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Ten Great Books With Awesome LGBTQ+ Characters

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I’ll be honest, my favorite thing about traveling is all the books I get to read on the way. I’ll spend a day, maybe two packing clothes and stuff for a trip but I will spend MONTHS picking out books to reads for the trip: a book for on the way to my destination, a book for when I’m there, and a book for the trip home. Plus a backup book in case I finish one. I’ve always been on my own personal quest to try to find books with awesome LGBTQ characters (because representation matters!), which is about as easy as looking for a Horcrux. However, I have found 10 amazing books with a great cast of LGBTQ characters, because even if you’re not on your way to some exciting destination, books are always a great escape.

1) A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee      

                                        

Omg, this book you guys! Where do I even begin? A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is LGBTQ meets Jane Austen meets swashbuckling adventure. Professional family disappointment and bisexual rogue Henry “Monty” Montague is going on an unforgettable Grand Tour with his bi-racial best friend Percy (who Monty is nursing a major crush on) and his little killjoy sister Felicity. However, after Monty makes one stupid move, his plans of hedonistic behavior and flirting with Percy go down the tube as they are hunted throughout Europe. This book is great for many reasons: not only does it talk about bisexually and how impossibly difficult it is to be gay in the 1700’s, it also talks about feminism, having a misunderstood illness, loving someone with an illness, and learning that your mistakes don’t define you. It’s also a really witty, cute adventure book. Get your copy here

2) Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Think of every annoying YA Fantasy trope you can think of. Now imagine it being blown completely to bits and replaced with something infinitely more fantastic. Loves, meet Six of Crows and it’s sequel Crooked Kingdom. Set in a fantasy world inspired by Tsarist Russia, the first book: “Six of Crows” is about six criminals who are on a heist to break into a high-security prison and steal a highly guarded person, purely for the money. What’s great about this book is the core group of main characters are highly diverse. There are not one but TWO bisexual characters (one is a POC in a m/m relationship and one is plus size in an f/m relationship), a gay boy with a learning disability, a physically disabled boy with a phobia of touching and severe PTSD,  and a middle eastern coded girl who was a victim of sex trafficking. It’s always wickedly funny, heart-tugging,  and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

3) Carry On: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell

Carry on is an interesting book because it’s basically a spin-off of Rowell’s other novel Fangirl and is inspired by Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy fan-fiction. However, you need to read Fangirl to understand or enjoy the book. It’s a funny, magical, sweet love story about a hate turned into love between two enemies that becoming something more. It also discusses hot topics such as sexual, ethnic and class identity. Great pick for those of you who spent hours reading Darry fanfic (raises hand)

4) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

As a former English major who’s suffered through Classical Heritage and has read the Iliad, I know for a fact that Achilles is hella gay. You know, and I know, but dirty old scholars haven’t gotten the clue. Fortunately, Madeline Miller has gotten a clue and given us what we’ve all been waiting for: An Achilles + Patroclus love story (throws confetti)! This book sticks pretty close to the original mythology but with a tender, sweet and heartbreaking love story that will stick with you long after you finish the book. It really adds new depth to an old classic.

 

5) Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

Wow, where do I begin with this amazing YA novel? Inspired by Welcome To Night Vale, it’s about two social outcasts who start a podcast together. This book not only breaks the trope of “a boy and girl are friends, they must fall in love” but the main character actually describes herself as bisexual, which is so rare to find a character that describes themselves as bisexual that you’re better off looking for a unicorn. The book also has POC characters, none of the main cast is straight and there was an honest, genuine conversation about asexuality. Need I say more? Get your copy here

6) Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Bisexual, Chinese-Vietnamese girl protagonist? Check.

Superpowers and girls being complete and utter badasses? Check.

Cute girls kicking ass together? Hell yasss.

Also, the sequel is coming out in October featuring a trans-masculine main character.

7)  Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Princesses falling in love! Princesses falling in love! Do I seriously need to write more? Fine. Betrothed since childhood to a Prince in a neighboring kingdom, Princess Dennaliea knew her future was laid out since day one. Until she learned she has an Affinity for fire, and for someone else…This book has everything: magical espionage, hate-to-love romances, forbidden love, and castles. And again, princesses falling in love.

8) Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

You’ve heard the musical, now read the graphic memoir that started it all. Bechdel tells a powerful, humorous and heartbreaking story about her childhood, her relationship with her father, and their mutual, unexpected bond over their sexuality. I don’t usually like coming-of-age stories, but this is such a unique story and a must read for everyone.

9) Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson

Winterson is one of the OGs of the LGBT scene with her groundbreaking book Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Her memoir now tells the story of her life’s work to find happiness, going through her painful childhood, and figuring out her life and the search for belonging. You’ll cry as many times as you laugh with this book, but you’ll also find a connection. A must read for writers and people obsessed with literature.

10) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

Not typically thought of as an LGTBQ book, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is a tour de force of storytelling and a wild ride from start to finish. One of the main characters, Sammy, struggles with his sexuality in a way that is both painful and relatable, which makes this book a must read. All I want is Sammy Clay to find happiness, damn it! It’s also proof that comic books are gay culture.

Originally posted 2017-09-13 18:26:38.

Ellen Ricks is a word-for-hire, fashion blogger, and bibliophile living in upstate New York. She has a BFA in Creative Writing from SUNY Potsdam and has been published in a number of literary magazines, both in print and online. She runs the fashion blog Sarcasm in Heels.  When not writing, Ellen enjoys frolicking in fancy dresses, consuming pumpkin spice everything, and dismantling the patriarchy.

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#FiveFilms4Freedom LGBT+ Film Festival

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The #FiveFilms4Freedom 2017 film festival is travelling across the pond this November. Originally hosted in Britain this past March, it is the first and largest LGBT+ film festival, and has featured independent LGBT+ short films from around the globe.

The film festival began in 2014 in Britain, sponsored by the British Council and the British Film Institute. It is a part of the larger BFI Flare film festival, which began in 1986, and is sponsored by the Love is GREAT Britain Campaign. .

This year’s #FiveFilms4Freedom festival marked 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in Britain. As such, all five films were created by UK filmmakers.

After the films premiered in the UK in March, they were brought to Washington, D.C. on November 1, and will be shown in Los Angeles on November 13 and in New York City on November 16. The festival will also feature a panel of prominent LGBT+  rights advocates from the US and the UK, as well as two participating directors.  

The films focus on a range of LGBT+ relationships and issues. The majority of them are love stories; Crush tells the story of a young girl who finds herself smitten with another girl she sees at a train station, Heavy Weight deals with a young male boxer and his reaction to the arrival of a new fighter, and Jamie is a very modern story about a man who bravely decides to meet with the man he has been talking to on a dating site. The other two films explore very different experiences in the LGBT+ community. Still Burning is about a young migrant living in Paris who shows his brother the exciting and freeing voguing movement. The title is taken from the film Paris is Burning, a documentary about the voguing movement in New York City and its effect on the African American, Latino, gay and transgender communities. The final film is a documentary set in Scotland, entitled Where We Are Now, and focuses on a transgender parent and her bisexual daughter.

The BFI Flare festival as well as #FiveFilms4Freedom have given the LGBT+ community an excellent place for celebration and representation, especially in the UK. With the decriminalization of homosexuality 31 years ago, British LGBT+ representation is extremely important because it has only been able to exist for a short amount of time. The festival allows filmmakers to make LGBT+ people and relationships extremely public, and continues to encourage and support the idea that LGBT+ people can make and star in incredible pieces of media. The move from showing the films in Britain alone to showing them in the US will hopefully continue to encourage the rise of LGBT+ relationships in mainstream media as well as in independent media.

Tickets for the festival in New York City are still available for reservation here. The festival is on November 16 from 6 – 9 PM at the Barclays-ASK Auditorium on Seventh Avenue. The festival is also currently accepting submissions for next year’s festival here.

Originally posted 2017-11-13 21:00:23.

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That Looks Like A…: Provocative Holiday Foods

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(*Article contains mature themes.*)

 

Have you ever looked at a food or read its name and instinctively turned into a tomato?  (Or better still, maybe you and your freaky self were actually turned on by it!)  Well, you don’t have to be depraved or even gay to enjoy these three provocative foods, but you’ll have more fun with them if you are.

