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Community Pieces

Have you ever started a puzzle only to find you don’t have all the pieces? It feels a lot like drafting these words right now. There are so many things to express, so many words to say. But how do the pieces all fit together? Surely the authors reading this will relate. The editors have caught several mistakes already. (It’s the commas, isn’t it? They always get me.) Readers, you can relate too. You know that moment in a book when there are 100 pages left and you just don’t know how the author is going to resolve everything with the space left? It’s like that.

Building community is so much harder than putting together a puzzle. Some might dare to suggest–harder than putting together a novel… Right. Better not. Like puzzles, communities often begin by being sorted into piles. We sort ourselves by age, gender identity, color, class, size, shape, sexual orientation, and more. At first, sorting offers us comfort and a sense of control. Seeing ourselves reflected in our community feeds our essential need to belong. It feels like making progress on a puzzle: corner and edge pieces, red pieces, orange pieces..., disabled, trans, Black, brown, lesbian, pan, young, tall, white.

The joy and satisfaction of finding people like ourselves is thrilling! Our children come home excited every time they learn something they have in common with one of their peers. They have the same birthday. They both wore the same shirt to school that day. They have the same favorite color, number of siblings, favorite game at recess, or favorite book. We really don’t change much with age, do we? It’s easy to bond quickly with people in our community through the mutual love of a book, an author, a trope. The inexplicable joy of knowing another person is reading a book (maybe even one you wrote!) and having the same experience as you is profoundly fulfilling.

The unfortunate truth is this: taken too far, the comfort we find in belonging can become our prioritization of sameness rather than for community. Without even realizing it, the excitement and relief of fitting in, the insidious side of the sort, can lead to distrust of those perceived as different. Conformity is not community, and we will not remain so rooted in oppression that inclusion of people different from us feels threatening. Being in community with a diverse group of people can allow us to see parts of ourselves we didn't know existed. Every person–piece of the puzzle is a little bit different, but they all must fit together to make something beautiful.

In her book Braving the Wilderness, author Brené Brown says,

“True belonging is not passive. It’s not the belonging that comes with just joining a group. It’s not fitting in or pretending or selling out because it’s safer. It’s a practice that requires us to be vulnerable, get uncomfortable, and learn how to be present with people without sacrificing who we are.”

The Golden Crown Literary Society is dedicated to building, nurturing, and celebrating a diverse community. As members of the sapphic literature community, we will continue to grow and evolve as an organization just as each of us will continue to grow and evolve as people. We love and stand with our entire community. All sapphics are welcome here: Black sapphics, trans sapphics, lesbian sapphics, bisexual sapphics, nonbinary sapphics, neurodiverse sapphics. Corner and edge pieces. You truly belong here, and we will never ask you to sacrifice who you are.

Welcome home.

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Beautifully written piece. And yeah, it's always the commas that get me, too. (And hyphens. Darn those hyphens.) But seriously, this was lovely and oh so very true.

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