That Book is So Gay

A common question I get asked is what LGBT books I read in high school, or what LGBT books I would recommend now, and I always kind of cringe a little. I still haven’t fully figured out how to answer that. And here’s why:

I wouldn’t call my mother strict, per say, but she payed a lot of attention to what I was reading. I read constantly, I always had my nose in a book, I took them everywhere with me. I remember pretty vividly there was a year when I wasn’t allowed to read about vampires and I would hide the covers anywhere I went. (The rule didn’t stick – I got so obsessed that to this day half of my bookshelves are still vampire books).

If I wasn’t going to read about vampires, I definitely wasn’t going to read about lesbians. There was no taking home a book that looked like Just Juliet for me. Nope, nu-uh, not gonna happen. So there’s half the answer I guess – that I didn’t read LGBT books in high school, or any younger than that. In fact, I’m not even sure I would have known where to find them. I went to an extremely small school in the middle of nowhere Texas. I’m almost positive we didn’t have LGBT books in our library. (I was an aide my Junior year and we spent a solid week having to flip through books and cross out the curse words so, ya know. That was the environment I had to pick out books in.)

I did read a shit ton of Alex/Paige and Dylan/Marco fanfiction in my Degrassi days but does that even count? That was pre-Ao3 days guys it’s been awhile.

“So what about College, Char?” – nope. I was busy in college, I don’t think I read anything during those years. Sure, I had a full bookshelf, and went to B&N at least once a week to buy something new, but I don’t think I ever actually read anything. Although here is where the facts change a little, because in 2014 I found Wattpad. And oh boy, did that change things. Suddenly finding gay books was as simple as searching [boyxboy] or [girlxgirl]. (those old school tags my god)

There is a bit of a loophole to this rule, because

I still remember the first one I read. It was a gay love story by A.M Snead and I was honestly surprised because A.M is religious. Being raised where I was, there was always this overlying factor of ‘you can’t be a christian and support homosexuality at the same time’. A.M was basically like ‘lol that’s not true’ and proceeded to write beautiful, christian, homo love stories. There was something about her doing this that inspired hope in me. If she could be christian and support LGBT rights, then there were others that could too, right?

These days, I’ve made it a goal to only read books that have at least one LGBT character or theme in them. I have a list, but I must warn you that I’m notorious for reading from male perspectives, because until college – aside from Harry Potter – I read only female so I’m trying to balance that out.

Lesbian: Ash by Malinda Lo – while I haven’t actually read this yet, I love the concept so much that it’s made it only my male pov only shelf so~

GayBoy Meets Boy by David Levithan – If I ever stop rereading TRC and TFC I might actually manage to make it to this one. It looks super cute?

Bisexual: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – I have a love/hate relationship with this series but ultimately I was there for the characters so. It doesn’t really get gay until the last book, although the second one is very gay charged and the third one is all subtle gay, so it’s there. There’s a bisexual boy, even though I’m pretty sure the word is never said, he’s a lovely bi baby and I will throw hands for him.

Transgender: Luna by Julie Anne Peters – there’s a line in here about ‘a girl that can only be seen in the moonlight’ and that has always really resonated with me. I read this awhile ago so it doesn’t fall under my ‘male pov’ rule because Luna is, undeniably, a girl.

Queer: All for the Game by Nora Sakavic – anyone who knows me knows I can’t go long without talking about The Foxhole Court so here it is again. But guys this book is so inspiring to live and fight for what’s worth it and just. Stuff like that. Also, there’s a ‘straight cousin’, can you believe? I’m sticking it under queer just because there’s gay characters and there’s a demisexual character. Are we still using queer as an umbrella term or should I be more inclusive in that? Hm.

Intersex: None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio – I’m going to be honest and admit that I’ve never read about an intersex person before, but I’ve heard this book be recommended places, so. If it’s bad – let me know, lol.

Asexual: The Sum of it’s Parts by E.M Holloway – my favorite thing about this series is that it’s about werewolves, not sexuality, and it just so happens that one of the main relationships is asexual. It’s also really, really good – and self published – and I feel like the author deserves more love so. Hit it up. For real.

For someone whose life revolves around books I really don’t read enough.

