Books · lgbt

“Harmony” Book Review

It’s another LGBT book! It’s another review! One day, I will have a book review that I can post on YouTube. Well, I already do, but I still haven’t done the review yet. I forget how I found this book. Probably also online in the Gay and Lesbian book section of Powell’s Books. I’m going to need a bookshelf for all the LGBT books I want.

Meet Andrea (mostly referred to as Andy in the book). She is a viola player in a string group that plays at people’s weddings. Meet Brooke, the bride-to-be who hired the string group to play at her wedding. When Brooke met Andy, it caused Brooke to unleash feelings that were forcibly suppressed for years. Join Brooke as she learns more about herself.

It took me so long to finally read this book. I got the book for Christmas last year, but didn’t start reading it until the last day of June. I finally finished the book on the last day of September. I’m not exactly a slow reader.

The first few chapters and the final few chapters are pretty short while the chapters in the middle were longer. I think the book went too fast in regards to Andy and Brooke desiring each other. A few chapters into the book (I believe chapter 3), Brooke and Andy go back to Andy’s apartment for… things that go past making out. I also didn’t like Brooke’s character very much. As much as I relate to her in having trouble with establishing a sense of self when everyone dictates your life, I did not like that she seemed to play with Andy’s heart when deciding what to do with her life.

I honestly thought that Brooke was actually bisexual and this is another book that showcases the lack of bisexual representation in books and the media. However, when I read more of this book, it was clear that Brooke truly is a lesbian. Yes, she was engaged to a man, but she was living her life the way her parents wanted her to live her life. When she started realizing that she likes girls, her parents sent her to therapy as a way to make her straight. We have now learned that conversion therapy is psychologically harmful.

One thing I like about the book is that feminism is a part of the book without it being a major theme. Andy is passionate about female composers, especially since female composers are not a thing that people are aware of. When people think composer, people think of men. Near the end of the book, a guest conductor talks to the orchestra and stresses the importance of the concert they’ll be playing. The conductor is also passionate about women being composers and talks about the time when women couldn’t be composers. The conductor advocates for women by hosting a concert made only of songs composed by women. As a feminist who wants women to be supported and uplifted in male-dominated fields, I liked that part.

Despite me not liking Brooke’s character too much, I want to one day be like her. She learned to stop living the life that others want her to live and started living the life she wanted. This year, 2017, I started working towards that. I’m still struggling with it, and I know that my parents are struggling with the fact that I didn’t turn out the way they wanted me to be. A person without mental health issues, a person who believes in God, a person who doesn’t care about what people think. Although I will never be free of mental health issues, will always care about what people think, and can’t find anything logical about religion (and feels that religion can harm more than help), I have to start being what I want.

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lgbt

Coming Out: My Story

First off, I apologize if some things don’t make sense in my coming out story. I wrote this years ago and I discovered nearly a year ago that two romantic interests from university now identify as non-binary, so I had to change some wording and pronouns.

So most of my life, I thought I was straight. When I was in 6th grade, a rumor started spreading that I was a lesbian (everyone in 6th grade knew I had a huge crush on this guy). It was probably because I liked hugging people. I come from a huggy-kissy family. Nope. Straight.

Fast forward to my first semester of university. I kept having the desire to kiss girls, especially this girl who sat next to me in math class and was also in my first-year seminar class (I saw her three times a week that semester. Let’s call her Bec). That’s when I started questioning my sexuality. Am I bisexual? I’ve always liked guys before and at the time I liked a football player I met during orientation adventures. I later concluded that I was straight and was one of the not-so-uncommon people who wanted to know what it’s like to kiss girls.

In the beginning of sophomore year, I felt like I was starting to develop feelings for one of my roommates (which scared me since I never liked a girl before), but that was nipped in the bud when I started a relationship with a guy from anime club. One of my friends said those feelings went away because I was suppressing them.

Junior year, my feelings came back for the former roommate (we’ll call her Mo). Thanks to a lesbian friend, she helped me confess my feelings to Mo. To this day, I don’t know if she liked me back or not. During the summer, I woke up realizing that I was bi-curious. I was even planning on asking Mo out. That never happened.

First semester of senior year, I liked this guy after getting over a guy I was interested in. Mid-semester, I went to the Coming Out Monologues. There was a freshman there coming out as bisexual. Let’s call them Alex. That was when I deemed them the coolest person I ever met (we both like wearing hoodies and we don’t conform) and I felt like I wouldn’t be surprised if I fell in love with them. I had a dream that we were at an on-campus eatery and holding hands at the table. That was the first sign that I was getting feelings for someone who is not a guy. Once again, I was scared. After some encouragement from Alex, I confessed my feelings to them after the last LGBTQIA club meeting before the semester ended (the last club meeting was on the week before finals week). I wrote the note on the index card in case they were walking back to their dorm with someone else. I ended up having to hand them the card since they were walking with another club member. I got rejected a week later and I had to make sure I didn’t cry (being rejected so many times hurts. You get used to it, but it hurts). This was when I started questioning my sexuality for the second time.

