Posted in Shattering Stigmas

Announcing Shattering Stigmas 5.0!

Summer is winding down. The smell of pumpkin spice everything is practically hanging in the air. That means it is time for Shattering Stigmas to come back around, and for us to gather around and continue the conversation around mental health and mental health awareness with two weeks of guest posts, interviews and more. This year will also hopefully mark the debut of Mental Health Reads, an ongoing community archive of mental health representation in books for kids and teens primarily for bloggers, librarians and teachers.

So what is Shattering Stigmas? Four years ago, Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight launched the first Shattering Stigmas, a blogging event dedicated to posts about mental illness to address and challenge the stigmas against it. Through book reviews, discussion posts and lists, Shattering Stigmas has continued conversations around mental illness for the past three years.

Three years ago, during the second year of Shattering Stigmas, I did a guest post for Holly @ The Fox’s Hideaway, which you can find here. It was such a fantastic experience. It gave me a platform and a voice to talk about my mental health story that mattered to me so much that I volunteered to co-host two years ago and then officially took on Shattering Stigmas last year. Check out last year’s content here.

This event means the world to me and I want to ensure its ongoing success and expansion within the YA blogging community, Shattering Stigmas 5.0 will run October 6-19, 2019.

Currently, I am looking for co-hosts and guest posters.

Co-Hosts are responsible for posting guest posts either daily or at least every few days during the two weeks of the event’s run. Please not this is a bit of a time commitment, but I am happy to help and answer any questions or concerns you might have. If you are interested in co-hosting, please fill out this form by August 22, 2019.

In terms of guest postsI am actively seeking authors, bloggers, writers and readers to write posts (personal essays, top ten lists, letters, etc.) about mental illness, stigma and mental health awareness. You may write about any topic connected to mental health (bookish or not), at any length, in any format as long as I can figure out how to put it on my blog. To see some prior Shattering Stigmas posts from past hosts, click here and here.

Some ideas for posts:

  • A book review of a book with mental illness representation
  • A discussion post about a book with mental illness rep that means a lot to you
  • A Q&A (authors, I’m looking at you! I’m always happy to promote authors who write about mental illness and their books)
  • Some kind of list post related to mental health and/or books
  • Discussion posts about identity and mental illness

Please note that I am particularly interested in posts about the intersection of mental health & illness with other marginalized identities based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, neurodiversity, etc. 

If you would like to write a guest post, you can comment with the following:

  • That yes, you would like to participate!!! (I really hope you’ll want to!)
  • The best way for me to contact you be that via email, Twitter, Instagram, etc. I just don’t have Facebook.

You can also contact me directly via my E-MAIL. Please do not DM me on Twitter. I am currently on hiatus. However, you CAN and should DM me on Instagram. I am @tayberryjelly.

Let’s keep using the power of words to fight the stigma against mental illness. ♥

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Posted in Blog Series

On Pride and Queer Rep Year-Round by Maya Gittelman

I have known Maya for years as the person who announced the events at the Upper West Side Barnes & Noble. But now we’re friends! I was so worried about how I was going to close out this event, and then Maya sent me the perfect post to do the job. You can find Maya on Twitter. They also write for The Body is Not an Apology.

I have so many messy feelings about Pride and my relationship to it, year-round. Because it is not a single thing, a flat experience. Pride is a palimpsest, simultaneity, tragedy inextricable from joy and vice versa. Pride as we know it began as a riot, a revolution of angry and hurt Black and brown trans women fighting for safety, for healthcare, for protection from the state. Today Pride celebrations are too often actively inaccessible and fail to center Black and brown queer trans voices. Pride has become a capitalistic, exploitative nightmare, coopted by cis, sometimes allohet white folks to party and sell things.

And yet…I find so much joy in it.

The thing is, I want to be unapologetically queer year-round. I want to exist outside of cisheteronormativity. I want to surround myself with queer everything: queer fairytales, queer sci fi, queer businesses, queer stories, queer love, queer community. All of my identities are nonbinary: my sexuality (bi), my race (mixed, Filipinx-Jewish, and diaspora too), my gender (literally nonbinary). Lots of folks, including LGBTQAI+ elders, have told me I’ll grow out of wanting to wear my queerness on my sleeve, that I will grow up and settle into being just like straight folks, except also I like people who aren’t cis men.

