Visibility Matters: Why Sharing Our Stories Will Change the World

“If we all use our voices to speak out against this stigma – this attitude that mental illness is a mark of shame, a personal failing, an entertaining spectacle – and instead, use our lived experience to educate and enlighten those around us, it is my sincere conviction that we will change the world.”

Let's Queer Things Up!

Around this time last week, I was a procrastinating graduate student, managing a small blog, with a following of wonderful friends and friends-of-friends who found my writing to be interesting.

As I write to you this week, I’m a writer with a blog that has readers from over 180 countries around the world, and 2.4 million page views this past week alone.

Full-disclosure: I am just a weirdo, living in California, spending too much money at Trader Joe’s, adding too much sugar to my coffee, and hanging out with a pet chinchilla. Sometimes I microwave tortilla chips with shredded cheese and call it nachos. Sometimes I’m too lazy to untie my shoes and I slip them on instead. Sometimes I forget to return my library books.

In other words, I am one person who in so many respects, is very ordinary, and probably a lot like you.

But somehow…

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Amanda Bynes, Robin Williams, and the Spectacle of Mental Illness

“If Amanda Bynes has taught us anything, it’s that mental illness can, in fact, touch anyone. It exists in every community, every city, every race, every social class, every gender. Celebrities are not immune to these devastating disorders. In fact, 13.6 million Americans live with a serious mental illness, and if Amanda Bynes is among them, she will need support and compassion to get through it.”

Let's Queer Things Up!

Internet, we need to have a talk.

I’ve had a number of readers ask why I’ve neglected to write about Amanda Bynes this last year. It’s simple, really. I don’t believe that celebrities are “fair game,” and that, when they have very human and very difficult struggles, I should capitalize on those things by writing an article, however well-intentioned. I believe they are deserving of privacy and respect, by virtue of their being people.

However, I’m making an exception here, because in the midst of the negative and callous press that Bynes has received, I think it’s time we had a chat about it from a different perspective. And then, after we’re done, I think it’s time we stop speculating about it altogether. Deal?

First and foremost, there is no way for us to know what, if anything, Bynes has been diagnosed with. The family has denied schizophrenia and bipolar…

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