporary gay fiction.
For me, I wanted to create a short story based on the concept of framed false memory from the perspective of an LGBTQ victim, who was traumatized and brutalized into forgetting themselves. Life can get really hard for folks in our community, but some of the worst issues are faceareby those who don't conform to the binary gender identity. It's not difficult to imagine someone who goes through a psychological break and becomes a different person with memories re-oriented, so the new reality fits their new life.
A famous psychological issue called the Mandela Effect harnessed this severe psychological break with reality to rewrite history to suit personal needs. The Mandela effect, in short, was a phenomenon encountered by people, who claimed they had heard, seen, or witnessed the death of Nelson Mandela in the 1980s, when in fact he would not die until 2013 after serving as President of South Africa.
It's a fascinating concept about how cognitive reasoning and personal views shape "perceived reality" versus "factual reality".
My protagonist in this short story is a conservative Christian college student, who has spent most of his life, as far as he knows, being a devout Christian who crusaded against everything from abortion to LGBT rights to promoting Conversion therapy. Yet, his entire reality and structure of truth are put to the test, when he hears a girl play and sing the famous song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which seemed familiar to him and incites a deep-seated need for protection from him. As the story progresses, I show readers why this need to protect exists and break the multiple layers of false memories that created his reality.
In the end, I wanted my character to reclaim their identity and reality, despite the trauma of accepting what had happened or what they have done in their life afterward. Not everyone is a strong survivor after a trauma, many people will look within themselves and change themselves to be something else to adapt. This happens to a lesser degree when people enter new surroundings like college or workplaces, but in my story, the protagonist had to re-orient their entire life history to make sense of their life experience.
There's also a culpability factor in my story, for this illusion to continue, the closest people around the protagonist like his parents and best friend must accept his new reality as well. They did it out of guilt and obligation, but it actually compounds psychological issues from the protagonist's sense of reality and his self-identity.
Reality is a tricky concept, there's factual reality, implied reality, and self-actualized reality.
1. The title is based on a line from Somewhere Over the Rainbow, along with the last names of two main characters being based on the names of the actual writers.
2. The fictional fraternity my protagonist belonged to has a famous Christian Greek prefix, "Chi" and "Rho" Greek letters combined in Christian iconography represent the cross in early Christianity. I know not many readers will know this little textual detail, nor care, but I did it intentionally. Most people know I have a grasp of Christian history and languages.
Edited by W_L
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