Tag Archives: LGBT

Suggestion Saturday: June 30, 2018

Happy Pride! As a member of the LGBT community, it was especially fun for me to put together this week’s list of pie charts, blog posts, and other LGBT-themed links from my favourite corners of the web.

Things You Should Never Have to Do. All of the sections in this pie chart were beautifully true, but I liked the one about never apologizing  for your sexuality the most of them all.

How the 18th-Century Gay Bar Survived and Thrived in a Deadly Environment. Wow, I never would have guessed that gay bars existed  in the 1700s.

Love and Rockets. What a beautiful sentiment.

Do Algorithms Reveal Sexual Orientation or Just Expose Our Stereotypes? This was a long read, but it was worth it.

Pride Around the World via KatyGilroyBlog. I loved this description of Pride Parades around the world. Warsaw’s Pride Parade sounds particularly fun.

What It Means to Be Queer via quirkandfolly‬. This was such a detailed explanation of why this author chose to label herself as queer.

The Story Behind Gay Bob, the World’s First Out-and-Proud Doll. Have you ever heard of this doll before? I hadn’t.

Jeremiah, Opera Singer, Vancouver via TheGayMenProject. Honestly, all of the interviews on this site are interesting, but Jeremiah’s is a good place to start.

I Chose to Be Gay Just Last Week. Yes, this title is tongue-in-cheek. I included this link especially for the heterosexual followers of this site. If you’d like a small taste of what it’s like to be part of the LGBT community, this post is a hilarious and accurate representation of some of the bizarre things people say to us sometimes.

Cornwall Gay Pride via ellen_hawley. This blog post compares what modern-day Pride parades are like to how they were decades ago. I only wish this blogger had turned this into a series. It was so good.

My Favourite LGBT Books

Happy Pride month! Today I thought it would be fun to share some of my favourite LGBT-themed books in honour of all of the Pride festivities that have been and are still going on here in Toronto. Rainbow flags are popping up everywhere, and that’s always a heart-warming thing to see at this time of the year.

This list spans the range of everything from children’s stories to a biography to a historical novel. I’m the kind of reader who seeks out a well-told tale no matter what genre it’s from, so you’d be hard-pressed to get me to stick to one particular genre for this sort of post.

Feel free to share your favourite LGBT books in the comments below. I’d love to know which ones have caught your eye.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters.

Honestly, I could have spent this entire post talking about nothing but Sarah Waters’ books. She’s one of those authors whose stories are a must-buy for me, so I had to restrict myself to only mentioning one of the things she’s written today.

What I loved the most about Tipping the Velvet was the character development. Nancy, the main character, lived at a time when it wasn’t possible for a woman who was a lesbian to live her life openly and honestly. She didn’t even know the word to describe who she was until she became an adult. Eventually having a word for it didn’t make her identity any more accepted, and yet still she persevered.

The Kind of Girl I Am by Julia Watts.

The only reason why I discovered this book is because I happened to be browsing in the W section of the fiction shelves at my local library years ago and found myself intrigued by what sort of girl the protagonist might turn out to be. (Don’t you love it when that happens?)

Like Tipping the Velvet, The Kind of Girl I Am followed a character from her sheltered, rural upbringing to a life as an adult that she could have never imagined when she was a child.

I liked the fact that the storyline followed Vestal from the time she was a teenager until she was a senior citizen. There’s something rewarding about watching a character grow and change over the course of multiple decades.

My favourite part of this book can’t be discussed in detail due to how many spoilers it will give you about the ending, but I deeply enjoyed seeing how Vestal reframed and eventually came to peace with certain parts of her life in her final years. Her character development was excellent.

Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller.

As I’ve said before, I was one of those kids who generally enjoyed the classic novels we were assigned to read in English class. It was always interesting to see what our teacher had to say about the meaning of a blue curtain in a scene or why a character kept talking about something that eventually actually happened to them.

If I’d been born a few decades later, Patience & Sarah might have been an assigned read in one of my high school English classes. It had the same serious themes and foreshadowing of many of the other books we read and discussed in class when I was a teenager.

Santa’s Husband by Daniel Kibblesmith.

I loved this picture book’s cheeky approach to the Santa Claus myth. It clearly explained why it was reimagining Santa as a man who was in a same-sex, interracial relationship, although I can’t go into any more details about that without giving away the ending.

Should this be read by kids or adults? I’d say that it will appeal to readers of all ages.

Missed Her by Ivan E. Coyote.

Ivan E. Coyote is one of the best contemporary Canadian authors I’ve discovered so far. Not only does she have a beautiful writing style, her anecdotes are among the funniest ones I’ve ever read. She grew up in a small, rural community.* A lot of her stories are about what happens when she goes back for a visit and well-meaning, heterosexual friends and neighbours try to make conversations about LGBT topics with her without knowing what they’re talking about at all.

*Yes, this does seem to be something I gravitate towards when reading LGBT books. I suspect it’s because they’re similar to my own childhood.

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag by Rob Sanders

If you don’t know the story of the gay activist Harvey Milk, this is the perfect place to get a quick overview of his life and everything he accomplished for the LGBT community. We wouldn’t even have something as simple as the Pride flag without him.

