Tag: Queer

Discovery star reveals she is ‘queer and proud’

Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery‘s LGBT+ crew just grew a little bigger as actor Mary Wiseman confirms she is “queer and proud”.

Wiseman, a powerhouse actor who plays fan-favourite Ensign Tilly, revealed that she has loved “people of all genders” in a recent interview with StarTrek.com.

That small detail almost wasn’t published as the Zoom call’s audio cut out just as Wiseman started to say “I’m not straight”. Some shrewd lip-reading prompted writer Dawn Ennis to follow up with Wiseman, who happily confirmed it in a Twitter DM.

“I did say this! It’s not a big deal at all, I just didn’t want to say I’m straight when I’m not!” the star wrote, adding that before she met her husband Noah Averbach-Katz – who played Ryn the Andorian – she “dated and loved people of all genders.”

She went on to explain why she keeps fairly quiet about the topic, saying: “I never liked it when straight-presenting women dominated conversations about bisexuality/pansexuality when I was with women, so I try not to do it now, but I also don’t want it to feel like I’m hiding anything because I’m queer and proud!”

Wiseman’s far from alone on a show that’s won widespread praise for its strong LGBT+ representation, both in its cast and script.

The show’s co-creator Bryan Fuller also identifies as queer, as do actors Anthony Rapp, Wilson Cruz, Blu Del Barrio and Ian Alexander – all of whom play LGBT+ characters themselves.

Together Del Barrio and Alexander took on the first trans and non-binary roles in the franchise’s 54-year history, and their characters form an adorable queer family with gay couple Hugh and Paul.

“I’m proud to say that we are bringing you the queerest Trek in history!” Wilson Cruz said ahead of the launch of season three. With Mary Wiseman on board, we’re hoping season four will follow in an equally queer direction.

Star Trek: Discovery is available to watch now on Netflix in the UK and CBS All Access in the US.

Queer Horoscopes for January 2021

Queer Horoscopes for January 2021

Oh, my sweet friends. I want to reach through whatever screen you’re reading this on and hug you, or maybe braid your hair and fix you a drink with fresh mint in it and let you tell me about all the ways 2020 broke your heart. And I want to promise you that 2021 will treat you better. I hope it will.

But we’re still in the middle of everything that 2020 ushered in, and it’s not going to suddenly reset because the Gregorian calendar has turned over. There is no clean slate this year. We have to drop the illusion that we’re in control of what happens to us next—that if we just make the right choices we can have the life we deserve. I’m sorry I can’t give you all the life you deserve. Or even a hug. I can just congratulate you on surviving what may have been the hardest year of your life, and encourage you to stick it out with us a little longer.

Because, though some of us might be feeling that everyday is grindingly like the last one, we’re actually in a time of tremendous change, and 2021 will be different from 2020 in some key ways. We’ve moved through what some astrologers have dubbed the “Covid cluster”—that once-in-a-lifetime crunch of planets in late Capricorn, sign of restrictions and responsibility, of doing what you have to and not what you want to. That was a game changer. That was intensely difficult. And that particular piece of astrology, while it’s informing what happens next, is over.

As we move into 2021, new themes are popping up that have more to do with tension between the old world and the new—do we cling to the past or rush toward the future? I’ve heard of people who survived a tornado and when all was clear emerged from their basements to astonishing sights: one house completely demolished while the one next door was unharmed, while yet another had been picked up and set down a few blocks over. Bits and pieces of the old world sat uncomfortably next to the new. They wandered through their neighborhood in a state of grief and wonder, not knowing what familiar landmarks would be gone or rearranged. If nothing else, 2021 will be a year of rewriting our maps.

Last year I posed some questions we might need to answer in 2020. One that still feels appropriate for 2021 is this: “How do we envision what comes next?” This year (and particularly this month) is heavily dominated by Aquarius energy. Aquarius demands change—specifically that we question the rules and structures of our society. Aquarius is the queerdo revolutionary of the zodiac—against assimilation, for free love and collective liberation, willing to be unpopular in pursuit of a better, stranger world. Both planets that have to do with society and its rules and beliefs (Saturn and Jupiter) are newly in Aquarius, and the Sun will meet them there this month. Mars, planet of hissy fits and catty vengeance, finally moves out of Aries but runs smack into a square with Saturn. When these two clash, it has all the subtlety of Dawn Davenport denied her cha cha heels.

Which is to say, we are moving out of a year of crisis and toward a remapping the world, which won’t come without some conflict. All year we see the theme of tradition vs. revolution, of old vs. new, of responsibility vs. freedom. And our allegiances may not be as clean cut as we think they are—is the kind of freedom we’re looking for the freedom to risk other people’s lives so we can party without the inconvenience of masks? This year will complicate any belief system you hold that needs only one right answer, only one good way to be. We are moving out of a need for security and toward a need to experiment — which might mean failing, dusting ourselves off, and trying again. It might mean breaking with an ideology that doesn’t allow for change or nuance. It might mean finding new friends. Whatever it means for you, expect this to be a year of surprises. And if you are aligned with any kind of movement for collective liberation, this is a year to get serious about the limitations of your imagination. Aquarius asks us to escape the limiting perspectives that trap us in “that’s just the way the world is,” and the tensions of this year ask us to better understand what is and isn’t possible.

