I started selectively coming out about eleven years ago. I pretty much always knew I wasn’t ‘straight’, but I didn’t know what to call myself, largely because I grew up in a time when calling someone ‘gay’ was considered the funniest/best insult by a lot of people, and I didn’t really know any labels beyond gay and lesbian. For a long time, I figured it would be a part of me I kept mostly to myself, but when I started dating a girl, I knew I needed the people closest to me to know about this side of my life and this important person I loved.
The first person I came out to was my friend Meghan. I don’t remember how I told her. I can’t remember the exact words. I honestly don’t even remember if I did it in person or on MSN Messenger (showing my age here, haha). What I do remember is one of the next times I saw her, she gave me a book: Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall. Meghan was always lending me books – books that often ended up being favourites, like The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. When she gave me Bottle Rocket Hearts, a book about 18-year-old Eve, a French-Canadian lesbian, I was grateful, but I don’t think I got her true intentions. I was excited because the book is set in Canada and there are so few books set in my beloved homeland.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, as I found the LGBTQ+ community on Twitter and heard about people’s experiences with coming out that the significance of Meghan’s gift really hit me. It wasn’t just that she was giving me a book she thought I would like. It was her way of saying ‘I love you, I support you, I’m here for you’. I cried when I realized, and I still get teary at times when I think about it. She was the perfect first person to come out to; I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, or a better friend.
Meghan’s thoughtful gift got me thinking about what book I would give a friend who came out to me, or was newly out. I’ve read a lot of LGBTQ+ books, but there are a specific few that come to mind.
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Today July 30th marks the last day of Pride Month, a month in celebration of the LGBTQIA community. Or more precisely, a month for the celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and asexual people.
“I am a human being just as deserving of love and happiness as the next person. I tell myself this every day.”
– Dirty London by Kelley York
June has been a month filled with both sadness and happiness, one where we have seen that there is still a lot of hate and ignorance towards the LGBTQIA community but also a lot of love. We have seen people come together to fight against that hate, to fight hate with love. As we exit this month, I think we should all remember that though there are people out there who wish great evil upon the LGBT community, there are thousands more that are filled with love, acceptance and hope. Love is love is love, and love always wins in the end.
This month has been a great month when it comes to books in correlation to the LGBT+ community. We have had Julia Ember (author of Unicorn Tracks) and her #ReadProud challenge which I think has been an absolute success. You can tell that people have really read more LGBTQIA books with this tag, have promoted more of these books and put them in the spotlight they very much deserve.
However, this brings me to another important topic that I think we should all remember. June, the official Pride Month, is a month once a year where we celebrate LGBTQIA, however, we need to remember that every single month is Pride Month for this community. The ups and downs, the good and the bad, they’re something people in this community face every day and therefore the support for this community and the books connected to this community should be there in the spotlight more than just once a year. The support we have seen this month, we should see it every month. We have to support LGBTQIA authors and LGBTQIA books all the time. Therefore I want to recommend you as many LGBTQIA books as I can, both books that are already published and books that are yet to come. We should also remember that when we support authors, we should put extra focus on books that are #ownvoices, and also have intersectional diversity because these are the books that need the attention the most. These are the books readers need.
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