 

SPOTTED DICK

 

While this dessert has a wonderfully raunchy name, it is sadly tame in appearance.  It hails from Britain (go figure), and does unnatural things with currants or raisins.  It is typically categorized as a pudding, but looks more like an odd-shaped muffin, to be honest.  Here’s just one recipe:  https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/spotted-dick-103210

 

The best way to pervert this dish is to shape it, but I won’t be graphic in my description of the ways you can do that.  If you’re not handy in the kitchen, just go to a naughty bakery!  However, you should always be a good (or slutty) host and serve this dish with vanilla custard, as is tradition…

 

HIDE THE SAUSAGE

 

Another British treat, this spongy, sausage infested con-cock-tion is little more than cheap meat in dough.  To the bane of the straight community, it is still a popular dish to serve to a large dinner party because it is not difficult to make.  (Note:  It’s also called “Toad in the Hole” because heterosexuals are often uptight about where they hide their sausages.)

 

In my opinion, this dish looks less sexual and more like something the cast of Duck Dynasty would serve to their guests.  If you like odd tasting desserts, though, this recipe could be just what you’re looking for.  https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5822/toad-in-the-hole-in-4-easy-steps

 

AN INSTANT CLASSIC:  THE BANANA SPLIT

 

Ok, so I’m gonna catch hell for throwing this popular dessert into the mix, but I do so by request.  We all know how to make it; two scoops of vanilla or chocolate ice cream, one banana, some hot fudge sauce, and a cherry.

 

There are so many jokes I could make out of this, but I will simply describe something I saw at a holiday party that will forever change the way you look at this ice cream treat.  The banana sat in the center, two gobs of chocolate ice cream, one on each side… Need I go on?  I’ve never seen more suggestively placed hot fudge syrup, all of it lying at one end of the plate.  Even the cherry looked like it was blushing, sitting daintily on the banana’s tip with its vein, er… vine facing backwards.  It was quite a sight – I only wish I had quit laughing long enough to snap a picture.

 

If you’re a fan of the more traditional approach, just be sure you combine the standard ingredients in equal proportions around the plate.

 

So, there you have it ladies and gents, three foods that you imagination can run wild with. Other top contenders were the meatball grinder (also the name of a sex act), beef jerky (just because it sounds funny), and the buttery nipple cupcake (for obvious reasons).  

 

Feel free to leave your comments and recipes for more depraved sexual foods for all of us at TravelPride to investigate.  

 

Have a happy holiday season!

Originally posted 2017-11-13 16:20:13.

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Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People-Review and Interview

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I want to start off by saying that I’ve never been much of a believer in self-help books. Born with a hyper-sensitive BS detector, a practical mind, and color-coordinated set of lifelong baggage of major depression and physical and emotional trauma, I’m a pretty hard sell. I scoff at books that say I can “breathe and believe” my way into lifelong happiness. That the only reason I was depressed was that I didn’t believe hard enough. Give me a break.

Then I read Will Donnelly’s Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People, and it rocked my world.

What makes Will’s book different from your average run-of-the-mill yogi self-help book is that he’s not trying to sell you a better life, but asking you to look at your life at a different angle with relatable and simple messages with quotes at the beginning of each essay. The essays in the book are only a few pages long, giving you “bite-size” wisdom, separated into easy-to-find categories; if you’re looking for advice on personal responsibility or love and relationships, it’s easy to find what essays to read. While most self-help books act like a preacher on a pulpit, Will’s book speaks more like a friend giving you a little life advice, making him relatable to his reader. He knows love and grief and loss because he’s been there. After the death of his life partner Jeff to Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, in 2010, Will was at a loss with his grief. He went on a long road of mourning and depression and found healing in both yoga and writing. Will knows what it means to struggle and come back.

Will Donnelly is a nationally recognized, certified yoga teacher and writer. He has been a pioneer in the field of yoga, developing Practical Yoga, and co-creating/co-hosting a yoga–reality series for fitTV (Guru2Go, Discovery Communications, 2004). As a writer and teacher (and gay man), Will encourages all students to trust their impulses and find their true voice.  While Will has been teaching yoga for 17 years and practicing it for much longer, you don’t have to be a yogi to get the full benefits of this book. You just have to be a person. There are so many wonderful lessons to take away from this book, from essays on doubt to trust, his words stay with you long after you close the book.

I had the absolute privilege to “virtually” sit down with Will and have an enlightening conversation about his book.

How did the process of this book get started? 