This is the sort of thing that I wish could have been covered in my public school history classes growing up. While we still have a long way to go, the world has changed for the better so much over the past few decades. Children – and honestly many adults, too – don’t always realize what their society used to be like or what it really takes to improve it.

Sometimes I think about Harvey Milk when I’m feeling discouraged about certain current, dangerous trends in the North American political climate. It’s easy to feel like you’re too small and ordinary of a person to possibly make any different at all over the longterm.

As Harvey Milk once said, “you have to give them hope.” I believe that knowing about the lives of ordinary people who did manage to make our world a better place is one of the best ways to give people hope when they need it.

 

Saturday Seven: Characters Who Need a Date

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so today I’m thinking about characters who could really have benefited from going on a date. None of the characters I’m about to discuss had romantic storylines. They were far too busy looking after a disabled friend, exploring a haunted mansion, fighting for the freedom of an innocent man, raising a large family, protecting their household from a vengeful spirit, or otherwise staying busy.

While avoiding romantic subplots was definitely the right decision for all of these books, I can’t help but to think that all of the main characters in them would have had happier lives if they somehow could have carved out a couple of hours of free time for an offstage date at some point.

For example…

1. Dr. Faraday from The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.

Dr. Faraday rose from humble beginnings to become a respected country physician. Unfortunately, his job didn’t pay well, and his patients kept him so busy that he didn’t have any time at all for romance. This became even more of an obstacle once he realized that a few of his patients may be living in a haunted house. Let’s just say that dealing with what may be a angry ghost doesn’t leave a lot of time for dating.  

He would have some attention-grabbing stories to share on a date, though, and I think it would have been good for him to have someone to discuss all of his eerie experiences with. He lived such a lonely and sometimes even frightening life in this book. Having someone to talk to  would have done him a world of good.

2. Constance Barton from Angelica: A Novel by Arthur Phillips.

Constance was a young Victorian mother who became convinced that an evil spirit was terrorizing her daughter at night. She hired a spiritualist to figure out what the entity wanted and why it was attacking her family.

There was far more happening in the Barton household than what was revealed right away. Constance’s marriage was disintegrating before her eyes, and her health was becoming increasingly fragile as a result of a string of incredibly dangerous pregnancies that had produced only one living child so far.

Constance could have really used a nice, chaste date with someone who treated her kindly and who wasn’t obsessed with having a son to carry on the family name.

3. Miss Peregrine from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Wayward Children by Ransom Riggs. 

Miss Peregrine was raising multiple children who were mischievous and had magical powers. She’d been doing this on her own for years, and she had no reason to think her duties would ever end because she and her brood been forced to move to a place that existed outside of time in order to avoid being caught by people who wanted to harm all of them. Her wards were always going to remain their current ages due to the weird way that time passed by where they lived.

She was a fantastic parent figure to the kids, but she really could have used one night where she didn’t have to remind anyone to wash their hands or eat their vegetables. A date would do a world of good for this character. Since I haven’t read the other books in this series yet, I can only hope that someday she’ll get to do just that.

4. Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. 

Atticus was a widower, a single father of two young kids, and a lawyer. He agreed to defend an innocent black man named Tom Robinson who had been wrongly accused of raping a white woman.

Atticus probably never would have admitted that he could find the time to date, but this character sure would have benefitted from a few hours away from all of the responsibilities in his life. Other than Tom, of course, Atticus was the character I sympathized the most with in this tale.

5. Susie Salmon from The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. 

Susie was violently murdered when she was fourteen. As she adjusted to the afterlife and attempted to contact the loved ones she’d been ripped away from, she began to realize all of the important life events she was going to miss out on because of how young she’d been when she died.

Going on one date would have meant the world to her. I wish she could have had that experience.

6. George from Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.

George had voluntarily taken on full financial and legal responsibility for a developmentally-delayed friend of his at at time when people who had those kinds of disabilities didn’t have access to any of the government programs or other types of support that they can rely on today.

While this definitely isn’t canon, I imagine George as a man who would have been identified as gay if he’d lived in modern times. He seemed much more comfortable living with and near other men than he did around women, so I’d set him up with a friendly guy who didn’t mind dating someone who already had many responsibilities in life.

Maybe he’d do well dating someone who also knew what it was like to be the legal guardian of someone whose disabilities required them to have close daily supervision?

7. Carrie from Carrie by Stephen King.

Carrie’s horribly abusive upbringing made me feel so much sympathy for her, especially once I realized that her life was only slightly less traumatic when she was at school.

If only she’d had the chance to experience a normal, happy existence. There were the briefest glimpses of the person she could have become here and there, but she would have really blossomed if she’d done something as simple as held hands with a cute guy at the movie theatre or had someone in her life who told her she looked pretty every once in a while.

Which characters do you wish you could send on a well-deserved date?

Does Starfleet Have Pride Parades?

Today’s post will be shorter than usual because I don’t believe in stretching my ideas out to fit a predetermined word count. If I can say it in 700 words, I’m not going to give you a few thousand of them just to fit the pattern of many of my previous posts here. (I’m planning to talk more about why it’s so important to avoid padding out blog posts next week, so stay tuned!)