Some people love that idea, and that’s fine! But I don’t want that. I love being queer. I love knowing myself enough to know I can lead a different life than what the a cishet patriarchy wants from me. I can be honest with my body and my heart now. I can live honestly in the love I share with a woman.

I’ve always felt a distance from the expression “Love is Love,” which parallels the idea that hey, queer folks are just like you cisallohets! It’s asking to be seen as human, too. But what it leaves out is that LGBTQAI+ folks…we navigate this world differently. Pride is inextricable from grief, from loss, from danger and fear. Not for everyone, not to the same degree, and privilege is always a factor.

Yet in general at least, queer love is a triumph.

In a world, a set of systems that prescribes who we are supposed to be and love and become, queer love and queer self-love is an act of revolution. It’s such a tender, magical thing, such an absolute privilege and a gift, to survive and exist like this, and to get to love myself and my girlfriend within in. I can’t believe it, sometimes. For all the tensions surrounding Pride, it feels like a reminder, resonating, cliché but true: we’re here, we matter, you are not alone.

And that’s what LGTBQAI+ books do for me. Year-round.

I realized a few months ago that I can picture the queerest scenes from my favorite books so easily, because I’ve read and reread them so often. For so many, many years I only had tragic stories, stereotypes, or fanfiction. Now, I have the beautiful bi love story of Labyrinth Lost. The all too necessary vindication of I Wish You All the Best. The glory of This Is Kind of An Epic Love Story. The self-love of Patsy. The revolution of We Set the Dark on Fire. The magic of When the Moon Was Ours. The poetry of When the Chant Comes. The messy bi love triangle of Odd One Out. And so many, many more. The surge of LGBTQAI+ is still a small one compared to the whole of publishing, but it’s gamechanging. It means I get to read stories in which people have bodies like mine and loves like mine and not only survive, but get happy endings, and that lets me envision a future I once wasn’t sure I was allowed to have.

Love should be love, but it’s not. Queer love and queer self love are hard-won things. So even though Pride is a messy month, I am grateful for it: for the community, for the reckoning with our past and how far we have yet to go, and for the excuse to be absolutely brazenly queer. I hope soon we can do it every day of the year. Until then, I’ll spend my days reading books that let me celebrate queerness in all its messy, magic triumph.

Posted in Blog Series

A Guest Post from Olivia Hinebaugh, Author of “The Birds, The Bees, and You & Me”

Here today to talk about identity, privilege and more is Olivia Hinebaugh, debut author of The Birds, The Bees, and You & Me, which you can buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and IndieBound. I love this book a lot and Olivia is incredibly sweet. You can find her on Twitter and at her website.

I was watching Orange Is The New Black with my spouse. It was the episode where we get to see Laverne Cox’s character’s backstory. Her wife was so supportive of her transition and it made me feel sappy, so I turned to my spouse and said, “I would support you and love you the same if you were a woman.” He turned and looked at me in disbelief. When he said the reverse wasn’t true, I was offended.

Because I love and am attracted people regardless of their gender or sex. Like, that literally does not matter at all to me. Generally, I thought most people were like me. Hearing that my spouse cared about my gender or sex so much was weird to me. It started the wheels turning. I never thought I’d be 30ish and questioning my sexuality. Nothing about me felt different, though. I had always had crushes on guys, girls, and especially people who weren’t, like, super masculine or feminine. But, I only ever really dated guys. (OK. Honest talk here: I married my first boyfriend…so…kisses on the other hand, men were in the minority) 

A great thing happens when you get a little older. First of all, so many of the people I knew in younger years as straight and cis, are openly LGBTQIA. All of these wonderful shades of nuance came into focus as more and more of my peers lived their truths. And suddenly, the fact that I had kissed more girls than guys, and the fact that a huge majority of what I considered crushes were almost solely platonic started to make me wonder.

Right now, where I sit, as a 34 year old woman: I am a white cis woman who is married to a white cis man and has children, but I’m also pansexual and demisexual. Another way I look at it is, I’m queer enough that I identify, but I’m also super privileged so I need to cede my voice and listen when my more marginalized pals talk. 

