Pride Month Reading Wrap-Up Part 1

I hope everyone has had an amazing Pride Month!

This month I decided to only read books that have LGBTQA+ representation.  I decided to split this into two parts, so the post wouldn’t be too long. All titles link to their GoodReads page. Here’s what I read in June including the 5 books from my Pride Month TBR:

  1. Fun Home By: Alison Bechdel

Representation: Lesbian

TW: Death by suicide, Pedophilia

Fun Home is a memoir in a graphic novel style. It feels wrong to say I enjoyed this book, given the heavy overlying topic of Bechdel’s fathers death by suicide, and relationships with underage men. However, the way Bechdel told the story of her childhood was incredibly captivating. She has been quite an important part of modern lesbian history, so I enjoyed learning about her life. This is only the second graphic novel I’ve ever read, and I’ve realized I really enjoy them!

2. When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities By: Chen Chen

Representation: Gay man

TW: Physical and Verbal Abuse, Homophobia

When I Grow Up is a poetry collection mainly about Chen Chen’s coming out experience, relationships with his parents, and romantic relationships. The imagery he creates brings these poems to life. I liked how he discussed the intersection of his identities as an Asian-American man, and a queer man. The rejection he faced from his parents is incredibly heartbreaking. I really liked Chen’s style, and am interested in reading more of his work.

3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe By: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Representation: Gay men

TW: Homophobia, Violence

I read the majority of this book in one sitting. I really enjoyed the first-generation Mexican-American representation, . That identity is not commonly represented  in popular YA books, but it makes up a huge population of Texas kids, both the state where I live and where this book takes place. Ari was my kind of narrator: pessimistic and a bit of a loner. (That may be off-putting to some people, but I really like it!) The budding romance is very slow burn. I thought it was well done it a way that kept the romance intriguing yet slow, and didn’t become boring like a lot of slow-burn portrayals can be. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

4. The Astonishing Color of After By: Emily X.R. Pan

TW: Death by suicide

Representation: Lesbian

I had my reservations about parts of this books plot. In the end, the plot was my favorite part about it. However, overall I did not love this book and had to make myself finish it. My main problem was with the writing style. I felt like the color analogy used to represent feelings became very gimmicky. There was also a lull in the middle of the book where it felt like nothing major really happened for 200 pages. I also found the love interest to be rather annoying, and it sometimes felt forced.

5. Even This Page is White By: Vivek Shraya

TW: Racism

Representation: Vivek is a trans woman

This is a book of poetry about racism. I enjoyed learning about how the experiences homophobia/transphobia and racism intersected for Vivek. She had a lot of really thought provoking poems that I think every white person should read to educate themselves, especially when it came to the discussion of white privilege.

6. The Meaning of Birds By: Jaye Robin Brown

TW: Death

Representation: Lesbian, Bisexual

This is the second book I’ve read by Brown and overall I enjoyed it with some reservations. Jess the main character is dealing with her grief surrounding her girlfriend Vivi. My favorite part of the book was Jess’s relationship with Eliza and Greer. Greer was in charge of Jess’ work study and then hired her to help with blacksmith projects. Eliza was Greer’s partner. I love seeing adult queer women helping teenage queer girl’s in their journeys. I have seen some people dislike the way Jess’ best friend was portrayed. She was described in a way that made her seem asexual/aromantic, but that language was never used. She didn’t seem to have much of a personality beyond that, which is one of the major critiques I’ve seen. Along with, the unaddressed aphobia that comes from Jess during an argument they had. Jess also pressures Vivi to do things she doesn’t want to do, and while Vivi pushes back, the problem with Jess’ behavior isn’t addressed. I do think Brown missed the mark on Jess’ best friends identity and the situation with Vivi. However, there are a lot of really important themes and impactful moments in this book that I like.

 

 

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Ever since I was little, I have always been an incredibly decisive person. While my brother agonized for an hour over which video game to buy , and my mom became impatient in the Game Stop, I knew exactly what I wanted. I knew what I liked and didn’t, what I wanted and did not want, and more than anything else, I knew who I wanted to be and who I did not want to be. I am still very much this person today, but  when it comes to the age old question of , “what are you going to do with the rest of your life?” I find it incredibly hard to answer.

I have spent the last year as a biology major at a liberal arts college, planning to either go into medicine or nursing. I love all things medical, and have a curious mind for how the body works. However, the more and more I contemplate the logistics of it, I do not think it is going to work. My chronic illnesses are not conducive with the physical demands of these jobs. Honestly, that is an incredibly hard thing to accept. We are so often fed this narrative that disabled people need to “overcome” their disability and never let it “keep them” from doing what they want to do. While these ideas can come from a good place, they are incredibly toxic and fail to recognize that you cannot just turn disability off because you want something bad enough. I cannot yearn for normalcy and simply receive it.

