I have been so excited by all the f/f fantasy coming out lately, and The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry is an excellent addition to the genre. It’s a fast-paced adventure story laced with a sweet romance, set in a sort of Victorian-inspired society with the addition of magic, trolls, and other fantastical elements.
Dellaria Wells is a fire witch and con artist from the bad part of town. With her mother being addicted to drugs, Delly has had to take care of herself from an early age, with greater or lesser success. Stuck between paying her rent and being cursed, Delly takes a wild chance and talks her way onto a gig with a team of female bodyguards to guard a high-class bride from assassination until her wedding day. Delly is anticipating an easy couple of weeks and a rich payday, but she didn’t count on multiple wizardous attacks, murder, or undead animal familiars. Soon after, Delly and her companions are embroiled in the underground drug market in a wild bid for justice (and a huge reward). Along the way, Delly is astounded to find herself having feelings for one of her fellow bodyguards, and, even more surprisingly, those feelings are reciprocated.
What I enjoyed most about this book was that it was a good, solid adventure story, but at the same time, the romance was so soft. Delly tries to talk a good game that she’s only out to set herself up in a good situation, but as a reader you know both characters fall head over heels almost right away. Delly is a funny, competent main character–able in her magic and confident on the streets–but she’s not prepared to dabble in the affairs of the rich. Winn, on the other hand, moves through life with well brought up confidence, but isn’t used to less than straightforward endeavors. She’s also utterly enamored with Delly. Watching them circle each other sweetly while embroiled in high stakes adventure is a treat, and I love how nice they are to each other. It doesn’t feel like as much as an afterthought or a grim plot device as fantasy romances often are.
I also thought the plot was really engaging. From the fish out of water element of Delly amongst the nobility to several ripping good fights to Buttons the undead mouse, I was never bored or waiting for something else to happen. The author has a clever turn of phrase that brings one into Delly’s point of view and sets up a lively mood. And Buttons is really a whole mood in itself. I also liked that Delly was frequently out of her element, but also very good at her job–she just needed an opportunity to prove herself.
In conclusion, this was a delightful read with a thrilling fantasy adventure plotline and a very soft romance. If you like Victorian-themed magic, excellent world-building, and girls having intense feelings for each other but wanting to go slow, this is a great add to your to-read list. I’m definitely going to be recc-ing it around to my friends.
Panting for breath after walking just 5 steps…that was our first memory of Quito as soon as we touched down at the Mariscal Sucre airport. Standing proud at 2,850 metres (9,350ft) high, tucked away in the Andes Mountains, Quito is the second-highest official capital city in the world after La Paz in Bolivia. And bloody hell you certainly feel it!
Other than panting for breath every 5 minutes, Quito packs a punch for gay travellers. It’s not only a cultural gem with a really pretty Old Town to explore, it also has an impressive and vibrant gay scene. The capital city of Ecuador is also located right by the equator line from which it takes its name. Locals nickname Quito as “la mitad del mundo” or the middle of the world.
We spent half a year based in the middle of the world during our big trip to Latin America and fell in love with it. It’s an inexpensive place, extremely pretty, never too hot and never too cold. It’s also a very rewarding destination due to the variety of food to try and the variety of hot guys to meet!
We’ve bundled all our first-hand experiences from Quito into this comprehensive gay guide covering the best gay bars, clubs, hotels to stay, things to do and more.
Is Quito safe for gay travellers?
Quito is the touristic and LGBTQ capital of Ecuador – a country that legalised gay marriage in 2019 and was one of the first in the world to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation back in 1998. The city has a very active LGBTQ community, along with quite a diverse LGBTQ scene and a popular Pride every June that has taken place almost every year since 1998.
As a gay couple, we never had any problems in any of the hotels we stayed in. We always felt welcomed and never faced any issues when asking for a double bed. The only thing we’d say about Quito, which applies to all travellers (straight or gay), there are parts of the city which are a bit dodgy, such as the Old Town in the evening after dark.
When straight cisgender people travel, they think about the sun, spending money and which tourist spots to hit first.
But travelling as queer person means having to think about homophobia, and about the more than 70 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal. Travelling as a Black person means having to think about the anti-Black racism that remains entrenched around the world. And travelling as a Black queer person – in a world where more than half of LGBT+ people of colour have faced racist discrimination from within the queer community, never mind outside of it – means thinking about both.
This is something Paula Akpan, the Black British lesbian journalist and historian, knows all too well.
Once, when trying to plan a trip with her girlfriend, Akpan made a list of countries around the world, skipping the ones where they might face threats of violence from racism or homophobia. It left a very small, sad list of places that might be safe.
“For the longest time I wanted to go to Italy, until I saw Black people being like: ‘No!’” she tells PinkNews.
Although historically beautiful and easy to get to from London (where Akpan lives) Italy has a serious problem with racism, something many travellers might not be immediately aware of. For reasons such as this, Akpan and many like her are reliant on word of mouth when planning.
“I’m very dependent on what other people – specifically Black people, and ideally, Black queer people – have to say about places that they’ve been,” Akpan adds.
“When you’re having a gay bar being described to you, it’s like, but is it white? Is this a space that I’ll feel comfortable with?”
Out of this experience came the idea for The Black Queer Travel Guide, a resource that hopes to stop people from having to choose between their Blackness and their queerness when travelling.
A web app populated by articles written by queer Black locals, the guide would make travel and exploring while queer and Black easier safer and more enjoyable.
Using it would be as easy, Akpan explains, as saying “you have 24 hours in Rio de Janeiro, here are the places that you need to go. And all of these places are Black queer-friendly or Black queer-owned”.
At its heart, The Black Queer Travel Guide is about more than just vacationing – it’s also about connecting and building ties across the diaspora, enabling users to find community in the countries that they or their families are originally from.
“In a country where it’s criminalised to be queer, then of course, you’re going to be somewhat underground, or will be using language or platforms in a way that isn’t as easily accessible,” explains Akpan. “If you don’t know where to look, it can feel like you are the only Black queer person in a country.”
So far, Akpan has created a web app to host The Black Queer Travel Guide with a group of developers, and is crowdfunding to commission Black queer travel writers from around the world to populate it, offering unmatched insider knowledge, authentic information and resources.
Funds raised will also go towards moderating the guide, with second stage funding going towards the development of a fully-fledged app.
“In five years time, I would love to have a downloadable app,” explains Akpan. “You arrive at your destination, you open it and there’s a pinpointed map that shows you what’s going around in your area with ambassadors from various countries who are happy to show people around.”
The crowdfunding site is currently live and welcoming donations here.
Everyone’s quarantine situation is just a little different. Wondering how to make your giftee’s just a little bit hotter? Here’s what sexy gift to give based on their quarantine style, whether they haven’t left the house since March, are forced to work under capitalism, are stuck with a very recent ex, and more. Remember that some categories may overlap. Sex toys for all!
