Diverse Love Story Books (Part Two)

I’ve said before that I’m done with reading the standard, overplayed love story, and that I’m also trying to only reading books this year that were written by either people of color, LGBTQ+ community members, and women. That being said, I do still have lots of love for the young adult fiction love stories, so here are 3 more that are worth reading:

1. Blackout by Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon, Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, and Nic Stone
So this was a really cool collaboration of six authors writing six stories with characters that overlap in a blackout in NYC. It almost read like a movie or a TV series, where you meet new characters who are the friends and siblings of the first characters you see, and everyone has their own stuff going on. I liked this most for the representation of different couples, as there was straight ex’s, gay friends with tension, straight besties that never considered each other in a romantic way, lesbians who meet for the first time, and more. Everyone, to my knowledge, is a person of color, as were all of the authors. This novel is intended for young adults, can be a little cheesy at times, but was super cute and absolutely worth reading.

2. The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus
I’m gonna be straight up – this book was allllllll over the place. I really wanted to love this one because my girlfriend picked it out for me from a local bookstore, but I only enjoyed about half the story. Half the plot line was super interesting and had a lot of potential – a girl from Trinidad was sent to live with her American father after her mother discovers that she is queer. The way she overcomes adjusting to the states and connecting with her father was actually super beautiful. There was also a lot of poetry and astrology integrated into the book that was fun, but then sorta out of nowhere the entire energy of the book changes when one of the girl’s American friends is diagnosed with a cancer-like terminal illness. While the Trinidad plot line was sad but real, as many queer people deal with being disowned from their families, the terminal illness plot line was a bit dramatic and soap opera-y. Sorry if this is a ton of spoilers, but at least I’m saving you from the most random part – the ending. I don’t know.. the book could have been really cool without all the added layers of random drama.

3. Never Kiss Your Roommate by Philline Harms
I enjoyed this book even more than I initially expected it to. It takes place in a British boarding school, and follows a few unique love journeys. I definitely go into most young adult fiction novels assuming there will be a certain level of predictability, but here I was pleasantly surprised. While it does give you the warm feels of a cheesy rom-com, the plot didn’t go in the direction you’d think – which I really appreciated. It was a cute story, a light and easy read, but joyously satisfying. This is one that I would absolutely recommend, especially since it’s wonderfully queer.

Thanks for reading!

The Love of Emily Dickinson

I read the complete collection of Emily Dickinson’s poems as well as her letters to her sister-in-law, Sue – all while re-watching the AppleTV show, “Dickinson”. I was able to finish in line with the end of the third and final season, meaning that it takes about 15 hours to read through all of Emily’s letters and poems. I absolutely loved the show, specifically its wittiness and the juxtaposition of modern music with the vintage visuals. Reading her work of course gave me new insight, which made the show even more enjoyable.

The poems were edited by Cristianne Miller to be as Emily preserved them, which included 40 bounded collections that were called fascicles, as well as hundreds of loose and unbound poems. Emily was often known for her odd use of punctuation, indentation, and capitalizations, as well as her vivid imagery and philosophical themes. Her poetry is of course beautiful, but you need to know more about Emily to really understand the meaning behind her words.  

Emily was a misunderstood lesbian, or more accurately was likely bisexual, and was in love with her best friend, Susan. Both Emily and her brother, Austin, were interested in Sue, and of course this was the 1870’s so Sue and Austin got married. Despite their marriage, Emily and Sue remained close and their relationship had a timeline completely separate from their relationships with men.

In addition to her preserved poetry, Emily’s letters written to Sue were also saved. Many of Sue’s responses were not kept, however, due to a tradition from that time period to burn or get rid of certain items upon one’s death. The letters saved were very intimate and loving and proved that the women were romantically involved all throughout their lives.

What’s unfortunate is that their relationship was not properly portrayed after Emily’s death due to several reasons. Austin went on to have a very public affair after Emily’s death with a women named Mabel Loomis Todd, which deeply upset Sue. Sue busied herself with editing Emily’s poems, but was taking a long time and Emily’s sister Lavinia asked for the collection back. Sue handed them over, and Lavinia turned the collection over to Mabel Loomis Todd to edit. Mabel erased much of the connection to Sue in Emily’s writing, including ripping off pieces of letters to Sue to have Emily’s words appear as standalone poems rather than love letters.

For this reason, I enjoyed reading the book Open Me Carefully, which is the intimate collection of letters that Emily sent Sue (edited by Ellen Louise Hart and Martha Nell Smith). This included information about which poems had signatures and pieces torn off as well as background information on their relationship during different periods of their lives.

Their relationship did have rocky points, but remained a prominent part of both of their lives until their deaths. The most distance between them came after Sue and Austin’s marriage, when Sue became quite the socialite. She was hosting lavish parties with famous and up and coming literary icons, which would be the equivalent of Sue throwing celebrity parties. Basically, Sue became an 1800’s social influencer. Emily did attend some parties, but their correspondence decreased in frequency during this time period.

They never stayed apart for long though and Susan was with Emily upon her death. Sue even dressed her for burial, made the funeral arrangements, and wrote her a loving obituary that was published in the Springfield Republican. The rest of Sue’s life was left keeping a memory of Emily, which is a painfully beautiful end to a tragically poetic love story.

So here is to the immense love of Emily Dickinson and Sue Huntington Gilbert Dickinson. ♥

Thanks for reading.

My Andy Warhol Diary

As a result of my obsession with Marilyn Monroe, I found my way into learning about Andy Warhol because of his iconic pop print. However, I also found myself drawn to him more and more because of his queerness. So to dig more into his brilliant mind, I read Warhol by Blake Gopnik while watching “The Andy Warhol Diaries” on Netflix.

The Warhol biography was interesting to read, but was insanely lengthy. While I appreciated learning about intimate details of his life and influences, I did find myself often skimming through some fluff for sure. I definitely have some critiques about the way the author wrote, specifically in the way he acted as if he was the sole holder of all the correct information. He often phased things like, ‘Andy was described as X, Y, and Z by his closest friends, but it was actually quite the opposite!’ – which was really annoying. Andy was a complex human who can exist in spaces of contradiction and hypocrisy, and I would be reluctant to make such solid statements about him, ever.