Learning the term “demisexual,” by the way, was the closest thing I’ve had to a true lightbulb moment in my entire life. I’ve just never walked around thinking about sex. Or having urges to jump anyone. My urges were more like “I want to have coffee with them” or “I’d like to make them smile.” Only when I was really and truly fully enamored with someone on a fairly deep platonic level, did I *ever* want to kiss them. I need to be super comfortable with someone. And the other lightbulb moment came when I realized that my friends who had flings and one-night stands were maybe allosexual. I had always struggled to understand how you, like, meet someone, think they’re hot, and then jump in the sack with them. I wouldn’t say I judged them. Because that’s, like, against the rules of feminism. I just didn’t understand them, even though I’m very sex positive. I want all people to have the sex life they want (with consensual parties). I don’t need to understand someone’s sexual experiences to accept them. And that has been a really powerful lesson.

We can all, all the time, work on being more understanding and accepting. I have always been an ally and a feminist, but I still learn ways to be better at both of those things. 

As a writer for teens, part of me is excited to include things that I didn’t know about at that age. In The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me there are characters who are bi and on the ace spectrum (*cough* very similar to me). I grace those characters with more self-knowledge than I had, because I can’t imagine how awesome it would have felt if a friend turned to me and said “yeah, I choose random celebrities to be ‘obsessed with’ because other people are doing that,” and I’d be, like, “right?” Or someone to be like “well, gee, I actually think androgynous people are hot. And that’s valid.” Or if anyone ever used the term “nonbinary.” Holy smokes, the doors it might have opened.

This is by no means a “kids these days have it so good,” kind of post. It’s just that I do want to do my part to help kids these days. If I’ve done that–even in a small way–as an author, then a dream has come true. 

Folks, there are just billions of ways to be a person. You can label these facets, or you could decide you hate labels. You can love in so many different ways. When I think about that, it’s impossible not to smile.

Posted in Blog Series

Being Me by Savvy @ Savvy the Book Royal

I’m so happy to welcome Savvy to the blog today to share their coming out story (and I am so, so proud of them). Savvy is a queer teen book blogger and bookstagrammer Check out their book blog Twitter and writing Twitter. You can also find them at their blog.

I’ve gone back and forth on how I wanted to word this. I’ve rewritten it time and time again, and not just for this post. I’ve said it in my head so many times, but I’ve never been able to fully put into words how I feel being out to most people. About how I feel now that I’m able to fully be myself.

I think the best way I can think of putting it is, a breath of fresh air. It’s like trying to swim from one end of the long pool to the other without ever surfacing and then finally, when you can’t take it anymore and your lungs are burning and yelling, bursting from the water for that first gasp of air. You never realize how much you needed it until you finally got it.

I never realized how much of myself I was hiding until I finally shared with my mom, my grandparents, and my aunts that I’m gay. To my mom that I’m nonbinary.

It was like surfacing from sitting on the bottom of the pool. It was my breath of fresh air. The gasp I needed after a long time of pretending to be someone other than me.

Being able to be me was like finally being able to breathe.

I was confused and felt like I was being held down when I was questioning and it was as alright when I finally settled on not really labeling my sexuality beyond gay and queer. I was as good as one can be when they finally admit to themselves that they haven’t been honest with others about who they are. And it was better for a time but the looming thought of sharing this new part of myself that I discovered, that I continued to keep to myself, was terrifying. Proclaiming who you are to the world is terrifying. But after so long I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t stand not being me around the people who thought they knew me the best. The people who, a lot of the time, know me better than I know myself.

I wanted to be able to be comfortable being me and I wanted to be able to be me around the people I care about. And even though they have to work on some things, I’m lucky enough that they want me to be comfortable being myself with them. They taught me to be unapologetically myself, and to get everything off my chest and to be able to be me, not hiding any part of myself, is thrilling. It’s terrifying, but thrilling.

I can just be me.

And that feeling, even if from very few people and even if some of their reactions were not the best, that feeling of putting a piece of myself out there to share with the world is enough to keep me going. It reminds me of what it’s like to unapologetically be myself and that no one should be able to hold you back from that feeling. No one can stop you from being you and if they try they’ve never really been there for you. They’ve only been there for their image of you and that’s not the real you.

That feeling is being yourself and there’s almost nothing as refreshing.