The Person Who Has Not Been Outside Except For Groceries Since March
What do you get the quarantining person who has everything except human touch? A fucking machine of their very own.
Liberator Pulse Toy Mount Keep a vibrator or dildo in place and moving with you hands-free with a Liberator Pulse Toy Mount. It’s low and narrow for straddling, has one toy mount for a larger toy and two smaller pockets that can fit bullet vibrators, and is wrapped in soft, machine-washable microfiber. Note that Covid-related shipping days mean it’s best to order this one as early as possible for gift giving.
Cowgirl Sex Machine If you want to get extra — or maybe just fantasize — the Cowgirl is a rideable fucking machine that can be controlled via a wired remote or an app, comes with two silicone attachments for external or penetrative stimulation, and has no assembly required.
Fun Factory Stronic Surf Bigger fucking machines have quite a footprint, so for something that wouldn’t obstruct a webcam’s view (or, in the future, a partner’s), the Stronic Surf is a silicone pulsator with distinct ridges that thrusts nearly hands-free. It’s a little bit smaller than the toys in the original Stronic line, so if the Eins was too tight a fit, the Surf might be justttt right.
The Person Who Has Not Touched Another Living Being Since March
Without touch, skin hunger is real. There’s only so much someone can do for their own skin hunger without, y’know, actually touching and getting touch from another human being, but a few things can help.
Olivia’s Boudoir Tuxedo Massage Candle Self-massage, including of the shoulders, neck, hands, and feet, can go a little smoother with a massage candle. This one is made of soy, olive, and coconut oils; smells like bergamot, sandalwood, and musk; and works best when the candle melts out to the edge of the glass and then is extinguished before use.
Doxy Die-Cast Wand For earlier generations, using back massagers as vibrators was considered a powerful step in empowerment. I’m not saying that today, using vibrators as back massagers is quite the same thing — but I am saying it can work. The Doxy Die-Cast Wand is a powerful, heavy vibrator with a handle that can help get to harder to reach spots, whether your neck, you back, etc.
The Person Quarantining With Anyone They’re Not Fucking
Discretion is key when you’re trying to have a solo — or partnered — sex life that runs smoothly alongside a shared living situation, whether with family of all types, roommates, or a combination of folks.
We-Vibe Tango Tiny enough to easily stash and rumbly enough to stand alone, the We-Vibe Tango is a quiet rechargeable bullet that’s deceptively powerful. Familiar enough with your giftee’s toy box to know they already have one? The Dragon Claw by Uberprime is designed to encase the Tango in textured, bumpy silicone for an elevated external experience.
Written Erotica As anyone who’s ever thrown their porn through an unsuspecting housemate’s Bluetooth speakers will tell you, sometimes it’s nice to take your porn analog. Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, volume 5, edited by Sinclair Sexsmith and Best Bondage Erotica of the Year, volume 1, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, are a few recent titles. (And may I suggest my Lesbian Sexting the Zine?) And if your giftee still isn’t an A+ subscriber, S L I C K is a gift that will keep on giving.
Whether you’ve been together years or went on a first date in May that just never ended (please do not do this), anyone quarantining with a partner or two might be finding it time to mix it up. Get some noise-isolating headphones for everyone in the household to keep the mystery and fracturing illusion of privacy and independence alive, and then check out these add-ons to some favorite toys.
Tenga Egg 6-Pack, Hard Boiled Edition Pull a disposable Tenga Egg down over any vibrator it fits for external use or, for people with penises, use one as a sleeve to make masturbation feel a little different. Each Tenga Egg has a different texture, so try the variety pack or selectafewindividually! (They’re made of TPE, so remember that they’re ultimately disposable and not safe to share.)
Double-Sided Suction Cup Two (favorite dildos with flat bases) become one with this double-sided suction cup. It can also secure one flat-base dildo to a compatible wall.
The Person Quarantining With An Ex
Cohabitating with a recent ex is never easy, and it’s even harder in quarantine, when no one can safely escape for a night out or crash on someone else’s couch for a few hours or days. You’re stuck with each other, and you’re also in a world without rebound sex. What’s a queer to do? These toys mimic the sensation of sex with another person for rebound vibes without actually being in the same space as a one-night stand. Use them alone, or for toys with a remote option head over to r/ToyControl to play with an online stranger.
We-Vibe Melt We-Vibe’s parent company purchased Womanizer, and the We-Vibe Melt is a result: the Womanizer’s air pulsing and sucking that feels just enough like oral, with We-Vibe’s aesthetic and We-Connect app control (now that they’ve allegedly addressed that pesky privacy problem). It’s also pretty quiet, so an ex in the other room should (hopefully) not immediately know what’s up — and it’s waterproof, so the running water from a shower or bath can add some extra privacy.
Lovense Hush Butt Plug The Lovense Hush is a vibrating butt plug that can sync to music or ambient noise via app control for an unpredictable vibration experience that gets a little closer to the feel of another person. Pair this break-up butt plug with — yep — noise-isolating headphones for an immersive experience.
We-Vibe Rave Okay, the We-Vibe Rave is reminiscent of sex with another person more because it’s fun to use alone or during sex with another person, and not so much because of its sensations. Nevertheless! The Rave is a rumbly, versatile, external or g-spot vibrator that your giftee will wonder how they lived without. Just make sure there’s no dispute about who wins it in the break up.
The Person Who Can’t Quarantine Because of Frontline Work, Houselessness, or Capitalism
This person deserves something that’s lavish af and also easy to clean or disinfect.
nJoy Fun Wand Weighty without weighing down, the nJoy Fun Wand is a double-ended steel dildo that’s great for vaginas and butts. Start with the graduated bulbs to get used o the girth, or dive right in.
nJoy Pure Plug Is there any buttplug more perfect than the nJoy Pure Plug? Our reviewer doesn’t think so. Try it in medium for an all-around fit, run it under warm or cool water fo a touch of temperature play, and clean it with soap and water and a boil if that’s available.
I love a waterproof vibrator; having the option to take your toy into the shower or bath and get off when you’re in hella relaxation mode is great. The Vibra Wand is 6 inches long, has 10 settings (5 speeds and 5 patterns), and it bends to help fit your body. It does require batteries, but here are some rechargeable ones so you can still fall in love with this toy and be good to the environment.
The thing I find fascinating about this vibrating dildo is that the harder you squeeze while it’s inside you, the more intense the sensation you will feel; I’ve never experienced that with another strap-on style toy! It’s really good to use solo, the flared base even allows you to go hands-free. And for the days you wanna play with a partner, it’s harness compatible.
