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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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The Best LGBTQ+ Podcasts to Keep You Entertained While Travelling

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Unpopular Opinion: Travelling is hella boring.

Wait, don’t click away so fast. I don’t mean the actual being away- where you dip your feet in the Pacific Ocean or stroll across a piazza in Rome . I mean the physical act of travelling to a place, which can mean hours- and sometimes days- of waiting for your holiday to start.

Basically, the thrill of planes, trains, and automobiles was lost on me from a very early age making me a terrible choice for your Route 66 road trip (but thanks for asking).

Now, you’re probably wondering why I wouldn’t just enjoy the extra time with my travel companion. Well sometimes, especially if I’m travelling for work or to visit someone, I’m on my own. Occasionally, even if I have a kickass travel buddy, it’s hard to keep the enthusiasm up over a long period of time when you’re just waiting.

As a result, I turn to podcasts to keep me occupied; there are shorter pop culture ones to keep me alert while waiting for my flight in the early hours of the morning or longer fictional stories to keep me entertained on seven-hour coach rides.

Here are some of my personal recommendations for those of you who want some LGBTQ+ hosted podcasts to keep you busy during your next trip.

Looking for laughs: Nancy

Kathy Tu and Tobin Low; courtesy of New York Public Radio

With most podcasts coming in at around 30 minutes, this is the perfect peppy companion to keep you entertained (and most importantly, awake) while waiting at an airport gate before 6 am.

Best friends Kathy Tu and Tobin Low discuss issues affecting the LGBTQ community from sex-ed to politics to pop culture, while sharing their personal stories about being queer and Asian- and encouraging their guests and listeners to do the same.

Previous guests include “Master of None” star Lena Waithe, musician Rufus Wainright, and nonbinary actor Asia Kate Dillon.

Recommended Episode: There Are No Gay Wizards- It’s no secret that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and this podcast explores the absolute queerness of the series…I mean Harry literally lived in a closet ya’ll.

Looking for debate: Umbrella

Hosts (clockwise from top left): Kate, Taylor, Dawson, Olivia, Glynn, Riley, Kayla, Layne.
Collage created by Emma Murphy; photos reproduced with permission from hosts.

If you’re looking for intelligent, informed debate to break up a train journey, then check out Umbrella. This monthly panel-style podcast brings together a diverse group of the LGBTQ+ community to discuss issues that impact upon our community.

Sometimes the subject matter is heavier, as in the case of their intersectionality show, but all of the podcasts are kept light by the interactions between the hosts.

Beware: You may find yourself interjecting your own opinion into the debate and the other people on the train may look at you strangely…

Recommended Episode: (106) LGBTQ+ Fandom – Canon, Non-Canon, Ships and All- For all fangirls and boys who want more representation in their fave media, this is the podcast for you. IMO Criminal Minds needs to feature some queer characters who are neither victims nor criminals.

Looking for a story: Alice Isn’t Dead

Actors Jasika Nicole and Joseph Fink. Credit: Nina Subin

Last month, I made a 14-hour return coach trip for my five-year uni reunion and I wanted something to keep me distracted enough that I wouldn’t have to use the bathroom (because ever since a horrible trip to Miami in 2011, I never use coach bathrooms).

That’s how I found the Alice Isn’t Dead Podcast, a serial fictional drama about a long-haul truck driver (played by Jasika Nicole) searching for her missing wife. Will she find her? What happened to her?

I am the worst person for accidentally blurting out spoilers- and I’ve listened to the entire podcast- so I won’t go into detail but oh my god, this is incredible. It kept me hooked from the beginning and when I met up with my friend at the end of my coach journey, I might have asked if I could just finish the episode before we started our catch up.

Recommended Episode: Part 1, Chapter 1- Omelet- As this is a fictional story, it’s best to begin at the beginning but don’t worry, the tension is high from the offset.

Looking for sassy politics: Throwing Shade

Via goo.gl/vFQZFp

 

If you’ve been sitting in the airport bar, staring at cable news on mute, and wishing it was socially acceptable to cuss out the Fox News hosts in public, then do me a favor; walk out of the bar, find somewhere to sit and play an episode of Throwing Shade.

Hosts Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi are not afraid to talk about the important issues facing the LGBTQ+ community and women in the 21st Century, with the exact right amount of sarcasm and skepticism. Honestly, it’s like listening to good friends calling out politicians, institutions, and the general public for failing to achieve justice for marginalized groups.

They may bill themselves as “a weekly podcast taking all the issues important to ladies and gays and treating them with much less respect than they deserve,” but they still do a much better job than certain politicians and journalists.

Recommended Episode: TS284: Dog Songs, FGM, Trump and LGBTQ issues- How does Donald Trump fair on a podcast called Throwing Shade? Not too well surprisingly, but it sure is fun to hear him being dragged through the mud.

Looking for music: Homoground

The Homoground Team. Photos taken by Moon Cloud.

Travelling is tiring and sometimes you just need to stick in your headphones and let the music take you away, but what if you could discover new music by LGBTQ+ artists at the same time?

That’s where Homoground comes in.

I listen to Homoground whenever I need a break from the outside world; whether that’s sitting on the floor of a bus station waiting to be picked up after a full day of travelling, leaning against the wall while waiting for my suitcase to appear on the luggage carousel, or when I just don’t want to hear the opinions of my fellow coach travelers.

Tune in, turn up, chill out.

Recommended Episode: #MIXTAPE126 – Gender is Over! If You Want It- If the gender police are getting you down, then play this punk-filled podcast loud and proud.

Originally posted 2017-08-23 11:24:30.

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Gay Relationship Timeline

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Friends, allies and other distinguished readers, there is an inherent truth to some particular types of relationships. Specifically, the idea that there will be confusion over the timeline in general and, in particular, the transitional period from being lovers to partners. Normally this would be the stuff of romcoms, but we all know how Hollywood can stuff it when it comes to understanding certain types of relationships.

