I wrote something for My Name Is Me, the campaign against requiring "real names" on social media, a recent requirement by both Facebook and Google+. I wrote obliquely about my experience because my silence wasn't helping to protect anyone--least of all myself. Everyone who knows me knows my pseudonymic identity, and, frankly, my stalkers had made sure that anyone who Googled me could put my "real" name with the one I had chosen to write under. I decided to make a stand against this charade that somehow "real names" protect people or keep them honest.
Long-time readers know that I've had issues with stalkers. My stalkers--and I know who they are--drove me to the lintel of suicide. They were pretty damn effective, actually. I'm a sensititve person, for all my bravado. But as time went on, I realized they couldn't really hurt me. When my worst fears were realized and my college students found out about my blog, nothing happened. When I got another job in academia, nothing happened. When I left that job and got another, now writing for a living, nothing happened.
I'll probably keep on writing under "chelsea g. summers." I've garnered some sliver of fame and a healthy Twitter following. People still read this blog, even when I've not posted recently. I like the way the name I gave myself looks in print, though I like the name my parents gave me looks as well. There's no reason why I have to choose, which is a luxury of being a writer in a coddled country with a strong history of freedom of speech. Dissidents in other countries don't have my priveleged position. They don't have a choice and, often, they don't have a voice.
As I explained in my post on My Name is Me, it's not our names that define us. My stalkers chose to go by hundreds of different, equally plausible, names. None of them real, and none of them scented like roses. All of them created with the sole intent to hurt me. We are not characters from Restoration comedies, penny dreadfuls or Dickens novels. Our names don't define us, whether we choose them or accept the ones we've been given. Our actions define us, and I can hold my head up high and claim both of my identities.