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!

 

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Kevin Hart and the Oscars Conundrum

If you’ve spent any amount of time on social media in the past month, you’ve probably heard about the Kevin-Hart-Oscars-Situation. Essentially, after it was announced that Kevin Hart would be hosting the 2019 Oscars, some journalists noticed he deleted homophobic tweets he made back in 2009-2010. Tweets were not the only documentation of Hart’s homophobic past, he also included homophobic “jokes” about not wanting his son to be gay in one of his stand-up sets.

When all of this began to blow up in his face, the Oscars asked Hart to apologize, and if he didn’t they were going to replace him as host. Kevin Hart then refused to apologize, stating he already had and would not do it again, and then stepped down from hosting the Oscars. Before I unpack this whole mess, let me just say that I believe people can change. I want to see people change, and I think even those with the hardest of hearts can be different if they chose to be. I also think we should forgive people, if and when they make a sincere apology and show changed behavior. I do not believe this is the case with Kevin Hart.

Many journalists have looked for this elusive apology Hart claims to have made, but it has yet to be found. The fact that he was not willing to simply apologize and move on in the first place is very telling to me. The incredibly dismissive and defensive nature of Kevin Harts interviews since the backlash shows me, that not only is his half-assed apology, that only came after stepping down from the Oscars and continuing to receive backlash afterwards, is insincere but Hart also does not see the serious repercussions that the LGBTQIA+ community faces when people like him promote homophobia.

Ellen DeGenerous had Kevin Hart on her show for him to tell his story. On the show he did technically apologize, but not without excuses and continuing to bring up that he had already apologized. She then forgave him and said she believed he should still host the Oscars. Ellen does not speak for the whole community, she doesn’t even speak on behalf of all white lesbians, because I definitely disagree with her. On her show, he said he just wanted it all to go away and to stop being talked about. That only continues to show his lack of remorse. He also painted himself as victim, with a sob story to follow, feeling very much like he thinks the blow back from the LGBTQA+ community took the Oscars from him. When you are the perpetrator you don’t get to decide when the conversation is over.

CNN reporter Don Lemon did an amazing segment on this situation that I think everyone should watch, if you haven’t already. In a follow up, Lemon talks about how Kevin Hart has behaved in other “apology” interviews he has done. To be honest it blows my mind that Hart can’t give a genuine apology. Every single apology is followed with, “…but I didn’t say these things to ACTUAL gay people,” “… but the times were different,” “… but I already apologized,” “… anyone who refuses to accept my apology is a hater and that’s their problem.” He also said that “It’s not his life dream to be an LGBTQA+ ally” in response to Don Lemon suggesting he uses his platform to help end homophobia in the black community. Guess what Kevin? It’s not my life dream to constantly be bombarded with homophobia but here we are.

So, what’s the answer to this situation? I don’t need Kevin Hart to apologize again nor to I need him to be a champion for LGBTQA+ rights. We clearly aren’t going to get a better apology, and I can accept that. I hope we can see his apology through changed behavior instead. I also hope this sets a precedent to show that homophobia is not okay, and our community will hold you accountable for it. Honestly, at the end of the day this could have been a simple situation. One genuine apology would have changed everything. Homophobia comes in all different shades, every homophobic person is not holding a “I hate fags” sign, sometimes it comes out in jokes and comments. While this whole situation may seem silly to some, the reality of living as a minority teaches you even the most palatable bigotry and hate is deadly.

 

National Coming Out Day 2018

Today, October 11th is National Coming Out Day!

Rather you’ve been out for years, recently came out, or are in the process of coming out, today is the day to celebrate that experience! October 25th marks three years since I came out and honestly it feels like I came out way longer than three years ago. Coming out was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I’ve felt so much more free ever since that day.

Coming out is not a one time deal, it’s something that happens over and over again. Thankfully, for me at least, it feels easier and easier every time. Becoming comfortable with who you are doesn’t happen over night and doesn’t happen just because you came out. Just know that where ever you are in the process of coming out, figuring out your sexuality / gender, or just simply embracing your LGBTQIA+ identity things get so much better.

If you’re coming out experience was / is negative, there is a huge community of people ready to love you and welcome you with open arms. You are not alone, and you will be okay. If you’re not ready to come out, don’t worry and don’t rush it! Come out when you want to and when it’s safe!