Anyway, that’s the last of my InspirationChallenge posts. Have you guys ever felt inspired by an LGBT book? Tell me about it in the comments!

“Girls like girls like boys do, it’s nothing new~”

If I remember correctly, the first LGBT song I ever heard was by t.A.T.u. All the Things She Said was actually really popular back in, like, the 2000s which is kind of ironic because of the controversy it struck. In fact, there were moves to ban the video world wide. It actually took me awhile to figure out what they were singing about, because I thought the lyrics were ‘all the things you said’ (heteronormativity, whuddup). I’m pretty sure the video put it into perspective and then I was like. Oh shit, cool!

And I’m all mixed up, feeling cornered and rushed
They say it’s my fault, but I want her so much
Want to fly her away, where the sun and rain
Come in over my face, wash away all the shame
When they stop and stare – don’t worry me
‘Cause I’m feeling for her, what she’s feeling for me
I can try to pretend, I can try to forget
But it’s driving me mad, going out of my head

All The Things She Said (video)

Since their glory days there’s been some controversy surrounding – well, Yuliya Volkova and some pretty homophobic comments she made in 2014, but this song is still the first one I ever heard with female on female pronouns, and the first video I ever saw with female kisses, and it’ll always have a spot in my heart. I also always really loved All About Us, even though it’s more subtle gay. Can you guys believe these girls are Russian? I know, mind blown.

 

After that I mostly spent a lot of my time digging up any LGBT-esque song I could find on youtube. I don’t remember coming across much, which could have been a sign of the times or a sign of my skill when it comes for searching for things. I do remember seeing that a lot of things were queerer than I had though, like Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful (2002), or a few music videos that were gayer than the lyrics suggested (Like Avicii’s Addicted To You).

But besides the point, here’s a small breakdown over the years:

I Kissed a Girl – Katy Perry (2008)
Fever – Adam Lambert (2009)
Do it Like a Dude – Jessie J (2010)
Born This Way – Lady Gaga (2011)
Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (2012)
Girls/Girls/Boys – Panic! At the Disco (2013)
She Keeps Me Warm – Mary Lambert (2014)
All American Boy – Steve Grand (2015)
Son of a Preacher Man – Tom Goss (2016)

But wait, Charlotte, isn’t this challenge supposed to be about things that inspired you? Well, yes, technically, I guess. You guys don’t want to just listen to me ramble? I suppose that’s fair.

Alright, so listen, I have a lot of love for Hayley Kiyoko.

“Tell me something nobody knows about you, something you are afraid to sing about?”
I immediately thought, well I like girls and that’s what I want to sing about, but even then I struggled to say it out loud. – Paper Magazine.

She’s beautiful, she’s talented, but what she said that really inspired me personally, was this:

“Most of the time, you become confident after years of struggling during your young adulthood. I want to encourage the youth to find that confidence now. Not later. For them to know their own self-worth at an earlier age.” . – Paper Magazine.

Hayley’s 25 years old and she’s doing her best to be herself and be a role model at the same time. Her confidence to not only come out, but to do so publicly, to stake her career on that, is honestly breath taking. I adore her music. I’m living for the message she’s sending. If you do nothing else, watch the video I paste below. It’s very relatable.

I also really suggest Cliff’s Edge and Gravel to Tempo and Sleepover.

 

And that brings us to Troye Sivan.


Some people were lucky enough to know Troye from youtube before he was famous, I wasn’t. I found him after hearing him on the radio for the first time. Actually, originally I wasn’t much of a fan, his music wasn’t really my type. But the longer I listened, the more I liked it, and the longer I really listened, the more I fell in love with him.

I adore Troye Sivan for a handful of reasons: he’s cute, he’s hysterical, he makes music that’s important to him, he’s an activist, and he made sure to come out before he got signed so that no one could make him stay in the closet. On youtube, the way youtubers do, for the rest of us to see.