The book also projects Andy as more gay than Netflix series indicates, even though the diaries come directly from Andy’s words. Andy was thought to have left a lot of mystery surrounding his personal life, and was clearly in the gay scene but often identified as asexual. The author definitely pushes Andy’s sexuality to a more promiscuous side and invalidates his use of the term asexual to describe himself. I disagree with this, as sexuality is full of many spectrums that I do not believe the cis/straight author understood. Just because Andy had sexual experiences and even partners does not mean he was not on the spectrum of asexuality – especially considering the lack of knowledge at the time around demisexuality.

The approach to Andy’s sexuality was one reason that I now firmly believe that gay stories should be written by gay people, but the author confirmed this more with his incorrect use of terminology. While there may have been outdated terms that Andy used freely in the 60’s and 70’s, this book was published in 2020, and a queer person would have known that we don’t use certain terms to describe members of the trans community in this day and age.

*Trigger warning*: I’m also concerned with the author’s casual approach to subjects like rape and child pornography as potential subjects in the Warhol art world. Andy often dipped into the adult film industry with his movies, and the subject matter was often problematic. There were films made where sexual assaults were acted out, which was said to have made a political statement, but I don’t agree with this type of artistic expression. He also unfortunately featured teenagers in a few of his adult films, which the author not only did not deem clearly problematic but also cannot fully understand the reason behind these actors even being in Andy’s orbit.

Young kids often found their way to New York City after being kicked out of their homes by their own parents just for being gay or trans, and these kids could be as young as 12 or 13. They found each other in underground spaces, and in their teenage years, they end up with crowds that frequent places like Andy Warhol’s Factory or Studio 54. Because they’re now with the “in” crowd, they get into clubs despite how young they are, and age goes out the window. Mature individuals were often seen scanning through the younger selections of actors and models, who go with them in hopes of making it big. This situation is of course layered and complicated, because queer spaces are so important, and kids don’t need to be on the street. But this also led to predatory behavior as well as acceptance in areas that were not actually appropriate for people of this age – like adult videos.

My last critique is that the book hardly really mentions Andy’s iconic documentary “The Queen”, where he follows a drag queen pageant that ends in dramatics when a contestant is extremely unhappy with the results of the competition. Because of how much I loved this documentary, I was disappointed to not even have it mentioned in the book by name, but rather just referenced in one quick paragraph. As lengthy as the book was, maybe this film got bumped to the side because it was released the same year that he was shot by Valarie Solanas.

The Valarie Solanas story is so wild and random that it almost seems made up, and was even created as a plot point for “American Horror Story: Cult”. While Ryan Murphy depicted Valarie Solanas as a mentally disturbed feminist extremist, he may not have been that far off. She was an obvious eccentric, obsessed with her SCUM Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men), and determined to get famous. She figured the best way to do this would be to shoot Andy Warhol, though he didn’t really do anything to earn her violence in his direction. Valarie was a part of The Factory scene, Andy was relatively inclusive to women, and they could have been allies to each other as members of the queer community. Instead though, Valarie changed the course of Andy’s life, as many note that he was very different after his recovery from her bullet.

The thing that I admire most about Andy Warhol was his ability to adapt to whatever way the world is changing without fear of failure. He wasn’t afraid to change his tune or image, he was unapologetic, and he was always reinventing himself in a way that still stayed within his character. His work across a dynamic range of mediums lives on as legendary, and I celebrate the influence he has had on the world.

But again, my biggest conclusion is this: gay stories should be written by gay people.

Thanks for reading!

Anonymous Series

Go Ask Alice has always been one of my all time favorite books to read, and recently I discovered Jay’s Journal as well. After doing a couple quick google searches, I found that there is a whole series of novels published in the same style.

My best friend and I decided to read the rest of this “Anonymous” series by this publisher, which was five more books in addition to the two above. Each story was super unique from the next, but all were wildly intriguing. We planned to read one per month but ended up finishing all five in just over two months:


1. Lucky In The Sky
While this diary heavily focuses on her drug use, it feels very different from Go Ask Alice. It takes place sometime in the early 2010’s ish, somewhere near Los Angeles – so though this is not very hippy dippy, maybe this would be the more current version of the Go Ask Alice story? The main character is a party girl that gets wrapped up in the lifestyle – which is easy to do when you’re getting paraded around Malibu beach houses. While it ends somewhat abruptly, I very much enjoyed following her journey.

2. Calling Maggie May
This story is full of sadness and loneliness, and is based on that fact that everybody just wants to feel like they fit in somewhere. The lead in this book was very sheltered as a result of her family’s culture, and jumped at the first sign of a life that was not her own. Unfortunately for her, the first chance she has was a life of prostitution, and she gets thrown in almost immediately. I felt bad for her throughout most of the book, because she just wanted to belong to something to badly. She was looking for sisterhood and put her trust in the hands of people she barely knew. It gets more and more bleak, and honestly, ends pretty horribly. That being said, I enjoyed the way she wrote and would still recommend this.

3. Breaking Bailey
The way that this girl wrote, I forgot multiple times that I was reading a diary and not an actual fiction novel. Her story is honestly crazy – she gets shipped off to boarding school, does well in her chemistry classes, and ends up in a group of honor students who make meth on the side. The story takes off right away, and is coupled with a love story as well with one of the other members of the club. At first she is living a dream, until the pressure of keeping up their supply on top of the intense course load (and more) comes crashing down on her. This one is easily one of my favorites and I will definitely be re-reading this again soon.

4. Letting Ana Go
As someone who has struggled with eating disorders, this book was definitely hard to read. Her struggle is so intense and while I thought I’d be able to relate to some of what she was feeling, that was not necessarily the case. My personal experience was clearly different, and I found her struggle to be much more extreme. What was frustrating about this story was that a lot of her negative habits were forced on her by her friend and her friend’s mom, rather than her own decisions. It’s hard to see this story play out, and I found the ending to be somewhat unrealistic (even though this is based on true events).

