Books

The Queer Books That Have Helped Me

08:00


Books have always helped me in ways that are almost indescribable; the power of literature is one that is so great, especially for someone struggling with their identity. When I first realised I was queer, something that really helped me was reading about characters that had been through similar situations. Here are some of the books that helped me the most:

The Mortal Instruments

While this series isn’t necessarily queer, it’s been one of the most important books me. A very close friend and I were big fans, and we talked about it a lot together - in particular, Magnus and Alec (a canon m/m couple). At the time, I didn’t really know this was how I felt, but after a while, having the knowledge that people I cared about weren’t homophobic was very comforting. I was still absolutely petrified of coming out, but at least I had the knowledge that I wasn’t going to be hurt by my closest friends for being gay.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Everyone always says that this is such an important book, and I can completely understand why. It’s an endearing and charming story - so I can completely see why everyone loves it! - but that’s not the reason why it’s so special to me. When Simon told his family he was gay, they were all accepting, welcoming, and supportive, which gave me the confidence boost I needed. Coming out stories that tell rejection and heartbreak are necessary and so important, but happy ones are equally as needed, and this is proof of that.

Our Own Private Universe


I read this one pretty recently (when I was out), but it’s still just as important to me as all the others. This was the first book I read where two girls unashamedly just fancy each other! The way that Aki feels about Christa made me realise that it’s okay to feel that way. It also taught me a lot about safe lesbian sex (because there isn’t enough information about it) and what it’s like being bisexual.

If you're queer, which books have helped you the most? June is pride month, so any recommendations for queer books are welcome! How have books helped you in other aspects of your life?

LGBTQ+

An Open Letter to David Walliams

16:30



To David Walliams,

You used to be funny. I used to think of you as a charming, kind children’s author who didn’t take himself too seriously. The gay, camp act was funny at first. It was refreshing to see a man on TV who wasn’t so protective of his masculinity, and who didn’t feel the need to defend his heterosexuality every minute. But pretending to be gay is not the solution to this.

Just to say: I am a gay woman. I am a lesbian. You are not pretending to be a lesbian, but you are pretending to be me. My sexuality is not a choice; my sexuality is not a joke. It is not a long running gag for you - an unoriginal comedian, who has no better jokes to further your career than to ridicule an already tough life of a marginalized group of society.

I am angry because you can get away with it, because you are straight. If a gay man did this, it would not get the same response. If I just mention my future wife, it’s not funny, it’s a “we get it, you’re gay” moment. If a gay man was to act turned on by male acrobats, it would be “weird” and “unnatural” and “inappropriate for children to watch”. David Walliams, you shouldn’t be able to get away with it if we can’t.

It’s just not funny. Queer people have struggled for years to simply live without being harassed for being ourselves. We’re still discriminated in pretty much every aspect of our life, so it’s much too soon to make jokes about it. Being the butt of your jokes and being made to feel like a laughing stock hurts.

Love, a 15 year old lesbian, who has been ridiculed one too many times to laugh it off.


Further reading/watching/content on this topic:
We Get It, You're Gay by Ash Hardell

Books

My Unpopular Bookish Opinions

15:52


I like to think of myself as a bit of a black sheep when it comes to my favourite books and my reading habits - I often see people raving about books that I didn’t like, or that I don’t want to read! I feel like more recently, more people have shared their unpopular opinions, but I still feel like there’s some things that haven’t been discussed as much. Hopefully I won’t be alone in some of these views!

Books I didn’t enjoy


ACOTAR/ACOMAF

I feel like I’m the only person in the entire community who doesn’t like this series. Everyone calls out Throne of Glass for lacking in diversity, but what about this series? I’m really not excited for the release of ACOWAR because I know everyone will be talking about how much they love the series, and I’ll just feel really left out! I really don’t rate this series at all, and I don’t know why everyone else does. It’s so problematic, which you can read more about in my review of A Court of Mist and Fury here.

Never Never

I’m not sure about the general opinion on this one, but I know that I really hated these books. To me they just seemed so pointless? Nothing really seemed to happen, and to me, the plot seemed really unoriginal. I’d read a few books by Colleen Hoover, but none before from Taryn Fisher - I don’t want to read one from either again.

History is All You Left Me

I think I might be the only person on the planet who didn’t enjoy this, which I’m really disappointed about. By the synopsis, this book sounds perfect for me (and the main character basically could be me) - a gay protagonist with OCD? That’s everything I look for in a book! I’m so sad I didn’t enjoy this, but I just feel like it was melodramatic and unnecessary. I don’t usually like books about grief, and this reminded me why.

