The Black Experience 2.0: Interview With Emery Lee

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, I chat with the author of one of my most anticipated YA releases, Meet Cute Diary, Emery Lee (he/him/e/em). We talk about eir debut, trans joy and what trans joy means to em.


Q: Hello Emery. Thank you so much for making time out to chat with me today. Before we start, could you briefly introduce yourself and tell us what your book is about?

Emery: Sure! I’m Emery Lee, author of MEET CUTE DIARY a YA romcom about a trans boy who tries to stages a fake relationship to save his trans romance blog from an internet troll, but everything he thinks he knows about romance flies out the window once real feelings get involved. 

Q: A small tradition when interviewing people on my blog is asking about their favourite Winnie the Pooh character. May I ask who yours is?

Emery: Eeyore! I’ve always had a soft spot for the emo, grumpy characters, even at age like five I guess LOL. 

Q: Due to the fact that I haven’t read Meet Cute Diary yet, I’m going to keep the questions generic and light. From what I’ve been able to gather from reviews, your book, Meet Cute Diary is a book about trans joy and love and this makes me even more excited to read it. So I want to ask, when writing Meet Cute what moments or parts gave you the most joy?

Emery: This is a little hard to answer without giving any spoilers, so I’m going to try to keep my answer super vague. I absolutely loved writing about Noah and his brother, Brian, and the way Brian supports Noah’s transitioning and basically all of Noah’s chaotic life choices. There are also a couple scenes that I’ll just call the “the Christmas party scene” and the “the scavenger hunt scene” that were just so much fun to write. This should make sense once you read it!

Q: I want to keep this interview limited to joy and positive things, so I want to know what parts of the story are closest to you? What parts make you smile whenever you recall them?

Emery: There were so many casual queer or PoC jokes throughout the story that felt like sharing a secret with a good friend as I wrote them. Every time I stumble over one of those again, I can’t help but laugh. I also just loved writing Noah’s witty sense of humor and sarcasm. His voice is really strong, and I know it can be off-putting to some people, but he’s just so dramatic so reading some of his internal monologue just has me cackling. 

Q: While books and other media forms about trans joy aren’t as popular or readily available as those about trans trauma and pain, they do exist. What are some of your favourite books (or other media) about trans joy or love or basically centring trans people being happy?

Emery: So, this is actually a really hard question for me because I think I have a different definition of “trans joy” than a lot of other people. For me to consider a book a “joy” book, I don’t want oppression anywhere in the plot. Like mentions of it here and there as things go down are just kind of natural, but there shouldn’t be any major plot points that involve being outted or misgendered or fighting against bigotry. That being said, I can’t really think of any stories in which transness is centered without being a huge source of conflict. One book I recommend to everyone looking for a good trans story filled with a lot of happy moments is CEMETERY BOYS by Aiden Thomas because it’s a truly lovely story filled with amazing characters and a beautiful romance, but to say that the book doesn’t also show a lot of trans pain would be a lie. Ultimately, I think the story was kind of cathartic for me, and I adore that book, but it’s not something I could read if I was in the wrong headspace because it still centers a lot of trans trauma and pain. FELIX EVER AFTER by Kacen Callender was a similar experience for me. It was difficult to get lost in the “joy” of the book because there was still a lot of trans pain at the forefront. Ultimately, I think I’m still in a place where I’m trying to find those books that I can truly call “happy” without feeling like I’m setting readers up to be re-traumatized. I have high hopes for a couple on my list coming out this year, but I don’t want to say too much until I’ve gotten a chance to read them for myself!

Q: When people read books they take away something from the experience. Most of what they take is subjective but what is one thing you’d like people to keep in mind after reading your book?

Emery: Trans people are not our trauma. There’s one trans character in MEET CUTE DIARY who experienced some major transphobia after coming out, but those elements are in the past, and Noah, the main character, came out to a fully supportive family and deals with very little transphobia. I want readers to see this and not think “oh, that’s so unrealistic”. I want them to see it and think “Oh, this is what trans people should experience and we should do everything we can to make it so that more trans people have this lived experience.” I want to flip the expectation that trans people will experience bigotry on its head. Trans people deserve happiness, and the bigotry we experience is the result of moral failures, not just something we should be used to.  

Q: It’s been a fun conversation so to wrap things up, pitch your book is only seven words.

Emery: Noah thinks he knows romance. He’s wrong! 


About Emery Lee

Emery Lee is a kidlit author, artist, and YouTuber hailing from a mixed-racial background. After graduating with a degree in creative writing, e’s gone on to author novels, short stories, and webcomics. When away from reading and writing, you’ll most likely find em engaged in art or snuggling cute dogs.

You can find Emery on: Twitter | Instagram | Website | YouTube 

*name of social media = link 


More on Meet Cute Diary

Felix Ever After meets Becky Albertalli in this swoon-worthy, heartfelt rom-com about how a transgender teen’s first love challenges his ideas about perfect relationships

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.