I was processing grief during that time and I had a voice for yoga and wellness so I put the two together, journaling about life issues, about loss, about doubt, all sorts of things you’ll find in the book that I talk about in my yoga classes. My students would often say to me “Whatever you said at the beginning of class was really incredible, do you have that written down?” and I always say I actually don’t, so over the years I’ve been chronicling each of my thoughts that I would bring up in class that were relevant to personal growth and tried to write an essay about it and how it could help. These lessons I talk about saved me from the depression I was living with for the last eight years.

I ended up writing 70 or 80 essays through the blog “Confessions of an Accidental Yogi” and I decided that some of the essays I was very happy with and wanted to have them out in the world. So I grouped together the top 50 essays and put them in categories, such Trust & Faith, Personal Responsibility, and Love & Relationships, so it was easy reading. We’re all here to help each other, and as soon as we recognize that, then both our beauty and natural radiance, as well as our pain that we suffer through, can help others, just by saying “you’re not alone.” Life is a very weird and strange place to land in and I think by sharing stories and offering them gently, a lot of people can resonate with them as they deal with the journey of life.

What was the writing process like? How did you come up with ideas for essays? 

All of them are individual creations. Many come from my own personal experience dealing with my own fears, like traveling by myself after having been so fortunate to have had a travel companion most of my adult life (through my life partner). Some stories were triggered by quotes or passages read in books. A lot of blog posts were born in the writing group I teach in Hawaii (Writing from the Core with Will) and through meditations and conversations.

What of your own advice was the hardest to follow? 

The piece about doubt, I have to come back to that over and over again, to have faith because doubt is a part of faith. I am filled with doubt. When I think “Oh, I can’t do it,” or “I’m scared, I don’t know what to do next,” I have to recognize that that’s the beginning step of a very powerful journey in life and to have faith that it’s all going to work out.  The beauty of getting older, which is not prized in the gay male community, is that you can look back on your life and see your choices and it makes it easier to make them again if they’re positive choices. You can look back and say “I had doubt when I moved to LA and 3 years later I had my own TV show.” My favorite quote I use often on social media is by Fran Lebowitz: “Every Intention, every achievement has come out of dissatisfaction, not serenity. No one ever said ‘Things are perfect, let’s invent fire’”

What lesson or mantra do you follow everyday? 

It’s really profound to watch someone you love and adore get sick and during that time, I would think “I can’t do this, I can’t physically do this” and the mantra that stuck with me is a Stephen Hawking quote, “It matters if you just don’t give up.” If we’re not taking care of each other if we’re just here to be greedy, then what’s the point? It’s really easy to fall into despair about what humanity is doing right now, but then I realize it doesn’t matter what humanity is doing, it matters what I am doing and if I’m creating a joyful life. To go back to the Aquarian Age mantra in yoga: “Keep up and you’ll be kept up.” If you can find a way to keep going in a difficult 11-minute yoga pose, you can do that in every part of your life.

What was the easiest and what was the hardest part of writing this book?

The easiest part was going back and re-editing everything because it had all been written for the blog. The hardest part was wondering if this book was worth it because I didn’t want to end up putting more garbage out there. I wondered “Will people enjoy this? Is it pretentious or is it the real deal?” So I think the biggest challenge was having faith that my voice was worthy to be heard. It was an incredible feeling to be on the other side of that.

What is one piece of advice you want our readers to hear? 

I think the reality is that it’s our goal, perhaps especially in the LGBTQ communities, to appreciate the diversity of life and to dive into it and not feel like such an outsider or feel so threatened by it. So it’s about learning to open our minds up to a bigger picture of what life is really about. So dive in, dive into all of it, don’t miss it. Whatever our dreams are, it’s important to do it and to do some form of service to humanity, some way of giving out to the world other than taking.

Will currently lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, where he leads yoga and therapeutic writing classes at Kalani. He also leads several popular Practical Yoga adventure and healing retreats throughout the year, including the annual Holiday Yoga Retreat. His book, “Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People: Essays & Inspiration for Life” is available here. Information on retreats, audio clips from his book, his newsletter, and access to his popular yoga & meditation workout video (now available for streaming, first of the three workouts is free) can be found at WillsPracticalYoga.com.

I’ll leave you with one last word of wisdom from Will Donnelly:

“Your struggles don’t define you. We’re all struggling through life and it’s important not to get caught up in the struggle because so many do and become defined by their issues or their past. You get to reinvent yourself every day and you can use your past, no matter how damaged, as a bouncing point to go somewhere deeper and have a richer life because of it.”

Originally posted 2017-11-09 18:01:50.

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