I’m excited for the changes this year brings, and I have some exciting news to announce! First, if you want a much deeper dive into how the astrology of 2021 will affect your sign, hop on over to my Patreon for the complete download. It’s easy to sign up for one month and change your mind later if you don’t want to stick around—I won’t be hurt! And if you’ve been waiting for a reading with me, my books are finally open again so grab your spot now as I’m often booked at least a month in advance.

I’m also thrilled to announce I’m offering two new classes this year! Two of them! Both live on Zoom—one for astrology newbies and one for those who want to level up and use astrology as a healing tool. Check out my live Astro 101 class here, and my Healers and Weavers apprenticeship program here; registration for both closes soon!

I wish you beautiful acts of bravery and experimentation in all your relationships this year. May 2021 heal your heart and help you remap your world.

Stylized image of the Aries symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

Heteronormativity believes in all our needs being met through the couple, but queerness takes a goddamn village. And often, that village is a hot mess. So let’s talk about “community.” What communities are you a part of, whether you like to identify with them or not? What communities do you feel betrayed by? Which ones are literally saving your life right now? What failures have you experienced in community? These themes are coming up for everyone right now, but they’re especially important for you. In redrawing the map of your world, you need to address the core question of who you’re showing up for and who’s showing up for you—and why we mess it up. Part of your work this year is to learn why you can forgive and keep going with some people, and why you can’t with others. Part of your work is to remember that collectivity will always challenge you, on some level, even as you want it—you’re going to feel more in control of your life (and therefore safer) when you can act without stopping to get consensus approval. And yet—you need your community, and they need you. This is the year to work it out a little better than you did last year.


Stylized image of the Taurus symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

If you’re being totally honest, you’re happiest when your relationships don’t have a lot of upheaval. You love the familiar, the comfortable, the predictable presence of the people you love. However your relationships changed in 2020, you’re probably still indignant about it, still unwilling to let go of their past forms—even if those changes were for the better! It takes you time to get used to new maps. So in this year of continuing change, when Uranus, planet of change, is still in your sign and stirring up trouble with all the planets moving through Aquarius, you’re being invited to notice where you do want change. Specifically, what about you do you want to be more visible? Are you trying to step into more leadership in your work or your friend group? Or do you need to take on less and open a space for others to come forward? What relationships help you feel capable and strong? Who do you trust to hold your vulnerability? If there aren’t at least two people on that list, how can you change that this year? What relationships drain your energy? What boundaries have you set in them? What boundaries do you need to set? 2021 is going to keep rearranging your relationships, but not all the changes need to be bad, I promise. Your job is to stay honest about what’s giving you life and what’s become a burden. Your job is to hold onto what you actually need and learn to lovingly release the rest.


Stylized image of the Gemini symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

This is a year of growth and change for you, and most of it will be aligned with what you already know you want. You’re growing toward a future you can imagine, but 2021 wants you to stay aware of what is marvelous, unfamiliar, and even unimaginable in what you thought was familiar. Your map this year doesn’t need to get totally redrawn as much as defined: your existing map has many possible entries and exits, roads overlapped on other roads, landmarks that go by many names, possible future roads that haven’t been built yet….this is a year of making choices, of clarifying, of committing to certain paths and not others. And you can only do this by getting curious about why—what do you gain by delaying choices? Where do you feel that deep sense of truth that can help you decide? What stories are blocking you from feeling into that intuitive sense of rightness? Who’s helping you unlearn those stories? Who might be reinforcing them? You will always be love the questions more than the answers, but this is a year of making firm commitments. Let your sense of wonder and curiosity guide you.


Stylized image of the Cancer symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

Whether you name it or not, the pain you’ve experienced shapes you. The pain of 2020 has reshaped your relationships, your daily routines, and even how you hold and move and love your body. In redrawing your maps this year, take time to commemorate the places where you’ve been hurt. Leaves flowers at specific landmarks. Rename the streets. Let yourself cry. Hold your beloveds in your body, in the way you are kind to yourself, in the way you let yourself rest. Remember that it’s hard work to feel grief, to remember what is lost, but that crying is an act of alchemy: it rearranges the places that pain has claimed for its own. Remember you have the power to reshape yourself in collaboration with your past, in collaboration with what you love. You have the choice to keep aligning with healing, and that doesn’t mean going back to a way of life that didn’t really serve you—it means renaming, reclaiming, and learning to love your current shape. Only then is real change possible.


Stylized image of the Leo symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

When you were younger, you might have confused getting positive attention with being loved. Even so, attention never really filled that empty feeling. Whether you were single or partnered, friendless or wildly popular, it was hard to shake a feeling of deep loneliness. This year, you’re being asked to grow up a little. And I don’t mean that in a shaming way, like “grow up and stop feeling so lonely!” I mean that in a profoundly loving way: Grow up and start claiming that loneliness as something you need to address for real. Grow up and recognize you can tell the difference between what’s nourishing and what’s a temporary thrill. Grow up and learn how to choose the kind of love that sees you in all your wholeness—not only how you dazzle and impress, but also how you’re sometimes kind of selfish or ordinary or boring. Love that may not shower you in praise, but does keep collaborating with you, keep prioritizing what you can build together, keep showing up for the project of growing up together. Are you ready to grow up and commit to being loved this way, and to offering that kind of love? Are you ready for loneliness to be just one chord in your symphony, and not the diva running the whole show?