And by “certain types”, it is “all of them.”

So as a public service, TravelPride will set out a timeline for how the transitional period ought to be mapped out. Keep in mind that every relationship is different, so these guidelines are meant to be taken with a grain of salt. Also, it should be understood that the marker for Day 1 is the day where there is the love confession and acceptance. With that in mind, here is the timeline:

  • Day 30: This the beginning stage of being a full-time lover, not a Stevie Wonder song. Do something nice on this day, like maybe go see a movie or take in a local baseball game/soccer match. During this time, look for some subtle hints from your boyfriend about the possibility of something that is more long-term. This sometimes comes in the form of the occasional staring off into the distance, as if he was doing method acting for an obscure indie film. Make note of it, in accordance with your own good judgment.
  • Day 60: At this point, the prospects of you two becoming partners should be considered as a possibility in the near future. If he wants to have a discussion about such a thing, do so in a way that ensures a more-or-less neutral disposition. This is not to say that you should be oblique; if there are issues, do not be afraid to speak your mind about them. Whatever conclusions are reached, keep them in mind as your relationship moves forward.
  • Day 90: If you believe it to be worthwhile, feel free to introduce your boyfriend to your family. Depending on the circumstances, this may require a certain kind of diplomatic language when it comes to your older relatives. Unless you have a drunk uncle (which all families have, to be honest), then all bets are off. And while TravelPride does not wish to support or even condone physical violence, sharp-witted insults are encouraged. Here are some links to a few collections in order to gel both of your imaginations.
  • Day 180: As you post the six months’ anniversary collage on Facebook, ask yourselves these questions: “Do I truly want a long-term commitment? Does he want to be seen as a partner instead of a boyfriend? And what coffee shop are we going to for breakfast on Saturday?” If your answers to the first two questions are Yes, then you should consider your boyfriend as a full-fledged partner and tell him as such. And while you’re at it, use Yelp to ask the third.
  • Day 365: At this point, he is a partner of yours. If you can, invite him to move into your place. If he accepts your proposition, it means that he has also acknowledged the maturation and progress of the relationship. Then again, the two of you will probably have to split the money spent on moving fees, because that ain’t cheap.
  • Day 730: For God’s sake, just go ahead and propose already! Unless you have serious reservations about the relationship, however. In that case, seek the advice of professional help as soon as reasonably possible. You can’t be too careful about this sort of thing.

Originally posted 2017-08-02 17:45:10.


Also published on Medium.

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For the Love of House Music

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House Music is uplifting, joyous, and free. Queer and like to dance? You will find a dance/music community in place no matter where you are in the world. Grooving to House Music is my thing. I enter the sanctuary of House to re-energize. It’s been that way since we were introduced in 1979. She’s carried me over some rough patches, times when I felt like I was losing the ground underneath my feet.  

House Has Carried Me Through

In 2005, while ‘‘Cool Cat’ my daddy was in the Burn Unit of Detroit Receiving hospital, I’d go to Agave on Sunday’s after visiting hours to build up my faith. Even though Cool Cat didn’t make it out of Receiving alive, I danced for him to be at peace and out of unimaginable pain experienced through a comatose state. He left the day after my 41st birthday.House music and vibing with community helped me to make it through.

My love affair with alcohol ended, I would carry two bottles of ice-water in my backpack to avoid losing my space by one of the speakers, wasting time to go to the bar. I didn’t want to miss a minute of dancing. Agave, never disappointed, I’d dance for Cool Cat while sending up prayers.   

Dance Away The Stress

House spells relief for many people after a hard week on the grind. People who love good music come out to dance their cares away. House is as freeing as it is healing. House is a connector of people. At any spot where House runs deep, you will find a mixed crowd. House Music pulls diverse crowds. You’ll find an eclectic mix of queer and str8, along with various races and ethnicities jamming together.  They will be vibing and getting high from the beats banging through the speakers and the poetry flowing from tracks.

House is for beating back the blues, through verse that grabs your spirit reminding you that you’re worthy. Finding self and self-love are frequent in the songs that dare you not to feel empowered and encouraged. House is also fluid.  When master mixologists house cuts use tribal beats and anything 1970s, I go on a spiritual journey.  

Sunday Tea Parties

One criticism I have of the Queer community is that we don’t hang out enough. Sunday Tea Parties were prevalent in the 1970s and in some places they’re making a comeback. Tea Parties worked because they were open and welcoming to the queer community and allies. In Detroit, Michigan from 2000-2006  as a member of Sistas Providing Intelligence and Creativity (S.P.I.C.E.), I helped throw some stellar afternoon events. Mimosas flowed and the food was good. In between eating, laughing, and catching up we gathered on the dance floor to throw down to House music.

Giving It All Up To The Feeling

An extensive list of Detroit deejays has held my heart since 9th grade.  Growing up with music pioneers. and being exposed to alternative music stores shaped my music tastes. It opened me up to the Worldwide House Movement. House music keeps this “Queer Diva”, moving to the beat. House is cool for a plethora of reasons. If you can keep the beat, you’re good. Go where the music takes you without fear of judgment. You don’t need a dance partner. I’m far from shy and when a good song comes up, I’m on the floor. House allows that. Dance by yourself, in the mirror or next to a speaker to take in more bass (if you’re like me), whatevs — do you. You can dance alone without worrying about someone inviting themselves into your personal space. You can feel the love of community when a dope song drops. If it’s a throwback song, House lovers make eye contact with knowing glances and head nods.  A complete blast.

House is happy it’s liberating and it’s needed in the world we live in. House Music makes things a little better.

 

Originally posted 2017-07-30 18:00:18.

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