5. The Book of David
I didn’t think I would like this one, but it turned out to be one of my favorites! The story is based on a “big secret”, which turns out to be that the football team quarterback is gay and in love with the new kid. Because this took place around 2010, I was confused on why this was such a big secret. However, he grew up in Arkansas in a very conservative and religious town, so I have to remember that my high school experience is not always the norm. This became an adorable love story that honestly sounded super similar to the movie Love, Simon. I don’t know if this was the inspiration, but I loved reading this. It’s also noteworthy that this is the only novel that has a somewhat happy ending where the main character does not die and leave the diary behind.

There were more books available by another publisher, so maybe we will eventually make our way through those. Even though these books can get rather dark, they are also easy and quick reads that are often relatable at the core. Honestly these are some of my favorite books and now I can’t stop thinking about all the journals that I have or haven’t kept over the years..

Anyway. Thanks for reading!

New Tattoos (part two)

Well, I’ve gotten some new ink. My tattoo total is up to 12 now, but of course I’m far from done. I absolutely love the tattoos I’ve gotten in the past month or two, so I had to share:

 

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1. Mountains: A while ago, my sister got a tattoo of a simple line in the shape of a wave (similar to those wave rings you’ve probably seen on Instagram). I really liked the look and placement, although the beach and ocean does not mean the same to me as it does for my sister. Instead I took her inspiration and turned it into a mountainscape. I’ve always been drawn to mountains, and it’s part of the reason that I loved Tucson so much. Living in a town where you’re surrounded by beautiful mountains has been amazing, and I hope to always have a good mountain view in my life.

 

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2. That’s Amore: When my sister turned 18, I went with her to a parlor to purchase her first tattoo. We actually got coordinating tatts, where she has a lock and I have the key. When our cousin turned 18 this year, my sister extended the tradition down. Growing up, my cousin and my grams would sing the song “That’s Amore” before my cousin was fully able to read. Instead, Grams drew pictures for the moon, sky, a pizza pie, and then wrote the words “that’s amore”. My cousin, my sister and I all got the lyrics “that’s amore” in my grams’ handwriting, and it turned out absolutely adorable on everyone. Since my sister and cousin are on the east coast and I’m out in AZ, I wasn’t able to get tatted with them, but the sentiment still stands.

 

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3. Rainbow Dots: I’ve wanted something “gay” related for a long time, but I wasn’t ready to get a full on rainbow tattooed on myself. I thought about maybe just “BI” or something else subtle, but couldn’t find anything that I loved. My friend then sent me a tattoo she found on Instagram that had a line of dots in rainbow colors. It was so simple and beautiful, and I also loved the nod to R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. from my art days. This tattoos is so elegant and discrete, yet creative and unique and I absolutely am obsessed with it.

 

As always, more tattoos to come I’m sure!

Thanks for reading.

Over The Top by Jonathan Van Ness

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There has been A LOT of buzz around JVN’s new book! Of course I’ve been a huge fan of Jonathan Van Ness for a very long time, but I love how much media attention he’s been getting in the past year. Jonathan originally was known for his recap show Gay of Thrones, and then earned mainstream attention after becoming a member of Netflix’s Queer Eye‘s Fab Five. The book has made headlines this year because of the secrets that JVN opens up about in the book, and his bravery is insanely admirable.

In one of the episodes of Queer Eye, the Fab Five talk about coming out img_7955of the closet. Jonathan says something along the lines of, “Hello! The sky is blue. The grass is green.” meaning that there really was no “in the closet” for him. He was clearly and obviously flamboyant from a young age, and that left for a good amount of teasing while growing up. The story of his friend from the swim team is one that I’m sure many queer people can relate to: a friend where the lines get blurry and complicated… and then in the end.. awkward. It’s sad that there was so much shame in being gay in these small towns, because it can do a lot of damage.

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I really enjoyed reading about his reflections on past relationships. Speaking in the abstract makes everything so poetic and tragically beautiful. I could feel that when JVN talked about Sergei. They clearly cared so much about each other as humans, even if their demons constantly came between them. Their story hurt my heart, but the love was clear and present the whole journey. Who gave them permission to be so hauntingly gorgeous?!

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It was super exciting to see Jonathan go to Tucson for college! However, his experiences at the U of A were not entirely positive. He was clearly in a dark place at this point in his life, and he was searching for answers in some of the worst places. I appreciate his willingness to be open about his escort experience, which left him vulnerable and broken. I’m sure it was not easy for him to be honest about his behavior during this time, but I appreciated that he shared this in his writing. There are a lot of experiences within the male gay community that is swept under the rug, and JVN was able to bring some to light. During this time of darkness, he was luckily able to reach out to his family for the help he needed, and headed home to “start over”.

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Recovery, self-love, and mental health are things that JVN is always promoting, and it’s clearly as a result of his life experiences. His words on recovery are inspiring, and he is always reminding everyone to love themselves for where they are at. He says, “One thing I have come to notice in my life is that recovery for me has not been linear. It’s more two steps forward, three back, five forward, two back, so I’m always improving but there are setbacks within the improvement.”

I love Jonathan and every single itty bitty baby gorgeous thing he ever does, and I of course loved this book. But truthfully, I think he could have REALLY JVN 4dove into his dark places and gone even deeper. It definitely would take being EXTREMELY vulnerable to do this, as Jonathan as already revealed so so much in this book. Home girl has been through some shit! I just feel like there was so many stories and deep details that we didn’t get to hear, as he barely skimmed the surface of what he’s been through. He explains the the summary of the dark places, but I was so interested in his life of tricks and compulsivity, and so I definitely wanted a little more. Still, I totally know how hard that would be for JVN, who is very much connected to people worldwide with Queer Eye and his social media presence. I still absolutely applaud him for how much he did open up and reveal in the pages.