Through high school, and my experience thus far in college, I have kept hoping that my illnesses would improve. After having the majority of my diagnoses for over a year now, I know that the possibility that I will improve to the point of being able to have a physically demanding job is slim with the current treatment options that are available. This does not mean things will never improve, but they would need to improve by miraculous standards in order for me to be successful at job like these. I have chronicled my trouble with this some here on Queerly Texan, and have mentioned that I applied to my dream school for their nursing program. Last week I found out that while I was rejected from their nursing program (with an abysmal acceptance rate for external nursing transfers) I was accepted into my second choice major: health and society.

It’s still a little surreal that I was able to be accepted into one of the best universities in the country. Going to the University of Texas has been my dream since I was really young. I love Austin as a city, and I cannot believe I am going to have the opportunity to live there. My education journey has been incredibly difficult, but I am so happy to finally be where I’ve always wanted to be. I wish I could go back in time to when I was getting my GED, and tell my younger self that things were going to work out. As of right now, I am planning on getting my bachelor’s in health and society, and then I am going to pursue a master’s in policy. This let’s me combine my interests of the medical world and public health, with my love for social justice.

I’m looking for an apartment this week, and have orientation coming up in a few weeks. Life sometimes has a weird way of getting you where you need to be. I’m excited to see where my life goes from here.

As usual, I hope you all are doing well.

I Had Surgery, or Did I?

On June 6th I had an exploratory laparoscopy to look for endometriosis, or did I?

In true Alyssa fashion, things did not go as planned. Preparing for the surgery, everything went fine. I had some anxiety after my pre-op visit with my OB/GYN who was doing the surgery, but then I felt okay and had very little anxiety on the actual surgery day. The day of, things also went well before I went into surgery. They got my IV in with one stick, everyone was really nice, and they even started on time (seriously, when does that happen?). However, I woke up to news I was not expecting to hear.

Essentially, my surgeon tried for an hour and a half (the longest amount of time they are allowed to keep you under at the surgery center I was at) to get into my abdominal cavity. She received so much resistance that she was not able to get in at all. They even called in another surgeon to try, and he couldn’t get in either. Confused? Don’t worry I am too. They told me that I either have so much scar tissue and adhesions from when I got my gallbladder and appendix taken out that they couldn’t push through it, or there is so much endometriosis that they couldn’t get through it. The surgeons weren’t able to see anything at all since they couldn’t get in.

I’m going to have to have surgery again unfortunately. I am being referred to a gynecological oncologist to do the next surgery. I definitely don’t have cancer, oncologists are just better surgeons and work with the whole abdomen and not just the pelvis like OBGYN’s do. As much as I do not want to have another surgery, I am really hoping that whatever it is that kept my surgeon from being able to get into my abdomen, can be removed and that it will help my pain. My surgeon said she’s never had to abort an exploratory laparoscopy and has never not been able to get into someone’s abdominal cavity. My body is so incredibly weird, and I guess there’s a first time for everything. My best guess is that EDS is playing some role in this, but I guess I’ll find out what’s going on soon enough.

Even though this sucks, I think it’s kinda funny. Imagining the surgeon trying to get into my abdomen, only to receive so much push back that she couldn’t is pretty funny to me. I wish I could have seen the look on her face. I told my parents I’m so stubborn I wouldn’t even let someone into my abdomen. This is one of those things that you just have to laugh at or else you’ll be upset. I hope you all are doing well!

*If anyone has ever experienced something like this (especially if you have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) please let me know!*

Pride Month 2019 TBR

Happy Pride Ya’ll!

While I usually read mostly queer books, this month I am going to exclusively read books with some sort of LGBTQA+ representation. Growing up, I did not see any representation of myself, in regards to being a queer person, in books. The fact that I am able to go to my local library and pick up queer books brings me so much joy. Here’s the five books with LGBTQA+ representation that I’m planning on reading this month…

  1. The Astonishing Color of After By: Emily X.R. Pan

astonishing

This book follows Leigh and her travels to Taiwan to meet her mother’s parents, after her mom dies by suicide. Leigh also strongly believes that her mother turned into a bird when she died. To be honest I find this to be a weird concept, but I’ve seen a lot of people rave about this book, so I’m interested to check it out.

Representation: One of the side characters is a lesbian.

2. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe By: Benjamin Alire Sáenz

aristotle

This books follows Ari and Dante, two boys who are seemingly very different, and their budding friendship. This is a coming of age story about friendship, sexuality, and the intersection of sexuality and being a person of color.

Representation: Multiple queer men

3. Fun Home By: Alison Bechdel

fun home

Fun Home is a graphic novel memoir. Alison Bechdel is an openly lesbian writer and cartoonist, most famously know for her “Dykes to Watch Out For” series.

4. When I Grow Up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities By: Chen Chen

chen chen

This is a poetry collection from the poet Chen Chen. He is an Asian-American gay man, who writes a lot about those intersections. His work also talks a lot about the abuse he faced from his parents after he came out.

5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo By: Taylor Jenkins Reid

seven

This book follows Evelyn Hugo, an elusive Hollywood actress, and Monique Grant the reporter hired by Evelyn to write about her life. This book has been wildly popular and I’ve seen many people singing its praises.