At 5.25 inches this is perfect for those who prefer their toys on the smaller side. It’s great for manual play, but unlike smaller dildos, this one is also harness compatible! A big draw here is the ease with which it will hit your G-Spot. Big fans of G-spot play might not find the curve of the toy intense enough to wow them, but it’s a great option for those beginning to explore this sensation, or who know they don’t like too much fullness or length.
If you’re a fan of scissoring, you’ll def dig adding this in during your play. It’s rechargeable, has ten settings, and will fit right in between the two of you! The bulb of the toy can be inserted for G-spot play as well. My favorite thing about this toy is its dedication to truly amp up your scissoring experience — it comes with a wireless remote!
A double dildo that comes in three different sizes to help fit many couples, plus a rechargeable bullet if you want to add even more sensation to your play! The really dope thing about this one is if you don’t have the world’s strongest kegel muscles, but still wanna play with the toy, you can — it’s harness compatible, and lucky for you I’ve picked out one for you on below (although they have plenty more to choose from).
This strap-on kit includes the best underwear harness in the game, by Tomboi. The O-Ring underwear is compatible with several dildos and goes up to a 5XL in size. I tend to run in between sizes and always go a size under to make sure I have a snug (but comfortable) fit. The Fusion dildo comes in three different sizes, and you can get all three and work your way up.
I LOVE this toy. At first, I didn’t want to refer to it as such but it definitely is a toy. Sometimes, even if I’m not really going at it, the base of the strap on can hurt me. It really sucks to have pain the next day, and not the kind you wanted. This helps A LOT. It stretches to fit most dildo bases up to 3 1/4, feels soft against the skin and the bumps add to your play — especially when they are on top. Our anonymous reviewer only had good things to say about it!
Everyone deserves a little bullet vibrator. They’re small, easy to conceal if you want to, and usually quite quiet for when you want to remain discreet. It’s 100% waterproof and battery-operated but they send one with it, so you can pop it out of the box, give it a clean, and have a go!
A perfect present for the person who you think has all the toys possible already. It’s an accessory for your dildos! You slide it right over the top, switch it on to any of the five vibration modes and it adds clitoral stimulation during penetration. You can also opt to use it just on your fingers and have an equally fun time!
I think this is perfect to keep on display; it’s so cute that no one would know that it made you wake up your neighbors the night before. The vibrating ears allow you to super pinpoint exactly on your body that feels best to you. I think this is a fun toy to use during foreplay especially, it’s probably the cutest way to tease someone that I’ve seen in a long time.
The sleekest toy on this list for me. It fits between two of your fingers and has ten vibe settings to help get you there. It’s waterproof, quiet, and hella easy to clean. This toy glides over you and can feel like what can best be described as playing ouija board with my pussy.
Use this sexy little list to find your perfect holiday treat, or to drop hints about all the things you need to help make your season just a little bit more gay and bright. Remember to order by December 14 to get your presents by Christmas!
One of the few bright spots of 2020 was the number of new, LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books. Here’s my annual list of picture books and a few select middle grade ones that caught my eye, plus queer-inclusive kids’ music albums—and a few titles for and about us LGBTQ parents.
Most of the LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books published this year were great—and I’m happy to see a (slowly) growing increase in protagonists of color and in books that aren’t “about” LGBTQ families per se. There has also been a relative surge in books about transgender, nonbinary, and gender creative characters. A few of this year’s books I didn’t love, but have included below in case you come across them or if they happen to fit a particular need. For the most part, though, this was a terrific year—and I can’t wait to see what 2021 brings!
Pride 1 2 3, by Michael Joosten and illustrated by Wednesday Holmes (Little Simon), is a simple counting book set at a Pride celebration. Full review.
Who Is Making a Mess? by Maria D’Haene and illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan (Amicus), is full of surprises and diverse families as it celebrates the messiness of life. Full review.
Kevin Keller’s Favorite Colors, from Little Bee Books, stars the Archie comics’ first gay character explaining the meaning of each of the colors in the Pride flag (including the recent additions of black and brown), as other characters from the comic demonstrate. Aside from the use of Archie characters, this book adds little that is different from existing books (Pride Colors, by Robin Stevenson; Rainbow: A First Book of Pride, by Michael Genhard; and Our Rainbow, by Little Bee Books)—and one might wonder whether Archie’s high schoolers really appeal to very young children. Best for adult fans who want it for their children.
Harvey Milk,Ellen DeGeneres, and RuPaul Charles from Little Bee Books (2020) with no stated author, illustrated by Victoria Grace Elliott, each offer simple takes on these figures’ lives, though not as simple as the board book format might imply. Full review.
Picture Books: Families
Wonderful You, by Lisa Graff and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitski (Philomel), takes us along with a diverse group of expecting families, including ones with two moms and two dads, as their babies-to-be grow and are born as their own delightful selves. Full review.
I Looked Into Your Eyes: A Poem for New Families, by Aviva Brown and Rivka Badik-Schultz, celebrates diverse families in the Jewish spiritual tradition, including ones with same-sex and gender non-conforming parents and Jewish families of color. Use the code MOMBIAN when buying the book at Brown’s website to get 10 percent off your purchase. Additionally, 15 percent of the proceeds from sales until Dec. 31, 2020 will be donated to Be’chol Lashon, an organization dedicated to celebrating Jewish diversity and raising awareness about multicultural Jews of all races, languages, and ethnicities. Full review.
Picture Books: Transgender Characters
Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution, by Joy Michael Ellison and Teshika Silver (Jessica Kingsley), focuses on the close friendship of Stonewall icons Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson and how they cared for their community. Full review.
Max on the Farm, by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Luciano Lozano (Reycraft), is the third in the series about Max, a White transgender boy. Here, Max goes on a trip to a farm with his class, including his friend Teresa, a darker-skinned girl, and the two get into gentle mischief. Full review.
She’s My Dad!, by Sarah Savage and illustrated by Joules Garcia (Jessica Kingsley Publishers) is the first-person story of Mini, a White six-year-old who speaks with pride about their dad, a transgender woman. Full review.
My Rainbow, by DeShanna Neal and Trinity Neal and illustrated by Art Twink (Kokila), based on Trinity’s own life as a Black transgender girl with autism, tells of her mom and nonbinary sibling helping her get the long hair she wants to express her true self.
I’m Not a Girl, by Maddox Lyons and Jessica Verdi, with illustrations by Dana Simpson (Roaring Brook), is a first-person story based on Lyons’ own life as a White transgender boy. Full review.
The Fighting Infantryman, by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Nabi H. Ali (Little Bee), is the true story of Albert D. J. Cashier, an Irish immigrant, a Union soldier in the U.S. Civil War, and a transgender man. Full review.