'Weird' reading habits


I listen to music whilst I’m reading

I never used to think this was weird, but it turns out most people don’t! I’m really good at multi-tasking, so I think that explains it. I don’t just listen to instrumental music, or quiet relaxing songs - I love punk and indie rock, so I like listening to my favourite bands whilst I’m reading! For me, it helps create the right atmosphere too.

I annotate my books

Scrawling all over my books makes them mine. When I’m reading, I have lots to say about the books - so why not write what I’m thinking? I usually write in my favourite books, and those are the ones I re-read, so it’s nice to see what I thought the first time around. I can also write really nicely in cursive, which means it doesn't make the pages too messy!

Do you do any of these things? Or do you have any weird reading habits like me? Help me feel less alone!

LGBTQ+

...I'm gay.

17:51

You will probably be able to guess what this post will be about from the title... Yep, I’m gay! The past few months have been such massive milestones for me in terms of my sexuality, and because I consider everyone reading this as a friend, I wanted to share my journey with you. As always, but especially on this topic, if anyone needs advice for someone to talk to, my DMs are always open, or you can contact me by looking at this page!

Let's get this "straight"...

Let’s start from the beginning. I’ve always been gay, but I only really knew I was gay when I was about 12 - when I figured it out, I made a pledge to myself to never tell anyone, ever. It breaks my heart to think of 12 year old me, curled up and sobbing to myself because I hated myself so much. I’ve learnt to love myself now (I love Pride!), but there’s still times where it is really hard to.
Then, when I was 13, I made a really close friend (who I can’t name because they might be reading this), who was really open about sexuality and its fluidity, which made me totally reassess the situation. I then told myself that absolutely nobody could know I was gay until I was 15, because I thought that nobody would take me seriously. I don’t know if that would have been true, but I do know that it’s shameful how our heteronormative society thinks that queer people might ‘change their mind’, yet from birth they’re constantly trying to put every child into a straight relationship. I could talk about this forever (future blog post maybe?), but for now, I’ll just say it’s disgusting.

Coming out for the first time.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I officially have a significant other. Yes, I am as excited as you are at reading/typing that sentence! They identify as genderfluid, and they were the first person I ever told that I was queer, so it was probably a bit different to what you’d expect. I told them I was gay to hint that I had a crush on them, and I knew that they would accept me because they identify as queer themself.

But then, obviously, I wanted to tell my friends the good news! So gradually, I came out to them, and they were super supportive too. I told my sister, and she was really happy for me as well. So then I came out to my parents - they already knew my girlfriend (just not as my girlfriend), so I just told my mum when she was in a good mood. Both of my parents have been so kind and supportive, and in which I’m so lucky. I know so many LGBT+ young people don’t have such positive experiences, and I’m so grateful that my family love me no matter what.

Although I’ve been really lucky in my experiences, no queer person has it as easy as straight people do. Someone who I would have regarded as one of my closest friends told me that just writing on her blog that I had a girlfriend was “inappropriate” and “unprofessional”. I told her I was gay in December, and we haven’t spoken since. It makes me sad to know that I’ve lost friends over just being who I am, but if they’re that toxic, I don’t want them in my life.

Coming out for the second time.

I say coming out for the second time, but for every queer person, the amount of times you have to come out is endless. In my school, it's pretty conservative and there are not many LGBT+ people who are out. The ones who are out generally tend to be unpopular and people are mean to them. I didn't want to be pretending I'm someone I'm not, so I wanted to come out to everyone at once. I put on my Snapchat story "I'm gay" with a drawing of a rainbow.

It was a really big thing for me, and I was so so so nervous, but I'm really glad I did it. I have a network of friends who I know will support me no matter what, and that I would be safe. A lot of people still gossip about me and my girlfriend, but I'm much happier being able to be myself.

I just want to say that to any queer people reading this, whether you’re out or not, you are brave and you are loved. I don’t think straight people realise just how hard it is to just be inside your own head when you’re queer. The heteronormative society we are living in is so cruel, and if you ever need anyone to talk to, I’m always here for you. You are loved.

Books

Feminism TBR

08:00


As you know, I love reading, and I’m a very passionate feminist, so obviously, I find books about feminism so interesting. I have so many on my TBR, so today I thought I’d show you some of the ones I’m most excited to get to.

Non-fiction

I mainly read fiction, but I find non-fiction about feminism fascinating. I’ve read the classics (Bad Feminist, We Should All Be Feminists, anything by Caitlin Moran, etc...), but there’s still so much out there that I’m yet to read.