“This is not something that I’m ashamed of,” he said, “and it’s not something that anyone should have to be ashamed of.” – Out Magazine

I have a lot of love for Troye and his ability to do what he loves, have fun with it, and have it matter. This boy is important, and he’s going places. Check out his GLAAD Media Award speech if you’re interested. If you haven’t watched any of his music videos, I suggest starting with the Blue Neighborhood trilogy, and then watching Heaven if you feel like crying. It’s powerful.

part two part three

I was going to stop there but you know what these are all a little sad so, have the remix of Wild because it’s honestly just warm fuzzy feelings and I adore it

Also, I saw this boy in concert and I’m pretty sure it killed me. I’ll never be over it.

 

Alright that’s all for now guys,

Peace!

-Char

Everyday is a Gay Day

Back in the day I only used Youtube to watch anime and the occasional music video (and by music video I mean mostly t.A.T.u’s stuff but we can talk about them later), but at some point I got a tumblr and one gif changed my world. I remember which one it was too~

I just thought that it was like? Really cute? And then somewhere in the list of notes was a link to the video it came from [x]. This started a low-key obsession, and I say ‘low key’ only because it wasn’t, like, creepy. At this point in my life I wasn’t in the best place mentally/emotionally. To put it simply, I was struggling. With living, with where the future was going to take me, with my sexuality. There were very few things then that made me happy.

I was late enough to Mark’s channel that there was at least a years worth of videos, so I could watch them daily. He and his boyfriend, Ethan, start off each and every one with: “Good morning, good morning! Today’s gonna be a great day and do you know why?! Because everyday is a great day.” (They actually make merch of it now and honestly I need it so bad.) There was something about hearing that every day, about watching Mark’s unending enthusiasm, that really did a lot for my morale. Eventually even I began to think ‘everyday is a great day’.

Mark’s Coming Out Story was the first one I ever watched, and then I was all over Youtube, going through as many as I could. I think a lot of us tend to do that though, right? To figure out how other people did it, how their loved one’s reacted. Asking questions like ‘is it worth it?’ and ‘will I be okay?’. A lot of them actually blur together now, I can’t tell you many individual stories, except for maybe Troye Sivan’s (we’ll talk about him later too), and Ethan Hethcote’s. (Yes, he’s Mark’s boyfriend. Yes, these two mean a lot to me okay).

While Mark was the one I flocked to for a mood boost, it was Ethan that I immediately related to. In his video he talks about how he figured out he was gay young, but that it scared him, so he told himself he was straight.  (“Hid myself deeper under the clothes in my closet.”) If I remember correctly, he grew up in a small town, around farms and conservative people where no one was Out. I instantly saw myself in his story. Ethan was lucky enough to have an accepting family, although his father wasn’t quite on board in the beginning. But, he came around, and that meant a lot to me. To know that it was possible for someone to change their minds.

I could talk about these guys forever, but I think I’ll stop here. I’ll leave you with some links~

 

And then, of course, there’s Tyler Oakley.

I feel like there’s probably a better gif to satisfy my needs but I made my decision so now I must stick with it. Also I miss his lilac hair? Honestly what a cool color?

Anyone who follows me on Social Media knows I loooove Tyler Oakley.  I just think he’s honestly a good person, and I love that he uses his platform to talk about activism, especially with LGBT Youth and suicide rates and just the community in general. I love that he talks about things that are important to him and that he supports numerous charities. He’s just one of my favorite people.

Tyler has like 10 years worth of videos so lord knows I haven’t watched them all, but I am trying. Mostly I just dig into his life as a source of entertainment, I wish I remembered the first video of his that I watched, but unfortunately I don’t. I’m pretty sure it was a collab with someone else though, and I found him so funny that I fell into his channel. So what is it about Tyler that really resonates with me?

His mantra to be his most authentic self, and for us to do the same. (“The time to be your most authentic self is now.”)

Without getting too personal, I feel like authenticity is something that I’ve always struggled with. There were contributing factors to this issue while I was growing up.  Things that made me feel like I had to keep even the tiniest detail about myself hidden and protected. (I had a really good childhood, it was just a complicated situation). And then of course there were years worth of sitting in a closet. While I wouldn’t say that I was a liar, I wasn’t a truther either. I molded myself and my personality to the situations around me. At some point I lost my self of sense. I couldn’t even tell you who I was, because I was whoever I needed to be at any given time. It was a mess, honestly.