Raven Wild, by Caitlin Spice, Adam Reynolds, and Chaz Harris, with illustrations by Christine Luiten and Bo Moore, is the third in the Promised Land fantasy series (after Promised Land and Maiden Voyage), but can be read as a standalone tale. In it, Raven, a transgender young woman, has various daring adventures and eventually finds love. Wordy for a picture book, but notable for being simply a fun adventure and romance and not simply “about” being trans per se. Full review.
Love Remains: A Rosh Hashanah Story of Transformation, shows changes in the life of a Jewish mother, father, and child as they go year after year to the grandparents’ house for Rosh Hashanah. One year, their favorite flower shop is closed and they must find another; the next year, the grandfather has died; the year after that, a cousin has a new baby. The child similarly transforms and comes into his identity as a transgender boy, which the family wholeheartedly accepts. Full review.
Picture Books: Nonbinary Characters
My Maddy, by Gayle Pitman and illustrated by Violet Tobacco (Magination), is a gentle story told as a series of reflections by a White child about her nonbinary parent. Full review.
Peanut Goes for the Gold, by “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness and illustrated by Gillian Reid (HarperCollins), tells of a nonbinary guinea pig finding the power and joy of being themselves. Full review.
A More Graceful Shaboom, by Jacinta Bunnell and illustrated by Crystal Vielula (PM Press), is a surreal romp of a book that follows a nonbinary child with “an extravagant collection of belongings” that they find hard to keep organized until they encounter a magical purse. Full review.
Picture Books: Gender Expression
Carlos, the Fairy Boy/Carlos, El Niño Hada, by Juan A. Ríos Vega (Reflection Press), is the bilingual story of a boy learning about his cultural traditions in Panama while he gets support from his abuela and a queer elder to follow his fairy boy dreams. Full review.
Julián at the Wedding, by Jessica Love (Candlewick), the sequel to Julián Is a Mermaid, shows Julián and his abuela attending a wedding, where Julián meets a new friend and proves that he’s still full of imagination and style. Full review.
Glad Glad Bear, by Kimberly Gee (Beach Lane), explores the gender creative Bear’s emotions during his first day at dance class, wearing both a tutu and leggings. Full review.
The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish, by Lil Miss Hot Mess, a founding member of Drag Queen Story Hour, and illustrated by Olga de Dios (Running Press), is a fun and flamboyant take on the classic children’s song “The Wheels on the Bus.” Full review.
Auntie Uncle: Drag Queen Hero, by Ellie Royce and illustrated by Hannah Chambers (POW!) stars a young White boy loves his Uncle Leo, an accountant, and his Auntie Lotta, a drag queen—who are both the same person. When Leo/Lotta ends up in a situation that would reveal both identities to people who don’t yet know both, the boy helps find a solution that incorporates both aspects of his “Auntie Uncle’s” personality. Full review.
Tabitha and Magoo Dress Up Too, by Drag Queen Story Hour founder Michelle Tea and illustrated by Ellis van der Does (Feminist Press), shows us a brother-sister pair who love playing dress-up in gender creative ways, though they’re hesitant to go outside in these outfits. The drag queen Morgana then magically appears and helps them learn to celebrate being themselves. Morgana then takes them in a flying car to a nearby library for a diverse and fun-filled story time. Full review.
Bling Blaine: Throw Glitter, Not Shade, by Rob Sanders (Sterling Publishing), centers on a young Black boy who loves to sparkle. When he is bullied by some classmates, however, others come to his aid in this book showing the importance of allyship. Full review.
The One and Only Dylan St. Claire, by Kamen Edwards and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler (Doubleday/Random House) features a White protagonist who shows he’s a bit of a drama queen when he doesn’t get cast as the star of the school play, but he ultimately finds his own way to shine in this fun and funny tale. Although Dylan isn’t identified as queer in the text, Edwards’ bio at Amazon explains that the book is “a nostalgic re-imagining of an out and proud childhood.” Full review.
In It’s Okay to Be a Unicorn, by Jason Tharp (Imprint/Macmillan), Cornelius J. Sparklesteed is known and loved throughout the town of Hoofington for his incredible handmade hats. Hoofington is a friendly place … unless you’re a unicorn. And Cornelius is hiding a secret, in a book that isn’t explicitly queer-inclusive—but that offers an obvious analogy. Full review.
Hooray, What A Day!/¡Viva, Qué Día! by Molly Allis, takes us on a day-long adventure as two gender creative children (one with two dads) explore their queer and colorful community. Full review.
Jamie and Bubbie: A Book About People’s Pronouns, written by Afsaneh Moradian and illustrated by Maria Bogade (Free Spirit Publishing) is a sequel to the duo’s Jamie Is Jamie(my review here), but either can be read independently. Here, Jamie’s Bubbie comes for a visit, but mistakenly misgenders several of the people they meet on their neighborhood walk. Jamie, a White child whose gender is never specified, knows everyone’s correct genders and pronouns, though, and gently informs Bubbie, who is receptive to the feedback. Full review.
I Am Brown, written by Ashok Banker and illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat (Latana Publishing), takes us on a journey through the world of a young brown child and friends, celebrating and affirming brown children’s varied cultural and geographic origins, interests, talents, physical appearances, and relationships—and it’s inclusive of creative gender expressions as well. Full review.
Jesse’s Dream Skirt, written by Bruce Mack (under the name “Morning Star”) was first published in 1977, but was republished this year by its illustrator, Marian Buchanan. The tale of a young White boy who wants to wear a skirt to school and is supported by his mother and his Black teacher holds up surprisingly well today. Full review.
Picture Books: Same-Sex Relationships
Plenty of Hugs, by Fran Manushkin (Dial Books/Penguin Young Readers) is a gentle celebration of the loving relationship between a White toddler and parents who happen to be two moms, one of whom has a more masculine gender expression. Full review.
The Bread Pet: A Sourdough Story, by Kate DePalma and illustrated by Nelleke Verhoeff (Barefoot Books), is the whimsical tale of a Black girl and an out-of-control sourdough starter left by her White uncle (who could be read as gay). She happens to have two moms, one Black and one White; the latter has a more masculine gender expression. Full review.
Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, is a revised edition of the 2008 book about a girl worried that her favorite uncle will no longer have time for her after he marries his boyfriend. The original anthropomorphic guinea pigs are replaced by human characters: a White girl and her uncles, one White and one Black. Full review.
A Kid of Their Own, by Megan Dowd Lambert and illustrated by Jessica Lanan (Charlesbridge), is a fun story of adorable animals, gay farmers, clever wordplay, and adoption. Full review.
Who’s Your Real Mom? by Bernadette Green and illustrated by Anna Zobel (Scribble) shows a White girl with two moms answering the question in a clever and empowered way (her real mom is “a pirate in disguise” and “speaks fluent gorilla” she teases) that may better convey its message than a more serious treatment. Full review.