Add on: Goodreads | Storygraph 

Preorder through eir website 


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Series Review: The Feverwake Duology

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|Content warnings: Racism, xenophobia, generational trauma, manipulation, domestic abuse, violence, gore, death, blood, rape, murder, depression mention of an eating disorder, mention of suicide and suicidal ideation, loss of a love one, fascism, addiction, ableist language, slut-shaming|

(this is combined list of content/trigger warnings for both books)

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Bisexual Jewish mc, gay POC Jewish mc/li, Jewish major sc, Black side characters, sapphic side character, queer side characters, biracial mc

The Fever King

BLURB

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

(minor spoiler in review)

The Fever King, the first book of the Feverwake duology follows Noam, the son of Altantian immigrants in Carolina, a futuristic United States (or more accurately a part of it) from when he wakes up in a containment centre after surviving a strain of the deadly virus, Magic, marking him as ‘Witching’ and as the joins the highest ranks of witchings working for the state, Level IV. Set in this pandemic filled state, it follows Noam’s rise from a significantly powerless immigrant to one of the rarest and most powerful witchings, all the while planning the downfall of the government he works for.
The Fever King is a dark and rich novel about the complexities of power, politics and corruption, with themes on racism and xenophobia.
I find it a bit ironic that I read this book about pandemic during one, and that I also happened to enjoy it. The Fever King has to be one of the most impressive books I’ve read since the start of the year. Despite the number of times I was going to be shocked by this book and how prepared I was, it didn’t really hit me until it did…especially Lehrer.
I won’t lie, but the one thing I found most impressive about this novel and the duology in total, more than the themes of racism and xenophobia,was the villain Lehrer and his perfect manipulations. Lehrer is one of the best written villains I’ve read and even if I didn’t love this duology, Lee deserves my respect for writing him. Just when you think you had him figured out, he surprises you.
I guess another thing is that the darkness of the book and the villain more impactful is the main character. Noam is a naive character with an astonishing single minded tenacity. It’s one of the reasons he’s likeable and one reason the book is as intense as it is.
Now to the reason I didn’t rate this book above 4 stars, two reasons actually. Noam and Dara’s relationship is one of my favourite things about this book. Seeing my two precious baby gays (technically only Dara is gay and Noam is bi) together was sweet. While their relationship wasn’t entirely a smooth sailing, it was cute…mostly cute. One of the issues I had is tied to their relationship. Minor spoiler here: When Dara tells Noam he had read this mind, which was I guess inevitable because of Dara’s presenting ability, I didn’t feel right with me. Yes, I understand he can’t resist it and it’s presenting power but it felt wild and violatory to me. The second reason was the ending of the book didn’t seem to fit in smoothly into the book. It seemed more like an epilogue which I guess it’s what it actually is, but it would have been a lot better for me if it had been called an epilogue.
All in all it was a great book. Lee weaves a perfectly dark and twisty novel and I would definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Links

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The Electric Heir

BLURB

In the sequel to The Fever King, Noam Álvaro seeks to end tyranny before he becomes a tyrant himself.

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.

The Electric Heir, the second and final book of the duology picks up six months after The Fever King and after Noam has succeeded in helping Lehrer overthrow the sitting government. Noam has become Lehrer’s favoured pawn and has remembered what happened six months ago, but he is still yet a subject to Lehrer’s whim. Noam plays the dangerous double game of working to bring down Lehrer while remaining by his side as his perfect prodigy.
The Electric Heir is literally an extension of The Fever King, but this sequel is much darker than the first book.
Noam, our still extremely naive and stubborn main character — well now, one of the main characters —, is in a huge mess, one he had a hand in creating. Being both heavily burdened with the guilt of the things he’s done for Lehrer, under his command and trying to find a way to defeat him, while wanting him to believe he’s on his side.
Dara also is back in town, but changed. Like Noam, Dara has one main objective to take Lehrer down and maybe reconnect with the boy he loves, but things aren’t the way he left them six months and just like him, Noam has changed.
I feel the most striking thing about this book is the conversations on abuse and healing. Noam finds himself in a predatory and abusive relationship, where he has significantly less power and is manipulated by his partner, and Dara, himself, had once been the one Noam was in this relationship. While Noam struggles with being trapped in this toxic relationship, Dara is currently trying to recover from the effects of it
The Electric Heir talks about hard topics like rape, statutory rape, major depressive disorder, anxiety, alcoholism and suicidial ideation. It’s not a pretty book, its dark, darker than its predecessor and heartbreaking.
While I felt the climax of the book was a little underwhelming, I really did love this book. The twists in plots and the sheer brilliance of the villain, like I said in my review for The Fever King, once when you think you’ve figured Lehrer out, he does something to surprise you.
I loved the resolution of the book. It made me so happy to see the main characters happen, in love and recovering.
The Feverwake Duology is a definite recommend.
Rating: 4.5 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐★)

Links

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Bookshop

Book Depository

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Have you read the Feverwake duology? How did you feel about it?


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ARC Review: You Should See Me In A Crown

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BLURB

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

|CW: Homophobia, Panic attacks, racial microaggressions, parental death, chronic pain, forced public outing|

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Black, queer, chronic illness, sickle cell anaemia, anxiety disorder

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⭐⭐⭐⭐★

4.5 stars 

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A cute and amazing book…

You Should See Me In A Crown is a fun and lighthearted romcom which follows the story of Liz Lighty, one of the few Black students of her high school as she enters for prom queen and finds love.

Prom in Campbell County, Indiana is a huge deal and for Liz Lighty who just lost a scholarship to attend the university of her dreams, it’s the perfect opportunity if she can step up and step out.

You Should See Me In A Crown talks about taking chances, being true to yourself and challenging the status quo. In Campbell, there’s never been a Black prom queen, queer prom queen or a leading prom contestant as unexpected as Liz, but she does it.

Another thing I loved about You Should See Me In A Crown, are themes on friendship and family. I love books that explore these themes and this book does this well. YSSIAC talks about friends that just like family, friend fallouts and make ups, friends who will always stick up for you and be there for you, even when they mess up, and the love of a supportive family.