Shrill by Lindy West

I love reading essay collections/memoirs because they feel so personal. I’ve been hearing so many good things about Shrill, so when the hardback (which is gorgeous!) was on sale, I knew I just had to buy it.

It’s about learning that your opinion is valid as a woman, and that we do not need to be quiet, small, or take up less space. I haven’t read anything from Lindy West before, but I follow her on Twitter, and she’s so funny! I’m hoping to pick up this book when I’m feeling down, because I know this will make me chuckle, and essay collections have a way of making me feel less lonely.

Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole

My sister bought this without me, and ever since I’ve been jealously eyeing it. I hadn’t heard of it until she brought it home, but since it’s been on my radar, I can’t stop hearing about it! I love books that take a critical look instead of telling personal stories (I like those too!) because they get me so angry, so passionate, and so ready for change.

Fiction

Needlework by Deirdre Sullivan

I picked this up at YALC last summer, and as soon as I bought it, I have been itching to read it. I have no idea why it’s still unread! Grace has recommended it on her blog so many times, and I trust her opinion greatly, so I know this will be one for me. Louise O’Neill has blurbed it too, so if she says it’s brilliant, it must be!

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This book is a bit out of my normal comfort zone, but I know I’m going to love it. I don’t think this one is explicitly about feminism (correct me if I’m wrong!), but I know it’s about the power of sisterhood, and women sticking together. It seems like a beautiful book, and everyone’s talking about it, so I know I need to read it soon so I’m not left behind!

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Again, I’m not really sure if this is specifically about feminism like the others, but I’ve read the synopsis and I’m pretty sure the women this are pretty badass. It’s about Alex, who after her sister died, learned the art of fighting and violence. Just the title makes me want to read it!

Classics

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet! If you ask someone for a feminist fiction recommendation, they’re bound to mention this. I’ve been desperate to read it for ages, so when I convinced my sister to buy it last week, it might have been they best thing I’ve ever done.

Sales of this have risen by something ridiculous since Trump was elected, which makes me scared yet very excited to read it. I know it will be an important book, even if it is hard to get through because of how poignant it will be. The world is shitty, but at least we have good books to lose ourselves in.


Villette by Charlotte Bronte

I’ve never read a book by any of the Bronte sisters (I know, it’s shameful!), so this will be my first. I think it’s so important and interesting to read books about feminism written over a hundred years ago, because any books about women’s rights will be so ahead of their times. I’m so enthusiastic to see Charlotte Bronte’s perception of how society treated women in the 1800s, even if I am a little scared because long classics intimidate me!

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

I’m almost scared to admit that I’ve never read a book by Virginia Woolf. I know a little bit about her, so I know she was a brave and admirable writer - and a revolutionary feminist, even for her times. I’m scared to read this one too because I’ve heard that her writing style can sometimes be hard, but I’m so ready to read this that I’m sure it won’t matter. I’ll just have to try a bit harder, which is probably a good thing!

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? Any other recommendations for feminist books I need to add to my TBR?

Misc

My Favourite Youtubers

15:41


Over the past year, I’ve been watching a lot more YouTube. There’s such a diverse range of content makers, so there really is something for everyone! I watch a huge mix of people - obviously, I watch a lot of BookTube and feminists, but I also really like make-up, travel, and lifestyle vloggers!

justkissmyfrog

I can’t think of anyway to describe Leena’s channel apart from fucking hilarious. In my head, I like to think that Leena and I would be best friends, because we have so much in common! She sometimes talks about books (and I really trust everything she recommends!), but mostly she just talks about politics, feminism, and sex. If ever I need cheering up, Justkissmyfrog is the channel I go to straight away, because Leena is just so funny!

Ash Hardell

Ash is probably the YouTuber I watch most. They’ve got such a bubbly and sweet personality, and they also talk about such important issues in such a caring way. Them and Grace are honestly relationship goals (except for me and my girlfriend, of course!), because they care for each other so much. If you’re queer, then I know you will find them refreshing, and if you’re straight, you’ll learn how to be a better ally!

Lucy the Reader

I think my most favourite booktuber has to be Lucy. Her videos are always so calm - from the general aesthetic and editing, to the way Lucy talks about books, so I love watching her videos on a chilled out Sunday morning. She reads and champions books that might not have necessarily been ones on my radar, so it’s great getting to broaden my horizons!

George Lester

In my fictional friendship circle, George and I would definitely be best friends too. This might sound odd, but watching his videos makes me feel like I’m getting a warm hug. His voice and genuine enthusiasm for the books he’s talking about makes me so genuinely happy, and the way he talks to the camera feels so personal. If ever I’m feeling lonely, I know George’s channel will cheer me up.