Mighty May Won’t Cry Today, by Kendra and Claire-Voe Ocampo and illustrated by Erica De Chavez (Bunny Patch Press), tells of a White girl’s first day of school as she learns that it’s okay to express her emotions. She happens to have two moms. Full review.
An Ordinary Day, written by Elana K. Arnold and illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster), shows us nothing less than the circle of life by showing us the parallel stories of two families: one with two moms and their three kids saying goodbye to their beloved but ailing golden retriever, and another with a mom, dad, and child who are welcoming a new baby. It’s poignant, but also gently shows the cycle of life and death. Full review.
My best friend, by Julie Fogliano and Jillian Tamaki (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster), beautifully captures the magical spirit of childhood friendships at an age when children are still figuring out what it means to have—and to be—a friend. It’s not exactly queer inclusive, but the close relationship between the two girls is likely to resonate with a lot of queer women and girls. Full review.
Papa, Daddy, and Riley, by Seamus Kirst and illustrated by Devon Holzwarth (Magination), tells of Riley, a Black girl, whose classmate asks which of her dads is her “real” dad. Riley gets upset thinking she must choose, until her dads (one Black, one White) explain that she doesn’t have to. Full review.
Pickles & Ocho: Our Favorite Place, is the second in a series about two French bulldogs with two human dads. In this one, they’re worried about moving to a new house, but discover that they’re happy wherever their family is. Sweet, but might have offered more effective representation if the human dads had human children.
Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door, by Nadine Haruni and illustrated by Tina Modugno (Mascot Books), tries to address kids’ questions about same-sex parents in a rather pedantic book that seems aimed at those who don’t have same-sex parents themselves. If kids haven’t already heard erroneous things about same-sex parents, however (they’re “confusing,” “weird,” and “wrong”), this book might not be the best place to start. (Try another book that simply discusses diverse types of families in a positive way.) Full review.
Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg, by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Levi Hastings (Henry Holt), takes us from Buttigieg’s birth in Indiana to his announcement of a groundbreaking run for president. It may inspire young readers on their own journeys of self-discovery and service. Full review.
For Spacious Skies: Katharine Lee Bates and the Inspiration for “America the Beautiful,” by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by Olga Baumert (Albert Whitman), tells of Bates’ childhood during the Civil War, her dedication to study, and her work to address social injustices, as well as the trip that inspired her most famous poem. It mentions “the home she shared with Katharine Coman”; an afterward calls their relationship “a close companionship,” though as I explain in my full review, it was likely more than that.
Picture Books: Activism and Pride
No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson and Jeanette Bradley, and illustrated by Jeanette Bradley (Charlesbridge), pairs the stories of youth activists with #OwnVoices poems from exceptional adult poets who were inspired by their work. Unsurprisingly, there are queer voices among them. Full review.
V Is for Voting, an alphabet book by Kate Farrell and illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald (Henry Holt), offers simple phrases and sentences for each letter, all related to voting and democracy. Harvey Milk is the only famous person shown who is clearly queer (though you can count Eleanor Roosevelt if you like), but several of the unnamed cast carry rainbow signs and transgender symbols during protests and marches. (Yes, the November election is past, but there’s a critical runoff in Georgia in January—and there’s always next year.) Full review.
Be Amazing: A History of Pride, by “Drag Kid” Desmond Is Amazing (Farrar Staus Giroux), is less a detailed history than a short overview of the Stonewall Riots and the first March one year later; brief biographies of Stonewall icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera; and a description of the influence of Pride on Desmond’s life. What it lacks as a history it makes up for with dazzling illustrations from Dylan Glynn and an enthusiastic message to “Be amazing.” Full review.
Middle Grade Novels and Graphic Novels
I don’t review as many middle grade books as picture books (if I did, I’d have no time to take care of my own family), but here are a few I have reviewed and liked.
The Deep & Dark Blue, by Niki Smith (Little, Brown) is a graphic novel in which two twins must hide with a group of magical women after a coup threatens their noble house. For one, dressing as a woman to blend in with the group is a disguise; for the other, it is the first step towards living as her real gender. The story takes up some familiar fantasy tropes—noble families; an evil relative who takes over from a rightful heir; young people coming of age—but transforms them into something fresh and original. Full review.
Snapdragon, by Kat Leyh, one of the creators of the lauded Lumberjanes comics is a magical realist graphic novel about a town with a witch (maybe), a girl who doesn’t quite act like one, and her transgender best friend. There’s also a queer romance, but I’ll say no more so I don’t spoil it. The protagonist and her family are Black; other characters are White. Full review.
A Home for Goddesses and Dogs, by National Book Award Finalist Leslie Connor (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins), is a beautiful, lyrical, and insightful story about moving through grief, growing up, and finding family, focusing on a 13-year-old girl who must move in with her aunt and her wife after her mother dies. Full review.
The Only Black Girls in Town, by Brandy Colbert (Little, Brown), is the story of 12-year-old Alberta, who lives with her two dads, the only Black family in their California beach town. When another 12-year-old Black girl and her mom move in across the street, Alberta is excited. When she and the new girl, Edie, discover some old journals in Edie’s attic, they work together to unravel their mysteries, which leads them on a journey back through history and the toxic threads of racism, colorism, passing, and privilege in the U.S., even as they grapple with micro- (and not-so-micro) aggressions in their own community. Full review.
Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit, by Lilliam Rivera (Little, Brown), is an original novel based on the bestselling BOOM! Studios comic series by Hope Larsen and Brittney Williams. Goldie, a biracial, queer 16-year-old, lives at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel in Florida in the 1960s, where she is the valet and aspiring hotel detective. When a Hollywood studio comes to the resort to shoot a movie, everyone is swept up into the excitement and glamour until a diamond-encrusted swim cap goes missing. Goldie’s mom is implicated, and Goldie must call on all her detective skills to find the real thief. Full review.
You Should See Me in a Crown(Scholastic) by Leah Johnson, ) is the first novel from Leah Johnson, a 2021 Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow. Liz Lighty is a Black, nerdy, poor, wallflower, which sets her apart in her small, rich, Midwestern town. But when a scholarship to an elite college falls through, she unexpectedly finds herself in the social spotlight, running for prom queen and the prize money that brings. As if that’s not hard enough, she may also be falling for one of her competitors. Full review.
Middle Grade Nonfiction
Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle, by Robin Stevenson (Orca, 2020), is an updated edition of her 2016 Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community, which blends a history of the event with a broader look at the struggle for LGBTQ equality, along with a look at what it means to come out, what to expect at Pride events around the world, a glossary, and an explanation of gender identity. The new edition places a greater focus on activism and activists, as the need for such work has grown over the past few years.
