Bisexual Visibility!

Some sort of flagThis week is #BiWeek2016, a week all about celebrating bisexuality!

I believe it’s so important to raise awareness of, and talk about, bisexuality, not only because of the instances of bisexual erasure and invisibility that occurs in the LGBTQIA+ Community, but because of my own experiences too.

I identify as gay. That is my chosen label, because it’s the one that feels most right for me. But I wasn’t always this way. When I first came out at the age of 17, I said I was bi. I wasn’t lying, something I was often accused of. Back then, bisexual felt like the right term for me. I was my last year of high school, and I was dating a girl and had been for a few months, though we’d been close for a while and I knew my feelings for her were real. So bi felt right to me, then.

After we broke up, the next person I dated was a boy. This confirmed what I’d felt, debated, and tried to deny, since I was 12: that I am very much attracted to the same-sex. But again, I still said I was bi, because I believed I still felt that way about girls too.

From my late teens into my early twenties, I kept bi as my chosen label. Yet, looking back, things never felt the same with girls. Not since the girl I was with when I first came out. This lead to me doing a lot of thinking, and I eventually came out again as gay. Gay is the label I choose now, because it’s the one that feels most right.

I would never with 100% certainty tell you that I will never fall for a woman again. I believe that all sexuality is fluid to some extent. I also believe that it’s the person we fall for that matters most, not their parts. So who knows? But as I said, gay is the label I choose.

Yet, when I first came out, when bi was my chosen label, countless people tried to tell me I was wrong. I was told that I wasn’t bi, I was just too scared to come out as gay. I was told I was greedy because I wouldn’t choose boys or girls.

This is what the community calls bisexual erasure, which Wikipedia defines as, “the tendency to ignore, remove, falsify, or reexplain evidence of bisexuality in history, academia, news media and other primary sources. In its most extreme form, bisexual erasure can include denying that bisexuality exists.”

In short, these are all things I experienced when I chose to call myself bisexual. I don’t regret that choice. Like I said, at the time it’s the label that made the most sense to me, just as gay makes the most sense to me now. My labels are my choice, and no one else gets to tell me who or what I am.

I feel very strongly about the fact that people who try to erase bisexuality. While I no longer identify as bi, that’s just me. Bisexuality is very real. People who identify as bisexual are very real. That’s why BiWeek is so important. We need to keep on raising awareness and talking about bisexuality until bi erasure is no longer a thing.

I don’t want any other teens to experience what I did: being told that their chosen identity isn’t real, that they’re lying or that they’re greedy. You are not. You are human. You are beautiful. You are perfect as you are. And no one has the right to label you besides yourself. You get to decide who you are, not anyone else.

For more information on BiWeek, click here. For more information on bisexual erasure, click here. And for a list of twelve Young Adult novels with bisexual characters, click here.

Happy BiWeek!

Go away, Brad Trost!

trost1Ok, so the first thing you’re probably thinking: who the hell is Brad Trost?!

And trust me, you’re not alone on that. Brad Trost is a Member of Parliament from Saskatchewan (and yes, I spelled that without Googling it). Trost is running to be the new leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. And he’s doing it by trying to promote his views, one of which is his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Here’s one of the ways he’s attempting to do that:

trost2

Le sigh. Like, really? Same-sex marriage has been legal in Canada FOR OVER A FREAKING DECADE. Will we ever see a day when people don’t say “marriage is only between a man and a woman”? I sure hope so.

But for now, it’s people like Brad Trost who won’t let things be. He just needs to try to make people like me feel like we shouldn’t be allow the right to marry. Well, fuck you, Brad Trost. QUIT TRYING TO SAY I DON’T HAVE RIGHTS.

I honestly can’t freaking wait to have a big fabulous gay wedding. Maybe I’ll even invite you, Brad. Just so you can see how beautiful love is. IN ALL SHAPES AND ALL FORMS.

