It Takes Two– A Pride Month Themed Book Review

alisa-anton-632369-unsplashI promised you a Bookworms post today didn’t I?

So here I am, with two YA books for you that each touch on LGBT topics and a bigger picture of love or adjusting to who we are that tie them both together.

As two very different novels, I chose these because one was about something I know almost nothing of and the other was something that I think could be relatable for anyone, whether or not you identify with the community.

They’re about growing up and living live as we are, after all, I think that’s something we’ve all gone through. So without further ado, here we go.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe–  Benjamin Alire Sáenz

diego-duarte-cereceda-714994-unsplash.jpgThis book is full of tender moments that still surprise me to be pulled into through the pages. Aristotle watches his life move around him, his parents changing while his own perspectives do, as he figures out who they are alongside himself.

We watch him grow up as the story plays out and his story is wonderfully written.

One line stuck with me that I believe sums up the novel quite well, something I think many people have thought before:

“When do we start feeling like the world belongs to us?

I used to wonder this myself, now questioning whether or not it ever will. Dante and Aristotle both explore this as their friendship changes throughout the chapters. Even more than a book about sexuality or growing up, it’s a story about love and adapting to change. Each relationship is no longer what it began as, exploring what it means to be a parent or a friend and what that looks like from the outside. redd-angelo-11901-unsplash

Aristotle’s character goes through a lot, from the anger and the loss he feels to the disconnection and anticipation within his own life. Add these feelings in with the violence he experiences toward the LGBT community, the kind that many people forget truly happens, and we realize just how hard it can be to sometimes accept who we are. Especially when other people don’t.

That is the journey of this book.

Through intensely real characters, a strongly interwoven Latino culture, and the mind of a boy who’s just trying to understand it all along the way, it’s about love just as much as it’s about trying to hold the world in your hands when it never quite seems to fit right.

It’s about trying to discover the secrets of the universe.

The Symptoms of Being Human– Jeff Garvin

scott-webb-270034-unsplash.jpgFirst of all, there’s a Bratz doll that comes up in this book and when I read those pages, I could feel that same doll in my 7 year old hands. Talk about nostalgia. This book is the epitome of high school drama surrounded by the confusion of growing up feeling misunderstood. You’ve got classic lunch scenes, the misfits, the popular people so clearly in the wrong, and teachers that never see anything.

Maybe it’s a cliche— maybe it’s also true.

What struck me about this book is how closely Riley’s struggles could relate to thousands of young people while at the same time, be so specific to one experience that it goes both ways. Because part of me understands exactly what the character was going through, a lot of it happens to all of us in some shape or form. The bullying, the distance from people we love, the adolescent angst, the list goes on.

The other part of me was thrown into a world where gender fluidity is more real than it ever has been. I personally have never experienced it nor do I have any close friends that openly identify with it, so if anything this book was an inside look into a life that I’ve never had. And I can empathize with Riley’s struggles.erol-ahmed-255854-unsplash

Because growing up, things get pretty confusing pretty quickly. We all get that. Especially in high school, everything is always changing. But through Riley, Solo, and several other characters, their personalities were there along with a whole lot of information about something most people don’t understand.

What this book lacked was a solid foundation for a plot. If you want a good story with a solid plot that isn’t too predictable, this might not be what you’re looking for. But if you’re looking for a little more understanding of gender fluidity and the possibilities of what that can mean, this is a good place to start. As long as you don’t stop here.

For we’ve all got a whole lot to learn in today’s world. Thanks to the internet, now we can.

Also, if anyone has read this, did you hear catch Folsom Prison reference in chapter 6? Classic, all we need is a Johnny Cash mention and my little hometown is on the map.


So thanks for sticking around for these two books and if you check them out, let me know what you think! I’ll see you all on Friday.

5 Things YOU Need to Know About Pride Month

“Pride has to resonate from within;shine out to everyone around you.It has mean something to you and only you first before you announce it to the world.”– Solange Nicole

As the third week of June and my first week of summer, it looks like quarter systems let out just in time for the myriad of Pride festivals throughout the United States. So before we hit the full festivities of the weekend, here are a few things you should know about Pride.