Rainbow Revolutions: Power, Pride, and Protest in the Fight for Queer Rights, by Jamie Lawson (Crocodile Books/Interlink), takes a more event-based approach to history, rather than Prager’s people-based one, offering brief snapshots of significant moments and movements in LGBTQ history from the Victorian age to our current era. The choices about what to focus on feel somewhat uneven, but this is a beautiful volume that will likely engage tween (and even teen) readers. Full review.
Noisemakers(Alfred A. Knopf), a new book from Kazoo Media, has brought together 25 of today’s best women and nonbinary comic artists to offer engaging graphic biographies of “25 women who raised their voices and changed the world.” When the promotional blurbs on the covers are from Jacqueline Woodson and Alison Bechdel, you know it’s going to be good. (Full review.)
Kids’ Music (that Won’t Annoy Grown-Ups)
The Trans and Nonbinary Kids Mix is a multi-artist, multi-genre music album offering transgender and nonbinary children and youth songs that reflect and support who they are. It’s the brainchild of Julie Lipson, one half of children’s music duo Ants on a Log, and contains 21 songs from musicians representing hip-hop, pop, folk, country, and other genres. Download it free at the link; if you choose to make a donation, it will go to Camp Aranu’tiq, a summer camp for transgender and nonbinary youth. Full review.
Be a Pain: An Album for Young (& Old) Leaders, by Alastair Moock, which just received a Grammy nomination, seeks to inspire young listeners to become leaders for positive change. It includes a song for his nonbinary child, one that praises Harvey Milk, and another that invites young listeners to imagine leaders who are LGBTQ, among other identities. Full review.
What’s in a Name: Perspectives from Nonbiological and Nongestational Queer Mothers, edited by Sherri Martin-Baron, Raechel Johns, and Emily Regan Wills (Demeter Press), is a must-read anthology about queer women and nonbinary people who are nonbiological and nongestational parents looks at their paths to parenthood, their experiences as parents, and the evolving meanings of what it is to be a mother. Full review.
I’m Still Here, by Martina Reaves (She Writes Press) interweaves the strands of her life from San Francisco in the 1960s through teaching, law school, coming out, starting a family, and surviving two types of cancer. Full review.
Want even more? Check out my Gift Guide from last year or see my longer lists.
(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Olivia Waite’s The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics is a fun historical romance about a widowed countess and lady astronomer. Lucy wants to pick up her father’s work and do the translation for a famous French astronomer for England’s science society, but lo and behold, they’re all men and sexist as hell. Lady Catherine, the society’s main patroness, doesn’t care for that at all and takes her funds to Lucy’s endeavors. Naturally, they fall in love, and romance and angst ensue.
The driving force behind Lucy and Catherine’s meeting is heartbreak. Lucy, who’s always known she only loves women, wants to run away from home after so much loss. Aside from being rejected by her lover who chooses to marry a man, her father passes away. She loved him dearly and worked alongside him for so many years. When she comes across the work of Oléron, the famous French astronomer, among her father’s work, she’s determined to throw herself into this work as well.
Lady Catherine, recently a widow, only wants to take a lover to satisfy her needs. She doesn’t want love and romance, and she certainly doesn’t want to get married again. But her previous lover after her late husband’s death wanted to marry her, so she had to call off the affair. In comes Lucy, stirring feelings in her she never knew she could have for a woman, and the idea strikes her: if she takes on a woman as a lover, she’d never have to marry. As is bound to happen in a romance novel, when two characters are running away and most definitely NOT looking for love, they find each other.
The sweetest part of their romance is how much they support one another. While Lady Catherine finances Lucy’s translation work and assures her she’s just as brilliant as the cocky bastards in the society, Lucy validates Catherine’s own artistic talents and assures the Lady her needlepoint skills have as much merit in the art world as any painter or sculptor. Together, they help each other realize their dreams. This balance and celebration of both STEM and the arts makes Lady’s Guide a delightful narrative that highlights how these pursuits complement one another.
Waite creates a highly sensual atmosphere with the sex scenes between Lucy and Catherine. They highlight the importance and eroticism of consent, as well as taking charge of one’s pleasure and desires. There’s never any shame between the two women, even as Catherine engages in intimacy with a woman for the first time. She’s never repulsed by her feelings, but rather confused, as she never thought it possible. Lucy in turn shows a great deal of respect for her partner, making sure she’s comfortable and enthusiastic every step of the way. They both take great care to address each other’s needs.
Perhaps one of the best moments in the book is when it’s revealed that Oléron is a woman. The whole time the society, and Lucy herself, assumed the famous French astronomer was a man. This point gets tangled in Lucy’s discovery of other women like herself who have studied and furthered the sciences through history and who were silenced or else had their work taken by their fathers, brothers and other men. It leads her to her newest endeavor, which is to collect the work of these women and continue their scientific pursuits while giving them their due credit. A wonderful feminist ending for a Regency story with misogynistic conflict.
Olivia Waite’s The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics is a historical romance that revolves around two queer women creating a space for themselves in art and science. Lucy Muchelney’s lover has just married someone else, and her brother is trying to get her to give up on astronomy; her only recourse is to fling herself on the mercies of Lady Catherine St Day, who’s seeking a translator for a french astronomy text so that she can wash her hands of her late husband’s legacy once and for all. Lucy, with her excellent French and understanding of mathematics and astronomy is the perfect person for the job! … If she can convince the scientific establishment to accept that.
I adored The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, but it was so stressful as a reading experience! I was absolutely certain the whole way that there couldn’t be any true catharsis in it, because every sympathetic character is up against structural oppression and the sheer societal weight of white men and their gatekeeping. Over and over people who aren’t white men get dismissed and undermined, both professionally and personally, and it’s as infuriating in fiction as it is in real life! Especially because Olivia Waite does such a good job of showing the way that this form of bigotry wields politeness and reputation as weapons against marginalised people having the audacity to, say, want credit for their work! Or to be accepted as experts in their fields! But there is some catharsis – not just individual victories, characters explicitly doing the work to make science and art more welcoming, and I’ll accept that as a start.
It helps that the characters have believe in each other throughout the book. Lucy believes that Catherine’s embroidery is as much art as anything her brother has done with paint and canvas, and Catherine knows that Lucy – and many other marginalised people she knows, including herself! – are knowledgable scientists or talented artists, and while she might not always know what the best way to encourage those skills, she tries. The supportive relationships are such a good counterpoint to the Polite Science Society.
(And the descriptions are so lush! They give the book so much texture, and the characters so much depth just from what details they notice. Honestly it’s worth reading just for the gifts Catherine makes for Lucy.)
