Tag: Pride Month

Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 4: Books!

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Hi again Geeklings!  Welcome to our final week of Pride Month 2018 and a whole lot more recommendations, just for you.

So let’s get to a library’s bread and butter; BOOKS!  SO MANY BOOKS!  Unlike last week’s post, where I was kind of coming up empty, we have no shortage of titles to suggest this week.

It wasn’t always like that though.  For the longest time the only way stories about LGBTQ+ people got published was if they were marketed to adults and ended in tragedy.  As this article points out, back in the middle of the 20th century if a book showed gay characters having positive experiences the book would’ve been considered obscene and would’ve been confiscated at post offices.  What?  Really?  Really?

I’ll Get There.  It Better Be Worth the Trip by John Donovan is largely considered one of, if not the first, YA queer books to be published, all the way back in 1969, which was the same year as the Stonewall Riots and only a couple of years after The Outsiders kicked of a new wave of YA fic.  In the 1960s homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder and was against the law in a lot of places.  Early YA novels featuring homosexuality still contained a lot of tragedy, and that didn’t really start to turn until the 1980s, particularly with books like Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden which was published in 1982.  That book has been frequently banned since it’s publication, and was even publicly burned at a school in 1993.  Change came slowly, with many books featuring only side characters that fit the rainbow, and whether side or not most LGBTQ+ characters were male or white.  It was the early 2000s when queer YA really started to take off, and to feature not just gay characters but trans, ace, bi, fluid and all sorts of people.  Though there are still many missteps and many imbalances that continue to this day, the market is there so publishers and authors keep putting new stories and new voices out there.  And nowadays we can expect dozens of queer YA books to be published each year, whereas before we’d be lucky if we got one.

So short overview.  Again, click on that article link to learn more.  But now, let’s get to the books!

Some I like to recommend are…

The Summer of Jordi PerezThe Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding – I’m currently reading this one, so the jury’s still out, but really liking it so far.  It’s sweet, it’s summery, and it’s main character Abby, though a girl with quite a few insecurities in some areas of her life, also does not let the fact that she’s plus-sized stand in the way of her fashion dreams or her fashion sense.  She’s someone who knows what she likes and is quite comfortable in the fact that she’s gay.  It’s just finding someone who likes her back that way that’s the problem.  But her fellow intern at a trendy boutique, Jordi, is the latest girl to catch Abby’s attention.  Between that, competing for a coveted job and hanging with her new friend Jax while they taste test burgers in LA, it’s shaping up to be quite the summer.

Carry onCarry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell – I LOVE Rainbow Rowell.  I LOVE Fangirl.  And I LOVE Harry Potter.  And The Adventures of Simon Snow was Fangirl‘s in-universe version of Harry Potter.  And Carry On is a companion novel to Fangirl featuring Simon Snow.  Confused yet?  I don’t blame you, but here’s the gist; Simon’s attending his last year at Watford School of Magicks.  He’s supposed to be the Chosen One, but certainly doesn’t feel like he’s living up to that, what with his girlfriend breaking up with him and his roommate, Baz, probably plotting against him.  And Baz is also probably a vampire.  Simon’s going to have to figure all of this out and also save the magical world.  It’s kind of a slightly more realistic Hogwarts, as the witches and wizards in this story still live in regular homes and still use tech.  Give it a try.  And there’s a sequel coming!  Wayward Son is not due until 2020, but it is coming and I can’t wait!

The Love InterestThe Love Interest by Cale Dietrich – This one involves teenaged spies and unexpected attraction getting in the way of being a teenage spy.  Caden and Dylan have been raised by a secret organization to be ‘Love Interests’.  Their job is to seduce a young lady who’s bound to make an impact on the world, with the goal being that she’ll choose one of them as her husband, and then the chosen spy feeds information about her to the organization to sell to the highest bidder.  Caden is a ‘nice’ and Dylan is a ‘bad’, so a nice guy and a bad boy.  And the stakes are high, because whoever she doesn’t choose gets hunted down by the organization and killed.  You might’ve guessed the twist.  Caden and Dylan might actually be falling… for each other.  *cue ominous music*