I love the way Jonathan combats the stigmas around HIV. This is such a significant conversation! Learning about being “undetectable” is so JVN 6incredibly important to educate people on the virus, and even I learned a lot from his writing. I’m so glad that JVN was recognized for this conversation in the media!! This really can help so many people to not only get the help they need, but also feel comfortable to live a full life while managing their diagnosis. It’s so wonderful that modern medicine can allow those who are diagnosed with HIV and AIDS to live a long lives. In the book, Jonathan mentions how his doctor said he would “go on to die of a heart attack or cancer just like everybody else.” – which is of course a morbid joke, but just shows where HIV is JVN 1in terms of a terminal diagnosis. 

 

 

Below are a list of resources provided by JVN in the book. Also, if you are a member of any community that may be high risk for HIV, please ask your doctor about PrEP, or visit the CDC website or What Is PrRP? or for more information.

Planned Parenthood
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
Phoenix House
The Trevor Project
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
Advocates for Youth
GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)
Peer Health Exchange
ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)

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He is fierce. He is real. He is raw. He gets into it, hunny! Jonathan gets sups vuln and you need to hear all the spilled tea. Grab your little baby copy wherever the finest of books are sold and come along for the gorgeous ride! Queer Eye is of course always available on Netflix – the Japan episodes were released not too long ago, and I know they were filming in Philly this summer!! JVN 2For all things JVN, you can visit jonathanvanness.com or follow him on social media @JVN.

“In general, if you can’t take me at my raw, heated moment, you don’t deserve me at my composed Emmys glam moment.” – Jonathan Van Ness, re-quoting Marilyn Monroe ♡

Thanks for reading!

Support LGBTQ Causes

Looking to get more involved in the LGBTQ+ community? Here are many amazing organizations and causes that are always looking for more support:

 

GLSEN-Safe-InclusiveGLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network): The leading national education organization, promoting anti-bullying through campaigns and gay-straight alliances in schools across the nation. Volunteer or donate at glsen.org or 212-727-0135.

hrc-foundationHuman Rights Campaign Foundation: A civil rights advocacy group who focuses largely on LGBTQ rights, marriage equality, and legislation changes that include hate-crimes and anti-discrimination movements. Volunteer or donate at hrc.org or 202-628-4160.

Lambda LegalLambda Legal: A defense and education fund that supports civil rights and provides legal services for the LGBTQ community as well as individuals living with HIV and AIDS.
Attorney’s can join the Cooperating Attorney Network within the organization, and anyone can volunteer or donate at lamdalegal.org or 212-809-8585.

PFLAGPFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays): An organization that promotes the health and wellness of LGBTW people and their loved ones through support groups and scholarship programs. Sign up or donate at pflag.org or 202-467-8180.

 

SageSage: A social group that provides health services, housing, and employement opportunties for LGBTQ senior citizens. Get involved or donate at sageusa.org or 212-741-2247.

 

Stonewall Community FoundationStonewall Community Foundation: A fundraiser to support LGBTQ non-profits and organizations in NYC, which includes scholarship programs that support refugees and asylum seekers. Donate at stonewallfoundation.org or 212-457-1341.

stonewall initiativeStonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative: The official and only charitable giving organization of the Historic Stonewall Inn, promoting tolerance and acceptance in communities across America. Get more information or donate at stonewallinitiative.org or 646-242-8382.

 

Take Back The PromTake Back The Prom: A DoSomthing campaign where thousands of students share stories and sign petitions to demand change from schools who still have discrimination policies. Students can access the Anxiety Line by texting PROM to 38383, or donate at takebacktheprom.com.

The Trevor ProjectThe Trevor Project:  A confidential hotline that provides crisis and suicide-prevention services, as well as resources for parents and educators. Volunteer to be trained to become a lifeline counselor or volunteer, or donate at thetrevorproject.org or 310-271-8845.

 

Now go get involved! Thanks for reading!

5 LGBT Historical Figures You Should Know

Even though Pride Month has officially ended, it’s still important to remember the people who paved the way for us to celebrate. My company’s internal Pride magazine has continued to show focus on the trailblazers that paved the way for the rest of us. So, here are 5 historical LGBTQ figures that you should most definitely know about:

 

harveymilk460Harvey Milk
The first openly gay elected official in the U.S., Harvey Milk was a civil and human rights activist who served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. His work in advocacy for the LGBTQ community was only beginning when he was assassinated less than just one year in office.

Bayard RustinBayard Rustin
A close adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin marched with on Washington as a black and gay man to fight for civil rights. He was one of the most effective influencers of the civil rights movement, and was nicknamed “Mr. March-on-Washington”.

Michael_DillonLaurence Michael Dillon
robertaBorn with the name Laura Maud, Laurence Michael Dillon was the first person to undergo FTM gender reassignment surgery.  He was a British physician, but when his story was revealed to the world, he fled to India and became a Monk. Roberta Cowell is also noteworthy, as she was the first to undergo a surgical MTF transition.

Simon NkoliSimon Nkoli
Experiencing extreme discrimination, Simon Nkoli was a South Africa native that was one of the first Black anti-apartheid activists to publicly identify as gay and HIV-positive. He was diagnosed while in prison for protesting, and eventually died of an AIDS related illness.

herculineHerculine Barbin
Assigned female at birth but later reclassified by law as male, Herculine Barbin was the first person to be labeled as intersex. Herculine eventually changed their name to Abel, and died by suicide at the age of 30 after much medical scrutiny.  (Note: There are no confirmed pictures of Herculine Barbin, so the above picture may not be accurate.)

 

gay   Thanks for reading!

For more information on these amazing people, please visit:  
milkfoundation.org/ ;  
kinginstitute.edu/rustin-bayard ;  
http://library.transgenderzone.com/ ;  
www.sahistory.org.za/tseko-simon-nkoli ;  
Herculine Barbin, By Michel Foucault

Coming Out: An Update

Wow. You all really showed up for my last post, huh? I mean, I post links to this blog all the time and I’ve never gotten the buzz that I did last week. A whopping ten people felt compelled to click and read what I had to say about JVN, but over one hundred of you wanted to get the details once it got super personal. I guess everyone wants in on the spilled T.