So something about Tyler drew me in. Something about how he’s unapologetically himself,  how he’s made a career out of what he loves to do, how he’s happy.  At some point, he became my role model, and he’s helped me strive to always be true, not only to myself, but to other’s too. It’s a message I want to live through.

If you haven’t ever watched a Tyler Oakley video, I encourage you to. This year for Pride Month he did a series called ‘Chosen Family’ and I think it’s as good as any place to start.

 

The thing about Youtubers that I fell in love with is the same as Ellen – they’re real, and these guys even moreso, because all they’re doing is filming their everyday lives and sharing it with the rest of us. They’re non Hollywoodized accounts of what it’s like to be gay. Representation matters, and lgbt youtubers are providing that representation in real life in real time. They’re also part of the reason why I write uplifting stories. Besides the fact that I got tired of how lgbt people are generally portrayed – I get a lot of joy out of watching youtubers, they make my day better. They make me feel better about who I am, and show that any little thing can make a difference. I hope to be one of those good things for someone.

So while I watch many youtubers, these are the two that have inspired me the most.

All the best,

Char

All the Gay Shows have my Heart

Do you guys remember when The N was a thing? I miss that channel to this day.

Listen I still have vivid memories of being eight years old, curled up on the couch, being so tired and staying up obscenely late just to catch Degrassi: The Next Generation. Guys fucking commercials were still a thing. My poor little soul had to stay awake for an entire hour, through commercials, just to watch my show.

The struggle was ridiculously real.

Can we talk about Degrassi though? It was ridiculously ahead of it’s time. I mean that was 2002 for Christ sake and it handled topics like sex, pregnancy, any and all kinds of abuse, drugs, bullying, self image, sexuality, self injury, mental illness, suicide, abortion, domestic violence, death, racism – all from teenagers povs. Also it had teenagers playing teenagers, which is still unheard of.

(It was so hard hitting that my mother made me put together a report on why I should be allowed to watch it ahaha. I did, and I got to continue it, so I guess I passed?)

Degrassi aired for 14 solid seasons and even though I’m pretty sure I stopped after 9 (it moved channels and all the original characters were gone) it was definitely with me from ages 12-16 which, let’s be real, are not fun for everyone.

(I’m having a lot of nostalgia right now)

Degrassi was important to me for a lot of reasons. The teenage perspective hit home, the episodes dealt with shit that were really happening in our world, but there were certain things that stuck out to me more than others. Or, should we say, certain characters.

Care to take a guess on why? Don’t worry, I’ll give you a hint:

Wow. Can we talk about this oldschool gif quality. Also I want to point out that both of the blondes are siblings. Gays come in packages ya’ll.

So Marco and Dylan started up in the 3rd season, which would have made me…10ish? 11ish? It was the absolute first time I had ever seen a same sex relationship on tv and I was living.  I was so invested in the turmoil of Marco and Dylan’s relationship. From Marco coming to terms with his sexuality, to Dylan being frustrated when he wouldn’t come out, to breakups and heartaches and gawd. I cried over these two.

(I also wrote a shit ton of DylanxMarco fanfics so you can thank them for getting me into queer writing my babies)

Thinking back on it I’m pretty sure Dylan was Not a Good Guy but at the time. At the time, they were on a teen drama. A gay couple. In the 2000s. There was at least someone who didn’t treat homosexuality like it was an adult subject. Good Guy or not, at least he fucking existed.

Paige and Alex were a messy relationship too, but their struggles were real. And I think that’s also important. I’m usually against being invested in relationships that just break up but. Teenagers turn into adults, they grow and change, and you can’t always take people with you. Relationships are hard. (Look what this show taught me!)

(someone buy it for me so I can rewatch and cry alot)

Anyway.

You guys wanna know what came on after Degrassi? South of Nowhere.

(Yeah, my ass was staying up even later God help my little gay self.)

Listen. Listen. SoN focused primarily on a girl falling in love with her bisexual friend. Yeah, sounds exactly like something 11yr old Char would be into, right? SoN went hard like Degrassi did and handled a lot of the same subjects, it also focused in on teen life, but the cast was smaller so you got to really see how shit effected everyone, especially in a nuclear family.