Ship ItShip It by Britta Lundin – This book had made my list of 2018 releases to watch out for, and having read it I stand by that inclusion.  Claire is a 17 year old fangirl, and her favorite show is Demon Heart.  She ships the two male leads hard.  But when she gets the chance to ask the panel of the show’s actors at her local comic con about that ship, one of the actors shoots her down in a less than kind way.  The reaction goes viral, the show needs to repair it’s image, and Claire is whisked away with the cast and creators to hit up other comic cons.  She’s determined to make her favorite ship canon… but she’s also interested in Tess, the artist who keeps showing up at these cons.  As much as I may not agree with everything Claire does in this book, as a proud fangirl I do get where she’s coming from.

Honorable Mention:

GeekerellaGeekerella by Ashley Poston – So technically the two main characters in Geekerella are not queer (or at least not in any way that’s shown in the book), but some of the other characters in the book are.  But mostly I’m including it here because I really REALLY like it!  Seriously, it’s been a while since I’ve liked a book that much.  This take on Cinderella features Elle, a die hard Starfield fan living with her step mother and step sisters and working out of the Magic Pumpkin food truck.  Her favorite show is being made into a movie, and she’s not sold on Darien, the actor chosen as the lead.  She ends up registering for a cosplay contest at the local convention… if she can do it without her step family finding out.  It’s such a good book!  And a sequel is coming for this one too, due out next year, called The Princess and the Fangirl.

Do we have more?  Heck yeah, we have more!  I have a massive list posted below.  We’ve got books featuring gay, lesbian, trans, ace, bi and fluid characters.  Click on the title of the list to see the whole thing.

I SO want to read Noting Happened, Ash, All Out, It’s Not Like it’s a Secret, Let’s Talk About Love, Sometime After Midnight (another Cindrella take), Queens of Geek (can’t believe I still haven’t read that one yet) and The Pros of Cons.  So many books, so little time.

Any books you’ve read that you’d recommend?  Add any suggestions to the comments section or check out WriteIt.

Hope you guys enjoy the rest of Pride Month.  Get ready for Canada Day and the rest of summer, make sure to sign up for the Teen Challenge, and until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 3: Movies

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Hi again Geeklings!  Welcome to week three of our Pride month recommendations.

This week though, I wanted to talk about movies.  I was wholeheartedly excited to put a list together of teen-friendly flicks that celebrate pride.  In reality, it turned out to be a heck of a lot harder to find those kinds of movies than I thought.  Here I am trying to write up some film options that are a) appropriate for the under-18 crowd and b) would appeal to today’s modern teen.  And… I’m kinda coming up a little empty.  Many of the most acclaimed films of the last year that highlight LGBTQ+ themes (like Moonlight or Call Me By Your Name) are rated R, which doesn’t really help you guys.

So why the dry spell?  Well, I think it’s mostly because while a lot of books and TV shows are starting to get more open about that kind of representation, a lot of mainstream movies are still REALLY hesitant to represent LGBTQ+ characters (here’s a more current assessment).  And like a lot of things in life, the main explanation as to why seems to be money.  Franchises like Star Wars, Marvel and the Wizarding World spend millions upon millions of dollars on their films, and they want to make that money back as well as turn a profit.  This means that the stakes are higher for them then for a TV show or a book, and they have to appeal to the widest audience possible, both at home and globally.  And since LGBTQ+ practices are still pretty darn taboo in a lot of places, many countries will not screen movies that have explicitly gay/lesbian/trans/etc content.  Or in places where they are screened some movie goers will simply not buy a ticket for them.

It’s one of the reasons why we’re not getting any mention of Dumbledore’s sexuality in this year’s Fantastic Beasts movie.

Which is a huge bummer, if you ask me.  Mainstream films are just starting to come around to the idea of including more women and people of color in their casts, but anyone of a different orientation or gender identity is still being left in the closet.  Many filmmakers hint at it (like Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok or Antiope in Wonder Woman) but hardly anyone will come out and say it.  It’s beyond frustrating for a lot of people… and for librarians who want to talk about movies for you guys.

So what DO we have?