Let me just say that my parents are very understanding and open-minded people, and I never for one second thought that this was going to be an issue in my family. Truthfully, I was very much under the impression that they probably already knew. I had been playing with the idea of “coming out”, not even knowing if I felt the need to. This never felt like some deep dark secret to me, so I didn’t feel like I had to make some grand announcement.

Well, apparently that’s what I did last week.

When I wrote that post, I wasn’t thinking about who would read it – I know what my stats usually looked like, and there’s not often a lot of traffic. If anything, I thought it would just be helpful for me to write this out and maybe to collect my thoughts and figure out what I wanted exactly. Looking back, I’m regretful that I made that post public before talking to my parents. I think I was just trying to figure things out for myself, and I didn’t think it all the way through. Sitting someone down and telling them about my sexuality didn’t seem like the right thing for me personally to do, but maybe it’s also about who is on the other end of that conversation as well. I certainly didn’t mean for all these conversations to be had without me there.

That being said, I’ve had wonderful conversations with my parents and I feel really good about where things are right now. There was a lot of open dialogue that I knew would be there whenever I was ready to have it. And of course, there was a lot of love that will always be there to make me wildly uncomfortable when directly pointed my way.

So to anyone reaching out to my family members asking if they “are okay”, yeah they’re fucking great, thanks for asking.

To anyone who has reached out to me directly, thank you so much and please know that I really appreciated your words. It was very validating to hear from other bisexuals, and having that support means a lot.

I’ll try not to get on my soapbox about this, but it’s annoying that I had to “come out”. It’s annoying that the default is set to ‘straight’. It’s annoying that I have to tell everyone if it’s different. And it’s annoying that once I do, it’s a hot topic of conversation. I know I’m not a very private person, and I don’t really have secrets of my own. But being bisexual somehow by default gave me this secret that I never even wanted to keep in the first place. I will admit that while I usually love having all of the attention on me, I think I would do things just a little bit differently if I was given a second chance.

This whole experience was truly more than I signed up for. Without meaning to, I made myself feel exposed, uncomfortable, and embarrassed. But now, I also feel relieved, supported, and content. I’m out! And I’m totally done paying my gay dues for now.

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Thanks for reading.

Bisexuality

Hi, I’m Gina and I am bisexual – this may or may not be the first time you are hearing this, but it is most definitely not the first time I have said this.

I’ve known that I was attracted to both men and women from a very young age, even if I didn’t have the terminology for it. I spent most of my youth under the presumption that people are either gay or straight, and there weren’t really any other options. I always liked boys and never had any trouble feeling comfortable around them, so in my head that meant I must be straight. Sure, when I was alone I spent time finding Tumblr videos of girls kissing, but I was kissing boys in real life, so come on I must be straight, right????

If you get super super technical, the first person I ever kissed was a girl. I don’t really consider this my “first kiss”, because we were just little girls playing stupid games and it wasn’t anything meaningful – I may not have even been 10 years old yet. In middle school I started kissing boys and having boyfriends, and I was always a little ahead of my friends in terms of “experience”.

In high school, I had a female friend who I got super close with, got drunk for the first time with, and had my first lesbian experience with. The experience itself was very PG, but this was the first time where I was kissing a girl who was kissing me back and it was intentional – even if heavily influenced by alcohol. After my straight guy friends learned about this, there was a lot of encouragement whenever we were drinking for me to make out with the other girls. I happily obliged of course, but I continued to date guys exclusively. By the end of high school, I had probably kissed just as many girls as I had guys, but I only had experience past that with the guys, and I had never been romantically involved with a girl.

This didn’t change much as I entered college and I continued to be involved with men romantically, but fantasizing about women in my alone time. I was still under the impression that I was straight, I just figured I was more sexually open than most people. I believed myself to be more open in general than most, so I didn’t put too much extra thought into my sexuality as a whole.

Enter the world of Tinder. Tinder became a thing sometime while I was still in college and it was common on my campus. As I set up my profile to start swiping, I was faced with filling out some preferences:

Are you interested in:
○ Men
○ Women
○ Both

Both? OMG. BOTH?! IS THAT AN OPTION?! CAN I DO THAT?!

Both. BOTH!

That’s when things clicked for me. That’s when I stopped thinking that I had to be on one side or the other, either gay or straight, and maybe I could actually sit somewhere on the fence.

I clicked both, and started swiping on both men and women.

For a while, this was just an internal thought. I hadn’t fully identified with the word “bisexual” yet, even if I had rolled it around in my head a few times. Even though I was matching with and talking to girls on Tinder, I wasn’t meeting up with any of them in real life and was instead still spending my time involved with men. I even started dating someone towards the end of college, and I would think to myself, “I’ll explore girls more if/when we break up.” In my head, I had put my sexuality on hold (even though I was still swiping and talking with girls here and there when my boyfriend was being a dick).

By the time we broke up, I was sure that this was something I wanted to explore. I had had plenty of experiences with men, and I wanted to bring my female experiences up to par. I started hooking up with a girl that I had a crush on who was sort of in my friend group and identified as a lesbian. When our friends first got wind that we were a thing, they asked me if I was a lesbian also. This was the first time I said the words out loud: “Nope, I’m bi.”

* Insert fireworks and celebration sound effects here *

Since then, I’ve dated both men and women openly and happily. I spent over a year in a relationship with a man, and now that I am single again I would like to focus more on being with women. I believe my sexuality will always be fluid and I will always pride myself in having an open mind and an open heart.

That’s as much of a “coming out” story as I have so far. My friends have kind of organically learned about it over the past several years as I told them about my involvement with different people. I’m open about it with new people I meet and become involved with. My coworkers all know I am openly bisexual and I even indicated this in my voluntary demographics.