Anyway, the good news is he says, despite this horrendous campaign, that he has no plans to actually repeal same-sex marriage laws. Um, good. Because you know, it’s been legal nationwide for eleven years. Ain’t no one taking it back now!

Sadly, this kind of rhetoric is nothing new from Brad Trost. According to PressProgress, he has a history of anti-gay marriage views:

During debate on Canada’s Civil Marriages Act during the mid-2000s, Trost called the idea of same-sex marriage “a direct attack on the basic institution of marriage” that was intended to “malign the religious freedoms of millions of Canadians.”

Trost also argued “the uniquely heterosexual nature of marriage” is the only way to “build society in a responsible and organized fashion.”

In 2009, Trost described the Toronto Pride parade as “polarizing” and said funding should be cut off because it is “more political than touristic in nature.”

And this spring at the 2016 Conservative Convention, Trost drew links between same-sex marriage and socialism following a landmark vote that saw the party adopt a neutral position on same-sex marriage.

Oh, I should mention that he’s anti-abortion too. Wow, what a shocker!

Ughhhh.

Anyway, the good news is that he likely doesn’t stand a chance at becoming the new Conservative leader. According to CBC News:

A national poll of Conservative Party voters shows Trost’s campaign doesn’t seem to be registering on the federal stage.

A poll conducted last week showed less than one per cent of Conservative supporters supported Trost, the lowest results in the survey. 71 per cent said they didn’t know who he was.

So, let me reiterate what I asked at the beginning of this post:

Who the hell is Brad Trost?!

Answer: No one important. He’s just another politician trying to make a name for himself by saying people like me directly attack his views because I want to get married. Well, Brad Trost, you attack my views by trying to tell me I shouldn’t be allowed to marry because I want to marry another man.

Well guess what? Other men are fucking beautiful, and I’ll marry one if I damn well want to, and there’s nothing you can do about it, Braddy,-boy.

See you at my big fat gay wedding! Until then, just go away!

Review: Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit

geopeachesWhoa. This book, though.

I’d been looking forward to reading this one ever since I first saw the cover/heard the title, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed!

But first, here’s what Jaye Robin Brown’s Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is all about:

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

Ok, so I won’t lie–there were times I wanted to throw the book across the room, but that’s mainly because I was so mad at Jo’s dad for forcing her back into the closet. NOT COOL, DAD. Even if you are a radio Reverend. And even if your new wife’s family is SUPER CONSERVATIVE.

But I digress. Jo’s closet experience in Rome, Georgia serves to move the story along, and it all gets sorted out in the end.

I have to say, Jo’s experience in Rome does show that, even now in 2016, we’re still surrounded by closed-mind individuals who just can’t seem to accept queer and trans people. We sadly still live in a world filled with people like Donald Trump, Kim Davis and Ted Cruz. And it’s not just America either. Canada’s got that Brad Trost guy (I’ve got a post on him coming soon!).

Jo’s story shows that in some places, people still receive a lot of flack for being brave enough to be out. And the fact that some people just can’t be accepting is what leads her dad to make the request that she lie low for the year.

Another aspect of how this story is mega-real is that it shows the opposite side of things too. People like I’ve mentioned above (especially Kim Davis and Ted Cruz) say they oppose same-sex marriage–or pretty much anything queer/trans in general, basically–because it goes against their faith. They say God/Jesus/the Bible/the Church/whatever are why they think being LGBTQ+ is wrong.

But not everyone is like that. And this book shows how it is very much possible to be queer and Christian. Or be a supportive, straight Christian. And I think that’s very important. We need stories that show that these people exist, they are out there.

Now, I’m not a Christian. I’m an atheist. But I have friends who are Christian, who regularly go to church, who believe in God. And I fully support them, just as I know they accept and support me for who I am. I say this here to highlight the fact that I fully support everyone’s right to hold their own beliefs, even if they’re different from mine. As the quote goes, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.

