Statement on Orlando

I wrote the following statement for my organization, and I feel compelled, given the gravity of what occurred in Orlando, to repost it here.


[CW - homophobia, transphobia, racism]

In going about writing a statement after the attack in Orlando, Florida on June 11, I realized quickly I didn't know what words to say; there's really no way to describe the horror of what occurred.

Throughout years of doing queer activism, I've seen a tremendous amount of bigotry. I've seen it in the passing of transphobic bills such as HB-2 in North Carolina, the senseless murders of trans women of color, and the bullying queer and trans teens continue to endure in schools across the country.

Time and time again, I've also see the queer and trans community respond with tremendous courage, strength, and pride. One of the things that makes gay bars like Pulse so sacred is their ability to provide a safe haven when the rest of the world simply isn't a safe place to live openly. So to have someone try to destroy us from the inside out because of hatred — because of homophobia, transphobia, and racism — feels shattering beyond what newspaper headlines can ever convey.

My heart goes out to everyone who lost a loved one in the horrific attack, the 53 who were injured, and every queer and trans person whose sense of safety was shaken.

Still, I'm given hope by the incredible sense of togetherness in the queer and trans community that remains in the wake of this attack: the queer and trans people who fought to donate blood in Orlando despite an outdated ban on blood donations from gay men and trans women, the thousands who participated in vigils across the world and marched in Los Angeles's pride parade in solidarity, the queer and trans activists who called out the Islamophobic rhetoric that emerged from news coverage of the attack, and everyone's overwhelming concern for the safety and well-being of queer and trans friends and family members.

As I said earlier in this statement, in spite of homophobia and transphobia, I've time and time again seen the queer and trans community respond with tremendous courage, strength, and pride. No matter what those filled with hate would like to think about how what unfolded will impact our community, this will not break us. We are courageous, we are strong, and we are proud of who we are. Hate will not break our love for ourselves, and just as importantly, our love for each other.

In love and solidarity,

Amelia Roskin-Frazee

Monday Night Catchall: January 11, 2015

Nothing much has been happening in my life besides making the world's ugliest cake ever (which my friend then tried to save by putting a panda on it and calling it a mountain, thus making its ugliness seem intentional). But hey, it tasted good!

Saturday's football game between the Bengals and the Steelers epitomized everything wrong with football. Since when it is acceptable in any context to purposefully slam into someone's head? And how come football makes it suddenly acceptable to punch women (or anyone, for that matter)? I'm very confused. Okay, rant over.

Hoverboards have just been banned in my dorm. :( Apparently there's an actual justification for this, though.

In other news, we've apparently be wrong to see the Supreme Court as, well, you know, supreme. I mean they pale in comparison to this judge in Alabama who apparently has more authority than them ...

Sunday Night Catchall: December 20, 2015

Abby Wambach retired. :'( Flashback to the wonderful week when I got to see her play in person. She was also stiffed by U.S. soccer, which is annoying but not surprising.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the conversation this week about queer stereotypes in YA literature. Feel free to keep Tweeting/messaging/commenting if you have something to add!

I think I found the world's most beautiful hospital room (pictured on the left).

For this week's YA book rec, let me refer you to the cool rundown Barnes & Noble just did of great YA books to look forward to in 2016. Also, be sure to check out #GayYABookClub on Twitter for great YA book suggestions with LGBTQ characters!

Most importantly on the personal front, finals are over! There's nothing like studying by watching the Warriors play while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack in the background. "My Shot" seemed particularly relevant and has just been stuck in my head all week, so linking it below.

9 Queer Stereotypes I'm Sick of Reading in YA Lit

I'm abundantly happy that YA literature is becoming more diverse. Back when my organization started, it seemed like there were only a handful of LGBTQ-related YA books to choose from, and now there are many published every year. But still, there are some stereotypes/tropes I see a bunch in LGBTQ-related YA lit that irritate me. Here are 9 queer stereotypes I would like to see less of in YA literature.

I get annoyed when:

  1. Lesbian relationships always have one masculine woman and one feminine woman.
  2. Gender identity always conforms to a binary. There are plenty of people who identify as gender non-conforming or genderqueer, people who don't identify as any gender, people who identify as multiple genders, etc.
  3. I can't find gender-neutral pronouns anywhere. Like seriously, where are they?
  4. Bisexual people are just confused. Bisexual characters can really be bisexual.
  5. Pansexual people don't exist. Or pansexuality and bisexuality are conflated. Here are two definitions taken from Trans Student Educational Resources:
    1. Bisexual: "An umbrella term for people who experience sexual and/or emotional attraction to more than one gender (pansexual, fluid, omnisexual, queer, etc)."
    2. Pansexual: "Capable of being attracted to many/any gender(s). Sometimes the term omnisexual is used in the same manner. 'Pansexual' is being used more and more frequently as more people acknowledge that gender is not binary. Sometimes, the identity fails to recognize that one cannot know individuals with every existing gender identity."
  6. Asexual people don't exist. Did you know some studies have found ~1% of people are asexual? And no, having a character not in a relationship isn't the same thing as having an asexual character. And asexual people can be romantically attracted to others!
  7. Every queer kid is bullied. Yes, 85% of LGBTQ teens experience anti-LGBTQ name-calling, but not everyone fits into that narrative, and when every book makes queer kids seem miserable, many queer kids can't enjoy the book.
  8. Every queer character is white. (Does this need an explanation?)
  9. The goal of every transgender character is to transition. Many trans people have no interest in transitioning or altering their gender expressions. Gender expression doesn't equal gender identity! Here are two definitions taken from Trans Student Educational Resources:
    1. Gender identity: "One’s internal sense of being male, female, neither of these, both, or other gender(s). Everyone has a gender identity, including you. For transgender people, their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity are not necessarily the same."
    2. Gender expression: "The physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, body shape, etc. (typically referred to as masculine or feminine). Many transgender people seek to make their gender expression (how they look) match their gender identity (who they are), rather than their sex assigned at birth. Someone with a gender nonconforming gender expression may or may not be transgender."

Additional annoying stereotypes (submitted by readers) include when:

  1. The Queer character's story centers around their coming out and having to deal with familial drama/centers around their Queerness as opposed to a real story line like heterosexual characters have.
  2. Queer people can't be religious/ that spirituality and queerness are mutually exclusive.

Have any additional queer stereotypes in YA you can't stand? Comment below or Tweet it to @ARoskinFrazee and I'll add it to the list!

Sunday Night Catchall: November 22, 2015

Not going to lie: one of the most satisfying moments of my week was beating my dad and brother at Catan. (Okay, fine — the most satisfying moment of my week ...) Anyone else play board games with your family that get really awkwardly competitive?

Speaking of competitive board games, I'm dying to know the answer to this: my friend Rebecca and I have been playing very intense games of Bananagrams (which, for those of you who don't know, is like Scrabble but about speed more than anything). I use nothing but super short words; she mainly uses longer words to free up board space. For those of you who play, which strategy do you use? Now I'm curious.

Obligatory cat photo! Sorry to be clogging up the internet with more cat pics than it already has. If I had a pet wombat, I'd post those pictures instead, but I'm stuck with this guy (who does not seem happy that my mom's taking a picture of him).

If you haven't already perused the hashtag on Twitter, check out some highlights from yesterday's #TransYAChat! It's interesting regardless of whether or not you're a writer.

Oh, and if you've followed my Twitter account this weekend, you know I spent my entire weekend working on a novel instead of writing an essay. Welp, want to guess what I'm supposed to be doing instead of writing this blog post? Oops.