It’s all about feeling when the time is right, when you feel it’s safest for you. I’m still in one situation where I can’t be myself because I can’t read the people. I can’t tell where they stand. And that’s okay. Not pushing for a situation you can’t read is okay. You get to choose when you want to be you. When you’re ready.

But dang, do I long to be able to feel that thrill of unleashing me to everyone I know. To be able to finally be very openly gay . . . And maybe one day, openly nonbinary.

Until then, I’ll just keep being as much of me as I can with the people around me. I’ll take my small breaths here and there and I’ll wait for those last few big gasps. For now, I’m content withslowly being able to breathe again.

Posted in Blog Series

A Journey of Self-Discovery from Becca @ Becca’s Book Realm

I am so excited to welcome Becca to the blog today to talk about their story of self-discovery and talk about their identity today for 30 Days of Pride. It is such a joy to welcome them to share their story in this space. Becca is a blogger and gamer who is autistic and has incredible tattoos. You can find them on Twitter and their blog.

I didn’t realize till I was 18 that the curiosity I’d had for girls all throughout middle school (and even earlier) was the same curiosity I had for boys. I’d thought I simply admired them, wanted to befriend them, wanted to be them, found them aesthetically and platonically pleasing to look at, etc. But because I didn’t necessarily want to make out with them the way I did boys, I didn’t see those feelings as romantic at all. It never even occurred to me. See, no one told me that sexuality could be so nuanced. Nobody told me that you can have a preference for one gender and still be bisexual. I thought you had to like the 2+ genders you were attracted to equally in order to be bisexual. I didn’t know demiromantic or demisexual were things. I didn’t know attraction could vary greatly among genders. So that’s part of the reason that I didn’t even realize my feelings had been of a romantic nature until one day my senior year of high school when it very suddenly hit me that I liked this girl in a “more than friends” kind of way. I’ve struggled a lot with doubt these past couple years, unsure if I’d read my feelings correctly and coming to terms with the fact that preferences and varying degrees of attraction existed within bisexuality. 

As for the Aspec part of my sexuality, I’m still figuring it out. I’ve never really had intense romantic feelings for anyone, including my crushes, which is what first led me believe that I was maybe demiromantic or demisexual. Now, I’m thinking I’m gray aro when it comes to girls, and possibly demisexual when it comes to them as well, if not for all genders. I still have sexual fantasies, I still have libido, I know that I want a sexual aspect to my romantic relationships and it can be very hard to determine whether I’m feeling libido or attraction when I’m reading erotic romances. It’s especially hard since I have no romantic or sexual experience. It’s something I’ll need to figure out as I go, but for now I’m comfortable calling myself gray aro and demi. 

Then there’s the polyamorous aspect to my bisexuality. I don’t think people understand that, at least for me, polyamory isn’t a decision I made. It’s not a choice. Instead, it’s more of a realization I came to. A realization that I need to be with both a man and a woman in order to feel completely satisfied in my relationship. And that’s why I see polyamory as a queer identity, as a queer type of relationship. I’m just way too bisexual to settle down with only one gender for my whole life. I may not experience attraction to men and women the same way, and I’m still not sure whether I’m sexually attracted to women at all, but I do know that I’m capable of loving them romantically and I know without a doubt that I want to spend my life with two people of two different genders. Realizing this has made me more confident in my bisexuality than I’ve ever been before. Now, when I picture getting married, having kids, being in a relationship, there’s always two people involved rather than one. I want to build a family and live in a house and live happily ever after with two people I love unconditionally, and I can’t imagine it any other way. It TRULY is 20biteen. 

I won’t even get into my gender identity right now cause I’m still not entirely sure I’m not cis and I don’t really know what exactly to label myself or how I feel about how I present, or about gendered terms. I do know I don’t wanna be confined to “feminine” ideals, clothing, etc. I’m experimenting with how I dress and how I present and still trying to figure out whether I’m confusing attraction to non binary genders with wanting to BE a non-binary gender. I’ll let you know when I figure it out, but for now my pronouns are she/they or xie/xer/xem. 

Thank you to everyone I’ve met online who’ve encouraged me to be myself, who’ve offered me advice and encouragement and solidarity. You’ve helped me come to terms with so much and helped me learn to accept myself without reservations and I’ll forever be grateful. 