The chronic illness discussion in YSSMIAC was also amazing. I find that not many books talk about sickle cell anaemia and crisis, even though this is a prevalent genetic disease amongst Black people. Perhaps it’s because we didn’t have as many books written by Black as we do now, but seeing sickle cell anaemia as someone who is training to become a nurse in an African country where it’s prevalent and as someone who carries the trait, was really great.

The writing in Crown was amazing. It’s simple and sweet and easy to follow, and the style was simply cute

 

I absolutely adored the characters…

The characters in Crown were as amazing as the book and I think the book is amazing because of the characters.

I absolutely love Liz. She was a great character and easy to connect with. I love her relationship with her friends, her brother and Mack. I understood her, her sense of responsibility and love the people around her, and her anxiety. I loved how her character developed to be more surer, bolder and confident. Liz is the Black queer girl, every Black queer girl should read.

I loved the other characters too. The love interest, Mack, was sweet and absolutely lovely. I loved Liz’s friends and family.

A book with Black queer joy I didn’t know I needed…

Ok, maybe I knew I needed a book like this, but You Should See In A Crown surpassed all my expectations.

200% recommend.

 

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It’s Queer Here: Black Trans & Nonbinary Writers To Support

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Hello and welcome to It’s Queer Here!

It’s Queer Here is a ten days long mini blog series which will hold from June 14 – June 25th (skipping Juneteenth) to commemorate Pride month. The purpose of this blog series is to centre more often forgotten queer voices, especially those which intersect with other marginalisations and affect their experience of queerness. It’s Queer Here can be seen as reminder, that although these identities less are presented, that they’re still here and they’re still queer.

We started this mini blog series with a statement and reminder to support Black trans lives and today, we’re ending it with a list of Black trans writers to support.

This list is a small compilation of Black trans, nonbinary, genderqueer and gender non conforming writers whose works you should read.


 

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Kacen Callender (they/them and sometimes he/him)

Born and raised in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, Kacen Callender is the award-winning author of the middle-grade novels Hurricane Child and King and the Dragonflies, the young-adult novels This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story and Felix Ever After, and the adult novel Queen of the Conquered. 

Kacen was previously an Associate Editor of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, where they acquired and edited novels including Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles, the New York Times bestseller Internment by Samira Ahmed, and the Stonewall Honor award-winning novel Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake.

They enjoy playing RPG video games in their free time.

Kacen currently resides in Philadelphia, PA.

Website/Works

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Dane Figueroa Edidi (she/her)

Dubbed “The Ancient Jazz Priestess Of Mother Africa”, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi is an African,Cuban, Indigenious, American trans performance artist, author (Yemaya’S Daughters,  Brew, Wither Baltimore: A Love Letter, Keeeper, Remains:A Gathering Of Bones, Incarnate, For Black Trans Girls Who Gotta Cuss A Mother Fucker Out When Snatching An Edge Ain’T Enough, Solace), teacher, choreographer, oraclur consultant, educator, healer, advocate, political commentator,  and a founding member of force collision.

Website/Works

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Danez Smith (they/them)

Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of “Homie” (Graywolf Press, 2020), “Don’t Call Us Dead” (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and “[insert] boy” (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez’s work has been featured widely including on Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez has been featured as part of Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list and is the winner of a Pushcart Prize. They are a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness.

Website/Works

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Venus Selenite (xe/xym)

Venus Selenite is a poet, writer, performance artist, social critic, editor, educator, and technologist based in Washington, D.C. 

The author of a poetry collection, trigger, xe is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where xe began xyr career on the youth slam and spoken word circuits. After working with the National Center for Transgender Equality on the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey, xe became devoted to her art and mission full-time. Venus works as the Trans Voices Columnist for Wear Your Voice Magazine, serves on the leadership team of Trans Women of Color Collective, is an editor for Trans Women Writers Collective, and is the Communications Coordinator for The Future Foundation. Xe has performed and spoken at venues such as the Kennedy Center, Anacostia Playhouse, New York University-DC, American University, the Capturing Fire Queer Poetry Slam, and the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam. Venus will be publishing xyr first novella, Istrouma, and co-editing Nameless Women: An Anthology of Fiction by Trans Women of Color, both eyeing publication in early 2017.

Works

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Cameron Awkward-Rich (he/him)

Cameron Awkward-Rich is the author of Sympathetic Little Monster (Ricochet Editions, 2016), which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. He is a Cave Canem fellow, a poetry editor for Muzzle Magazine, and his second collection of poetry, Dispatch, is forthcoming from Persea Books in December 2019.

Also a critic, Cameron earned his PhD from Stanford University’s program in Modern Thought & Literature, and he is an assistant professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Currently, he is working on a book about maladjustment in trans literature and theory.

Website/Works

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Cole McCade (he/him)

Author of the Crimina Intentions series. He is tall, bi/queer, introverted author of a brown-ish persuasion made up of various flavors of Black, Asian, and Native American.

Website/Works

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C. Riley Snorton (he/him)

Riley Snorton is associate professor of Africana studies and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies at Cornell University and visiting associate professor of American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He is author of Nobody Is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low (Minnesota, 2014).

Works

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Janet Mock (she/her)

Janet Mock is the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs, Redefining Realness (2014) and Surpassing Certainty (2017), a writer, director and producer on Ryan Murphy’s FX series Pose, for which she made history as the first trans woman of color to write and direct an episode of television with the landmark script, “Love Is the Message.”

Website/Works

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Isaac Fitzsimons (he/him)

Isaac Fitzsimons grew up in the DC suburbs but spent his summers in England and France. When he’s not writing young adult fiction, he enjoys trying out new recipes, supporting his soccer team, Manchester City, and butchering songs on the banjo, piano, and ukulele. His dream vacation would be traveling around Europe via sleeper train to see every top-tier soccer team play a home game. He currently lives outside DC and works for an arts advocacy nonprofit in the city.

