Charity M. Muse writes about love between women, social justice, and LGBTQ+ spirituality. In addition to being a writer, she is a speaker, therapist, and empowerment coach, is married to an amazing woman, and is “Momma C” to two wonderful kids. She is currently working on her first novel, tentatively titled By Heart. Charity’s writing and work as a singer/songwriter can be found at charitymmuse.com.
Do you find any stereotypes in lesbian/bi work that you would personally remove?
I often find that along with under-representation, the stereotypes of erotica and objectification continue to prevail. What disturbs me most is the continuation of the so called “Celluloid Closet” – an underlying message that lesbian relationships cannot last, are not valid, cannot be ultimately fulfilling. We see it in the death of partners, the leaving for a man, and other tragic and unhappy endings that far outweigh the few gems with hopeful resolutions. While even heteronormative stories have tragedies, I think it’s past time for lesbian romances to have happy endings, hope, and redemption that celebrates a winning love between women.
What does it mean to you to be part of something like SMITTEN and have your work along side other women who love women?
I am deeply honored to be included in this work. Even before I came out to myself and others, I felt drawn to women who embraced their love of other women. I have been moved by the trailblazers in our community who have dared to love and be without apology. I feel like being part of this is one way I can continue the work they began, and the fact I get to work alongside other women who love women, who are from all over the world makes this experience all the more affirming and delightful.
Did you ever want to be a voice for the lesbian/bi community? If so, why?
Yes, and I still do. When I sit and think about it, I already have been/am in my own circles of influence – in spiritual communities, in the religious college I attended for undergrad and grad school. In my day job, as a psychotherapist in a small southern town, I continue to be a voice for our community. I desire to instill hope and spread a message of belonging and love in whatever I do: as a therapist, a friend, a writer, a singer, and a citizen. I firmly believe that relationship changes the minds of people who would “other” us, and I’ve taken it as my life mission to stand in that gap in the ways that I can. What is more intimate than poetry and writing from the heart?
Your poems in SMITTEN are excellent, why did you choose these particular poems and what did you hope it would convey to readers?
“Merveilleux” and “Words” were written when I was still closeted, falling in love with a friend and terrified of her finding out. The tenderness I felt for her permeated my waking thoughts while the fear of being exposed caused a juxtaposition of thought and feeling I found almost too difficult to bear. “Your Hair Hangs Down,” on the other hand, celebrates the freedom and beauty of the love I share with my wife. I hope readers see the hopeful nature of the first two and how they bloom into flourishing as love is found and embraced.
Do you feel the lesbian / bi voice was lost or co-opted by the larger LGBTQ movement and if so, do projects like this help change that? \
Unfortunately, I do. I believe in expansion and inclusion, but I also believe that we cannot expand or include if we circumvent the voices and experiences of any of our own. Sometimes, it feels like identifying as “lesbian” has become vanilla. We aren’t seen as forward thinking or inclusive by not identifying as a more recent term or by not rejecting labels altogether. I believe that this project and other writings/music/art will demonstrate the vivacity, richness, and ever progressive nature of love shared between two women.
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