Enjajaja

I wear makeup, and I like wearing makeup, but I don’t spend a lot of time doing it, and I don’t spend much money on it either. I’d say Enya is mostly a makeup vlogger, but she also does other comedy sketches, and just general lifestyle stuff! I think she’s really funny, and her makeup always looks amazing, so I trust the advice she’s giving!

Book’s Buzz

Alex is one of my closest friends from Twitter, so it would be impossible for her not to feature on this list! We have such similar opinions on things, so I trust her book recommendations so much! I love the angles she takes on issues, but also her charisma comes through in all her videos. Watching her channel makes me feel so happy, so if you’re feeling down, you should totally check out her videos!

Arielle Sarcella

Arielle makes me SCREAM with laughter. She is so funny - I’ve always casually stalked her without fully subscribing because most of her videos are about being gay, and I wasn’t ready to come out yet, but now I have told people, I can fully embrace my love for her. It’s so great to be able to see someone make jokes about being lesbian, for queer people, in a society where everything is so heteronormative. If you’re queer, then I really think you will enjoy her videos.

Honourable Mentions:

Feminism

My Feminist 2017 Resolutions

12:23


New year, new me, right? Wrong. I like the concept behind them - it’s nice to set goals and work towards something for yourself, but I don’t like the way there’s so much pressure on us to be better than the year before. It won’t be hard for 2017 to be better than 2016, but for the new year, there are a few things I want to aim to do.


1. Stop apologising for things that weren’t my fault

I think this is one that everyone needs to adopt for themselves, especially women. We’re constantly drilled into us that we should be small, polite... apologetic in everything we do. I am not standing for this any longer. I’m funny, I’m loud, I’m clever, and I will not apologise for it. It’s the way I was born - in men they’re admirable qualities, so I am going to make people admire me, as a woman, for them!

This is also a very personal one for me, too. My mental illnesses constantly tell me that everything bad in the world is my fault, and hence I should apologise for it so people will still like me. This logic is total bullshit! If I haven’t done anything wrong, I won’t say sorry for it. The negativity is just fuelling my low self-esteem, and it not healthy for me. I hope that in the new year I can unabashedly be myself, because that’s all I can be.

2. Start using my Moon Cup.

In late August, I won a Moon Cup (along with other feminist goodies!) from the amazing Tara at Cattitude & Co, but I’m still yet to use it. I’ve been meaning to for absolutely ages, but I just haven’t got round to it yet! Within the next few months, I am definitely going to use it, because it’s so much healthier for so many different reasons.

Without boring you to death with all the reasons why you should give reusable menstrual products a go (in a future blog post maybe?), I’ll just say how much better for your body they are, because there’s no chemicals at all being inserted up there. It makes perfect sense! It’s also completely hygienic (you boil them clean yourself), and there’s not all the waste of sanitary products, which isn’t good for the environment.

3. If something is sexist, don’t overlook it

I know I do this already, and do try my best, but recently, I’ve been noticing more and more just how problematic my favourite things are, and I want to do something about it. A few months ago I binged the first two seasons of ‘black-ish’, and it’s been celebrating for it’s realism about black lives in the USA at the moment. It taught me so much on these issues, as well as being really funny, and I loved all the characters... but it was absurdly sexist.

I'm not sure if it's still okay to enjoy and support something I know is problematic (black-ish is different because it's doing something good. I like to like that show). I want to be brave and call things like this out when I know I’m doing the right thing. It’s hard, and often we’re attacked for calling out sexism, but I want to put this aside me to do what’s right. It’s important, and if someone doesn’t start, then who will?!

4. Lift other women up instead of trying to find faults in their arguments

I think this is a really important one, and that everyone should try harder to do in 2017. We spend too long criticising other women for what they’ve said about feminism (eg Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham). Obviously, it’s super important to call out people when they’ve been exclusive, and White Feminism is never okay, but it’s not fair for us to criticise women more than we do men. Yes, these women have said things that are never okay, but we should also recognise the good things they’ve done. Taylor Swift has brought feminism into the public eye, and while her brand of feminism needs a lot of improvement, getting people interested in the movement is very important too.

I want to focus on celebrating other women in the new year. My fellow sisters are amazing, and we should rejoice that! Women fight such a tough battle everyday, so I don’t want to make it any harder by criticising them more than they deserve. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. This doesn’t mean that we should ignore when they say something problematic, but we should teach them without attacking, and then lift them up when they do say something great.

Happy New Year! I hope you have an amazing 2017! Any plans for the new year? I'd love to know!