One

tyler-nix-525388-unsplash.jpgYou do not need to identify as part of the LGBT+ community to participate, but you need to respect those who are a part of it.

If you take a glance through history just like my blog post from last year does (you can brush up here if you want), these festivals are a whole lot more than just celebrating who this community is— they’re a protest, an appreciation, and a chance for people to feel like they belong somewhere in a society that has so often told them they don’t.

Whether or not you are part of this community, just like with Black History Month or Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, allies are just as important as the people who identify with the culture. So be an Ally.

Two

Appreciation is NOT appropriation.

Even with the amount of access to the internet that we have these days, sometimes the education gets lost in translation. To be clear, appreciating the culture of Pride or any other appreciation month does not mean appropriating it.

As someone who does not personally identify with something, it is not okay to “try it on” like a Native American headdress, straight women kissing one another for attention, or blackface. Appreciate. Don’t Appropriate. Plain and Simple.

Three

kyle-sterk-419086-unsplash.jpgEvery person needs at least one place to be unapologetic about who they are.

For some people, that place is Pride. The one weekend– one month– to be open and honest and comfortable with everything that makes up these complicated and confusing identities we hold. Yes, some people do not understand the need to have a month or a celebration like this one. Maybe because they never needed a safe space for pieces of who they are.

Over the years I have come to truly understand the need to be unapologetic with who you are in at least one part of your life— it can be family or friends or school or whatever you consider your home. No matter what, there needs to be at least one place. I think everyone should be able to respect that.

Four

There is more to Pride than rainbow outfits and a stereotype around gay people.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a whole lot of identities and cultural histories surrounding this month; all of them are equally important to Pride. There is more to the acronym than the L and the G, every single one of them should be respected. Whether you agree with this or not, it is not a time or place to be spreading hateful opinions. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

In addition, remember the protests and fights and trauma that have gone into festivals like this one over the decades. Remember the hate crimes that still happen on a daily basis that a lot of people do not feel the need to notice. All minority groups go through a lot to get to where they are today. The LGBT+ community is no exception.

Five

levi-saunders-133027-unsplash.jpgIt is not over yet.

Just because we celebrate our own cultures or how far we’ve all come within our own identities or cultural histories, that doesn’t mean we have finished the fight. There is still discrimination and racism and camps to “pray away the gay” and children being locked in warehouses. As far as it seems this society has come from hurting people for who they are or the circumstances they are born into, there’s a lot more to fight for. Keep fighting.

So celebrate, appreciate, enjoy, and don’t appropriate. Because this is a month for unapologetic expression and unbounded love. This is a month for the self-respect that comes from understanding who you are. June is a month for a community to come together and fight for their rights.

This is a month for Pride.

cory-woodward-485315-unsplashI hope everyone stays safe this weekend, and for all those participating in the festivities, Happy Pride. Love is love after all.

Be on the lookout for a new Pride themed Bookworms post next week. Otherwise, Happy Friday everyone, hope to see you on Tuesday.

On the short film— In a Heartbeat

They say a picture is worth a thousand words… What about a video?

Yesterday I was taking a break from bio studying to scroll through Facebook, as distracting as that can be, and I came upon a video that seems to be taking the internet by storm. Anyone heard of In a Heartbeat?gaelle-marcel-189753

Well if you haven’t, you’re about to.

On Monday, Beth David and Esteban Bravo, two students from Ringling College of Art and Design, posted the largely anticipated film as their a senior thesis. In summary, it is about “a closeted boy runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams.” With its own page on Tumblr and full funding through Kickstarter within the first 3 hours of the films inception, just 4 days after its posting the four-minute film has amassed over 15 million views on YouTube.

Talk about pay off.

