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.

What it means to have Pride

Welcome to June, the month I finally get to begin my (short) summer, the weather really starts heating up, and the world gets to celebrate something very important.

Welcome to Pride Month.laura-ockel-197421.jpg

If you’ve been on Google today you might have seen the rainbow colors on their doodle for the day, that is something special. Those colors represent the birthday of Gilbert Baker, the man who designed what is now known as the flag that represents LGBTQ+. Though he passed away just this year in March, his activism and his flag, has spread through this world in a way that is very much alive.

That’s what this month is about.

For those of you who do not know, Pride month itself and the celebration of its essence began back in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots: a stand against police harassment towards a group of gay customers in Greenwich Village, New York. At the time, most states had laws passed against the group gathering of LGBTQ+ people, gay bars, and public homosexuality. This riot began in protest of discrimination in the Stonewall Inn, and as people shouted “gay power”, standing up up for their own human rights, they stated something they never saw coming.  

Protests lasted for days with even 1,000 people attending at once. Ultimately, this led to the Gay Liberation Movement and Christopher Street Liberation Day which happened on June 28, 1970; the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with as well as the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history. It covered an entire 51 blocks through to Central Park.
F3FH5XYZY0Known as the “Mother of Pride” for her help in organizing the march, Brenda Howard originated the celebrations  and festivities held every June and also coined what we now know as the term
Pride.

From there the movement spread, as all movements do, to San Francisco and LA, then Boston and Dallas, and so many more places before the culture behind it had shifted completely into something global. Something stronger. Here in the United States, it took us until our 42nd President, Bill Clinton, to recognize Pride on June 2, 2000. Since then, both Clinton and Obama acknowledged this month, however, President Trump could have been the first Republican President to do so. The future of that possibility is yet to be seen.

Around the world, we celebrate the people who make up the 7.4 billion population we are surrounded by. Among those who have passed away, many of the most incredible people were also a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Have you ever heard of Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, and one of the highest paid black entertainers of all time? Maybe you know of, Tennesee Williams, writer of the Glass Menagerie? Or how about Sally Ride, the first woman in space? Each of them were a part of LGBTQ+ history, a part of what this world has now come to celebrate, and major contributors to the music, entertainment, and accomplishments of the United States.

We cannot celebrate our history without recognizing all the pieces of it. Just like Black History Month or Women’s History Month,

sorasak-217807 (1)we celebrate Pride as more than a month, but an appreciation for every person it applies to. Because no matter what a person identifies with or what defines who they are, they just might change the world someday. I know some LGBTQ+ people who have already changed mine.

Before Baker’s flag emerged in 1978, the symbol of gay pride was a pink triangle— Hitler made homosexuals wear them as a tag during World War Two. We have come a long way, legalizing gay marriage two years ago, but there is still a long road ahead as the world around us becomes more accepting of what being an “American” really means. From accepting that racism is still an issue to coming to terms with the status of our Earth’s climate, things have changed a lot since I was born, but not as much as I believe they will in the future.

One way or another, an easy way to bring change is with education— today, I hope you learned a little bit more about what Pride Month really means. Whether you identify with, support, or simply understand the community, know that like any other identity in this world, it deserves to be respected at the very least. If you join in on the celebration this year, at a Pride parade or anywhere else, it’s important to know the boundaries not to cross— how to appreciate without accidentally discriminating. Like Gilbert Baker believed when creating the flag, “We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things.”

Not only did he create a beautiful flag, he created a safe space for more equality, brought people together, and probably changed so many lives in the process. Because thdimitar-belchev-235925at is the beauty change in this world and the ability people have to come together in communities. In a world of 7.4 billion people and 12 months to celebrate each of every one of us, this one is for LGBTQ+. And that is the beauty of Pride.

P.S. If you want to learn any more, click on all those blue words and it’ll take you right to the info!