End of Week Review: January 12, 2018 (I'm Back Edition)

Okay, okay. So maybe my New Year’s resolution from 2015 to blog more took some time to get through. Only three years late, right? But after officially finishing binge-watching (well, binge re-watching) every Office, House, and Modern Family episode, I really have no excuse for my blog silence. So here we go!

Favorite experience this week: I finally got to play my dad in badminton again for the first time in several months.

Least favorite experience this week: Losing in a blowout to my dad in the aforementioned badminton game.

Wackiest experience this week: Someone random on Twitter started tagging me in a series of odd writing prompts. I think the universe is trying to tell me to finish my work in progress.

Interesting article this week:Want to Know Why Tumblr is Cracking Down on Sex? Look to FOSTA/SESTA” in The Establishment (giving a really good outline for the counterarguments to two government bills)

Favorite book this week: Sadie by Courtney Summers. I saw everyone on Twitter talking about this book, so I finally sat down to read it. I join the chorus of readers who are officially wrecked in the aftermath. The hype isn’t a joke.

Photo from this week:

My cat, Zyva, deciding the wombat stuffed animal my friend Caitlin bought for me is now hers

My cat, Zyva, deciding the wombat stuffed animal my friend Caitlin bought for me is now hers

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!

Monday Night Catchall: June 29, 2015

It has been too long since I posted last. Eek. Okay, quick weekly round-up:

The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Perhaps The Onion describes it best here.

Facebook is covered in rainbows right now. 26 million of them, in fact!

My cat decided to "help" me with my writing (picture on the right) ... so obviously I got nothing done.

NBC was apparently surprised by the things Donald Trump said. I don't know why.

My brother is getting a lot of pleasure out of calling me his "fellow freshman." (He's going to high school; I'm going to college.) Ugh. 

On my Questionable Decision-Making (April 25, 2015)

Some fun facts about me:

  1. I often write more when I'm sleep deprived. 
  2. I'm impulsive when I'm tired.
  3. These two often mix in awkward ways (for example, resulting in a Huffington Post article).

I've been asked why on earth I consented to put my name on that piece. I've been reminded multiple times that it could hurt my career options (so I guess I'll be a slightly-more-starving writer/teacher? Fine ...), destroy my friendships (it didn't to my knowledge), make the universe collapse, etc.

Okay, I'm going overboard with the last one, but the point is: the consensus was that I should've stayed anonymous, or not written the piece at all.

I struggled with the decision to put my name on it. I was given the option to publish the piece anonymously, and thought I'd do that. I know from the unfortunate times I've scrolled through comment sections underneath articles about assault that public reactions are often negative. Negativity is not even confined to comments sections — I've had someone joke about it to my face, leave an intimidating note in my locker, and gossip about it when I was standing right behind them (yes, my painful personal experience is apparently on the same level as the other gossiped-about topics like prom asks and seniors ditching). And some people now look at me strangely. Overnight, I crossed the threshold in people's minds from strong to fragile, like something changed in the one second between the article not being online and being online.

But despite knowing these things would happen, I put my name on the piece because I felt like it needed a name. It is completely valid (and arguably far more intelligent) to remain anonymous when talking about personal histories with violence. However, I always feel an obligation to do my characters justice when I'm writing their stories, and I didn't feel like I was doing myself justice by leaving my name out.

Could this article make more people avoid me, not want to work with me, and treat me differently? Yes. But as someone pointed out to me, the kind of people who'd treat me with any less dignity and respect because I'm a survivor are not the kind of people I want to be around. I'm no less an activist, writer, bad joke teller, or friend than I was a week ago.