I first heard about this amazing book through a pitch on Twitter. Twitter!
The Pitch Wars or #PitMad idea was that authors pitch their book in 280 characters or less, and editors and agents looking for new books would “like” the post. Then, the author would know who to reach out to. It’s a brilliant idea. Right there in a Tweet you may have crafted your elevator pitch, and you may have made a connection between an author and a publishing pro.
I’m so grateful to Pitch Wars as it helped me discover some wonderful authors for the inaugural launch of Lake Drive Books.
And come to find out, these authors would change my life. You really have no idea how rich things are out there in the grassroots, if you know where and how to look, or if you stumble upon it like I did. The race to the expensive, competitive top by so many publishers these days means they are missing out on some amazing stories, incredible insights, and some beautiful, meaningful writing.
That’s what you’ll get in Intersexion: A Story of Faith, Identity, and Authenticity by Cynthia Vacca Davis. This is a book that took guts and a lot of hard work to write. It hooked me reading it in manuscript. You’ll get into both Danny’s and Cynthia’s stories, not sure which one you’re rooting for the most, but it’s their story together that makes the book sing.
Below is an author interview adapted from a Lake Drive Books author video interview (below) with Cynthia.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am an adjunct English professor, and maybe a late bloomer at that. I have been writing since I was just a kid, and eventually worked as a reporter. I was also a youth minister, and am a mom and a wife.
What is your book Intersexion about?
It’s a parallel journey, a story in two voices: my friend, Danny’s, and mine. We had this moment where we really forged a friendship that was kind of unexpected.
I was an adjunct professor. A lot of people don’t realize that adjunct professors are kind of like the itinerant workers of academia. I was working at three different universities in two states. I was also attending this church where for the first time I was starting to feel safe and secure. It was a church that invited questions and diversity more than I had ever seen before.
Then it just kind of happened. One of the universities offered me a tenure track full time teaching position. At the same time at church, I was getting to know my friend Danny a on a deeper level. At the time it was Dani with an “I”, as in female, but I was realizing there was something going on with Danny; he seemed depressed.
Then one day we met up at a sandwich shop and it was this moment of truth where Danny said, guess what? I’m actually not Danny with an “I”. I’m Danny with a “Y”. I’m male. But I’m also intersex, with male and female physiology, but my female side is not what I identify with.
And Danny said that he’d been sitting on this for his entire life. “I’ve never told my family. I have never told my friends,” he told me. I’ve been afraid I’m going to lose my church family, I may lose my biological family. I have not told anyone that this is what’s been going on with me. I’m terrified, and some mutual friends at church told me that you and your husband Brad are safe people.”
What happened in the interview process at the university during this time?
I was about to sign papers. And they said, oh, by the way, we have something else that you’re going to need to sign before you take this job. They called it a marriage and family statement.
Gay marriage had just been legalized in Virginia. It had not been federally passed yet. In this neighboring state, North Carolina, they were kind of anticipating that this might have an impact and felt it was important to come out with a statement. So they listed every kind of lifestyle variation they could think of outside of heterosexual marriage and labeled it “repugnant to God” and the “principles of the university.”
Reading the statement, I was thinking of this conversation I just had with Danny, saying, “I’m going to support you in this terrifying thing that you’re facing.” I’m at a crossroads where my ambition meets this promise of support and friendship.
That was my moment when I had to decide who am I as an ally. I had been identifying as an ally for a long time but it hadn’t cost me anything. I just happened to be in a situation where I knew a lot of people who identified as queer, some of my best friends. And sure, it’s easy to enjoy their company and it’s easy to have a meal around a table. But what did that cost me other than I got to have the benefit of their friendship?
So Danny was at this place where he was going to have to go forward in life and find out who he truly was. He was giving himself this freedom to be who he always was on the inside, and I’m realizing then that I had a similar choice to make because if I rejected the university’s offer, I wasn’t going to be able to hide behind a vague stance anymore. I had to come out and say, hey, these are my people. These are my friends, the queer community.
I felt like I was trading this job for having my own voice, so now I’m kind of stepping into who I am on the inside. I’m not going to be quiet, or vague, or talk doublespeak. So Danny and I both gave ourselves permission to be whoever we wanted to be going forward.
The book is Danny’s story, my story, and then our story of building a friendship as our actual, true, authentic selves. Outside of church. Outside of the rules and the dogma we’ve had to work around to work in youth ministry, to teach at a Bible school, and as it turned out to even attend our church.
We had to find out who we really were on the inside.
Once I stopped censoring myself, I realized I was making more and more friends and I started having more and more people in my life and things started to change at work, too as I learned to speak up and advocate for change for adjuncts. I now have so many friends that I would not have had in my life before.
So by way of wrapping up talk about that word intersection.
Right. It’s a play on the word. But it’s there very intentionally. Intersections can be places of near misses, chance encounters, or spaces where things bump and graze. They are also places of decisions and what you do from there can change your life forever.
Is there anything else that you want people to know about the book or yourself?
What I want people to know is that living your truest, most authentic life is a very freeing experience. One of the things that has been happening, as some of my close friends have read the book, we have started to have some amazing conversations around authenticity.
There’s power in your story and in sharing your story and stepping into your truth.
How do we get in touch with you?
Go to my website cynthiavaccadavis.com. I have a little place where you can put in your e-mail to join my e-mail list which I prefer to call a community. We’re building a community of people around this book.
That’s what I want more than anything—to help people get to the point where they embrace who they are and come into the world as themselves.
Yes, great words to end on. Thanks so much Cynthia for this time.
This article was adapted from the video interview below.