Well, how about Love, Simon?  Based off the book Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, this film follows Simon Spier, a teen who’s trying to balance his family, his friends, his school and being gay but not out.  But a couple of people pop up online; one person’s trying to blackmail him by threatening to out him, and another person has caught his romantic interests.  What will Simon do?  Put a hold on the movie and find out!

One I’d really recommend is Easy A.  Though the main character isn’t gay, one of the big characters in the film is, and that kind of sets up the whole story.  Released in 2010, it stars Emma Stone as Olive Penderghast, and since she’s already lied about losing her virginity she’s asked by her friend Brandon to pretend to sleep with him so everyone will think he’s straight and the bullies will leave him alone.  Olive decides to fully embrace her new bad girl image, even stitching a red ‘A’ to her clothes after her class reads The Scarlet Letter.  But, as things often do in these situations, everything gets out of hand.  Funny and smart, Easy A is definitely worth a look.

Anything else?  Well, last year I talked a bit about LeFou in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.  It turned out that was a whole lot of nothing, much hinted but not outright stated, but the film is still fun.  There’s also The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Struck by Lightning and Saved.

So yeah, kind of a short list today.  Hopefully that’ll change soon, and more studios, directors and producers will take a chance and tell more stories that represent more people.  Any movies you guys like that I missed?  Post away in the comments section.

One more week to go for Pride Month.  Stay tuned, have a great week and until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 2: TV Shows

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Hi again Geeklings!  My apologies for the delayed post, it’s been a wackadoodle week.  But here we are, welcome to week 2 of our Pride Month recommend-a-thon!  (See week 1 here.)  This week I thought we’d look at TV shows, the kind you can binge watch and soak in the happy.  I’ll put down both animated and live-action options here.  The more the merrier.

First, some of my personal faves…

Yuri on ice !!!!Yuri on Ice – It’s a series about figure skating, but it’s about so much more.  It’s about life and love and following your dreams in spite of obstacles.  And it’s just gorgeous, with beautiful animation and skating routines choreographed by skaters.  But this makes the list because of the main character, skater Yuri Katsuki of Japan, and his coach Victor Nikiforov, a world champion skater from Russia.  OK, there’s a bit of debate among fans over whether or not they’re actually a couple (I won’t get into why, ’cause of spoilers), though having watched the show I don’t know where that comes from.  They are clearly a couple, and it’s awesome.  So give it a shot.  It’s the show that finally sold me on anime, so I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Steven UniverseSteven Universe – This show is a bit strange on first watch, but the more you dig into it the more you find a rich mythology and complex characters.  The show centers around Steven, a good-natured boy with unusual parents.  His dad is human, but his mother was a Gem, a race of alien beings with superpowers and gem stone names.  Steven is being raised by his dad and by the Crystal Gems; Garnett, Amethyst and Pearl, who take on the mission of his mother Rose Quartz to fight evil and protect earth.  The interesting thing is that all Gems appear as female, and many of our main characters have romantic histories with each other, bringing up themes of gender and same-sex romance, and it’s all in a sweet and colorful way.  You’ll enjoy going on adventures with these guys… just remember your cheeseburger backpack.

Rick and MortyRick and Morty – This show is not for everyone.  It can be quite profane, violent and the characters can be much less than likable at times.  It’s also really smart, delving into really interesting themes and topics and showing several amazing and diverse worlds through the multiverse.  It can also be downright funny.  It’s going on the list because of the main character Rick Sanchez, who is a sociopathic alcoholic super genius who drags his teenaged grandson Morty on random and often dangerous adventures.  Rick is pansexual, and that’s been confirmed both by the creators and on the show itself.  Pansexuality isn’t often showcased in any medium, so to see it explored a little on a popular TV show is a bit of a deal.

So there are my big three.  Some other ones to try?  How about 13 Reasons Why, Scream Queens, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Glee, My Hero Academia, Riverdale, Legends of Tomorrow, Gotham, Attack on Titan, Adventure Time or Gravity Falls.  All diverse shows (Sci Fi, Horror, Anime, Adventure, Super Heroes, Drama, Musical, Comedy), and all of them including LGBTQ+ characters.

Keep watching and reading.  Stay tuned for more items the next couple of weeks, and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Pride Month Recommendations Part 1: Graphic Novels

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Hi again Geeklings!  Happy June!