But it’s also a romance, so let’s talk about that! Lucy and Catherine are both freshly out of terrible relationships; Lucy’s ex-girlfriend is petty and manipulative even after they’ve broken up, while Catherine’s late husband was explicitly abusive. There’s no abuse explicitly on page, but Catherine’s reactions to relationships are heavily influenced by the abuse, and are completely believable to me! But if you’re in the market for a romance that’s supportive and kind, where the power difference between characters is actually acknowledged, and the characters find beautiful ways to demonstrate their commitment to each other, this is the book for you! I adored both of the characters and the ways that they tried to make their worlds and interests more accessible for each other! The ways that they work together warmed me right through. Honestly, my biggest frustration with the romance is that there’s a conflict between them near the end that could be solved by actually talking to each other that they just don’t deal with, which felt a little artificial considering that up until that point they’d tried to communicate! But on the whole, the romance was wonderful!
At its heart, The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics is about recognition and community. At every turn, the characters are asked to choose whose recognition they value – whose recognition is valuable – and what they want their community to be. Watching them answer those questions and discover a community that they didn’t even know was available is beautiful, and I can’t recommend it strongly enough.
[Caution warnings: racism, misogyny, past abuse, structural oppression, manipulative exes, dubious consent in backstory]
Susan is a library assistant who uses her insider access to keep her shelves and to-read list permanently overflowing. She can usually be found as a contributing editor for Hugo-winning media blog Lady Business, or a reviewing for SFF Reviews and Smart Bitches Trashy Books. She brings the tweets and shouting on twitter.
Budapest is one of the most popular cities to visit in Hungary and it has 23 districts, but not all of these will be equally attractive to tourists or travelers. So let’s sort that out in a minute.
The counting of the different areas started in the most historic part of the city. Then the other quarters have gotten their number in a (more or less) clockwise pattern as you can see in the illustration.
The further you move away from the heart of the city, the higher the numbers will be.
So that’s something you can use! If someone invites you for a drink in district 23, you’re going to be quite far away from the city center!
The most important touristic areas are district 1, 5, 6, and 7.
We’ll discuss these interesting neighbourhoods first.
If you want to know a little more about the other regions, we talk about those a bit further down the road!
In 2019, for the first time, Disneyland® Paris made Magical Pride an official signature event on their calendar.
Magical Pride is a big step for the global company that has previously been hesitant to put its brand on anything LGBTQ+ related. The evening offered something for everyone, making it a suitable event for families, couples, friends or even solo travelers.
Here’s everything you need to know about the event; where it came from, What to do and Whether it was worth it or just another Disney business venture.
In this ultimate guide to Magical Pride I’ll share:
Magical Pride Tickets
Getting to Magical Pride
What to do at Magical Pride
Empowering Event or Pink Pound Collection?
Since 1991, Disneyland parks have seen annual unofficially organized ‘gay days’, where the LGBTQ+ community meets up in the Disney parks in Anaheim, Orland, Tokyo, and Hong Kong together on an agreed date. And since 2014, an organization from the UK has arranged a similar event known as ‘Magical Pride’ at Disneyland Paris.
Until now, Disney has allowed these events to happen, but never officially supported or facilitated them.
However, this year, the first-ever Magical Pride event officially backed by The Walt Disney Company took place on June 1st in Walt Disney Studios Park, Paris.
It was a big step for the global enterprise, who have previously been hesitant to take bold stances when it comes to LGBTQ+ events or representation.
Magical Pride saw the Walt Disney Studios Park open exclusively to pride goers from 8 pm – 2 am and the event was attended by LGBTQ+ Disney fans and allies from across the globe.
And based on the success and popularity, I can only hope it expands to other Disney parks in the near future!
Magical Pride Tickets
Greatdays.co.uk, the original organizers of the Magical Pride, offered a number of packages you could choose from.
All options included:
At least two nights of accommodation (option for 3).
A two-day park hopper passes.
A wristband for access to the pride celebrations at night.
You can choose from any of the Disney hotels, depending on your budget and 2019 packages started at £349 per person based on two people sharing (or £259 based on 4 people sharing).
While this is likely one of the most expensive pride events of the year, when compared to a regular weekend at Disneyland Paris, it’s pretty reasonable. The price is the same as attending on a non-pride weekend, so you essentially get the wristband and pride access FREE.
It is possible to just buy a ticket for Magical Pride if you’re staying in Paris and want to attend for the evening.
Getting To Magical Pride
Getting from Charles de Gaulle airport to Disneyland is simple in theory. In reality, depending on where you land in the airport and at what time, it can take around one hour.
Your options are as follows:
A 9-minute TGV train from Terminal 2 to the park entrance (€17).
If you’re staying in a Disney hotel (highly recommend for the convenience) then Disney run Magic Shuttle buses to and from the airport (€23).
Warning: if you land later than 9 pm at night, the TGV train and Magic Shuttle will have finished and your only option is a taxi for around €60.
What To Do At Magical Pride
Before we begin:There are two Disney Parks in Paris.
Disneyland (the main one with the castle)
Walt Disney Studios Park (the location for Magical Pride).
Dance at the Main Stage
The Main Stage in the Walt Disney Studios Park was the center of attention for the Magical Pride celebrations. Initially used by Natacha Rafalski, the President of Disneyland Paris, for an opening speech, it later transformed into a concert venue for performances by Boy George, Years and Years and the French DJ, Corine.
Meet the characters
Magical Pride had some Disney favorites who ready to meet and celebrate with guests. Dotted around Walt Disney Studios Park were a number of characters including Buzz, Woody, Lilo & Stitch. And of course, the infamous Minnie and Mickey.
Top tip: If this is what you’re coming for, get the VIP pass and skip the long lines to really make the most of your evening.
Enjoy some Pride-themed snacks
Disneyland did what Disneyland does best and offered themed snacks for the occasion. In addition to the regular fast food outlets and restaurants on offer, pop up stalls within the park were selling magical pride-themed doughnuts and cakes.
Ride some rollercoasters
It wouldn’t be Disneyland without the attractions. From 8 PM to 1:30 AM Disney operated the majority of the rides in the Walt Disney Studios Park. This included the massive indoor rollercoaster, Aerosmith, the iconic Hollywood Tower Of Terror, the surprisingly speedy Splash’s Coaster and some smaller favorites like the Magic Carpet and the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop. And the best bit of all – No wait times! (Ok, maybe some, but like… 15 minutes max!)
Watch The Parade
Disney’s first-ever Magical Pride kicked off in true Disney fashion, with an all-singing, all-dancing pride parade. The March of Diversity Parade is a pretty terrible name for what was actually a super fun pride march. Largely made up of Disney cast members in colorful T-shirts and carrying marvelous rainbow Mickey balloons, it also included some lovable Disney characters and the headline acts of the night. The entire parade was done to a repetitive, but catchy number that I’m still singing weeks after the event.