Second semester of senior year, I went to lunch with another person from my university’s LGBTQIA club a week into that semester (I joined that club during junior year as an ally). Let’s call this person Taylor. They’re not a straight person. We stayed at lunch for three hours. They asked me at some point if I was bisexual or pansexual. I told them “questioning, but leaning towards bi”. After I got back to my on-campus apartment (they had homework to finish up, so we had to end the lunch), I couldn’t stop thinking about how much fun I had and that’s when I wanted to ask them to be my valentine. Later that week, I got my friend to take me to get origami paper and I practiced making origami hearts. I was going to give the heart to them at the club meeting before Valentine’s Day, but due to the impending snowstorm, that club meeting got canceled. I think I almost cried when I got the club cancellation e-mail. I ended up having to wait an additional week to give the heart to them (and that was after Valentine’s Day). When I developed feelings for them, that’s when I realized that I am indeed bisexual. I didn’t accept myself as bisexual until the Sunday after Valentine’s Day. Yay for realizing this at 21, which is later than for most people.

I’m only out to online friends and three friends from university (all three of whom fall somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum; a lesbian, a pansexual trans man, and a bisexual ex-boyfriend). I’m not out to family because even now, after realizing my bisexuality three years ago, I’ve only been with guys (partially due to dad’s homophobia, and partially due to my mom’s side of the family being religious Christians). I was also afraid to come out as bisexual because I didn’t know if the feelings for girls would end after graduating university (it didn’t. I developed feelings for a girl who worked at Noodles & Company). In retrospect, Bec may have been the first girl I ever liked.

Note: I am unsure of what pronouns Alex uses, but I do know that Taylor goes by they/them pronouns.

Awareness · lgbt

Bi Visibility Day

Bi Visibility Day, also known as Celebrate Bisexuality Day or Bisexual Awareness Day. What is this day about? It is a day to recognize bisexuals who are family members, friends, significant others, historic figures, and people in the general community. It is also a day to raise awareness that bisexuals exist.

Did you know?:

  • Freddie Mercury is bisexual. He was very much in love with Mary Austin and they remained close friends from the time of their breakup in 1976 to the day of his death. People only know of his relationship with Jim Hutton.
  • Bisexuals are marginalized by the straight community and LGBT community. This is why Bi Visibility Day exists.
  • Bi Visibility Day would not exist without Wendy Curry, Michael Page, and Gigi Raven Wilbur. These three people are bisexual rights activists.
  • Bi Visibility Day is in September because Freddie Mercury was born in that month. I just learned this fact. The bisexual rights activists mentioned in the previous fact love Freddie Mercury.
  • There is a strong lack of representation for bisexuals. Try finding an LGBT book. Not too hard with Google, right? Now find a book about bisexuals. Good luck. Look at the TV shows that have a gay person or a lesbian in it. They’re becoming more prevalent. Now find one with a bisexual character. Hard. Now find a bisexual character that is not a damaging stereotype. Likely doesn’t exist.
  • Bisexual originally meant having two sexes in one being. If you mentioned bisexuals in the 19th century, people would think “hermaphrodite”. Note: A hermaphrodite is a being with both male and female COMPLETE sex organs. Since this is not possible with humans, intersex is the term for a person with variations in sex characteristics.
  • Some bisexual celebrities (besides the aforementioned Freddie Mercury) include Angelina Jolie, Billie Joe Armstrong (from Green Day), Andy Dick, and Carrie Brownstein (from Portlandia). Of course, this is not an exclusive list, so don’t complain if I didn’t include your favorite bisexual celebrity.

Of course, those are not all the facts relating to bisexuality. There are also some statistics about bisexuals, but I will not post them here since some statistics may be triggering. In honor of bi visibility day, I am going to say something that I don’t tell most people. I understand if I lose followers from this:

My name is diaryofself, and I am bisexual.

Books · lgbt

“I Can’t Think Straight” Book Review

So this review was originally going to be on YouTube, but now that YouTube restricts LGBT content for not being “family-friendly”, I can’t do the video anymore. So my review will be here!

I found out about this book online via the Gay and Lesbian section of Powell’s Books when I was looking for LGBT books. I read the synopsis and liked what I read, so I got the book for my 24th birthday.

Meet Tala, a Jordanian living in London. She is engaged for the fourth time to Hani. Meet Leyla, the girlfriend of Tala’s best friend. Despite only being weeks away from getting married, Tala struggles to make the choice between doing what is expected of her and following her heart.

I liked this book and would read a chapter each night. I liked how I could easily identify with characters in the book. I liked how I could feel like I was a character in the book instead of being a reader.

There were some things that surprised me about the book. I was surprised that it was in chapter four when one’s romantic feelings for the other were hinted. I kind of expected it to take longer, to be honest. I was also surprised at how early the kiss occurred. Maybe it just seems a little fast? Then again, I’m kind of used to fanfiction where there is slower progression of romance (but not so slow that I lose interest).

Was there anything that I didn’t like in the book? The book was too short.

Unlike other books I have read (either for pleasure or for school) I actually identified with a character. In this case, I really identified with the character Tala. I have to either keep things about me to myself or follow what is expected of me because society tells me so, I don’t want to be the odd one out in my family, or because it’s just not something that people want to acknowledge in your culture.

So tell me, people who read this blog, have you read any LGBT books? Do you have a favorite LGBT book? What is your favorite book (LGBT-themed or not)?