And of course, June means Pride Month!  That magical time of rainbows and love and equality and being who you are.  Whether you identify as LGBTQ+ or not, there is something for everyone this month, and plenty to celebrate and to contemplate as we all move forward.

Last year I wrote a few posts about favorite LGBTQ+ characters in fandoms (you can read the posts here, here, here and here).  This year I thought I’d tweak that format a little bit and focus on just recommending the heck out of our collections, because we have A LOT of pride friendly reading, watching and listening materials.  Like, a lot.  So let’s break it down these next few weeks and show you what we’ve got.

This week, let’s start with graphic novels, because they’re awesome.  Graphic novels have often explored people of all colors of the rainbow.  Like other forms of media it can be slow to catch on (hello Comics Code), but unlike others it often doesn’t get quite as much scrutiny as movies or TV shows, so it can take a few risks now and then.

Let me start you off with a few personal favorites…

Jem and the Holograms Jem and the Holograms Vol. 1: Showtime by Kelly Thompson – I’m biased on this one, because I’m a kid of the 1980s and I watched the original Jem TV series, so of course I was stoked that they were getting a reboot (the live-action film doesn’t count).  And I was not disappointed with Thompson’s new take.  Smart, funny, oh so colorful, dramatic in all the right ways, and with great characters and family themes.  It was a blast to read.  It makes the list because they did a new take on one of the band members, Kimber, who in this version is gay.  Not only that but she and Stormer, from rival band The Misfits, are crushing on each other.  *gasp*

Jughead Jughead Vol. 1 by Chip Zdarsky – One of the orientations that still hasn’t had a lot of representation (and that’s saying something) is asexuality.  When Archie comics decided to relaunch itself back in 2015 with new series and new takes on characters, Zdarsky officially confirmed that everyone’s favorite burger-loving, crown-wearing sardonic teen was indeed ace.  Honestly, it was obvious throughout the character’s 77 year history that dating is not a priority for him, so it was a natural evolution.  The series is funny, zany and plain fun.  Volume 2 was especially interesting, as we find Jughead unwittingly on a ‘date’ with a certain teenage witch.

Batwoman Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka – Batwoman was always a bit player in DC Comics until the New 52 Relaunch in the mid 2000s, when the new improved Kate Kane was revealed to be a lesbian.  This volume is a great place to start, as it goes over Kate’s history and how she came to be a caped crusader in her own right.  She lost a lot by coming out, but she also gained a lot, and has been cleaning up the streets of Gotham ever since.  Another series to try is DC Bombshells, which has Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (who are both queer themselves) and a whole host of other DC superheroes fighting during WWII.  It’s retro and exciting.

AvengersAvengers: The Children’s Crusade by Allan Heinberg – No list of LGBTQ+ graphic novels would be complete without the Young Avengers.  As their name implies, they’re a group of younger Marvel superheroes.  Two of the biggest standouts in the group are power couple Wiccan and Hulkling, longtime boyfriends and teammates, but their roster soon grows to include America, who is a butt kicking Latina lesbian.  I’m going to recommend The Children’s Crusade as a starting point, because it’s a really interesting story and features a lot of cross over with teams like the Avengers, the X-Men and X-Factor (who also have their own gay couple).

So there are a few personal recommendations, but for a broader look check out the list below…

I really want to read Moonstruck, Nimona, Bingo Love, Midnighter and Apollo and Secret Six.  Time to pull out my summer reading supplies (lawn chair, hat, sunscreen and footrest), I won’t be moving for a while.

Stay tuned all through June for more lists and more great reads and watchables.  Have an awesome month, remember summer break is coming (and the Teen Challenge), and until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: Pride Month Part 4! Slash Fiction and Final Thoughts!

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Hi again Geeklings!

So June is almost over (can you believe it?) and this weekend Canada celebrates 150 years on July 1st.  So let’s wrap up Pride Month with the fourth and last part in my series on LGBTQ characters (Click for Parts 1, 2 and 3).  This time, however, we’re going to get a little unofficial.  We’re delving a bit into Slash fic.