That being said, I do not agree with people who try to use their faith as a means to spew hatred. I do not agree with people who say that queer and trans people should be put to death because they think the Bible says that. I do not agree with people who break the law and refuse to do their fucking job and let LGBTQ+ people marry whoever they want because they think it goes against God. That’s not cool, y’all.

Ok, I’ve gotten a little off track. My point is, there are people in this world that do both good and bad things in the name of their God, and Jaye Robin Brown’s Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit paints some of the wonderful realities of the REALLY GOOD ones you’ll find out there, even in small towns in Georgia. It also shows that, yes, it is absolutely 100% possible to be both queer and Christian, and there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t be both.

Books like these are hella important, so spread the word!

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit is available now.

Review: The Upside of Unrequited

Queer and trans representation needs to happen in all areas of life. I’ve already previously written about the importance of secondary characters, and why they’re essential to the stories we read, watch, etc.

Isn’t it pretty?!

That post was inspired by Becky Albertalli being unsure if the secondary characters in her forthcoming second novel, The Upside of Unrequited counted for the book to be considered LGBT YA.

My point in that post was that all LGBT representation matters, even in the form of secondary characters.

Well, today I’m here with part follow-up to that post, and part review of The Upside of Unrequited. I was recently blessed by HarperCollins Canada with an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of Becky’s new book. And let me tell you, it is sheer perfection.

I stayed up all night reading Molly’s incredible story. Here’s what it’s about:

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love–she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness–except for the part where she is.

Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

THIS BOOK, THOUGH! I’ve actually now read it twice, because I went through it so fast the first time that I needed a second read to make sure I properly absorbed its awesomeness.

Becky Albertalli is a freaking genius/magician when it comes to spinning words together to tell a story, and this book is one freaking hell of an amazing story.

There aren’t even the right words to properly begin to describe my feelings on this book. I laughed. Like, literally out loud laughed in the early morning hours. It’s a good thing my roommate wasn’t home, otherwise I’d probably have woken her up. I also cried, squealed a bit, and many other displays of intense emotion. Because that’s what Becky’s books have the power to do!

My cat, Sophia, making friends with Molly.

My cat, Sophia, making friends with Molly.

Obviously, because spoilers, I’m not going to go into too much detail, but let me just reiterate what I said in my previous post on secondary LGBT characters and how supremely important they are. Well, this book shows that. And then some.

The queer parenting shown in this book is incredible. I teared up during some of the scenes with Molly and Cassie’s moms. I love my Mom so much, she’s my favourite person in the world. Now just imagine having two of them!

I’m sure there are other books with awesome examples of queer parenting–I just can’t think of any right now that I can recall reading. But we need more stories like this, especially when you consider the opposition that some people have to queer parenting and same-sex adoptions.

Honestly, I don’t even know how I feel about calling these characters “secondary” because they’re all so incredibly amazing. Especially Cassie. She’s fearless and amazing and everything I sometimes wish I could be.

But let me tell you, I am definitely, definitely more like Molly. I LOVE Molly. And this really tripped me up and confused me, because I didn’t think it was possible for Becky to write a character I love more than Simon (more on my love for Simon here), but OH BOY, apparently it is. Molly is life. I honestly can’t even think of a character I’ve ever felt so much alike. Her awkwardness, her struggles with her appearance, her long list of unrequited crushes. It’s like Becky has written a female version of me!

feelingsI’m sorry for rambling. I just have so many feelings about this book. Becky Albertalli is such a gifted and talented writer. She makes you fall in love with her characters so much that you’re left heartbroken when the book ends, precisely because the book has ended.

I can’t wait for everyone to be able to read his one! This book isn’t even published yet, and I also can’t wait for what Becky writes next. I know it’ll be amazing, whatever it is. To paraphrase John Green, I’d read Becky’s grocery lists.

The Upside of Unrequited comes out April 11th, 2017.  You can pre-order it now from Indigo by clicking here.

Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from HarperCollins Canada in exchange for an honest review.