However, I never had that serious sit down with my parents (if you’re reading this – sorry, Mom and Dad!) where I look them in the eye and tell this deep dark secret that I’ve been hiding for years and wait to see if I still have their approval. It’s not like that for me – it wasn’t something I was ever “hiding”, it was something I was still figuring out. I also don’t need anyone’s approval about it, not that I think anyone would really have an issue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about telling them in some way that was maybe more casual, but it’s been hard for me to conceptualize the right words. There’s a lot of stigma that comes with the word “bisexual” (watch the Hulu show, The Bisexual), and I think this could be potentially difficult to navigate with my parents. That being said, I want to be open and honest with my family. I would also feel bad if they were to learn about it from someone that wasn’t me, making them feel sad that I wasn’t the one to tell them. Maybe I’m dealing with having some feelings of guilt or something, that’s for my therapist to figure out. The point is that I have gotten to a place now where I would like them to know.

So, instead of coming out in some formal way, I’ve been passive aggressively reposting outwardly bisexual things to my Instagram story and allowing my family to view them. Not kidding – my parents both have Instagrams and see everything that I post and I’ve just been making it semi/extremely obvious:

 

b1b2b3b4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I being too subtle?

So yeah, that’s my experience so far. To be honest, I feel pretty good about it overall. And I’m excited about what is to come in the future.

Thanks for reading!

Podcast Favorites #4

podcast  ANOTHER round of my current favorite podcast suggestions! (#1, #2, #3)

UPDATES:

This is Love podcast

This Is Love – New episodes are finally available! I’m not sure what the reason was for the gap, but new episodes are now actively being released. My favorite will always be the episode about the swimmer who saved the baby whale, but this podcast continues to explore the word “love” and all it entails.

the news

BuzzFeed News Reporting To You

Reporting to you / The News by Buzzfeed News – I guess there is something going on at Buzzfeed, because both of these shows have taken a hiatus. Reporting to you actually announced this on the show as a way to let everyone know, so I am hoping that means that they will be back up and running after some time and planning.

ITSAGGGGP

It’s A Gay, Gay, Gay, Gay Podcast – Wow, so.. a lot going on here. First of all, this is the one and only podcast for which I have joined the Patreon page! I’m such a big fan of Fagsy Malone and when he wavered with whether or not to keep the podcast, I was quick to sign up for his Patreon. If you are a die-hard fan of any podcast that has a Patreon option, I highly recommend. It’s a great way to get the chance to interact with the podcast host, as they are posting things that allow you to like and comment directly. You also get early access to episodes plus some content that is saved just for members. I wouldn’t do that for everyone, but definitely this podcast. ALSO, the fire that devastated Malibu has also greatly affected this podcast, as Fagsy lost his home in the fire. His whole podcast was dedicated to the creatures of Malibu, so this is certainly not an easy time for him or the podcast. If you would like to make a donation to help, the Go Fund Me page can be found here.

LGBTQ:

LGBT StoriesLGBT Stories – These stories are really powerful. There are tons of things ranging from coming out stories, to transphobic experiences, and lots of obstacles that were overcome. People are generous enough to share their personal journey and what they have seen as a result of being a part of the LGBTQ community. Each story is personal and individual to the person sharing, and people have been very willing to open up. There is a lot of heartbreaking material here, as people talk about the lack of acceptance that they experienced within their life, but there’s also so much to learn and grow from as well. These stories are important and need to be heard by those both in and outside of the community.

QueerAF#QueerAF – More LGBTQ stories here! Told in accents! This podcast came from the National Student Pride organization to talk about different topics, ideas, and events within the community. It’s honestly very similar to LGBT Stories, just more content to listen to. There are so many people who have struggled to get to where they are today because of how the world perceived them. Everyone should challenge themselves to understand each other better and be kind to others. We should celebrate each others victories and stand next to each other as allies. So yeah, listen!

Bisexual Real Talk

Bisexual Real Talk – When I’m in a relationship with a man, I look straight. If I was in a relationship with woman, I’d look gay. There is a lack of visibility into bisexuals as a result, and we are largely misrepresented in the media. The show breaks down different people, places, material, events, and more from the bisexual point of view. To be honest, there are some ideas that I don’t always agree with, but it’s so important to be having these conversations. The more we talk about it, the more seen we are. However, recently the host posted regarding possibly taking a hiatus, so there is a chance that we don’t see new content here.

POP CULTURE:

Pop TalkPop Talk – Let me just say, there will never be enough of Ross Mathews in the world, no matter what!! Pop talk is a podcast hosted by Ross and Trish Suhr talking about all things happening in pop culture. They go through top stories of the week, breaking news, funny stories, and do it all with hilarious banter. Ross also spends an episode breaking down some of the most iconic pop culture breaking news references throughout history, going back to before stories were able to ‘break the internet’. Trish and Ross make such a dynamic duo, and hearing their opinions on the tabloid tidbits will brighten up your day for sure.

Reality Steve

Reality Steve – Reality TV fans – specifically Bachelor nation, Survivor fans, the Challenge, and more – Steve is here with your spoilers! The first episode I ever listened to was Steve’s interview with Jordan Kimball, where they talked about the drama going on in his relationship with Jenna after the weird texts were discovered. People in the reality TV world really trust Steve as a source of information for both spoilers but also explanations after drama unfolds. His podcast is full of interviews with some of your favorite (or not so favorite) reality TV stars, and he also does advice episodes called ‘He said, She said.” The advice episodes can be pretty intense and deep for how lighthearted a lot of his interviews can be. Either way, there’s a lot of good stuff in here if you’re a fan of the world of reality television.

Comments by CelebsComments By Celebs – My sister turned me on to this Instagram account, which amazingly catches the hilarious and awesome comments that celebrities leave on each other’s posts. For example, the other day, Halsey put up a post where she expressed having writers block to the extent that everything sounded like a Beatles song rip off – to which John Mayer commented, “I can be over to break your heart in 20?” The Instagram @CommentsByCelebs of course caught this along with SO MANY OTHER AMAZING THINGS EVER DAY. The podcast does a round up of all the wonderful ways that celebrities are interacting with each other along with celeb updates and insider information. For all your celebrity gossip, listen here.

