Was This Made for Me or Allies?

With the sudden rush of LGBTQ+ material being made (Movies, books, etc) you’d think that now there is ENDLESS LGBTQ+ for everyone! Right?

Nopers

Just like with the Black Lives Matter movement there is a lot of material written about the hardships that Black Americans go through, full of statistics and such; looks great!

But are books and movies with all that in your face information and truth really made for PoC, or is it for Allys?

I truly understood this after reading a book (that will remain unnamed) about a trans kid who happens to be Gender Fluid; this for me was AMAZING, I was stoked! It was well written so you knew the main character was going through emotionally, physically, with their parents and friends. What I felt though wasn’t validation but more like I was being re-informed of what I already knew and was actively struggling through.

What?

When a book is discussing in SUCH depth of the pain and suffering, this doesn’t feel like the kind of material that the book is written about wants to read about. I KNOW I’m suffering, I KNOW the risk and dangers that are being put on people like me and other LGBTQ+ people so why am I getting this information?!

Ah, its for people who don’t already know.

That was a hard pill to swallow by the end of the book. This goes for the same thing for books that discuss PoC struggled in USA or anywhere else for that matter, those books aren’t REALLY for Poc, it’s for Allys that don’t already know the suffering and get that “give me a cookie for reading this” feeling that they suddenly feel “Woke”.

THIS IS NOT INCLUSION. Sure its good to give a loved one this book I read when they don’t seem to understand what I’m going through. But this wasn’t made for ME. With that in mind and looking around at other forms of entertainment that happen to have LGBTQ+ or PoC ‘inclusion’ characters suddenly the phrase “token (blank)” is hard to ignore.

Although that sounds discouraging, luckily there are things out there for us. Although it takes some digging, there is an abundance of things that show representation that when you get your hands on it, you feel nothing but warmth and happiness.

Amazon.com: Kim Reaper Vol. 1: Grim Beginnings (1) (9781620104552 ...                            Chulito by Charles Rice-González                         Amazon.com: If You Could Be Mine: A Novel (9781616204556): Sara ...                       Amazon.com: Moonstruck Volume 1: Magic to Brew (9781534304772 ...                       Amazon.com: Ship It (9781368003131): Lundin, Britta: Books                         Amazon.com: The Agony of Bun O'Keefe (9780143198659): Smith ...

These books are the first ones that come to mind when it comes to great representation.

The following list is NOT in order of preference or of which is better than the rest; strictly in the order of the covers shown above.

“Kim Reaper” by Sarah Graley

Becka, your typical college girl happens to grow a huge crush on the classroom punk girl who happens to have an ‘interesting’ side job that was not expected.

Not only is this graphic novel about a pair of young lesbians, its honest about conflict within the relationship. Also the fact the main character is a PoC lesbian brings in another level of representation that is not seen often.

Sarah Graley also does an adorable webcomic series that is fairly popular called “Our Super Adventure” and focuses primarily on teen audiences. Sarah is also Bisexual and writes/draws about other LGBTQ+ in other works of hers.

“Chulito” by Charles Rice-Gonzalez

Chulito is a young Latino in Southern Bronx and he’s struggling to accept himself as Bisexual. Although this book does focus a bit on the hardship of the main character (a typical trait of Ally Bait writing), the way it is written is more like an autobiography of the author.

Having attended the authors’ book discussion group I can confirm that this story TRULY is his own. It not only shows the struggle of a Bixsexually confused boy drowning in a hypermasculine/heterosexual community where coming out can be a do or die situation.

Another great example of double representation with Bisexuality and the main character discussing the hardship of coming out as a Bisexual Latinx.

“If You Could Be Mine” by Sarah Farizan

Sahar has been in love with her best friend Nasrin since they were both six years old. Taking place in current-day Iran discusses the hardship of being a lesbian in a country that bans homosexuality. Sahar found a loophole with the law of anti-homosexuality by claiming that she is, in fact, a trans boy.

Now, this already has a touch of controversy being that it is someone pretending to be trans (which is currently an argument being used today on bathroom laws) BUT it does have this discussion further in the book expressing how desperate someone in a strict cultural situation can go so far for someone they love and how that can change someone’s life in both bad and good reasons. There are true Trans characters that explain in so many words as to why pretending to be Trans is NOT, In fact, a solution.

“MoonStruck” by Grace Ellis

Julie is your typical werewolf barista lesbian finding her way in the mystical world she lives in. With her best friend Chet (Non-Binary Gay Centaur <3) they will go on magical adventures that will make anyone laugh and awe.

The fact that I managed to find a Young Adult book with a non-binary gay CENTAUR made my life. Created from staff responsible for “Adventure Time” which is known for having great representation (more so LGBTQ+) they go even farther by having primarily PoC characters in the “Moonstruck” series. Tied in with real conflict between characters and their love interests just add a whole new level of reality that is so hard to find. Personally, I get tired of reading about the ‘my life got perfect with you in it’ dialog.

“Ship It” by Britta Lunda

Claire finds herself at her first fan convention when she finds out her favorite show, “Demon Heart” come to her town. During a Q & A session when hell breaks loose as one of the main actors laughs off the statement that the character he is playing is Gay. With Claire finding herself internet famous for this exposure of the bigotry of the Demon Heart cast, she finds herself on a PR road trip with the crew across the country.

This book also steps on a controversial topic of “Gay Fetishising” that is found a lot in Weeb (Anime/Videogame) culture which is a HUGE politics trigger within the community. With that in mind, this book does also display the toxicity of the Weeb and fan-based communities that tend to push “ships” onto characters and story plots. Although it does also shine a light on the fact that companies behind these communities do “Queer Bait” to make the story more appetizing to certain groups of people.

What I enjoyed about this story was the fact that the main character had her own internal homophobia and yet claiming she was a huge advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. It does also dabble the internalized racism in the Weeb culture towards PoC cosplayers and geeks.

Britta Lunda is a Weeb Lesbian herself which makes it feel as if we read an autobiography with this book which personally adds a lot to the story itself.

“The Agony of Bun O’Keefe” by Heather Smith

Bun is a young 14-year-old girl who was kicked out of her house from her hoarding mother, left to her own exploration finds a street musician who decides to take her into his shared home with his roommates from all over.

This book is unique compared to the others in the sense that the main character is NOT LGBTQ+. BUT one of the characters is a drag queen/trans character that struggles with her own problems, and with a deep dive into her history and story brings out a strong representation. This story also involves sexual assault so TW for any readers who may be affected by that in your reading material.

Although this isnt enough reading material to fill a library; it is a good start to finding authentic LGBTQ+ reading material which I will hopefully beable to add fairly soon.