A few days ago, I started wondering how Pride Month would be handled in the Star Trek Universe. Those of you who follow me on Twitter might remember my tweets about it.

The topic remained so interesting to me I decided to write about it some more today. There were some episodes of older Star Trek shows that briefly touched on LGBT issues, but the UF Starfleet calendar surprisingly doesn’t show anything LGBT-related for any month out of the year.

Star Trek’s Take on LGBT Issues

When I watch those old episodes today, some of their conflicts feel horribly outdated and out-of-sync with Starfleet’s culture in general because of how much attention was paid to worrying about something that shouldn’t be a problem at all in that universe.

Yes, I know that these episodes were written in the 1980s and 1990s when LGBT people experienced more overt discrimination than we do today. My point about them sticking out like a sore thumb still stands, though. They didn’t fit in with the inclusive tone of the show when it came to gender or race.

Starfleet isn’t an easy place to thrive. Their standards are strict and set quite high, but those expectations have absolutely nothing to do with the species, age, gender, sexual orientation, or race of anyone who works for them. The very idea of judging someone based on that stuff goes against everything Starfleet stands for.

So I have a tendency to fanwank certain scenes as completely out of the norm for the characters in this universe. Believing that gender identity and sexual orientation are still considered to be controversial in a society where all of the other forms of prejudice aren’t entertained doesn’t make sense.

It would be like writing a story set in 2017 about someone who is deeply prejudiced against Irish people and who meets very little opposition to their bigotry no matter where they go in our world or who they meet. While such a person may very well exist and privately have those thoughts, the kinds of things that might have been okay to say against the Irish in the 1800s would be more than enough to have permanent, negative consequences for the person who voiced them today.

Let Alien Worlds and Cultures Be True to Themselves

Obviously, the experiences that any writer has in our world is going to influence how she or he writes about the imaginary places they create, but there is such a thing as allowing one’s own prejudices and assumptions to have too much of an impact on how those fictional places are described.

This is much easier to do than to say, of course, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

One of the things I love the most about the science fiction genre as whole is how unafraid it is to push back against cultural norms and ask questions about why certain things happen.

This is a genre that isn’t afraid to ask questions or imagine worlds much more just than our own. With this in mind, I don’t think any of the Starfleet vessels would have any problem at all with Pride parades, parties, or other events. If LGBT officers or residents wanted to celebrate, they’d be totally welcomed to.

Maybe the world has changed  enough that we’ll see regular LGBT representation on Star Trek: Discovery this autumn. My fingers are crossed that it will be.

5 Reasons Why You Should Be More Open About Your Life

Bisexual-moon-symbol

Every year I take a break from blogging for the last two weeks of December. I will be sharing some of my old favourites in the meantime and will be back in January with new material.  This post was originally published on April 13, 2015.

Several years ago I wrote a blog post about figuring out when to share certain things with other people. It’s a short post, so go read it before you continue on with this one.

When I was writing it, my sexual orientation and (lack of) religious affiliation were on my mind. Some people are also occasionally shocked by my complete disinterest in having kids or my willingness to consider polyamory.

At the time, I didn’t want any of these labels to be the first thing other people learned about me for reasons I discussed in that post.

I’ve since changed my mind for five reasons:

1. Honesty Weeds People Out. There’s something to be said for knowing early on if someone is going to have a problem with such an important part of who you are as a human being. I’m at a point where I want to focus the vast majority of my energy on the positive, supportive people in my life. Figuring out who belongs on this list is critical.

2. It’s Less Awkward. The problem with revealing these kinds of things gradually is that some people let their guard down in truly bizarre ways in private. When they realize that you’re part of the group they just stereotyped or insulted, the conversation can get awkward quickly.

3. You Can Get That Conversation Over With Quickly. For anyone who doesn’t know what I’m talking about, there are certain questions that people who are part of minority groups hear over and over and over again. For example, “How can you be moral if you don’t believe in God?” or “Do you have a lot of threesomes?”

4. Visibility Improves Everyone’s Lives. Being open about these kinds of things isn’t the right decision for everyone. Some people’s jobs, education, or access to a safe home depends on them keeping certain parts of their lives incredibly quiet. With that being said, one of the best ways to fight against prejudice and stereotypes is to live your life openly and honestly. It’s easy to hate or misunderstand an abstract group of people. It’s harder to do the same thing to a friend, family member, or coworker.

5. You Might Not Be the Only One. One of the most interesting things I noticed about Drew’s tendency to be brutally honest about his life is how often he meets other people who share the same beliefs. Yes, he met others who were completely weirded out by him sometimes, but he also met new friends who found his ideas fascinating.

Life After DOMA: Never Say Never

The only thing constant in life is change.  –  François de la Rochefoucauld Seventeen years ago the Defense of Marriage Act was enacted. I’m sure you’ve all heard by now that the Supreme Court (finally!) ruled it was unconstitutional yesterday. Ten years ago I never thought something like this would happen in my lifetime. Five… Read More