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A Community For All—'Hiraeth'

by The Vocal Creators Chronicle 7 months ago in humanity · updated 7 months ago
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Choice is everything.

Hello everyone, Les here.

A lot has been said lately about what it would mean to have a Men's Community on Vocal. Most notably, one of the Vocal Social Society's admins, Rachel Jordan (Rachel MJ), took on the concept with an academic stance. When she isn't writing award winning poetry for Vocal, working diligently to uplift her fellow creators in VSS or contributing as a regular columnist on the Vocal Creators Chronicle, Rachel is a post-graduate psychology student. She has a masters in Forensic Mental Health and was truly the best person to put together the case for a 'safe space for men'. She wrote eloquently about the topic and expertly sourced her rationale. As you can see below, she doesn't shy away from the tougher points involved in discussing such an idea, either. For example,

"The idea of a 'male voices' group on Vocal is controversial for a reason. When we take a trip down memory lane we can see that the history of the male only space is questionable, at best. The 'men's only' space can be a reminder of a time in which it was the norm to bar women, LGBT+ folk, and people of colour from partaking fully in society. In a sense, it is a potent symbol of oppression."

I won't spoil the conclusion. For the sake of your brothers, husbands, sons, friends & strangers, spare a few minutes and read her work. It's eye opening.

With this discussion at the forefront of everyone's minds in VSS, we've decided that Week 1 Day 5 will henceforth be updated to: Men's Topics, Chain & Trader.

Note: With the addition of the poetry weekend contests, Psyche has replaced Poets.

To launch the idea, we started a thread asking anyone, regardless of identity or gender, to share a story from a creator who might make use of the community. Special thanks to Gerald Holmes for inspiring the thread & to all the members who participated in our survey and Rachel's research.

Here is a sampling of what we collected.

Mental Health


Straight to the Point

Life Experiences

Work by Men We Know & Love

Family Moments

From Mothers With Sons (Sarah has 4)

The Piece that Started It All (Edited by Call Me Les)

& The Piece Les Will Transfer If the Dream Becomes a Reality

Now, it's quite easy to say, "Well, these each already have their own home. Why bother making something else when they can go there?"

Yes, that is true. But please, let me add my two cents.

More than once I have written for the community VIVA. I used it to celebrate feminist writing, explain my experience feeling unsafe, discuss my great-grandmother and talk about a medical crisis. All of these stories could have gone into other communities. However, using VIVA in these instances made me feel emotionally valued, like my voice had a home. For these stories, I needed VIVA. I've since posted other stories that could have gone in VIVA, too, but chose not to for various reasons. And you see, that's my point. I had a choice.

CHOICE is everything.

But what would you name such a community so that it is ambiguous enough to be inclusive for everyone to contribute?


Hiraeth is a Welsh word that has no precise translation into the English language. Loosely,

"Hiraeth can be defined as longing for a home that no longer exists, or that never was. It is homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. I guess it’s a form of lost love, but more for a place than for a person. It’s a longing that by definition cannot be filled, because its object is in some way unattainable, whether it has been lost or never existed in the first place, or has yet to be created." -Sarah Bringhurst Familia

This fits precisely with what Tom and so many others have echoed: they are looking for a home, but know not quite how to define it. Hiraeth is politically neutral, has no gender, no racist or otherwise negative associations; it is an umbrella that is equally as ambiguous as VIVA.

Dear Vocal, We acknowledge this is not something that can be done on a whim and I stress that to my readers now. Adding a new community is not as simple as throwing up a picture and a title: it requires staff adjustments, moderation planning, database expansion etc. None of which we, as users, have a right to demand from our publishing platform simply because we want it. But we can request it. We can let them know how we feel. Then we must step back and let them CHOOSE because most importantly, we must respect each other's choices.

What's Next

When we feel seen and heard, the conversations that fester in corners are brought into the light and, like plants with sun, grow into something better than the seed they started from. Light is what we need next. In honour of Tom Bradbury, The Vocal Social Society Week 1 Day 5 will continue to collect stories for a Men's Community for the foreseeable future. Additionally, Great Incantations will be holding a 'Movember' contest. Details to follow. An open invitation exists to Vocal if they'd like to collaborate. You know who to call ;)

Thank you everyone for taking a moment to honour those that, regardless of sex, gender, race or identity, would like to see the choice HIRAETH become a possible home for their stories on Vocal Media.



Not sure what the Vocal Social Society is? We have an article. Read it through and find us online!

Haven't heard of the latest place on Facebook that is ENTIRELY devoted to Vocal Challenges? Check out Great Incantations.

Proceeds from this article will be contributed to Tom's upcoming anthology.

First published by Call Me Les for The Vocal Creators Chronicle and the Society Pages on November 1, 2021


About the author

The Vocal Creators Chronicle

We are a free online magazine.

Show us your best work in Vocal Social Society (VSS) & Great Incantations. Click Here for our webpage.

With love, Les, James & Caroline

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