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Safety in Femininity

In one of the many discussions I had with my parents before leaving for college, my mom voiced her concerns about people being hateful towards me due to my sexuality. Without even thinking I responded back, “well when you look like I do, people assume you’re straight.”

I found myself contemplating the dynamics of being a queer woman and femme presenting versus being a queer woman and masculine presenting, as well as why I personally choose to present femininely. The immediate thought that came to mind was presenting femininely is safer. I live in this weird dichotomy of desperately wanting to be seen as queer in order to meet more queer people, but also presenting femininely in a way that is most often read as straight because it’s safer. Of course the aspect of personal preference comes into play, but I also find myself wondering exactly how I would present if there wasn’t all of this societal bullshit tied to dressing a specific way. That is a question I personally still do not know the answer to.

I don’t feel uncomfortable in feminine clothing. In situations where I am even more femme than normal it can feel like I’m playing a character, but that’s not always a negative feeling, and usually that has more to do with the situations I’m in, than the actual clothes themselves. I do feel more powerful on the days I dress a little more masculine or androgynous, and I like the way I look in those clothes. In the past year or so I’ve started to dress in a way that’s more visibly queer, every once in a while. While I like the possibility of being read as gay when I dress like this, (although let’s be honest most people still think I’m straight) I find myself wondering if and when, it’s “too much.”

Internalized homophobia is a bitch. There’s no such thing as dressing “too gay” or being “too much” because of it. Also, my personal version of dressing more androgynously is still pretty femme and often continues to be read as straight. I would say internalized homophobia is the main influence that keeps me from dressing  more androgynous-leaning regularly. On the other hand, I do like feminine clothes, I enjoy wearing makeup and having longer hair. I think overall I just wish on the days I want to switch things up and dress more androgynously that I would feel comfortable to, without thinking “is this going too far?” or “is this too much?” I don’t think I have all the answers to these questions or this situation myself yet, but the process of figuring it out has been quite interesting. I’d love to hear anyone else’s story of how they came to find the way they like to present, and how that relates to their queer identity!

The Joy of Seeing Another Queer Person in Public

Recently while strolling through Tumblr I found this post:

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.35.46 PM

I didn’t realize this was such a universal queer experience! Seeing other visibly LGBTQIA+ people in public is really exciting, especially when you live in an area that doesn’t have many openly queer people, like where I live. Sure, representation in the media isn’t that great for the LGBTQIA+ community, but more importantly the representation in daily life isn’t very good either for many of us. I know zero queer adults personally. I know of two couples, who go to my church and live in the city that I live in a suburb of. There are no LGBTQIA+ families in my neighborhood that I know of, or even my city. I also know of less than 10 LGBTQIA+ identified kids who went to my high school. There are probably more queer people than I realize in my city, but essentially the numbers are small and there isn’t much of a “community” here.

I feel a sense of connection with other queer people that feels very familial, which is one reason why seeing them randomly in public is exciting. Whenever I am in a city, especially one that’s progressive, like Austin where my sister lives, I am flabbergasted by all the queer people. Like, you can just go into a store or a restaurant and see another openly LGBTQIA+ person, which 9 times out of 10 isn’t the case where I live. It’s hard to learn what it’s like to live as a queer adult when there aren’t any for you to look up to.

Autostraddle, a website that creates content mainly for queer women, has a column called Queer IRL which features photo journals of queer people in different life situations. These photo journals mean a lot to me, and have helped me to feel less alone. The photographs are submitted by readers and the writer of the column is Laneia. Visibility is something we all need, and it can be very lonely and isolating when you don’t have it.

(Top Left: “Queer in the Bedroom” Ft. Kayla , Bottom Left: “Queers and Pets” Ft. Alex and Kiki, Right: “Queers on Holiday” Ft. Jessica)

I hope the excitement of seeing other queer people in public never goes away for me, because as simple as the experience is, it brings me joy.

 

Remembering Pulse Orlando

June 12th, 2016 49 people were killed ad 53 were wounded at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

It was the deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11 at the time.