Stylized image of the Virgo symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

When we talk about revolution, I don’t want you to think about something as literal as violent overthrow of the government or as meaningless as an advertisement for a new kind of soda. I don’t want you to think of the hippies in the 1960s, I don’t want you to think of the antiglobalization movement in the 1990s, I don’t want you to think about anything that was ambitious and failed and became a slogan for capitalism. Instead, I want you to think about what you see happening in your everyday life that’s giving you a glimpse of how the world could be different. I want you to think of what small acts you could be doing regularly to support this change. I want you to notice where in your body you hold the stories and trauma of oppression. I want you to start moving your body in ways that offer release. I want you to start understanding your own healing as part of and in service to collective healing, which is the same thing as revolution. The map you’re making in 2021 is a map of devotional, restorative, audacious, unthinkable, somatic, and deeply personal interventions that will help you show up as a mentor, as a healer, as a friend to those who are trying to change the world. If you are descended from enslaved Africans, I encourage you to check out @TheNapMinistry for guidance and support. If you’re descended from white settlers, I encourage you to question your need to produce and perfect instead of being and being with. If you’re in any other category or in many categories of identity, I want you to remember that what you demand from yourself you will demand from others. What can you offer yourself, instead, that will also benefit others?


Stylized image of the Libra symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

Ah, Libra, what a sweet change this year brings you! Many of the pressures of 2020 are easing for you, and the new Aquarian energy is stimulating your need for creativity, playfulness, and romance. If the current map of your relationships is a little too weighted toward other people’s needs and interests, 2021 is the year you start balancing this out with more emphasis on what gives you life, whether or not your friends or lovers share that interest. You are learning about your own desire nature this year, and I’m not just talking about sexual desire but about what makes life joyous for you. Do you remember joy? Do you remember the paths that take you there? Is it time to map out some new ones? I recommend trying your hand at anything that feels like it might be really fun but maybe not exactly productive or worth your time. Make some really bad art. Write some incredibly self-indulgent poems. Dress up and take selfies. Play some silly, time-wasting games. As long as you’re having a lot of fun, it’s worth doing. And if it feels strange and frivolous to be prioritizing fun at a time like this, remember that joy is what’s going to keep us going. Flirtation, romance, and exciting new friendships are also good compass points for you this year—don’t feel that any of them need to get too serious, though. Practice being in the moment. Practice sharing passion and playfulness for the shared endorphin boost. 2021 will have its pain and obstacles, but your main responsibility this year is to stay aligned with joy, and how joy opens up a space of possibility.


Stylized image of the Scorpio symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

Let’s talk about your past. Maybe you had an idyllic childhood with only good memories, but more likely you’re carrying some kind of wounds from your early life into all your adult relationships, including your relationship to yourself. Aquarius, key energy of 2021, isn’t any easy one for you—it’s all future-focused and excited about what’s possible, while you’re holding the scars of what went wrong. You have the wisdom of the past guiding you, which can make you suspicious of any progressive project that looks too idealistic, that seems to ignore the traumas and obstacles that arise when people try to work together to change the world. And yet, it’s time to redraw your map. Not to erase or ignore the wisdom you hold, but to allow for the possibility of the future looking different than the past. This means drawing deeply from your roots, but aiming yourself at an unknowable future. This means holding your pain with love and attention, but not letting it tell you what your future will look like. This means making family with those you trust and letting your witnessing of each other redraw all the maps you were given—maps that told you what parts of you weren’t worth loving. 2021 will be a year of intense change for you, and you may not always welcome it, but you can always choose to align with what heals your heart and keeps you able to trust and witness.


Stylized image of the Sagittarius symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

You are quite good already at redrawing maps—no sooner have you drawn one possible map of your life than you want to draw a dozen more. So what this year is asking from you isn’t to lean into your flexible, adaptable, adventurous side, but rather to notice what you’ve been overlooking when you fly off into a new adventure (or flight of fancy). There are problems that you can solve if you sit with them, give them more of your time and attention. There are conversations you need to have that you’ve been avoiding. What will help you feel ready? What gives you the courage to look more closely at the present moment? In this year of Aquarius energy there will also be eclipses in your sign, so this is a year when anything you’ve been trying to ignore is going to come up and demand your attention. Start now, and start small. Remember that you have the power to connect, to act, to call a damn friend when you’re thinking about them. Remember you can use your words and not just your imagination. Get specific about what you’re trying to make happen this year. Get up close and personal. Listen more closely to what the people you love are telling you. Let yourself be surprised, and then let yourself be still long enough to be surprised again.


Stylized image of the Capricorn symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

You are so talented at being able to do without. You’ve got a map of where you’ve stashed only the most essential supplies and when the shit hits, you’ve got your bug-out bag and you’re ready to roll. In intimacy, this means you’ve got a lot to give and you don’t always remember that you get to receive as well. The thought of asking for care might even feel distinctly uncomfortable. But the map you’re drawing in 2021 asks for more than scarcity mindset, it asks you to recognize the value of abundance. What could you accomplish if you had not just barely enough (money, love, support, feedback, learning experiences, sex, food, etc.) but more than enough? Enough to share, enough to trust that you won’t be out in the cold if you take a risk or take a break? Having enough material resources may or may not be in your reach, but what about having more than enough inspiration, love, and trust? What about having more than enough creative ideas and people to share them with? What about risking more vulnerability in your closest relationships and seeing what grows from these acts of courage? These are your goals for 2021—to increase your capacity by increasing your resources, so you can be prepared for all the surprises to come.