Website/Works
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Rivers Solomon (they/them)

Rivers Solomon is a dyke, an anarchist, a she-beast, an exile, a wound, a shiv, a wreck, and a refugee of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. They write a9bout life in the margins, where they are much at home.

In addition to appearing on the Stonewall Honor List and winning a Firecracker Award, Solomon’s debut novel AN UNKINDNESS OF GHOSTS (Akashic Books) was a finalist for a Lambda, a Hurston/Wright, a Tiptree, and a Locus Award, and was included in numerous best-of-the-year lists, including in NPR, Publishers Weekly, and The Guardian (UK).  Their short work appears in or is forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, the New York Times, Guernica, Best American Short Stories, Tor.com, and elsewhere, and their second book, THE DEEP, is forthcoming November 2019 from Saga (Simon & Schuster).

They grew up between California, Indiana, Texas, and New York but currently reside in the United Kingdom.

(bio as written from author’s website)

Website/Works

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Emery Lee (e/em/eir)

Emery Lee is a kidlit author, artist, and YouTuber hailing from a mixed-racial background. After graduating with a degree in creative writing, e’s gone on to author novels, short stories, and webcomics. When away from reading and writing, you’ll most likely find em engaged in art or snuggling cute dogs.

Website/Works

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Akwaeke Emezi (they/them)

Author of PET, Freshwater and The Death of Vivek Oji (August 4, 2020)

Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Emezi was awarded a Global Arts Fund grant in 2017 for the video art in their project The Unblinding, and a Sozopol Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction. Their writing has been published by T Magazine, Dazed Magazine, The Cut, Buzzfeed, Granta Online, Vogue.com, and Commonwealth Writers, among others. Their memoir work was included in The Fader’s ‘Best Culture Writing of 2015’ (‘Who Will Claim You?’) and their film UDUDEAGU won the Audience Award for Best Short Experimental at the 2014 BlackStar Film Festival.

Website/Works

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Jayy Dodd (she/her)

a blxk trans womxn from los angeles, california– now based in Portland,OR. she is a artist, writer, & curator. her work has been featured in LitHub, Poetry Foundation, Oprah Magazine, Ms. Magazine, The New York Public Library among others. she is the Executive Director for Dovesong Labs (a development of Winter Tangerine), editor of A Portrait in Blues (Platypus Press 2017), author of Mannish Tongues (Platypus Press 2017), The Black Condition ft. Narcissus & Impressive Woman (Nightboat Books 2019 & 2021). she has been a Pushcart nominee, co-editor of Bettering American Poetry. she is a Lambda Literary Fellow & a PICA Precipice Grant Recipient. she is also known as Lady Tournament, Mutha of Tournament.Haus in the Portland BallroomKiKi / Club Scene. find her talking trash online or taking a selfie.

Website/Works
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Ceyenne Doroshow (she/her)

Ceyenne Doroshow (pronounced Kai-Ann) is a compassionate powerhouse performer, activist, organizer, community-based researcher and public figure in the trans and sex worker rights’ movements. As the Founder and Executive Director of G.L.I.T.S., she works to provide holistic care to LGBTQ sex workers while serving on the following boards: SWOP-USA, Caribbean Equality Project, SOAR Institute and NYTAG. 

As an international public speaker, her presentations include The Desiree Alliance, Creating Change, SisterSong, Harm Reduction Coalition and the International AIDS Conferences. She was a featured emcee for Toronto Pride and MOMA/PS1’s Sex Workers’ Festival of Resistance, lifting her voice as a trans woman of color. 

Ceyenne has been heavily featured in the media, has performed on television in Showtime’s OZ, for the documentaries Red Umbrella Diaries and Miss Major. 

Known for her skills in the kitchen, Ceyenne co-authored the Caribbean cookbook Cooking in Heels, while incarcerated on prostitution charges. She is currently working on her second book, titled Falling Into the Fire.

Works | G.L.I.T.S
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Da’Shaun Harrison (they/them)

Da’Shaun Harrison is a nonbinary abolitionist and community organizer based out of Atlanta, GA. 

Harrison’s writing has appeared in PhiladelphiaPrint, OffThaRecord, Medium, Queer Black Millennial, THEM, Black Youth Project, BET, and other online publications. They have been interviewed by Roland Martin on NewsOne Now, and have also been featured in/interviewed by The Fader, Everyday Feminism, Buzzfeed, Electronic Intifada, and other local and national publications.

Website/Works
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Candice Montgomery (she/her)

Candice “Cam” Montgomery (non-binary she/her/Dad) is an LA transplant now living in the woods of Seattle, where she writes Young Adult novels. Her debut novel, HOME AND AWAY can be found online and in stores now, and her sophomore novel, BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY was released October of 2019. 

She’s long been an enthusiast of anthologies and now finds herself the editor of one! ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES (ed  with davis-araux and Adrianne Russel-White) is to be published by Inkyard Press in winter of 2022!

By day, Cam writes about Black teens across all their intersections. By night, she tends bar at a tiny place nestled inside one of Washington’s greenest trees. Cam is an avid Studio Ghibli fan and will make you watch at least one episode of Sailor Moon before she’ll call you “friend.”

