"I WEAR MY SKIN as thinly as I have to, armor myself only as much as seems absolutely necessary. I try to live naked in the world, unashamed even under attack, unafraid even though I know how much there is to fear. What I have always feared is being what people have thought me--my stepfather's willing toy, my mother's betrayer, my lover's faithless tease, my family's ultimate shame, the slutty, racist, stupid cracker dyke who doesn't know what she is doing. Trying always to know what I am doing and why, choosing to be known as who I am--feminist, queer, working class, and proud of the work I do--is as tricky as it ever was. I tell myself that life is the long struggle to understand and love fully. That to keep faith with those who have literally saved my life and made it possible for me to imagine more than survival, I have to try constantly to understand more, love more fully, go more naked in order to make others as safe as I myself want to be. I want to live past my own death, as my mother does, in what I have made possible for others--my sisters, my son, my lover, my community--the people I believe in absolutely, men and women whom death does not stop, who honor the truth of each other's stories."

An excerpt from Skin, by Dorothy Allison