What is that?  Well, let me throw a few terms at you.  “Shipping” in Fandom circles is when fans romantically match characters, regardless of if that match is canon or not.  If you write about, draw about, paint about, or just support a certain couple you “ship” them (you may hear the term OTP as well; that means One True Pairing, the couple you love above all others… though, let’s face it, you often can’t pick just one).  “Slash” is shipping where both of the shipped characters are guys; for two girls it’s often known as “Femslash”.  There are MANY famous slash pairings out there, often with mash-up names.  Very few of them are canon, but fans really want them to be and, honestly, they might as well be, considering the TON of fan art and fanfiction out there around them.  And on the rare occasion a ship DOES become canon… my gosh, that’s a happy day for fans!

Some examples of slash pairs include Destiel (Dean Winchester and Castiel from Supernatural), Johnlock (Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, and that’s one of the oldest slash pairings out there), Spirk (Captain Kirk and Commander Spock from Star Trek, and like many other things in fandom, slash as it’s known today really began with Trek, appearing in fanzines before the internet became a thing), Sterek (Mieczyslaw “Stiles” Stilinski and Derek Hale from Teen Wolf), and of course the ultimate question amongst Avengers fans; Stony or Stucky?  (Meaning, who should Captain America end up with?  Iron Man or Winter Soldier?)  A couple of examples of femslash pairs include Pangie (Peggy Carter and Angie Martinelli from Agent Carter), Allydia (another Teen Wolf pairing, this time between Allison Argent and Lydia Martin) and Korrasami (Korra and Asami Sato from The Legend of Korra), though that one actually became canon.

So why do we ship?  And why do we slash?  There are a lot of theories out there, but some of the ones I like the best is that it’s a way for young fans to explore romance; that it’s a way for LGBTQ fans to find representation in pop culture which, though getting a bit better, is still lacking; and it’s proof that there are many versions of love, and that who we’re attracted to can be hugely fluid, which is always a good thing to know and normalize.

So I encourage you guys to imagine the possibilities.  And I encourage you to share your fanfics on Write It!, ’cause we’d all like to read them.  Who are some of your favorite ships?  Post away in the comments section too (but no shipping wars; all ships are valid!).

So, some final thoughts; why did I write this series on LGBTQ characters, both canon and non?  Four posts covering four different formats featuring many orientations (gay, lesbian, bi, pan, ace, etc.) and many characters.  What heck?

Well, pop culture, and really any type of art we make, is a reflection of us; as a whole, as individuals, as a society, etc.  It represents our hopes and dreams, our problems, what we wish we could change and what we shouldn’t change for anything.  Our strengths, our flaws, and the many, many ways we go through the human experience.

And I wanted to take this month to highlight LGBTQ characters because, for some of us, we may find ourselves in a position where we know something might be up with us in regards to sex or romance or who we feel we should be or whatever, but we’re just not sure what it is.  And we may find ourselves in a position where we have absolutely no one to talk to about it.  Maybe, for whatever reason, your family or friends or community isn’t really all that open to talking about homosexuality or anything non-heteronormative.  Or maybe they are, but you’re too nervous or afraid to ask.  It could totally rock what you thought you knew about yourself.  Or maybe you don’t know what to ask.  It’s a process, let me tell you.

So it’s kinda nice when you can open a book or turn on a TV or sit in a movie theatre and see a character that makes you go “Huh.  That sounds or looks an awful lot like me.”  This is why representation in our culture is so important, for all types of people.  When you see someone like you it inspires you to be your true self.  Then when you are ready to ask some questions, to vocalize all of this, it’s helpful to envision that character, or even just to know that somebody, somewhere, created something that echoes what you’re feeling.  You are NOT alone, whether support comes from nearby or from a writer writing in Hollywood or somewhere.  And just the knowledge that you aren’t alone can be very powerful, regardless of where it comes from.

Stormpilot anyone?

So if you’d like to learn more, we have resources and we have links.  As library staff we encourage people to not to be afraid to ask questions.  Allow me to promote that here.

Thanks everybody.  Happy Pride!  Don’t forget about TSRC, and until next time, End of Line.

Oh yeah, and apparently this is a thing now 😉