(Also I’m pretty sure Ashley Davies (Mandy Musgrave) was my first girl crush? Look at her? What a babe?)

SoN only ran for three seasons which I still think is pretty damn good given the time and that it was on a teen network. I’ve seen it all more than once over the years. The homophobia was strong in this one, but it was also good in that it showed some people be unquestionably in the girls corner, and others who came around once they got used to it. And it ended on a happy note! With the girls still together! Can you handle that?! (NEITHER OF THEM DIED -gasp of shock-)

God this show. I had a lot of love for this show.

I want to rewatch it again holy shit this road is not good for me and my need to reignite my feels.

Okay lets move on shall we?

Yeah I know, who doesn’t love Ellen? But for real, let’s talk about her and her show for a moment. I could literally write a hundred blog posts on her alone but I’m going to try to keep it down to the highlights and why she means so much to me personally.  I don’t really remember how old I was when I started watching Ellen, though it was between 13-18. I would come home after school and my mom and I would watch it together. It was her pick (which, yes, is important, see words written below).

One day my mom mentioned that Ellen was gay and my feet nearly came out form under me. This woman? With her talk show and her millions of viewers? That everyone seemed to genuinely like? That my mom liked? A woman of power? A gay woman of power? No way.

Yes way.

I think maybe Ellen opened the door for my mom and I to have a lot of talks about being lgbt and what that meant for people. I grew up in a religious state, in a Christian household, so there was always the stigma that ‘being gay will send you to hell’, but I challenged that. How could a woman like Ellen, who helped so many people, who promoted kindness, who lived and loved, be going to the worst place imaginable just because who she loved happened to be another woman? (also can we just.)

My mom agreed with me, she couldn’t imagine it either.

So here’s what Ellen gave me: a role model, someone to look up to, and someone that my mom liked. If she could like a gay woman she didn’t even know, then surely she would still like me, right? Right.

I didn’t find Queer as Folk

or The L Word

until I was in college but whew, boy, did I not watch anything else for awhile.

QaF was the first hour-long American tv drama to follow the lives of gay men (and a lesbian couple). It came out in 2000, and was followed by The L Word in 2004. (Maybe those years were gayer than they seem?) But, they were both very adult oriented and were released on Showtime. Ya’ll, Showtime goes hard. You can almost get a homo sex ed class out of these shows LOL.

QaF handled a lot of important topics but I think the ones that stood out to me the most were the HIV storylines and Queer Bashing. The latter was a hard hit, and a reminder that homophobia can go farther than a few harsh words.

Truth be told, they’re not the best shows in the world. The L Word especially is messy the later the seasons get. But, their entire character casts are queer, they’re wrapped up in queer culture, and they’re fun to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed them.

(well, except for maybe the last season of The L Word. Can we pretend that one didn’t exist?)

Alright I’m almost done, and I’m going to go out crying probably, because I’m never going to be over how amazing Sense8 was and how fucked up it was of Netflix to cancel it.

This show, guys. This show had it all, but for the purpose of staying on topic: It was written by a transwoman, included two same sex relationships, a lesbian WOC as well as two gay men from Mexico, and a lesbian trans woman. But most importantly, these characters were handled with respect. None of the drama in the show was about their relationships. Was Lito struggling with his sexuality and coming out? Sure. But when they talked about it, it was true to heart. It was issues that we’ve all faced, and advice that hit home. Was there transphobia? Absolutely. But again, it was handled right.

No one’s life was over because they were different. They learned to take who they were and become stronger.

Sense8 was a show on a major streaming network that had an interesting plot, a diverse cast, and didn’t kill off their lgbtq+ characters for shock value. It was important, and even though it crushes my soul that we’ll never know what happened to anyone because season 2 ends on a cliffhanger and Netflix is a dick, I urge you to watch it. Because it’s simply beautiuflly done, and it deserves all the attention in the world.

Alright, so, there’s the list of TV shows that have somehow inspired my life in a positive way, and made my days just a little brighter!

Enjoy your binge session 😉

All the best,
Char

 

EDIT: Since posting this, Netflix has finally paid attention to the half a million fans throwing a fit and has agreed to giving Sense8 a 2hr special to close up.