Posted in Blog Series

Great Books with Bisexual Representation by Sam @ Some Books & Ramblings

I’m so excited to welcome a teen blogger to the blog today to share some book recommendations with you all for 30 Days of Pride!

When Ben announced that they were doing a pride month blog post session, I knew I wanted to participate. I wanted to share my story and share some of my favorite books with bisexual rep!

1. They Both Die at The End by Adam Silvera

Not only is Adam Silvera a queer author, but one of the main characters of TBDATE is bi! This story is exhilarating, heartbreaking, mysterious and fun. I would highly encourage people to read this if they are looking for Queer POC rep!

2. The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater

This series has a bi/gay relationship around halfway through, so I won’t spoil who it is because it isn’t known at the beginning, but I love the character. I can’t wait for Maggie’s follow-up series!

3. Shades of Magic Series by V.E. Schwab

Like all the books before, this series has a bi/gay relationship and I personally am a big fan.  V.E. Schwab is a magical storyteller and as a Queer author herself, I think she deserves to be mentioned on this pride list!

4. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

I talk about this book all the time on my blog, and I would be remiss not to include my fave disaster bi who is pining for his best friend on a hijinks-filled trip across Europe. (Fun fact: the sequel that stars The MC’s sister, The Ladies’ Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, has Ace rep!)

5. The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments spin-off)

This stars a self-titled freewheeling bisexual warlock and a gay Shadowhunter! Magnus and Alec were one of the first queer relationships I ever read, and Magnus personally means a lot to me ❤

6. Godsgrave (Nevernight, #2) by Jay Kristoff

Let’s start this one off by mentioning that THIS IS NOT A YA BOOK. It is adult. However, that doesn’t make it any less amazing (if you get past the footnotes). This is actually the first Bisexual woman on this list, and she is a total badass. Jay shows the male and female relationships in throughout the first and second books (jury’s still out on the third as it comes out in #Stabtember) If you are okay with violence in abundance, strong swearing and on page sex, then definitely give this one a try.

7. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

This book is full of representation. Bi, gay, POC, disabled, fat, survivor of abuse, and probably more that I’m forgetting. You don’t have to have read Leigh’s Grisha Trilogy beforehand, but this duology is mind-blowingly good.

8. The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The MC is introduced as Bi, and at the end, there are clues to another character being bi/gay. I can definitely see more happening between a few of these characters and if you want more POC, disabled, queer rep that takes place in a magical town with a murderous forest, magical powers, and 4 troubled teens, then you will definitely want to pick this book up. I’m dying for the next one!

9. The Fever King by Victoria Lee

This book, man. This book has been described by Victoria Lee herself as every character being queer. In the first book, we have a bi/gay relationship and I can’t wait to see where this series is going. It has Queer, POC, and Survivor rep, not to mention it’s a cool dystopian take on a future North Carolina (Durham, to be exact) and it ended on such a cliffhanger!

Make sure you check out my post for The Fever King blog tour that included my interview with Victoria Lee, playlists for each character and an exclusive short story about 2 of the characters!

10. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is the 3rd BI woman on this list, and this book is a doozy. I like to describe it as a very gay flashback about the Marilyn Monroe of this fictional world. This book is impressive, gorgeous, heartbreaking and tragic. I will recommend this to everyone, ever.

I hope anyone who sees this discovers a book they didn’t know had Queer rep and you find a new character you can relate to! These books make me feel not so alone, and they’re written wonderfully.

I want to thank Ben for allowing me to share my list of Bisexual book rep list and my coming out story, even if it isn’t as vital as some other stories are. I know I didn’t have to go through any of the bad like most queer people, and I am aware of what others go through. Sometimes it’s cathartic to share your story, and I wanted to share my mom’s business with those who may need it.

You can always talk to me if needed, and you can find me at Somebooksandramblings.home.blog, Twitter at @ramblingbooks, Instagram at @somebooksandramblings, or you can email me at somebooksandramblings@gmail.com. 


Bio:

Hi, my name is Sam and I am an LGBT+ teen book blogger located in Georgia! I specialize in blog tours, reviews, book tags and more! My favorite genres are fantasy, sci-fi and contemporary fantasy. You can find me on Twitter, Instagram, WordPress and Email!

I hope you have a good day!