COMEDY:

Fairly Normal

Prinze and the Wolf

Prinze and The Wolf – So I am just a gigantic fan of Josh Wolf’s. I listen to his regular podcast religiously and have binged on almost everything he has created audio-wise – except for this podcast… Until now! Since I finally made my way through Josh’s other podcasts so I now have room in my life for him and Freddie Prinze Jr. The two of them are hilarious comedy surrounding good stories, current events, guests and more. To be honest, I really just enjoy anytime Scooby Doo is mentioned. Also worth mentioning, Josh has added recordings of his YouTube series “Controlled Chaos” to his podcast episodes on Fairly Normal and they are HILARIOUS. 

Not Safe

You Up

You Up / Not Safe with Nikki Glaser – I used to be a big fan of Nikki Glaser when she had her TV Show Not Safe on Comedy Central and I re-discovered her when she was on the most recent season of Dancing with the Stars. Nikki’s podcast Not Safe is from a couple of years ago, and there are roughly 30 or so episodes available. If you enjoy Nikki’s comedy and sense of humor, then it’s worth going back to listen to them all. You Up is a Sirius XM Radio show that Nikki hosts that lasts over hours and hours, and this podcast breaks down the funniest clips from the week. It’s quick but really fun and lighthearted with the classic Nikki Glaser humor twisted in. New episodes every Friday make for a good and funny start to the weekend.

OTHER:

DragCon

Rupaul’s Drag Con – When I went to DragCon NYC this year, I was lucky enough to make it into a taping of an episode of Rupaul’s podcast, What’s the T? with Michelle Visage. As a listener of the podcast, I wanted to hear it again played back once it was released. Upon waiting for that particular episode, I stumbled upon the DragCon podcast. I’ll be honest and say I haven’t figured everything out here – at first, I thought it was just recordings of all the panels that were given during DragCon. I was able to listen to a taping of one of the panels I recognized from DragCon NYC but was unable to make. There are other tapings of panels from the LA DragCon as well, and some random clips from either previous years or interviews leading up to DragCon. So I guess this is just all things DragCon. Unfortunately, however, not all of the panels were recorded and are available and new episodes are not released consistently. But, I’m hoping for new and good things to come soon!

world news roundup

World News Roundup – Well, since my normal news podcasts are currently on a hiatus, I had to find a new way to keep up to date on current events. Luckily, CBS news has a daily podcast with the top trending stories so that I can stay in-the-know. I will say, the one thing I loved about Buzzfeed news was their style, and the World News Roundup is a little more “news broadcast”y that what I was used to. It’s still everything I want – quick, informative, relevant, and a good start to the day.

I really have QUITE a list of podcasts that I keep up with regularly, but I am always welcome to more content! Please feel free to comment or send me any suggestions or recommendations as well as thoughts or really anything else.

Thanks for reading!

The Bisexual (TV Show)

NEW SHOW TO WATCH ASAP!! STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND START BINGING!!bisexual 3Hulu recently released a new British TV series from Channel 4 called The Bisexual. 6 episodes were released in October, each about 30 minutes in length.

The main character of the show (Leila) is ending a 10 year relationship with a woman and begins to explore relationship with men. She struggles with her identity and how to label herself, as she isn’t comfortable with the term “bisexual.”

The main goal of the show is to break through the stereotypes of bisexuality in hopes of moving forward.

As a bisexual, I found this show incredibly relatable. I’m continuously being seen one way or the other depending on who I am with – appearing straight with men but gay with women. It’s hard to truly be seen as a bisexual, and even when we are seen, we are incredibly oversexualized. It’s difficult to point out bisexuals in the media, and sometimes this is seen as a phase or something we will grow out of. Straight people may see me as gay while the gay community may see me as straight. Bisexuality is not always recognized and not always taken seriously.

These are the ideas that this show explored for me.

There were two specific scenes within this amazing set of episodes that really hit home to me on a personal level: one as a bisexual, and the other simply as a human.

The first scene deals with some of the connotations surrounding the word bisexual and what associations the main character makes when she hears the word:

Gabe: Do you think that maybe, you’re a bisexual?

Leila: I don’t like that word.

Gabe: Why not?

Leila: When you hear “bisexual”, you think like, Tila Tequila. And you think, Anne Heche.

Gabe: Who?

Leila: Exactly. There’s nobody. There’s no precedence. When I hear “bisexual” I think, “lame slut.” It’s tacky. It’s gauche. It makes you seem disingenuous – like your genitals have no allegiance. You know? Like you have no criteria for people. It’s there’s just an open door policy. It’s not a nice thing to be, it’s not a cool thing to be, and it makes my fucking skin crawl.

HA. And there it is. All the wonderful stereotypes that come along with bisexuality wrapped up in one wonderful paragraph. We are considered promiscuous and indecisive attention-seekers with a lack of heart and no commitment to anything. Hearing all of these things said out loud was freeing to me. It made me laugh, and it made me proud. And it made me excited to tear it all down.

The other scene that hit home to me was regarding intimacy and experiences with other people:

Jon-Cris: How many people have you been this intimate with?

Leila: Like had sex with?

Jon-Cris: No, no, how many people have you laid in bed with all day and held hands with, talked about your childhood with, how many like five? More than five?

Leila: I don’t know.

Jon-Cris: More than ten?

Leila: Why does it matter?

Jon-Cris: Because you can’t just open someone up and make then feel safe and then change your mind the next day. It makes your intimacy worth shit. You are an emotional intimacy whore.