Since then countless mass shootings have taken place, notably the Marjorie Stoneman- Douglas Shooting, which also took place in Florida. I wish I could say we’ve done the victims justice by changing our laws and having more gun regulations, but that simply isn’t true. As a society we’ve become so numb to tragedy, myself included. It’s not always  a conscious decision to become numb, it’s only human to try and protect yourself from tragedy and chaos. You can however, make the decision to pay attention and care.

49 people will never tell their friends and family how much they love them again, 49 people will never get to celebrate another holiday, 49 people will never be able to go to a gay club and dance again. It’s hard to imagine just how big the impact of something like the Pulse shooting has, but without a doubt it has changed thousands of peoples lives.

These victims deserve so much more. When I marched in the March for Our Lives, I was marching for these 49 and the countless others who have tragically joined them in the past two years. Obtaining gun control is the least we could do in their honor to bring them some level of justice.

They deserve to be remembered:

  • Stanley Almodovar III, age 23
  • Amanda Alvear, 25
  • Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
  • Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
  • Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
  • Martin Benitez Torres, 33
  • Antonio D. Brown, 30
  • Darryl R. Burt II, 29
  • Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24
  • Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
  • Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
  • Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
  • Luis D. Conde, 39
  • Cory J. Connell, 21
  • Tevin E. Crosby, 25
  • Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
  • Deonka D. Drayton, 32
  • Mercedez M. Flores, 26
  • Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
  • Juan R. Guerrero, 22
  • Paul T. Henry, 41
  • Frank Hernandez, 27
  • Miguel A. Honorato, 30
  • Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
  • Jason B. Josaphat, 19
  • Eddie J. Justice, 30
  • Anthony L. Laureano Disla, 25
  • Christopher A. Leinonen, 32
  • Brenda L. Marquez McCool, 49
  • Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
  • Akyra Monet Murray, 18
  • Kimberly Morris, 37
  • Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, 27
  • Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
  • Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
  • Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
  • Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
  • Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
  • Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
  • Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
  • Christopher J. Sanfeliz, 24
  • Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
  • Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
  • Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
  • Shane E. Tomlinson, 33
  • Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
  • Luis S. Vielma, 22
  • Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
  • Jerald A. Wright, 31

The Fetishization of Gay Men by Straight Women

The perpetrators of the phenomena of fetishizing gay men seem to be mainly straight women.  They become overly invested in male/male romances, both real and fictional. They over sexualize and fetishize their relationships, and treat them like objects. Quite frankly, the treat them the same way many straight men treat women. They paint them as characters for their own enjoyment instead of real human beings, or well-rounded fictional characters. These are also the same women who “Just LOOOOVE gay men!!!” They see them as an experience and often infantilize their relationships.

Many straight women write m/m novels and fan-fiction. These characters tend to be the embodiment of a stereotype, and don’t got through much character development. Unless you count going from saying, “YASS” to “YASS KWEEN!!” as development. Their writing also has no experience behind it. The coming out stories are incredibly inaccurate, feel very uninformed, and are again seen as “super cute.” The struggles queer men face are often erased, and replaced with yet another sex scene.

The stories these women write are not for queer men, they are for self-satisfaction and other women who also enjoy fetishizing queer men. This is not what being an ally is. Allies don’t create uninformed, falsified queer media for their own enjoyment. Being an ally also isn’t an identity, you don’t get to become a part of the community for simply not being homophobic. Appropriating queer culture and then producing uninformed work for a profit is a huge slap in the face to people who are actually a part of the community. Perpetuating stereotypes and writing stories you have no authority to write does not help the LGBTQIA+ community at all.

Gay men are often stereotyped to be feminine, and so society lumps them into the same group as women. They’re seen as “just one of the girls,” and are there to compliment straight women and make them feel better about themselves. Gay men are not women, and yet the characters that straight women write and label as “gay men” are often portrayed as if they are a straight woman. Queer stories are vital to the progression of our community, but these stories aren’t the right ones. Sometimes as an ally it’s better to do nothing at all, if the opposite action is appropriation and fetishization. LGBTQIA+ people deserve authentic and diverse stories written by people who understand them and their struggles, which is something a straight woman could never do.

 

*** Obviously there are straight women in the LGBTQIA+ community, but I’m specifically talking about straight women who do not identify as being LGBTQIA+ at all (aren’t trans, asexual, aromantic, or any other queer romantic identity, etc.)***