I am a U.S. Army Combat Veteran, a wife, daughter, sister and friend. I care deeply for those around me and try to live my life with no regrets. I have never thought of myself as a writer, but my wife has shown me there is more to who I am than I give myself credit for; that I am stronger, braver, loving, caring and worthy of a soul burning love. Andrea Staley
When you found out SMITTEN was about women who loved women, without the emphasis on erotica that is usually the case – could you immediately think of ways to express that love through writing?
When I think about what it means to love a woman, what it looks like and feels like, I instantly image butterflies in my stomach, an intense emotional and soulful connection, effective communication, deep understanding, tenderness and an eternal, earth shattering type of love. I feel like most people assume that when women talk about loving another woman, they instantly assume that it is all sexual and that, somehow, we are forcing our sexual nature onto others. This collection of poems will show that there is more to loving another woman than sex and that the love that we feel is intense, beautiful and life changing. I have been able to express my feelings for my wife and the way that she loves me, in my own way and using the different and distinct voice that I have, to spread nothing but love.
Do you feel projects like this help dispel some of the ignorance surrounding lesbian/bi love?
I hope that this particular project and collection of writings will show the world that loving someone of the same gender as you is not a disgrace, an abomination, sinful, purely sexual and that our sexual orientation is not because we were abused by a man. Instead, I hope this collection shows people that love is beautiful no matter the gender, that we all deserve to love who we love, that we are not wrong for doing it and that love will always win.
Have you ever been SMITTEN and if so, do you feel it’s possible to summarize those
feelings in poetry?
I have been SMITTEN a few times in my life but the most recent is with my wife. I never considered myself a writer or a poet for that matter, but she showed me that there is more to who I am and that I am able to speak my truth and my feelings through writing. She took a rough around the edges, quiet, athletic, reserved veteran and showed me what true love really is and has been nothing but supportive in my attempts to express my love through words.
How if at all has the experience of being lesbian/bi changed over the years? And how has this influenced you?
Things have changed drastically for those that love someone of the same sex and it has really paved the way for those of us today. When I was in high school, I knew several lesbians and the way they chose to live freely showed me that there is nothing wrong with loving someone of the same sex. I did not come out until I was in college and the change, I felt within myself was instant and truly freeing. I felt like I was finally living authentically and couldn’t wait to continue exploring this new version of myself. After a few years of living this new life, I decided to join the Army and had to revert to not being open about my sexuality.
It wasn’t until President Obama reversed the Federal Marriage Act that I was finally able to live authentically without the fear of punishment. In my lifetime, I have learned how to be open about who I love, have had to hide who I truly am and then given the ability again, to be out, proud and not ashamed to show my true colors. Loving a woman has changed my life in so many ways and I hope this project continues to show adults and future generations that love is love and it is beautiful, honest and freeing.
How does loving a woman differ from loving a man or being completely heterosexual and how is this conveyed in the form of poetry?
As a woman, loving another woman is completely different than loving a man. I have loved men before and it is nothing like loving a woman. With men, they tend to find women emotional, dramatic, that we talk too much and that our role is to stand by his side and not have things of our own. Loving a woman on the other hand, is full of emotion, its intense, it can be dramatic, but we do stand side by side and tackle the difficulties of life together with nothing but support and understanding.
Being able to put a collection of poems from women who love women, is one path to showing this world that love is love and that the feelings, emotions and connections are deeper and more authentic than anything other kind of love. This collection will shatter the glass ceiling of homophobia and shatter the stereotype that being a lesbian writing is comprised of nothing but sex or erotica.
Please consider supporting this project of over 120+ talented poets and authors by purchasing a copy of SMITTEN for someone who appreciates beautiful poetry. https://www.facebook.com/SMITTENwomen/