I was having a pretty hard time coming up with something to talk about for today’s prompt of #PrideLibrary19, which is ‘book rainbow’. But then the lovely Ben over at Ace of Bens tagged me in their 30 Days of Pride Tag, so they basically handed me something fun to talk about today! Thank you for the tag, Ben!
This tag consists of 11 questions based on the colours of the rainbow pride flag and what they symbolise, and Ben added the following rules and notes:
- Credit the original author of the tag — Ace Of Bens
- Make sure you copy and paste these rules and notes at the beginning of the tag.
- Tag as many or as few people as you’d like!
- This tag originally uses the word “queer” as an umbrella term for the LGBTQ+ community, but you are free to change it to whatever term or abbreviation you are most comfortable with for your own post.
- You don’t have to be out to be proud of who you are. Therefore, you can still do this tag if you aren’t out to everyone you know, as long as you feel comfortable and safe doing it!
- Don’t feel obligated to answer all of these questions or to even do this if you are tagged. I want this to be a fun pride month post, not a source of anxiety for anyone.
- Happy Pride Month!
So let’s get into my answers!!
Who Is Your Favorite Queer Celebrity/Creator Of Color?
For music I’m loving Janelle Monáe, Keiynan Lonsdale, and Hayley Kiyoko. My favourite LGBTQ+ authors of colour are Nic Stone, Adam Silvera, Kacen Callendar, Adib Khorram, Anna-Marie McLemore, and many more.
Name A Piece Of Media (Movie, TV Show, Book, Podcast, Etc.) With Queer Representation That You Admire For Its Overall Diversity.
I have to agree with Ben here, and go with Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is the superior comedy show when it comes to diversity. But I also really love One Day At a Time (#SaveODAAT!), and I think Sense8 is one of the most beautifully filmed shows ever made. It really captures the diverse beauty of the world, and I’m still sad that it ended.
What Are Your Sexual And Romantic Orientations And Gender Identity? (If You’re Comfortable Sharing!)
In short, I prefer to use “queer” as a label. It’s a term I find very comfortable, and it makes me feel like I can breathe in deeper because of the freedom it gives me to be who I am.
But in case you’re interested, I’m technically bi aroace and questioning my gender identity. While I love knowing which specific labels apply to me, so I can understand myself better, I also don’t really want to feel like I have to defend those labels to other people. Because my identity is not up for debate, but every time someone implies it is, that still hurts, even though I know I’m valid.
What Point Of Your Life Were You At When You First Learned About The Queer Community? What Point Were You At When You Realized You Were A Part Of It?
I must have learned about queer identities as a child, but I don’t really remember how and when. I was always raised to be accepting, but I can’t say I knew a lot about queer identities, and I certainly didn’t apply them to myself as a kid/teen, because my understanding was pretty limited then. I just figured I couldn’t be a lesbian because I’d never fallen in love with a girl, and I wasn’t a boy so that must mean I was cis. In hindsight, me having to tell myself I couldn’t be a lesbian is very telling because I can’t imagine straight girls have to tell themselves that a lot, but I held on to this sort of heteronormativity for years, assuming I would end up falling in love with a guy at some point and feeling quite ashamed of never even having kissed anyone (completely ignoring the fact that I really didn’t want to, either).
It wasn’t until a year or two ago that I started to realize I’m queer myself. I think it took me such a long time to figure out because I had so many preconceived ideas of what it meant to be queer and those ideas didn’t apply to me personally. After being diagnosed with autism, I started realizing more about myself, and that gave me the space to also start questioning my sexual and romantic orientation, and my gender identity (which I’m still unsure about). What really helped with that, was coming across more labels online and broadening my queer vocabulaire, so to say.
Community Is A Huge Part Of Healing. How Has This Community Helped You Become More Comfortable In Your Own Skin?
The online community has actually helped me figure out my identity in the first place. I don’t think I would have been very likely to learn about asexuality or aromanticism or anything like that if it hadn’t been for social media, and that’s made all the difference in the world.
And once I had figured out I’m queer, it was amazing to find so many other queer people in the book community, and to make so many queer friends online, and even friends who are queer and autistic! It’s definitely helped me understand myself better and learn to love who I am.
What Is Something About The Queer Community And/Or Culture That Makes You Happy? Something You Find Joy Or Light In.
I’m mostly active in the queer book community, so I’ll answer this question for that specifically. But I’m mainly happy to see everyone have each other’s backs. I’ve met so many lovely people who are so supportive of everyone in the community. There is still a lot of exclusionist bullshit going on, and that hurts, but it’s great to see the vast majority standing up against gatekeepers and celebrating all different queer identities.
