Friday, August 26, 2016

Queer Reads!

Hi, bookworms!

Lately, I've been reading a lot of really great queer literature. I think reading queer literature is so important and is
something that everyone should do in order to learn more about other identities out there and their experiences. So, since I've been on a bit of a "queer book streak," I thought it would be great to show you what exactly I've been reading. Maybe you'll find one from this list that you'll like! 

A Fine Bromance by Christopher Hawthorne Moss:

This next book I received a digital copy of through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, which you can view in full here!  

A Fine Bromance is a cute, light romance novel about two boys, Robby and Andy, who develop a friendship that gradually forms into something deeper.  Andy is trans, and Robby fully accepts him for who he is.  All the while, throughout the book Robby comes to terms with his own asexuality.  Along with this, there's a certain mystery taking place at Robby's aunt's house regarding some missing antiques...

Along with this just being such a fun, cute read, this book is incredibly important in terms of queer literature. I think it's so crucial, even within queer literature, to begin to represent mixed-identity relationships, whether they're bi/gay couples, cis/trans couples, bi/pan couples, and so on. With this, A Fine Bromance  does a great job of further explaining and delving into the challenges of both trans- and ace-identified people.  And okay, come on, you can't deny that Robby and Andy's friendship/relationship is so adorable.  It'll be enough to melt your heart!

Being Jazz: My Life As A (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings

If you're familiar with Jazz Jennings, you've probably seen her on her TLC show, I Am Jazz.  From such a young age, she's become a strong voice for transgender youth, and through her show she's shown that, in a lot of ways, she's just a typical teenager: she has two brothers who she goes to for dating advice, an older sister who she looks up to, and parents who only want what's best for her.  But of course, along with this, Jazz also has to wade through her own challenges that come with being an openly transgender teenager, including making friends, dealing with body image, hormone treatment, and fitting into a world that is not always so accepting--that, and balancing a normal life while being a transgender activist.

In her book (Being Jazz) Jazz gives you a deeper look into her life beyond her reality show, from the moment she was born through her early childhood, as she describes her entire journey of transitioning from a boy to the girl she always knew she was. Alongside this, her book contains photos of various moments throughout her life, which makes the book feel all the more intimate.  Don't be fooled, however.  Despite how much she's accomplished, Jazz still possesses that undeniable humor and goofiness of a teenager. There were so many moments that made me smile,  including the beginning when she mentioned the "fetus fairies." But  with this, she's also incredibly candid as she narrates all of her obstacles she's had to face in her transition, from presenting as her true self at school to enduring a long legal battle in order to be welcomed on the girl's soccer team.

As a memoir that captures the life and experiences of a transgender teen, Being Jazz is an absolute must-read.

Transgender History by Susan Stryker
If you want to learn more about transgender history, this is the book to read. This book is a comprehensive look through transgender history, starting from, I believe, the 1800s and ending at where we are today in the transgender movement. There's so much fascinating information peppered throughout and it covers a broad array of subjects, from the struggles of trans people of color to the inequalities trans people have faced, like being denied housing and employment, to the development of gender reassignment surgery and so much more. 

Reading this book also really puts everything into perspective in terms of how far the trans movement has come. It can be easy to assume that this time we live in now is the only moment in history where the trans movement has been really present and had momentum. But I can assure you that the trans movement has a loooong history, and by reading this book you learn about a lot of really cool people in the past who were great cis-allies and helped improve the treatment of trans people and who helped bring the trans movement to what it is today. Well laid-out with facts and other side articles, and told in a clear, easy-to-digest way, this book is perfect for learning more about the trans community and all its history, whether you're a beginner interested in learning  more or a novice looking for a new read.

How Queer! by Faith Beauchemin:
This book was by far the most intriguing and enlightening book from this list that I've read. A collection of short essays, both personal and academic, the goal of How Queer! is to highlight identities whose voices are so often ignored and overshadowed within the queer community: that is, bisexuals and pansexuals.  As it is now, the term LGBT is incredibly narrow and leaves out so many identities who aren't in that acronym, along with those who don't completely fit into the acronym's rigid confines.  Further, the LGBT movement is largely focused on monosexual identities (attracted to one sex/gender). This book, then, is the chance to highlight the experiences of bisexuals and pansexuals and the oppression they have faced, both outside of and within the LGBT community. The personal essays in this book are filled with so much insight and reveal many issues that bisexuals and pansexuals have had to face in their lives, including:

* Having to convince people that your sexuality is real and valid.

* Being told to "choose a side."

* Being a fetish, experiment, or sexual fantasy to others (ex: asked to be in three-ways)

* Not feeling "bisexual" enough.

* People thinking you're attracted to ALL men and women.

* No resources specifically for bisexuals.

* People thinking that your sexuality switches based on who you're currently dating. (ex: dating someone of the same sex=you're gay; dating someone of the opposite sex=you're straight again)

* "You're not bisexual unless..."

* "You just want attention."

As someone who believes that gender and sexuality exist on a spectrum and who feels that many identities are often left out of the conversation, this is the book that I've been looking for.  I highly recommend it for those wanting to gain more understanding about the queer community beyond mainstream discussions.  This book is about inclusion, it's about combatting bi-erasure, it's about breaking out of the binary,  and it's the perfect book to end this queer book list on.

* * *
Well, those are all the queer books that I've gotten my hands on recently! I hope you've enjoyed my reviews of each and that there's at least one from this list that grabbed your interest. If you have any, what are some of your favorite queer books that you'd recommend?

Until next time!

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