Stylized image of the Aquarius symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

However 2020 reshaped your world, now is a time to start asking yourself what you’ve given up to stay in some relationships, and what you’ve given up by drawing back from others. Specifically, this year asks you to question the logic that intimacy (or independence) means making big sacrifices: you’re damned if you’re loved and damned if you’re lonely. Old experiences of rejection have taught you what you needed to learn. Don’t knit them into a tight, itchy sweater of I Will Never Truly Belong Amongst the Humans and commit to wearing that one outfit until you die and being buried in it. Instead, consider what you are maturing into and how the people who may have hurt or disappointed you are also maturing. You’re all a little older and some of you may be much wiser now. As you embrace this year that calls on your specific gifts and perspective, remember that what you’re learning about possibility is that it can’t be all or nothing—that you are capable of adapting to changing circumstances, and capable of learning how to feel safe even if you’re uncomfortable.


Stylized image of the Pisces symbol over an abstract freeform purple shape

Redraw your map:

It’s normal that as we age we start to give up on certain dreams—we’re not all going to be astrophysicist opera singers with a side hustle of hip-hop dance. But what happens to the parts of you that are still attached to the motions of the planets, to singing, to expressive dance? For so many of us 2020 was a year of dreams deferred, or maybe cut off entirely. Maybe you’ve learned to do your dreaming as pure fantasy, getting high in the bath tub or binge watching gorgeously designed TV. I’m not saying that 2021 is the year you’ll get to be all you’ve ever dreamt of, but I am saying it’s worth reconsidering some dreams you’ve given up on. Specifically, now is the time to clearly map out how you get in touch with your deep intuition, to what restores and heals you. If you have a way of accessing those, you don’t need a clear map for anything else. When you’re feeling lost, point yourself in the direction where you find beauty and hope.

69 Queer and Feminist Books Coming Your Way in Winter 2020 and 2021

69 Queer and Feminist Books Coming Your Way in Winter

I believe we are in living in a truly incredible time for queer and feminist books. For proof, I offer you this majestic — if I do say so myself — list of queer and feminist books hitting shelves this winter. (Don’t miss this list for fall 2020 queer and feminist books too). There is really something for every kind of reader here: comics, speculative fiction, thrillers, YA, poetry, memoir, and so much more! I would also like to add that the number of books on this list was entirely accidental!


Collage of a variety of books coming out in December

Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo (December 1)

Let’s start this list off with a bang, shall we? In Oluo’s characteristic incisive prose — you may have read her book So You Want to Talk about Race — she details how much white men’s undue influence in the US has cost the country and its people socially, economically, and politically.

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley (December 1)

In the prolific queer YA author’s latest book, Talley writes about a teenage stage manager, Melody, whose unsuccessful loves have a tendency to ruin her productions. This time for Les Mis, she swears, NO falling in love. Except that girl auditioning is pretty cute.

Why Letter Ellipses by Kimberly Alidio (December 1)

In this new poetry collection by queer Black poet Alidio, “History is really an invitation / by way of arranged language / to read the occulted / in plain sight: / a poem.” The book brims with a preoccupation with language itself and the forms that language takes to communicate meaning through nonfiction, archives, history, and poetry.

Juliet Takes a Breath: Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera and Celia Moscote (December 1)

Rivera’s beloved lesbian Puerto Rican coming of age story has been adapted to graphic novel form, with Moscote’s work as an illustrator. In case you’re not already familiar: the story follows Juliet, who flies across the country to work for her favorite (white) feminist after disastrously coming out to her family.

Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar (December 1)

What a necessary and beautiful picture book Ritu Weds Chandni is, about a young Indian girl fighting for queer rights. Ayesha is so excited for her cousin Ritu’s wedding and is determined to show those not supporting the lesbian couple how wrong they are.

If You Dare by Sandy Lowe (December 1)

Any romance featuring a librarian character gets extra points in my book, let alone a lesbian romance! When down-on-her-luck Lauren plays truth or dare and ends up agreeing to seduce the next woman who walks through the doors of the bar she’s drinking in, she isn’t expecting it to be Emma, a so-called good girl librarian with kinky aspirations.

Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade of Harriet the Spy by Leslie Brody (December 1)

A biography of the lesbian author of Harriet the Spy!! I don’t think this book needs anything else to sell it, but here goes: Brody dives into Fitzhugh’s inspiring life, from growing up in segregated Memphis to moving to New York and discovering lesbian bars in Greenwich Village, later visiting the art world of Europe, and negotiating the difficult position of being a lesbian author of children’s books.

Party Favors by Erin McLellan (December 1)

The latest in McLellan’s So Over the Holidays romance series, Party Favors is set at New Years. Two online BFFS, Amanda and Wren, meet up in person for the first time to celebrate and discover how strong their spark of attraction is.

The Good Girls by Claire Eliza Bartlett (December 1)

YA needs more genre mysteries, and here’s one with lesbian and bisexual characters to boot! When a girl in Jefferson-Lorne High is murdered, three of her very different classmates — the head cheerleader, the partier, and the valedictorian — are prime suspects.

Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham (December 1)

Bringing together a wide variety of artistic forms — visual art, essays, photos, memes, recipes, poems, tweets, and more — Drew and Wortham investigate what it means to be Black and alive today, with a distinct focus on queer Black lives.

Crosshairs by Catherine Hernandez (December 8)

In this eerily relevant science fiction dystopia, Hernandez imagines a Toronto where LGBTQ and disabled people and people of color are held in concentration camps. A queer Black drag performer leads a group to plan an uprising.

Femme Like Her by Fiona Zedde (December 8)

Black femme lesbian Nailah lives by a certain rulebook: she only dates studs, driving her Camaro is her form of therapy, and she leaves her exes where they belong: in the past. But when her one femme ex — clearly a mistake — comes back into her life unexpectedly, Nailah might have to ditch the rulebook and follow her heart.

Trans-Galactic Bike Ride: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories of Transgender and Nonbinary Adventures by Lydia Rogue and Elly Blue (December 8)

I mean, the subtitle of this anthology basically tells you everything you need to know about why this book should be read asap. Bikes! Trans and nonbinary people! Feminism! Science Fictional Futures! Contributors include Charlie Jane Anders, Tucker Lieberman, Diane Lane, Ava Kelly, and more.

All Aglow: A Lesbian Christmas Romance by Bryce Oakley (December 11)

Listen, queer women deserve the book equivalents of a Hallmark Christmas movies, too okay? Two families have a long-standing tradition of spending Christmas together. Cass, from one family, has had a secret crush on Stevie, from the other family, for a while … since she was eight years old. Can she catch Stevie under the mistletoe this year?

From the Woods by Charlotte Greene (December 15)

In this creepy romantic thriller, Fiona is delighted to discover how attractive the trail guide is on the two week-long backpacking trip her friends dragged her on. Soon, though, the sexy woman Roz and Fiona are on their own in the woods, running from someone or something that is after them, trying to draw it away from Fiona’s friends.

16 Steps to Forever by Georgia Beers (December 15)

An adorable opposites-attract contemporary workplace romance, 16 Steps to Forever features Brooke (a reserved bisexual woman who likes to be in control) and Macy (a lesbian who is a bit of a mess). Despite their disastrous first encounter where Macy drops a plateful of danishes on Brooke, they keep meeting outside of work. Is there something meant to be?

This Is How We Fly by Anna Meriano (December 15)

A loose retelling of Cinderella based on a 17-year-old vegan feminist Latina who joins a local Quidditch team? Yes please! An ode to Harry Potter fan communities, high school friendships, and all-gender sports with a queer and feminist sensibility!

Get It Right by Skye Kilaen (December 15)

Finn — a butch lesbian parolee— and Vivi — a femme pansexual nurse — first met while Finn was in prison and Vivi was working there. When Vivi left abruptly, Finn worried but couldn’t do anything. But now that they’ve run into each other at a medical clinic, Finn notices Vivi doesn’t seem okay. Can Finn help Vivi? And is fate offering them a second chance at love?

Moonstruck Volume 3: Troubled Waters by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, and Claudia Aguirre (December 15)

In the ongoing all ages fantasy comic Moonstruck, spring and the annual Mermaid festival have arrived! Girlfriends Julie and Serena hit a roadblock when Julie meeting Serena’s friends for the first time goes horribly wrong. Can their relationship survive?

Blue by Abigail Padgett (December 15)

This brand new edition of the first book in the classic lesbian mystery series (originally published in 1998) is an exciting addition to the contemporary queer mystery genre. It introduces unlikely sleuth Blue, a retired social psychologist who gets hired to investigate why a 72-year-old widow confessed to a murder her brother thinks she didn’t commit.

Streetwalking: LGBTQ Lives and Protest in the Dominican Republic by Ana-Maurine Lara (December 18)

Lara’s academic study investigates the lives of Dominican LGBTQ people, particularly as they exercise power. Looking at specific strategies employed by LGBTQ community leaders, Lara shows how they fight for rights, recognition, and subjectivity.

A Comprehensive Guide to Intersex by Jay Kyle Peterson (December 21)

Written by an intersex author, A Comprehensive Guide to Intersex is as wide-ranging as it claims but equally accessible. Peterson details what intersex is (and what it is not), discuses 40-odd variations, and historical and sociocultural aspects including medical intervention. It also includes practical tips for folks who aren’t intersex on how they can support those who are.

Wound from the Mouth of a Wound by Torrin A. Greathouse (December 22)

This poetry collection is written from the intersections of (trans)gender, disability, trauma, and survival. “Some girls are not made,” she writes, “but spring from the dirt.” Greathouse challenges standards of what deserves to be in a poem and what’s called beautiful, turning her pen to the vestigial. She also challenges form, including broken essays and a sonnet made to be read in the mirror.


Collage of a variety of books coming out in January

Scent by Kris Bryant (January 1)

Nico is head of a successful packaging company. Now all she needs is a girlfriend, and Sophia, whom Nico spots on the train, looks like a prime candidate. Sophia is trying to save her family’s chocolate shop, and mistakes Nico for a warehouse employee of said packaging company, who she thinks can help her with her business. Nico roles with the mistaken identity, determined to win Sophia’s love.