And what makes me especially happy is the sheer amount of LGBTQ+ (YA) books being released, because that has really increased over the past couple of years. So many identities are getting represented, and it really warms my heart. Of course there’s still a long way to go, but I think it’s also important to acknowledge that what we have is so much better than what we had, like, 10 years ago. I truly think I would have understood myself so much sooner had I been able to read about different queer identities in fiction as a teenager.
How Have You Grown Since Last Pride Month?
I… I wasn’t even out last Pride Month. I remember posting something vague on Instagram like “Happy Pride Month to everyone in the LGBTQ+ community” and leaving out that that included me, too. So I’d say I’ve grown a lot since then.
I did already know I was asexual, but I hadn’t really told many people yet, and it took me a little longer to come to terms with being aromantic as well. I think because I was still holding on to these normative ideas of what my life was supposed to look like, and it was very clear to me that I never want to have sex with anyone (I’m personally sex-repulsed, even though I’m very sex-positive in general. “You do you, just don’t do me”, basically.) But it was less obvious to me that I also don’t experience romantic attraction, because I do love romance in media, for instance.
When You Found A Label That Fit Or Realized You Were Queer In Some Way, Was Your Moment Of Realization A Magical Feeling Of Relief?
YES! Every time I found another label that applied to me, it has been such a relief! The biggest lie I’ve ever believed is that I would just magically know if I wasn’t straight, because compulsive heterosexuality is one hell of a drug. There was always this part of me that realized I was different from most of my peers but didn’t understand how. I was never interested in dating or anything like that. And quite honestly, I internalized that and believed the reason was that I’m fat and other people just didn’t find me attractive. I completely disregarded not being attracted to anyone and tried to find external reasons. And of course that’s all utter bullshit, but it’s the kind of bullshit that takes a long time to unlearn…
The hugest feeling of relief was getting my autism diagnosis, actually. That’s really changed everything, because it explains so much in hindsight. And like I said, it’s also given me the space to figure out other aspects of my identity. Which has been a huge relief all around.
I’ve kind of been figuring out my labels one by one, and it feels like they click together like puzzle pieces every time I become sure of another one. The most recent one has been that I’ve realized I’m also bi, and I’m super relieved about that! I have been suspecting that for quite a while now, but I’ve just become sure of it over the past few weeks. It seems very obvious in hindsight but I always assumed literally everyone thought girls were reaaally pretty, haha! Can’t believe I had to turn 26 to realize this about myself, but here we are. Hopefully I’ll have another of those moments of relief in the future, when (if) I figure out my gender identity!
Would You Say You’re At A Point Of Self-Discovery That You’ve Found Inner Peace With Your Gender And Sexual Identities?
Yes and no. I’m definitely happy to be queer. I feel like it explains a lot about myself and the way I look at the world that I didn’t previously understand. And I have the huge privilege of living in a very accepting environment. I am still very unsure about my gender identity though, and that’s something that gives me quite a lot of anxiety at times.
And something else I’m not quite at peace with is the process of coming out. I’ve quickly come to realize that coming out is awful and horrible, even though my experiences have been nothing but positive, which I do realize is a huge privilege. I’ve talked to my parents a couple of times about asexuality, aromanticism and questioning my gender, and they’ve been entirely understanding and supportive, even if I had to explain all of those labels to them. And my sister has just been all around amazing. I told a few friends about being aroace as well, and they have been very supportive too.
But it’s still… stressful, and even if you know someone is 99% likely to accept you, you still brace yourself for their response because of possibly ignorant questions or assumptions. I somehow used to think you could just come out once and that would be it, ha! This is actually part of why I prefer to use “queer” as a label, so I don’t have to “update” people when it comes to any possible changes in my labels and explain and defend those. And I’ve basically resorted to posting all the queer content on my social media, knowing that half my family and friends and acquaintances follow me there. I even forgot to come out to one of my best friends, who will likely have found out through my Instagram as well… I might talk to her about it at some point, but I’ll just wait for the right moment, I guess.
How Are You Getting Into The Spirit Of Pride Month?
I’m not really able to attend any celebrations (because sensory issues), so I mainly celebrate online. And I’m having so much fun hosting #PrideLibrary19 with my friends. It also makes me so happy to have found so many LGBTQ+ people in the book community!! If you’re one of those people, please know I really appreciate you!
Tagging: Alex @ Alex Reads Books, Cristian @ The Bookish God, Michelle @ Michelle Likes Things, Kathy @ Books and Munches, Romie @ Romie We Deserve Love, and everyone who’d like to join! Please don’t feel obliged to participate though.