Hop Over to Disney Illuminations
As hard as it may be to pull yourself away from the pride activities, I highly recommend leaving the Walt Disney Studios Park around 10:30 pm. At 11 pm each night the Disneyland Park puts on a spectacular show called Illuminations. Take advantage of your Park-Hopper tickets and head over for the 20-minute display of fireworks, lights, and music that will leave you feeling like you’re truly living in a Fairytale.
Have a Drink!
Unlike the Disneyland Park, Walt Disney Studios Park is licensed to sell alcohol and there was a colorful pop-up bar right by the Main Stage. Personally, I didn’t fancy doing loop the loop’s and corkscrews on a rollercoaster under the influence, but if you try it let me know how that goes.
Lip Sync your heart out
Now, I didn’t attend this one in person, but from what I’ve seen online, the Disney Magic Lip-Sync-Along and karaoke theatre experience is something I’ll be checking out next year. It was held in the Animagique Theatre opposite the main stage, and contestants could sign up between 8-8:30 pm on the night. The event ran in the form of a knockout competition with 3 finalists taking to the stage shortly before midnight.
Get a Pride makeover
Wella had a popup stall on the night and was offering hair, nail & makeup makeovers as well as giving out fun colorful bandanas. The line was fairly long, so I didn’t check it out for myself, but it was an awesome addition for anyone looking to jazz up their pride look.
Indulge in the gift shop
Did you even go to Disneyland if you didn’t get sucked into the gift shop? Naturally, Disney was prepared with dedicated Magical Pride merchandise in both Downtown Disney and the Studios Park. Over the weekend, the rainbow Minnie ears become something of a rare gem as stocks ran low. It’s sadly not clear how much (if any) profits went to LGBTQ+ causes from the Magical Pride merchandise sales. However, the main Disney Store Rainbow Mickey collection does incorporate a donation to various European & American charities.
Empowering Event or Pink Pound Collection?
Every year, when June rolls around we see brands hop on the LGBTQ+ inclusion bandwagon for a month, slap a rainbow sticker on an existing product, collect in the pink pounds (or Dorothy Dollars) and call it a day.
It is exhausting to see companies make a profit on LGBTQ+ targeted products, without doing the leg work for equality or inclusion all year round. This isn’t a new concept to discuss. However, it would be hard for me to talk about Magical Pride and promote all that it offers, without also addressing a critical question to be asked of any corporate involvement pride events:
Is Disney doing enough for the LGBTQ+ community to offset the undoubted profits they made by hosting a pride event?
On this, I have no correct answer. But I do have a few thoughts.
Disney’s Lack of Representation
I was skeptical, when I first heard about Magical Pride, given Disney’s lack of positive (or any) LGBTQ+ representation in their films and TV shows. In the past year, they have made some progress, with the Disney Channel show Andi Mack airing their first ever coming out scene. The conversation occurs between the lead character Andi and his best friend and was handled with taste and in a pleasantly understated way.
But when it comes to film, Disney is failing miserably. They thrive on the rumors of Elsa being a lesbian, without ever making a statement of support or denial. And, we are yet to see if they’ll do anything about it or give her a girlfriend in the upcoming Frozen 2 movie.
The existing LGBTQ+ characters Disney does have in their films are questionable too. After months of hype that Beauty & The Beast would feature a gay character in 2017, fans and the LGBTQ+ community were disappointed when it came in the form of sidekick LeFou. Even then, the film only featured subliminal messages and less than a second of handholding in the closing credits. Beyond that, you really have to stretch to find any queer representation. With the best, you can find is a glimpse of Oaken’s partner in the Sauna during Frozen, or a ‘potentially’ lesbian couple pushing a pram in Finding Dory.
Disneyland’s Inclusive Culture
Whilst they are largely failing the community in their films, Disney has always fostered an inclusive culture in its theme parks. Whether it be by making the parks and attractions accessible to all ages and abilities, or creating a judgment-free zone for children and adults alike to be their most authentic selves. Disneyland is where you can go to escape the real world and live in an inclusive, judgment-free fantasyland, even if just for a day.
Pride as a Safe Space
As I mentioned at the top of the blog, unofficial, ‘Gay Days’ have been occurring in Disneyland Parks since 1991. This is a definite testament to the safe spaces the Disneyland empire has created. In our ever-increasingly scary world, where hate crimes of homophobia, transphobia, and racism are on the rise, so too is the importance of protecting, and nurturing safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community.
Sure, in an ideal world everywhere would be accepting, and we wouldn’t need to buy a ticket to a Pride event to access that. But sadly, that’s not the world we currently live in.
At the end of our weekend in Disneyland Paris, my girlfriend asked me what my highlight had been. I thought about the rollercoasters, meeting Mickey Mouse, the incredible weather and the yummy food we’d eaten. But none of it stopped being in a safe space for a whole two days, where we could be unapologetically out and proudly ourselves.
I ran about in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle with a pride flag, I kissed my girlfriend on ‘It’s A Small World’ and we leaned on each other’s shoulders while waiting in the long lines. We did all this without ever thinking twice about the possible dangers or negative consequences. I cannot say the same about everywhere we have visited.
My highlight of Magical Pride was the ability to be visibly queer without fear of stares, hurtful words or worse. And to Disneyland, for that, I am thankful.
Disney as an Employer
It’s no good to promote LGBTQ+ events and inclusion to customers until you’ve sorted yourself in-house. And Disney has done just that.
According to their website the company has contributed “to diverse communities through service and donations to organizations including Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Trevor Project, GLSEN, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.”
In the UK and Ireland, the Disney Pride Staff Network has raised over £18,000 for LGBTQ+ charities in the past few years and was nominated for best Network in British LGBT Awards (2016).
Disneyland Paris has had an Inclusion and Diversity manager since 2007 and the inclusive culture shone through when the hundreds of cast members marched, all singing, all dancing in the colorful opening parade of their first-ever Magical Pride.
Conclusion … for now
It’s undeniable that Disney has miles to go when it comes to TV and film representation. I dream of a world where kids grow up to idolize a non-binary superhero or a trans-Disney princess. When the day comes (and I must believe it will), I will probably cry my Disney-geek heart out.
But when it comes to fostering the critical spaces that we need as a community, where we can feel not only safe but celebrated from who we are, you really can’t blame or judge Disney for being the ones to provide that.
Sure, I hope that there’s a future where these spaces aren’t needed. Pride events should always exist, but hopefully as a celebration and commemoration of the fights and sacrifices of those who got us to that point. But right now, in 2019, when I reflect on the two days of absolute bliss that I had, being out, proud and without a drop of fear that anything would happen to me because of it, Disney can have my money.
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Jenna is a Scottish gal with a passion for solo travel and talking about all things gay.Currently Edinburgh based, she has been roaming the globe full and part-time since 2010. Her mantra: unapologetic, queer unstoppable. Find her @thejennaway on Instagram and The Jenna Way on Facebook.