Now this film has no dialogue at all; just a soundtrack (by Arturo Cardelús and available on Spotify), two main characters, and a whole lot of feels. But when I saw the short, it became clear to me how much a little really can go a long way.

On a larger scale, this film deals with something that is very important when it comes to entertainment: underrepresentation. From the LGBT community to those of racial minorities, as time goes by we see more and more portrayal of the people who truly make up our everyday lives. In minority cases, people often speak of breaking the glass ceiling, or surpassing barriers that stand in the way of certain equalities. As one of the hopes the filmmakers had for this project, I think film has reached farther than they can imagine and, in the very least, added another crack to that ceiling. 

eric-patnoudes-46029Finally, on a relatable level to so many of us in the world, the truth behind this film lies in one thing: A crush. The innocence, lightheartedness, and wonderful animation of the short, all tie into something that I appreciated finding in the end of this busy week. I wanted to share it with you all.

So without further ado, here is the link to the animated short film In a Heartbeat. Enjoy!

https://youtu.be/2REkk9SCRn0

 

 

A Political Side of the Story

After a long weekend of moving in and driving back down for Thursday, summer classes have officially begun. Though this week has been quite an eventful one in my own world, there have also been some major changes in the political world. Everyone seems to be talking about the transgender ban in the military and as someone who has a thing for bandwagons, I’m going to add a little more noise to it.cassie-boca-296277

So let’s talk.

They say that there are two sides to every story, but this one may have several. There are a lot of things to consider in this one. As Americans, there are certain ideals we live by no matter our political stance as individuals. Life, love, and the pursuit of happiness– number one in the bill of rights. Then you’ve got the right to bearing arms, a controversy in its own, freedom of speech, and several others that we all may or may not remember. Over the years, the country has developed a penchant for freedom and personal rights, the question now is how far it all may go.

That is the question this ban concerns.

On one hand, there is the idea that any person who wants to fight should be allowed to. As hypothetical as Captain America was, it still upheld a soldier’s right to enlist. It is something many people both believe in and are very proud of. From family to friends, I know many who are part of the armed forces that have grown and become better people through it. There are several branches of the military and often a good position can be found for anyone who seeks it, that is not the issue. The issue comes up when someone’s ability to fulfill that position is compromised.

Because on the other hand, the ability to fight without hindrance is not something people always have a say in.giovanni-calia-796

The right to fight is a privilege, and unfortunately, one that cannot be given to some people. Did you know that a person cannot enlist if they are anemic, diabetic, or an addict? Though each of these conditions are different, they do have one thing in common: each requires medication to keep the person going. Unfortunately, transitioning can be seen the same way. Though I cannot boast a full knowledge of the process, there is some logic to the reasoning. With a dependence on hormones and intense medical treatments to complete the transition, it would be unsafe for someone in this position to end up overseas unable to get what they need. Look at someone with diabetes, if they were to run out of insulin or their blood sugar dropped too low without anything to treat them, their life would be instantly on the line. For this reason, I also understand the practicality of this side if the ban. It’s not about the people at all; in the end, it’s about safety.

These are the two main sides of the argument, both the freedom to fight for someone people believe in as well as the inability for a person’s body to allow them to. This US alone holds 326.4 million people, each and every one who ideally holds the same 33 rights in the constitution. Whether these rights are upheld is another story, as in this case, equal opportunity is not possible. There are other sides to this situation however, more than I can count, but I invite you to take a look into it if you would like because it is part of the policy our country runs on.

President Trump has been in office for 189 days so far and in that time we have all seen some major changes within our country, from immigration to signing 24 executive orders. This new change announced on Twitter is one more thing to add to that list. With the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2011, a major step forward in the LGBT community, this new development raises the question: is this a step forward or backward?

Only time can tell us how this situation will play out with the hope that we arrive at a better tomorrow.

jason-wong-305496And though this has nothing to do with politics but rather humanity, I will say it louder for the people in the back:

Transgender individuals, like any other group of people in this world, are never a burden to those who care about them. That is absolutely true. And that will never change.