Website/Works
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Xandria Phillips (they/them)

Xandria Phillips is a writer, educator, and visual artist from rural ohio. The recipient of the Judith A. Markowitz Award For Emerging Writers, Xandria has received fellowships from Oberlin College, Cave Canem, Callaloo, and the Wisconsin Institute For Creative Writing. Their poetry has been featured in American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, Crazyhorse, Poets.Org, Virginia Quarterly Review, And Bomb Magazine. Xandria’S poem, “FOR A BURIAL FREE OF SHARKS” won The gigant sequins poetry contest judged by Lucas De Lima. Xandria’s chapbook, REASONS FOR SMOKING WON THE 2016 Seattle Review Chapbook Contest JUDGED BY CLAUDIA RANKINE. Their first book, HULL was published by Nightboat Books in 2019 and is the winner of the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for trans poetry, as well as a finalist for The Believer Award. Xandria is currently working on a non-fiction manuscript called PRESENTING AS BLUE / ASPIRING TO GREEN. This book explores color theory, gender, and modes of making. xandria also writes for artificial intelligence app, replika AI.

Website/Works

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Danny Lore (they/them)

Danny Lore (they/them) is a queer black writer/editor raised in Harlem and currently based in the Bronx. They’ve worked in comic and gaming shops since the beginning of time. Most of their writing is contemporary speculative fiction, with the occasional foray into science fiction. They’ve had their short fiction published by FIYAH, Podcastle, Fireside, Nightlight, EFNIKS.com and more.

Their comics work includes  QUEEN OF BAD DREAMS for Vault Comics, QUARTER KILLER for Comixology, and JAMES BOND for Dynamite Comics in December 2019. They have short comics in DEAD BEATS and THE GOOD FIGHT. They edited THE GOOD FIGHT anthology and THE WILDS (Black Mask comics).  They will be included in the YA prose Anthology A PHOENIX FIRST MUST BURN, at Viking Books, in Spring 2020.

Website/Works

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Tamara Jerée (they/them)

Tamara Jerée is a graduate of Purdue University’s Creative Writing MFA Program and the Odyssey Writing Workshop. Much of their fiction is secondary world fantasy where women mother their children after death and magical girls fall in love and heal their communities. They are at work on a novel.

Website/Works
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Vita Ayala (they/them)

Vita Ayala is a queer Afro-Latinx writer out of New York City, where they live with their wife and cat sons. Their work includes THE WILDS (Black Mask Studios), SUPERGIRL (DC), XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (Dynamite), MORBIUS: THE LIVING VAMPIRE (Marvel), LIVEWIRE (Valiant), and SUBMERGED (Vault), among others.

Patreon

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Shola von Reinhold (they/them)

Shola von Reinhold is a Scottish socialite and writer. Shola has been published in the Cambridge Literary Review, The Stockholm Review, was Cove Park’s Scottish Emerging Writer 2018 and recently won a Dewar Award for Literature. Shola is a recent graduate from the Creative Writing MLitt at Glasgow which was completed through the Jessica Yorke Writing Scholarship and has previously studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins. Shola has also written for publications including i-D, AnOther Magazine

Works

Raquel+Willis+2020

Raquel Willis (she/her)

Raquel Willis is a Black transgender activist, writer and media strategist dedicated to elevating the dignity of marginalized people, particularly Black transgender people. She is the former executive editor of Out magazine and a former national organizer for Transgender Law Center (TLC).

Website/Works


And that’s the end of this mini series! Thank you for sticking around till now. Happy Pride and Black Trans Lives Matter.


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It’s Queer Here: How being autistic affected coming into my queer identity

20200623_194757_0000

Hello and welcome to It’s Queer Here!

It’s Queer Here is a ten days long mini blog series which will hold from June 14 – June 25th (skipping Juneteenth) to commemorate Pride month. The purpose of this blog series is to centre more often forgotten queer voices, especially those which intersect with other marginalisations and affect their experience of queerness. It’s Queer Here can be seen as reminder, that although these identities less are presented, that they’re still here and they’re still queer.

Today on It’s Queer Here, Katie (he/they) talks about how being autistic has affected their coming into their identity as a queer person.


Hi, I’m Katie and I’m nonbinary, aroace, and autistic. One of the main ways my autism impacts me is alexithymia, or the inability to pinpoint emotion. I didn’t realize how big of an impact it actually had until relatively recently, which honestly makes sense. I should probably start by introducing myself. 

I have a tendency to look inwards a lot, but it’s not until other people point things out that they actually click. When I was in middle school, I thought I was pan for maybe a month or so. Then, I saw a tumblr post stating something along the lines of “if you haven’t had a crush before *insert age here* then you might be asexual” and it clicked. In elementary school when someone asked who I had a crush on, I would say Frankie Jonas, the little brother to the Jonas Brothers. I don’t think I really understood what a crush was. Or, I thought I was just a late bloomer or something. I knew I had to make up something in order to fit in, so I just chose a famous person my age. 

For that month or so, I thought I was pan because in my head I was like “there’s no gender that I prefer, so I must be into people of all genders.” What I didn’t see at the time was that I never actually had a crush on anyone. I didn’t understand what having a crush on felt like. I still don’t. Yes, I read books about romance all the time, but how do I know what it feels like if I’ve never felt it before? How do I know if I’m feeling it for the first time?

So, basically, I discovered my sexuality through a single tumblr post. As for my gender, it’s a similar journey, but one that’s taken much longer. I’m still not really completely certain on that end. Once again, the issue is “how do I know what I feel if I’ve never felt it before?” How do I know if I’m a girl if I don’t know what it feels like to “be a girl”? 

I still don’t have a solid answer in terms of what my gender is (although if you asked me a year ago, I would have told you I knew). I know I’m not a girl (even though I still don’t know what that means) at least most of the time. Sometimes I am a girl though. Sometimes I’m a boy. Sometimes my gender is so far from reach that I allow myself to float in the void of space. I still call myself nonbinary/genderfluid/genderqueer. Mostly because I don’t care enough so much of the time. Maybe tomorrow I’ll learn that I’m actually just a guy or that I’m pangender. We’ll see. I have no clue at least.

