Paige Schilt on “Queer Rock Love” and unconventional families

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Paige Schilt‘s memoir Queer Rock Love is more than just a memoir about Paige’s life as a queer woman. The story begins with how she and her partner Katy met, fell in love and got married. Once the initial euphoria of new love begins to simmer, real life sets in for the couple, who are met with obstacles that many of us can relate to. From trying to have a child, to Paige being unhappy in her career, to living in a rural area that is not accepting of the queer community, to Katy making her gender non-conforming identity public, to Katy’s gradual health decline that leaves her ultimately bed ridden. Although continually challenged, this family shows strength and compassion, which ultimately leads to positive changes in their lives.

Queer Rock Love is a story about the unconditional love between two people. It’s about learning to navigate through the ups and downs of life, and redefining the definition of  family. Over the course of seven years, Paige poured her heart into writing a memoir about her life in hopes queer and trans parents would somehow feel inspired by her story. We had the chance to speak with her about the feedback she’s received so far.

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AfterEllen.com: What initially inspired you to write this book?

Paige Schilt: Back in 2008, I started writing stories about my feminist, gender-nonconforming family for a blog called The Bilerico Project. Much to my surprise, the stories seemed to resonate with a wide audience. I got comments and emails from queer and trans parents and would-be parents who said they felt seen and inspired. At the same time, some of my most loyal readers were the straight parents of my son’s friends from preschool. The stories were familiar enough to draw them in, and then they were like, “You know, I never thought about what it would be like to worry about getting gender-policed in the bathroom.” I felt like I had found a way to educate and entertain at the same time.

 

AE: What was Katy’s reaction when you told her you were going to write this book?

PS: It was actually Katy’s idea that I should write a book. She had to talk me into it. Since she’s a psychotherapist, of course we had to talk about how it would affect her clients to know that she was a former IV drug user, for instance, or that we had been in long-term couples therapy ourselves. Ultimately, one of the messages of the book is that it’s best to be open about your failures and messes, because it actually brings you closer to other human beings. I think that message is consistent with the way she practices therapy. Also, since she’s an artist and performer in her own right, she was already used to navigating those boundaries.

 

AE: Were you nervous at all about putting your story out there and how people would react to it?

PS: Not really, because I had been writing for The Bilerico Project for so long. Originally I thought that some people would judge us for raising a “genderful kid” with all different kinds of trans and queer influences. In reality, the most negative feedback that I ever got was for a story I wrote about raising a fat-positive kid. That’s when people were like “You’re ruining your kid’s life.”

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