Representation: Evelyn is bisexual

 

This month is quite busy for me, but I’m hoping to be able to finish these books and more. I have some books on hold at the library that I’m really hoping come in this month! What are your favorite books with LGBTQA+ representation? What book(s) are you currently reading? I’d love to know!

 

Welcome to College, You’re Going to Hell

On my first week of college in the Fall Semester of 2018, I sat outside my biology class waiting for the previous class to exit the room before my class began. A person then walked down the hall handing out papers folded in half. Since this was our first day of class, I thought that maybe they were the TA, and were handing out a syllabus or other document important for the class. I took a paper from them, said “thank you,” and then unfolded it as they continued to pass them out to the rest of my classmates. Much to my surprise, this had nothing to do with my class, but was instead a hateful document handed to me by a member of a discriminatory church in our college town.

areyoureally.jpg
(Image Description: photo of a document titled “Are you REALLY a Christian? If not, turn to Jesus!”)

Less than a week later I would be aggressively handed another one of these papers when I didn’t take it right away. The cynic in me finds it humorous. People like this have no power over my feelings, and are incapable of invalidating my identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. However, the Christian in me is saddened by their complete lack of understanding of the way Jesus lived and loved. The aggression and clear bigotry shown in this document does not correspond to the message of love Jesus preached. I also find it a bit paradoxical that one of the “deadly sins” they list is anger. They seem pretty angry to me.

I do not think it is right to push your religion on anyone else. Faith is an incredibly personal thing, and should not be forced on another person. The last thing anyone is going to do when reading this paper is want to join their church. As a queer Christian, and progressive person, I find it incredibly hard to identify with other Christians. So many of their actions are the exact opposite of what I believe in and feel is right. The anti-catholic rhetoric is also incredibly unhelpful, and leads to even more divisiveness within the church.

My college is very progressive for being located in Texas. If you are a hard-core conservative, you are in the minority at my school. This has lead to street preachers targeting our campus two years in a row with a similar (yet much more vulgar and aggressive) message. While many members of the student body have loudly protested these hateful messages, it still leads to students feeling unsafe on campus. Many students came to my college to flee their conservative and unwelcoming Texas hometown. It deeply saddens me to think that they would feel unsafe here because of people like the street preachers, and the group who handed me that paper on my first day of class.

These hateful actions need to be called out, but disruption and arguments are often the goal of these groups. It can be difficult to find ways to rebuke the ideologies of these people, without giving them the emotional response they are seeking. As a Christian, it is my job to speak up when groups discriminate against others in the name of Christianity. While I am proud of the student bodies response to messages like these, I hope we can progress to a time where these messages are not sent in the first place.

Finals are over, which means I’m back!

Hi!

It’s been a while (that’s how I start every post now, sorry!). I have not been super active on this blog for a while now. My spring semester of college is over! The biggest reason why I haven’t been on this blog much is that this semester has been incredibly difficult. My health has been bad, and one of my family members had some very scary health moments at the end of January that were quite traumatic for all involved. Needless to say, life has been stressful and I barely had it in me to complete my school work let alone use any energy to blog. On the bright side, this is the first time in seven years that I’ve completed two semesters of school in a row. What a huge win! It may have been quite difficult, but I did it and I’m very glad it’s over.

This summer is going to be quite busy for me; I’m leaving for vacation in less than two weeks, I’m having surgery in the beginning of June (more on that later), I’m taking summer classes, and then moving in August. I’m not sure how this is all going to play out since I haven’t been doing well, but I’m hopeful that things will work out. I am also still waiting to hear back from the colleges I applied to transfer to, but should hear before mid-June.

I appreciate everyone who continues to follow my blog during my absences and those who have reached out to me over the past few months. I’m planning to be more active on here this Summer, and can’t wait to catch up on everyone’s posts that I’ve missed. As always, I hope you are all doing well!

 

 

 

Rest In Peace Chronically Jaquie

Today, April 29th, 2019 Jaquie Beckwith, also known as Chronically Jaquie on social media, passed away.

I am honestly at a loss for words regarding her passing. I’ve watched her videos for a few years now, starting when my health was at an all time low. I was in a place where I only left my house for doctors appointments, and felt incredibly lonely because of it . Watching her daily vlogs helped me feel less alone in really trying times. She had many of the same health problems I do, and so it was nice to be able to feel like someone else was going through the same thing. Although Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome itself is not deadly, this is a very real wake up call that deadly complications can arise. You truly never know what’s going to happen with these chronic illnesses.

My heart goes out to her family and friends, and all the members of the chronic illness community that feel affected by this. It is hard to grieve the loss of a member of this community, especially one as active as Jaquie. I can’t imagine what her family is going through, especially her husband Judd. I pray they can find some peace during this difficult time. Thank you Jaquie for your advocacy and activism. You will forever be missed in our community.

 

( I have been gone from this blog for quite a while, and plan on coming back after this semester of school ends. I just couldn’t not say something about her passing. I hope you are all doing well, and are taking care of yourselves.)