Katie’s Links

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It’s Queer Here: Queer Books with Neurodiverse and Disabled rep

20200623_000509_0000

Hello and welcome to It’s Queer Here!

It’s Queer Here is a ten days long mini blog series which will hold from June 14 – June 25th (skipping Juneteenth) to commemorate Pride month. The purpose of this blog series is to centre more often forgotten queer voices, especially those which intersect with other marginalisations and affect their experience of queerness. It’s Queer Here can be seen as reminder, that although these identities less are presented, that they’re still here and they’re still queer.

Today on It’s Queer Here, Arina (she/they) @PaperbackVoyager and I bring you a list of books with neurodiverse/disabled/chronically ill and queer representation. While Arina’s part of the list (SFF) has a mixture of those three representation, my part of the list (Contemporary) focuses on queer and neurodiverse rep.


SFF

1. Failure to Communicate by Kaia Sønderby 

Rep: Autistic, Ownvoices

Series: Kandri Corelel #1

Synopsis:

As one of the only remaining autistics in the universe, Xandri Corelel has faced a lot of hardship, and she’s earned her place as the head of Xeno-Liaisons aboard the first contact ship Carpathia. But her skill at negotiating with alien species is about to be put to the ultimate test.

The Anmerilli, a notoriously reticent and xenophobic people, have invented a powerful weapon that will irrevocably change the face of space combat. Now the Starsystems Alliance has called in Xandri and the crew of the Carpathia to mediate. The Alliance won’t risk the weapon falling into enemy hands, and if Xandri can’t bring the Anmerilli into the fold, the consequences will be dire.

Amidst sabotage, assassination attempts, and rampant cronyism, Xandri struggles to convince the doubtful and ornery Anmerilli. Worse, she’s beginning to suspect that not everyone on her side is really working to make the alliance a success. As tensions rise and tempers threaten to boil over, Xandri must focus all her energy into understanding the one species that has always been beyond her: her own.

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Book Depository

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2. The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan

Rep: Schizophrenia

Synopsis:

India Morgan Phelps–Imp to her friends–is schizophrenic. She can no longer trust her own mind, because she is convinced that her memories have somehow betrayed her, forcing her to question her very identity.

Struggling with her perception of reality, Imp must uncover the truth about an encounter with a vicious siren, or a helpless wolf that came to her as a feral girl, or neither of these things but something far, far stranger… 

Goodreads| Bookshop | Amazon 

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3. The Labyrinth’s Archivist by Day Al-Mohamed

Rep: Visually impaired

Synopsis:

Walking the Labyrinth and visiting hundreds of other worlds; seeing so many new and wonderful things – that is the provenance of the travelers and traders, the adventurers and heroes. Azulea has never left her home city, let alone the world. Her city, is at the nexus of many worlds with its very own “Hall of Gates” and her family are the Archivists. They are the mapmakers and the tellers of tales. They capture information on all of the byways, passages and secrets of the Labyrinth. Gifted with a perfect memory, Azulea can recall every story she ever heard from the walkers between worlds. She remembers every trick to opening stubborn gates, and the dangers and delights of hundreds of worlds. But Azulea will never be a part of her family’s legacy. She cannot make the fabled maps of the Archivists because she is blind.

The Archivist’s “Residence” is a waystation among worlds. It is safe, comfortable and with all food and amenities provided. In exchange, of course, for stories of their adventures and information about the Labyrinth, which will then be transcribed for posterity and added to the Great Archive. But now, someone has come to the Residence and is killing off Archivists using strange and unusual poisons from unique worlds whose histories are lost in the darkest, dustiest corners of the Great Archive. As Archivists die, one by one, Azulea is in a race to find out who the killer is and why they are killing the Archivists, before they decide she is too big a threat to leave alive.

Goodreads| Amazon 

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4. Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Rep: amputee, mute

Synopsis:

Amara is never alone. Not when she’s protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they’re fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she’s punished, ordered around, or neglected.

She can’t be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes.

Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he’s yanked from his Arizona town into Amara’s mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He’s spent years as a powerless observer of Amara’s life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she’s furious.

All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan’s breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they’ll have to work together to survive–and discover the truth about their connection.

Goodreads| IndieBound | Amazon | Book Depository

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5. Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Rep: PTSD, m/m

Series: Timekeeper #1

Synopsis:

I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time.

Goodreads |Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon | Book Depository

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6. Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

Rep: Chronic illness, sapphic

Series: Tangled Axon #1

Synopsis:

Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything–even destroying planets–to get their hands on her.

Goodreads  | IndieBound | Amazon | Book Depository

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7. Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Bryn

Rep: Paralysis, mute, ownvoices

Series: These Treacherous Tides #1

Synopsis:

The ocean is uncontrollable and dangerous. But to the sirens who swim the warm island waters, it’s a home more than worth protecting from the humans and their steam-propelled ships. Between their hypnotic voices and the strength of their powerful tails, sirens have little to fear.

That is, until the ruthless pirate captain, Kian, creates a device to cancel out their songs.

Perle was the first siren captured, and while all since have either been sold or killed, Kian still keeps them prisoner. Though their song is muted and their tail paralyzed, Perle’s hope for escape rekindles as another pirating vessel seizes Kian’s ship. This new captain seems different, with his brilliant smile and his promises that Kian will never again be Perle’s master. But he’s still a human, and a captor in his own way. The compassion he and his rag-tag human family show can’t be sincere… or can it?

