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Hello, My Name Is...


blue

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The internet is full of anonymous people behind usernames. There are pros and cons to that fact of internet life. That can be a blessing and a curse. The topic's been covered elsewhere enough that I don't feel a particular need to go over it again here. I have something else to say.

Then there are people who use pen names or stage names to write or do other artistic work. That's normal in the real world. People understand why writers and actors and musicians use pseudonyms.

Both those situations can intersect for gay-friendly people online. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or any of the other buzzwords, is not as readily acceptable, and is downright unacceptable, for some people. However, some people who are fully out choose to use their names online and don't think twice about doing so. They feel confident.

Hold it, before you start getting upset with me and telling me all sorts of reasons pro and con. Each person has to make his or her own decision, and people really should protect themselves, rather than risk getting physically hurt or getting robbed or defamed. Minors should be careful online. I get all that. I'm not saying everybody has to give out their name to the whole planet.

There is, though, a special case or two where this gets tricky. What if you are, or want to be, a published writer, a musician, an actor, or own a business, so that your income depends on getting your name (or your pen name or stage name) out there to the public? Yes, that can be a dilemma on the internet, can't it?

The simple answer is to go ahead and put your pen name or stage name out there. If that happens to be your real name, then that's what you do.

Professional authors and other artists and business people do that...and deal with any risks involved. Usually, well, no one much cares about causing someone trouble, and if they do want to cause trouble, there are ways to deal with that; namely, the legal system. So pro authors and artists have their names out there.

Well, I want to be professionally published, once I have a story long enough and salable. Besides, I have other work I've done over the years.

You know, this wouldn't be an issue at all, other than using forum names online, or other than the fact that I wasn't out when I first began posting online. Aha, now we're getting somewhere. But I first came out in 2004, and I'm out to many friends. I still have some friends and family I want to tell in person. But I'm out, so...deal with it, y'all (and me).

So I'm known online as either BlueCatShip (in science fiction forums) or as Blue at Codey's World and AwesomeDude and a small number of other sites where I've visited before. (Note, there's also a B1ue somewhere with a one (1) instead of an el (L) but that's not me.) I'm out anywhere I've posted online. I'm reasonably vocal and open about it. So, ahem, you're not going to surprise anyone.

Then add in that I want to get published. And really, I don't want to have to separate my "gay" self from the rest of me. Am I perfect? Heck no. But I am who I am, I've said what I've said, I've written what I've written, and...ultimately, forum name or pseudonym or real name, why would I not claim what I've written?

Is this leading up to some amazing revelation, someone everyone would know? No, I'm really just some ordinary guy. In fact, no one much pays attention or cares overly much what I've written, drawn, sung, etc. There are very few people who'd get upset or notice anymore, with my name out there as writing gay-friendly stuff along with other things I've done. Relatives and friends will either accept it or not. Others I've come out to...weren't overly surprised, y'know? The only other item is my real name is somewhat rare, it's hard for many people to remember, to spell, or to say. But it points to me.

Except...I was really shocked when I did a Google search on my name. Despite it being a rare family name, there are either two or three guys (I'm not sure) out there on the internet with my name. Huh? That was very odd. One wants to be a writer. The other has had at least two jobs. I think they're both straight guys. The third has a movie credit. Well, isn't that bizarre, considering my name is not common? Well, OK, I will deal with that one if and when the time comes. Hey, my name has been my name for 44 years now, and that includes real-world work since I was in college. It is, however, odd to know there's more than one other "not-me" out there.

This past weekend, I updated most of the pages on my personal website. This evening, I updated more. I still have a sizable number of pages to update before I'm done. -- My web pages at Codey's World do not yet reflect that, but they will, upcoming.

My name is Ben Whisman. I'm gay and I'm vision-impaired / legally blind.

No, there's no need for my forum name to change. But this is one part of who I am, the guy in real life.

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Sharing your name is an act of trust, so thank you, Ben.

Usernames, pseudonyms, pen names, whatever, may hide a host of vices or virtues. As to publishing, I think consistency is most important. Regardless of what you call yourself, the name shouldn't be a moving target for publishers or readers. Then, I do have a few friends who publish under different pen names for different genres. My impression is that if you create quality (even if quality only means attracting a particular demographic), most publishers will be happy with any name you choose (unless you choose something like John Updike). Finally, any pseudonym can be cracked with enough resources. So, maybe just settling for the name you were given at birth is the best idea.

This is the paragraph where the guy with the pseudonym who's been musing on your post rationalizes the fact that he uses one here, but I won't.

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