Journey to Cash by Ashley Bartlett (January 1)

I was so pleased to see Bartlett’s third book in the reformed drug dealer / artist Cash Braddock mystery/thriller series was being released, as I loved the previous book. This time, Cash thinks she’s finally doing okay — she’s ditched the dealing, is no longer being forced to be an informant for the police, and she’s opening an art gallery. Then her ex-girlfriend returns with news that Cash’s ex-business partner wants to kill them both.

Veterinary Technician by Nancy Wheelton (January 1)

Single mom and vet tech Valerie doesn’t have good luck in the relationship department, although she loves her small town Saskatchewan life. When a new teacher Ronnie moves to town, Val is hopeful. But Ronnie has just suffered major career and relationship blows, plus is trying to stay clean. Only a threatened stable of horses is able to bring Val and Ronnie together.

Everybody (Else) Is Perfect: How I Survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes by Gabrielle Korn (January 5)

This challenging, intimate, and darkly funny essay collection covering both personal and cultural topics comes from the former editor-in-chief of ,em>Nylon. Topics include disordered eating, fashion, young lesbian life in NYC, “commercialized body positivity,” and the pressure to have an Instagram perfect life.

White Feminism: From the Suffragettes to Influencers and Who They Leave Behind by Koa Beck (January 5)

Former editor in chief of Jezebel Koa Beck pens a rousing call to action investigating how mainstream white feminism has been commodified and continues to shut out women of color. Blending historical research, pop culture analysis, and personal storytelling, she argues that racism and elitism have driven feminist discourse for far too long.

Outlawed by Anna North (January 5)

In this speculative western set in an America where women are valued only for their fertility, a young woman named Ada leaves her husband and midwife apprenticeship to join a gang of outlaws. The outlaws are determined to create a safe haven for outcast women. But their plan is wild and dangerous: will Ada risk it all to participate?

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht (January 5)

Leicht’s latest novel is an action-packed space opera set at Persephone Station, a supposedly backwater planet no one is interested in. That is, until it becomes the focus of Serrao-Orlov, a corporation that wants to exploit it. Two women — bar owner Rosie and honorable mercenary Angel — find themselves fighting Serrao-Orlov.

Goldie Vance: The Hocus Pocus Hoax by Lilliam Rivera and Brittney Williams (January 5)

This is the second installment in the historical middle grade series featuring lesbian tween detective Goldie Vance. Her latest mystery at the Crossed Palms resort in Florida, where Goldie lives, takes place at a magic convention. When a magician’s tricks go awry and threaten to ruin the convention, Goldie’s first date with her long-time crush Diane might crumble too!

Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters (January 7)

Peters’s highly anticipated debut novel centres around three women — two trans and one cis — as their lives come together in very unexpected ways. Reese and Amy’s relationship falls apart when Amy — now Ames — makes the decision to detransition. When Ames’s lover/boss gets pregnant, Ames wonders if this might be the chance to bring the three of them together, as Reese has always wanted to be a mom.

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner (January 12)

A charming historical fantasy with a queer romance at its heart, anyone? Dellaria is a hard-drinking thief down on her luck who answers an ad for a female bodyguard. Supposedly protecting a rich lady from assassins, Dellaria isn’t sure the danger is real — until it is. Also, she falls in love with a fellow bodyguard.

Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu (January 12)

Owusu’s genre-bending poetic memoir tackles themes of identity, home, Black womanhood, and the longstanding personal and generational effects of trauma. Abandoned by her mom as a child and left behind when her dad died in her teens, Owusu came to the US after living around the world, where she tried to contend with how many competing personas she felt she had inside herself.

Choosing Grace by Regina Jamison (January 14)

In 1986, Sky is a young Black woman from North Carolina who’s tired of being boxed in by what everyone thinks she should do. So she moves to Rhode Island for college, where she falls in love with her roommate Zenobia. Years later, after leaving the South for good to live in New York City, Zenobia comes back into Sky’s life. Except Sky is building a relationship with a new woman. How can she decide?

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (January 19)

Powerhouse queer YA author Lo pivots genre-wise again with this historical YA set in 1950s San Francisco Chinatown. Two teen girls, Lily and Kathleen, risk everything for their love, as at the same time the so-called Red Scare threatens Chinese Americans like Lily and her family.

Wench by Maxine Kaplan (January 19)

In this queer feminist YA epic fantasy, Tanya is the main character who grew up in her family’s tavern. But when her guardian dies and she’s at risk for losing the tavern, Tanya must set out on a quest to petition the queen to let her keep the establishment in her own name.

Night Tide by Anna Burke (January 26)

The second installment in Burke’s Seal Cove romance series, Night Tide tackles the beloved hate-to-love trope. Lillian’s arch nemesis is Ivy, whom she initially met at veterinary school. But when Ivy is forced to move to be closer to family, she ends up taking a job at the same clinic as Lillian. Can they work together? Will they fall in love??

When Tara Met Farah by Tara Pammi (January 26)

Debuting in Pammi’s Bollywood Drama and Dance Society romance series, When Tara Met Farah is a new adult romance about Tara, a 19-year-old with a popular food blog who’s failing college math, and Farah, the 23-year-old bi research intern of Tara’s mom who’s been hired to tutor Tara. Soon they’re bonding over chicken biryani, dancing to Bollywood music, and … kissing.

Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion (January 26)

Ten never-before-collected pieces by the iconic writer make up this new book. Written in the 60s, 70s, and 2000s, the essays cover topics such as Martha Stewart, short stories, American newspapers, visiting Nancy Reagan, Gamblers Anonymous, and a piece titled “Why I Write.”

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe (January 26)

Is 2021 the year for queer YA mysteries and thrillers? I hope so! Sharpe’s latest offering is about Nora, the daughter of a con artist. The morning after her ex walking in on her and her new girlfriend — they’re all friends but the ex didn’t know — the three girls are held hostage at bank during a robbery. These robbers have no idea who they’re dealing with.

Just As I Am by Cicely Tyson (January 26)

Tyson’s memoir traces her long and extraordinary career as a stage and screen actress from the vantage point of her ninetieth decade. She writes: “Just As I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside.”

The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto by Charles M Blow (January 26)

From the mind of this Black bisexual journalist and author comes a powerful call to action for Black Americans coming together to amass political power to fight white supremacy. He focuses on achieving equality on Black Americans’ own terms, not under the stipulations of white people.

Don’t Forget to Water the Flowers by Jasmin Lankford (January)

Queer Black poet Lankford’s debut collection focuses on healing from trauma. She often employs extended ocean metaphors, mixing sea imagery with that of flowers, endangered species, and pollution. Check out some examples of her poetry here.


Collage of a variety of books coming out in February

Masquerade by Anne Shade (February 1)

In 1925 Harlem, masquerade drag balls unite people from all walks of life, such as Dinah, a nightclub chorus girl trying to support her family. She finds love with Celine, a recent transplant from New Orleans who is fleeing a family scandal. But when a notorious gangster sets his sights on Celine, the two women must risk everything to save themselves and their love.

Body Language by Renee Roman (February 1)

In this contemporary romance, Mika’s been seeking validation and a roof over her head between the sheets of rich women for too long. She decides to go back to college to prove herself. There she meets Jennifer, who offers Mika the help with her schoolwork in exchange for some help of the erotic variety.

Devil Incarnate by Ali Vali (February 1)

The seventh installment in Vali’s Cain Casey mystery series, Devil Incarnate finds Cain happier than she’s ever been, surrounded by family. But enemies threatening more than her business continue to lurk, including an FBI agent turned drug dealer and the Russian Mob.

Love Is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar (February 2)

Jarrar’s memoir embodies all her identities at once — queer, Arab American, fat, and Muslim — as it chronicles a cross-country American road trip inspired by an Egyptian belly dancer’s similar trip in 1940. She searches for and finds joy, as unlikely as it might seem in an America hostile to everything she is.

Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen (February 2)

This debut collection of literary short stories puts a spotlight on the diversity of China’s people, their history, and government. Oscillating between precise realism and playful magical realism, the stories feature a woman stalked by an ex-boyfriend, citizens trapped on a train for months, and more.

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder (February 2)

Broder’s first (I think?) queer book is full of dark humor, food, and religion. Rachel is a lapsed Jew who has replaced religion with calorie counting. When her therapist suggests a detox from her mother —where Rachel learnt the calorie counting — she meets Miriam, zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at a frozen yogurt shop and is eager to feed Rachel.

This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria (February 2)

This young adult fantasy stars an asexual protagonist, Karis, who has been forced to serve her country’s rulers, scribes whose goal is to unlock an ancient automaton army. But Karis’s priorities are to find her long-lost brother. On this quest, she accidentally awakens a hidden automaton and discovers a secret her country has been hiding for centuries.

Tell No Tales: Pirates of the Southern Seas by Sam Maggs and Kendra Wells (February 9)

Inspired by the real-life exploits of women pirates, this YA historical graphic novel is full of swashbuckling adventures! Anne is a pirate with a fierce reputation, her own ship, and a stellar crew. But a new enemy intent on eliminating piracy is afoot. Anne must convince her crew to follow the clues she found in a dream, which are the only route to defending their way of life.

We Play Ourselves by Jen Silverman (February 9)

Reeling from a humiliating scandal, Cass, a formerly lauded queer feminist New York playwright, flees to California to reinvent herself. There, she finds herself drawn into the world of her neighbor documentary filmmaker and the group of teen girls who are the subject of the director’s next film.

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard (February 9)

Fireheart Tiger is a romantic fantasy novella set in a world inspired by pre-colonization Vietnam. Princess Thanh has returned to her mother’s court as a diplomat. Her new role puts her in the path of her first love, the formidable and alluring Eldris of Ephteria. Can Thanh pursue love and shape her country’s future for the better at the same time?

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (February 9)

The first book in a new YA fantasy series, “Deathless,” The Gilded Ones tells the story of Deka, whose blood ceremony shows her menstrual blood runs gold instead of red. Facing a fate worse than death, Deka is approached by a woman offering her another option: join an army of girls just like her who are the only hope of defeating the empire’s greatest threat.

Kink: Stories edited by R.O Kwon and Garth Greenwell (February 9)

This collection of literary short stories on the themes of kink and BDSM includes work by queer writers such as Roxane Gay, Melissa Febos, Alexander Chee, Zeyn Joukhadar, and Carmen Maria Machado, as well as editorial work by R.O. Kwon. The stories explore intersecting themes of love, desire, and power.