Soon it becomes clear that Kian will hunt Perle relentlessly, taking down any siren in her path. As the tides turn, Perle must decide whether to run from Kian forever, or ride the forming wave into battle, hoping their newfound human companions will fight with them. 

Goodreads | Bookshop | IndieBound | Amazon | Book Depository

 

Arina’s Links

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CONTEMPORARY

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1. Untouchable by Talia Hibbert

Rep: Depression, Anxiety, Bisexual mc, Demisexual side character

Synopsis: 

Sleeping with the staff wasn’t part of the plan.

Sensible, capable, and ruthlessly efficient, Hannah Kabbah is the perfect nanny… until a colossal mistake destroys her career and shatters her reputation. These days, no-one in town will hire her—except Nathaniel Davis, a brooding widower with a smile like sin and two kids he can’t handle.

Prim and proper Hannah is supposed to make Nate’s life easier, but the more time he spends around his live-in nanny, the more she makes things… hard. He can’t take advantage of her vulnerable position, but he can’t deny the truth, either: with every look, every smile, every midnight meeting, Nate’s untouchable employee is stealing his heart.

The trouble is, she doesn’t want to keep it. Forbidden love isn’t high on Hannah’s to-do list, and trust isn’t one of her strengths. When dark secrets threaten to destroy their bond, Nate’s forced to start playing dirty. Because this reformed bad boy will break every rule to finally claim his woman.

Please be aware: this book contains depictions of depression and anxiety that could trigger certain audiences.

 

Goodreads | Storygraph | Bookshop.org

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2. You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

Rep: Anxiety, Queer mc

Synopsis:

 Liz Lighty has always  hi she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

Goodreads | StoryGraph |Bookshop.org

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3. Work For It by Talia Hibbert

Rep: Depression, Anxiety, m/m pairing

Synopsis:

For men like us, trust doesn’t come easy.

In this village, I’m an outcast: Griffin Everett, the scowling giant who prefers plants to people. Then I meet Keynes, a stranger from the city who’s everything I’m not: sharp-tongued, sophisticated, beautiful. Free. For a few precious moments in a dark alleyway, he’s also mine, hot and sweet under the stars… until he crushes me like dirt beneath his designer boot.

When the prettiest man I’ve ever hated shows up at my job the next day, I’m not sure if I want to strangle him or drag him into bed. Actually—I think I want both. But Keynes isn’t here for the likes of me: he makes that painfully clear. With everyone else at work, he’s all gorgeous, glittering charm—but when I get too close, he turns vicious.

And yet, I can’t stay away. Because there’s something about this ice king that sets me on fire, a secret vulnerability that makes my chest ache. I’ll do whatever it takes to sneak past his walls and see the real man again.

The last thing I expect is for that man to ruin me.

Work for It is 80,000 words of hot, angst-filled, M/M romance featuring a cynical city boy, a gruff, soft-hearted farmer, and a guaranteed happy-ever-after. No cheating, no cliff-hangers, just love. (Eventually.)

Goodreads | Storygraph | Bookshop.org (Audiobook available only) 

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4. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Rep: Autistic, Bisexual mc, f/f pairings.

Synopsis: 

Three friends, two love stories, one convention: this fun, feminist love letter to geek culture is all about fandom, friendship, and finding the courage to be yourself.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is an empowering novel for anyone who has ever felt that fandom is family

Goodreads | Storygraph | Bookshop.org

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5. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Rep: Anxiety, Queer, f/f relationship

Synopsis:

You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

Goodreads| Storygraph | Bookshop.org

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6. Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Rep: Depression, Pansexual mc and Lesbian love interest, f/f pairing

Synopsis:

The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.

At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.

Goodreads | Storygraph |Bookshop.org 

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7. The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

Rep: Depression, Degeneraritive Hallucinatory Disorder, Bisexual mc, m/m pairing

Synopsis:

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

Goodreads | Storygraph | Bookshop.org

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8. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Rep: OCD, m/m pairing

Synopsis:

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Goodreads| Storygraph | Bookshop.org

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9. The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Rep: Depression and Anxiety, m/m pairing

Synopsis:

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.

Goodreads| Storygraph | Bookshop.org

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10. Their Troublesome Crush by Xan West

Rep: Autistic, Depression, Demiromantic, Trans, Polyamory, Pansexual, Bisexual

Synopsis:

In this queer polyamorous m/f romance novella, two metamours realize they have crushes on each other while planning their shared partner’s birthday party together.

Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disabled queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, all while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.

Goodreads| Storygraph | Bookshop.org

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11. Eight Kinky Nights by Xan West

Rep: Polyamory, Graysexual, Pansexual, Autistic, PTSD and Depression. Also has disabled and arthritis rep

Synopsis:

Sometimes the perfect Chanukah gift can change everything.

Newly divorced stone butch Jordan moves into her friend Leah’s spare room, ready, at 49, to take on a new job and finally explore kink and polyamory. But moving to NYC during the holidays sends grief crashing through her, and Jordan realizes that when she isn’t solely focused on caring for others, her own feelings are unavoidable. Including her feelings for Leah.

51 year old queer femme Leah, an experienced submissive kink educator who owns a sex shop, has recently come to terms with being gray ace and is trying to rework her life and relationships to honor that.

Leah has a brainstorm to help them both: she offers Jordan eight kink lessons, one for each night of Chanukah, to help Jordan find her feet as a novice dominant, and to create a structured space where Leah can work on more deeply honoring her own consent, now that she knows she’s gray ace.