Damn. I felt that shit waaaay too hard. I’ve found a lot of meaning in my relationships, even if I’m not a fan of what a standard serious relationship might look like. I’ve bonded with people on so many levels and in so many different ways that all hold significance to me. Hearing these words and thinking about what my answer might have been definitely made me think – am I also an emotional intimacy whore? Is it wrong that I have the ability to connect deeply with someone, even if its temporary?bisexual 2I recorded these two scenes on my phone and played them for myself over and over, hearing each word and how they made me feel. Overall, it made me feel proudly misunderstood. People of all communities seem to forget that the B in LGBTQ hold substance, and there are a large amount of people who identify with this word. We are curious people of course, but we are also so many other things.

the bisexual

Most importantly, we are individuals. And all of our journeys are different in their own way.

So yeah, please go watch this show. It holds a lot of significance to me, and I hope to other bisexuals as well.

Thanks for reading.

Election Diversity!!

rainbow waveFor the first time in a long time, I am feeling hopeful about the future and inspired by much of the election results. There is so much to be celebrated, and there are many “firsts” in office. There are a record number of women holding seats in the House and more than 100 LGBTQ candidates that emerged victorious as of Wednesday afternoon.* I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER ABOUT IT. Let’s celebrate these accomplishments and keep this momentum going!!

  • Abby Finkenauer and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest women elected to congress.
  • Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first navtive american women elected to congress, and Sharice is also a member of the LGBTQ community as well.
  • Ilhan Omar and Fashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to congress, and Ilhan will be the first to wear a hijab.
  • Jared Polis became the first openly gay man elected governor in the US.
  • Kate Brown, previously became the first openly bisexual woman elected governor in 2016, was reelected.
  • MANY OPENLY LGBTQ MEMBERS WERE ELECTED INTO CONGRESS, including Tammy Baldwin, Jared Polis, David Cicilline, Sean Patrick Malony, Krysten Sinema, Mark Pocan, Mark Takano
  • Other LGBTQ members of the house include Angie Craig, Chris Pappas, and more.

election

These faces give me hope that the best of times are still ahead of us.

#Wave

Thanks for reading.

Images from instagram @refinery29 @glaad @nowthisnews
Woman and LGBTQ members in office, according to *NBCnews.com

Podcast Favorites #2

podcast  As I become more of an active podcast listener, I have stumbled upon many more favorites to recognize. Additionally, some shows mentioned in my first podcast post needed some updating. Here it goes:

UPDATES:

anna faris no esta

Anna Faris No Está Calificada – Good news: one of my favorite podcasts is now available in Spanish! The same episode available in English is copied in a second language, which is awesome for a Spanish learner. Bad news: only one episode was released, several weeks ago, so I am unsure if I should expect this to continue.

This Is Love

This Is Love – Bad news: A new episode has not been released since March. I am not sure if the show is expected to continue at this time. Good news: There are still six really great episodes to listen to, and I do highly recommend them all!

Tiny Leaps, Big ChangesTiny Leaps, Big Changes – Bad news: I had this show categorized under “Short, Daily Listens” and I stopped listening because they were no longer that – short or daily. He went through a period of long interviews released inconsistently and I grew uninterested and therefore, I unsubscribed. Good news: I checked back today out of curiosity, and it looks as though this guy has gotten back into his normal rhythm. I am considering putting this one back on my list, even though I am not as interested as I once was.

spotify-new-music-friday-artworkNew Music Friday – Bad news: these guys released three episodes and then never returned. See ya. Good news: you can still listen to new music every Friday delivered to you in a playlist on Spotify.

the news

The News, From BuzzFeed News – I am still a big fan of Reporting To You From BuzzFeedNews, and their new show is very good as well. Same idea – relevant news stories, but now delivered as a weekly summary each Saturday. Episodes are roughly 20 minutes long so it’s still an easy and quick listen.

 

Women Representation:

female criminalsFemale Criminals – The whole premise of this show is behind the fact that when someone mentions a serious criminal, you might not immediately picture a women. This show dives into the minds of famous criminals such as Bonnie of Bonnie and Clyde, the Columbian drug lord Grisela Blanco, and many famous serial killers. My only critique is that I wished that some of the stories did not carry over into two episodes, but all the stories are still worth the listen.

Lx7JYlnK_400x400

The Bechdel Cast – I recently wrote a post about The Bechdel Test which challenges female representation in film. This podcast’s group of women dives into different movies and analyzes how women are portrayed in both new films and the classics. The tone is light and funny while also highlighting a lot of important feminist ideas and issues. I recommend going through their list of available episodes and listening to where your favorite movies fall on the “nipple scale.”

 

LGBTQ:

ITSAGGGGP

It’s A Gay, Gay, Gay, Gay Podcast with Mr. Malone – Fagsy Malone (who is currently attempting to drop the nickname “Fagsy”) walks through what a typical day in Malibu is like. Famous neighbors, an art class of children, and fun interviews with a motley crew. I really enjoy the deep ideas explored here as well as the light-heartedness that comes with a glorious Malibu morning. Fagsy also has a podcast called “Under the Bus with Fagsy” where I don’t believe he will be posting any future episodes, but they are still worth the listen if you enjoy his sense of humor. JUUUUDY! Ugh, too much.

josh and ross

Josh & Ross (he said, he said) – This show is actually super old… like, 5 or 6 years old… but it’s entertaining as hell. Of course I found this show as a result of Ross Mathew’s current podcast, Straight Talk with Ross (this is the show Ross had with comedian Josh Wolfe in 2012 and 2013 prior to starting Straight Talk), and this show feels a lot like an old school radio show. The content is absolutely hilarious and is great to put in my ears while I work.

what's the teeRuPaul’s What’s The Tee? – I started listening to this naturally because I watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, BUT the podcast doesn’t actually talk too much about Drag Race overall. There are some guest judges and favorite contestants that make appearances on episodes of the show, but most of the conversation does not surround the competition. Instead Ru and Michelle Visage talk about contemporary issues, tell their stories and families, go through challenges they have faced, and more. Oh and don’t forget about different wig, nail and make up tricks that are Ruvealed! All Tee all shade.

As I said before, if anyone has any recommendations or hosts their own podcast, please feel free to leave a comment!

Thanks for reading.