She’d planned to keep it casual, but instead the experience opens cracks in the armor Leah’s been using to keep people at a distance and keep herself safe. Now she needs to grapple with the trauma that’s been impacting her life for years.

Can these two autistic queers find ways to cope with the changes they are making in their lives and support each other, as they build something new they hadn’t thought was possible?

Goodreads| Storygraph | Bookshop.org

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12. Tenderness by Xan West

Rep: Bisexual, Autistic, Non-binary. Also has chronic pain representation

Synopsis: 

When Judith gets dumped by her girlfriend, she feels like her world has imploded. It will take the love and care of her queer chosen family, and the support of her best friend Shiloh in particular, to help her cope with the havoc that this break up has wreaked on her life. This chosen family love story illuminates the ways we can find hope amidst devastating change, if we are supported by folks who understand and care for us as we really are.

Goodreads| Storygraph | Bookshop.org

 


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It’s Queer Here: No Coming-of-age Moment — Experiencing my queerness

20200617_210934_0000

Hello and welcome to It’s Queer Here!

It’s Queer Here is a ten days long mini blog series which will hold from June 14 – June 25th (skipping Juneteenth) to commemorate Pride month. The purpose of this blog series is to centre more often forgotten queer voices, especially those which intersect with other marginalisations and affect their experience of queerness. It’s Queer Here can be seen as reminder, that although these identities less are presented, that they’re still here and they’re still queer.

Today on It’s Queer Here, Arina (she/they) writes a very personal and very relatable post about figuring out or working to figure out one’s queer identity, and how for a lot of us, we really don’t have a single coming of age moment but a plethora of such moments


I’ve never been the type of person who could open up easily. I suppose for reasons woven into my upbringing and my mental health I have always had a difficulty talking about myself and exposing issues I haven’t even fully explored on my own. But I feel like if there’s ever a time to allow yourself to be vulnerable it’s when your words can possibly have the power to reach out to someone who is going through the same hardships as you and help them connect to themselves and others, to heal.

So if anyone who reads this finds even a sliver of peace in my experience, I know my reservations can forgive themselves the slip.

Being queer doesn’t amount to one single coming-of-age moments for me. I suspect many of you are the same, but I didn’t have that moment in my life where I can pinpoint was the turning point for me realizing I wasn’t straight. All I know is by the time I went to middle school my attractions (or lack thereof) made me increasingly aware that I couldn’t relate to many of my friends’ experiences. 

Whenever my friends would talk about relationships I would just nod along and tell myself that I just hadn’t had the freedom to get there yet (I come from an extremely strict household). It was natural to me that if I hadn’t had the chance to explore much on the subject then I wouldn’t have yet arrived at those same conclusions. One day I would get there and I could productively contribute to those conversations. Until then, my nod would have to be enough. 

By the time high school rolled around my nod was still in full effect. Then I had the space to reflect on what my nod required of me, to start exploring exactly where my identities lied, and to feel myself bursting at the seams enough to share those experiences with one of my closest friends. That ended up creating a hitch in my understand of myself, as I was forcefully outed. When I think back to the days after that (I believe I was lucky enough my mind tried to bury most of them in a haze), I often wonder if that contributed to my withdrawal from fully conversing on, and exploring with, my queer identity. 

Even now, when someone asks me about my identity, I find there’s always a sense of uneasiness attached to my answer— “queer”. That’s because most times, that answer prompts a secondary “Yes, but what exactly?”, and that’s a question I feel as eternally grateful when it doesn’t come as eternally anxious when it does. Because if I have enough insight to admit I am queer, then certainly I have the same knowledge of myself to specify “what exactly”. Right?

My insecurity when claiming one identity may seem out of place to many, but maybe likewise, it can connect with so many more. If someone asks you to pick up a flag and you choose the generic one, does that show a lesser commitment? And if you feel like you need to pick more than one flag, a whole assortment of them, to make sense of all the parts of yourself that don’t, then is the same thing true?

I’m always afraid that others will think the crossroads my queer identity built could only be a call to attention. Too many roads, too many alleys, too many corners—oh, now you’re pan? Now you’re ace? But you have sex, are you even…? People —even those inside the community (though I dare say they know less about their place in it than myself)— can often make you feel like all those little parts of yourself don’t even make sense individually, much less when jumbled all together into a tangle of emotions you yourself can’t even make sense of. Even the intersectionality of my mental illness and my sexuality worked as a source of unrest. I often found myself wondering if my mental disorders directly affected my queerness — was I aromantic because of my mood disorders, which impacted the very way I could feel (or sometimes, not), or was my aromanticness inherent and completely unrelated to the effect these disorders had on me? Was even asking myself this fair? Was I tainting my identities with unrecognized prejudice directed both at my sexuality and my disabilities? I wondered if that ignorance stemmed from the fact I forcefully distanced myself from immersing myself into the queer community, both online and irl, because I never felt I had the right to sit at the table unless I knew certainly which seat to take, or because I was too distrusting after my experiences in high school.

I still think a lot about what being queer is to me, and specifically, exactly what “type of queer” I am. I’m confident one day when people ask me that I can shout out a clear answer. And I’m hopeful one day I’ll get to sit at the table and have that thirst-sating drink I’ve been craving my entire life.

Even now, at 24, I still don’t have a concrete answer to all those questions. I still see no definite surety to my identities aside from the fact I am here, I am queer, and I am proud—whatever it is I have to be proud of, it’s being myself, even if I don’t know exactly where that lies yet. Even now, at 24, I am still exploring this essential part of myself, my identity. 

And for those of you who are going through the same, I hope this post helps you realize the most important part of your queer experience— you are not alone, and you matter more than you know. But I hope one day you do.

 

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