Breaking Out by Lise MacTague (February 11)

In this hockey-themed romance, KJ is determined to win the league championship, which means it’s a bad time to be breaking in a new defensive partner. Said new partner, Adrienne, is pretty cute though. But is Adrienne interested? And is KJ the best partner for a woman looking for a person with the stability she and her young son need?

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey (February 16)

A speculative thriller, The Echo Wife features a clone, Martine, who was constructed from Evelyn’s research. Martine is patient, gentle, obedient: everything Evelyn has never wanted to be. She’s also having an affair with Evelyn’s husband. When said husband dies, the two wives have quite the mess to clean up.

Soulstar by C.L. Polk (February 16)

The third book in Polk’s historical fantasy romance series, “The Kingston Cycle,” Soulstar is set in a magical neo-Edwardian England setting. This book concludes the twisty story of politics, witches, assassinations, deadly weather, and queer love. Featuring bisexual woman representation!

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol 2 by Emil Ferris (February 18)

The publication of this book has been delayed so many times: can we please all cross our collective fingers that this is finally it? Ferris’s story is set in 1960s Chicago, drawn in majestic art all done in ballpoint pen. She continues the story of Karen, baby tween dyke investigating the mystery of her Holocaust survivor neighbor’s murder.

Confident Women: Swindlers, Grifters, and Shapeshifters of the Feminine Persuasion by Tori Telfer (February 23)

This true crime book focuses on women con artists and their outrageous scams from the 1700s through to the present day. Included are an 18th century woman who stole a diamond necklace by pretending to be BFFs with Marie Antoinette and a 20th century teen girl who scammed the whole NFL.

Love is For Losers by Wibke Brueggemann (February 23)

15-year-old Phoebe thinks falling in love is for the birds in Brueggemann’s debut novel. But while volunteering at a thrift store, Phoebe meets Emma, who might just disprove all her theories. Sex-positive queer YA romantic comedies for the win!

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers (February 23)

Honey Girl might be the most anticipated sapphic romance of 2021, for good reason. It follows Grace, an over-achieving late 20s Black woman finishing her PhD in Astronomy. In an uncharacteristic turn while on a girls’ trip, she gets impulsively married in Vegas to a woman she just met. In another uncharacteristic move, Grace decides to hit pause on her controlled life and spend the summer in New York with her “wife,” whose name she only recently learned.

It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian (February 23)

I firmly believe the world needs more bisexual chick lit romps, and the answer for early 2021 is It’s Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake. At the end of a decade-long relationship, Noni makes a pact to focus on herself. She’s been living for other people for too long. Her resolution takes her all over the world, as she realizes she might be able to have everything — and everyone — she ever wanted.

Mazie by Melanie Crowder (February 23)

In the 1950s, Mazie is an 18-year-old actress who, armed with some inheritance money, leaves rural Nebraska for a six-week trip to New York, dreaming of Broadway. But as her money dwindles, the only role she manages to snag is in an industrial musical intended to sell farm equipment. In other words: Mazie is brought right back to where she started.

A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth (February 23)

Set in Toronto, this urban fantasy YA follows a whole cast of queer characters as they work together against a racing clock to stop a serial killer who might expose the world of the faeries to humans. Queer representation includes pansexuality, bisexuality, lesbianism, and gender fluidity!

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel (February 23)

Colombian American author Engel tells the story of a Colombian family ruptured by deportation in this work of searing literary fiction. Elena and Mauro make the choice to leave Bogotá for the US when their daughter is born. But their decision to overstay their visa plunges them in precariousness, eventually resulting in Mauro being sent back to Colombia. In his absence, Elena is forced to make difficult decisions to take care of herself and her growing children.

Sing for My Baby by Jenn Matthews (February)

This opposites-attract contemporary lesbian romance is about Rosie, a teacher and singer, and Amber, a woman early on her journey to sobriety. When the two women meet at a community choir, sparks fly. But Amber isn’t sure if she’s ready for a relationship, and Rosie has a secret: she’s trying to get pregnant.

Modern English by Rachel Spangler (February)

Lady Victoria returns to her family’s castle to unexpectedly find drama when she was trying to avoid it: there’s a Hollywood crew filming on location. Soon, sparks fly with starlet Sophia, who has had more than a lifetime’s worth of dealing with rich entitled men in her way. Although Victoria is a woman, Sophia is initially inclined to put her in the same category, until she realizes how much they have in common.

Which winter 2020 / 2021 queer and feminist books are you most excited about? Did I miss anything? Let everyone know in the comments!

Why We Need Queer Holiday Stories – The Lesbrary

Why We Need Queer Holiday Stories – The Lesbrary

Photo of a book and holiday mug with a Christmas tree in the background

I have a little collection of sapphic Christmas books that I save up to read in December. It isn’t a long list, but I try to make room for at least one every year. At first, I wasn’t sure why I was doing it. I don’t feel a strong pull towards Christmas books in general—although I celebrate, I’m not exactly a deck-the-halls-er. Usually my celebrations are a little more quiet, and the highlight is our family stocking exchange. The few times that I have attempted a straight/cis/allo M/F Christmas romance, I was left wanting. So why do I save up queer holiday stories, especially F/F romances, when I’m not usually much of a romance reader?

I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one. I run a bi and lesbian books tumblr, and every year, I see requests for queer holiday books, especially YA ones. Unfortunately, although there is a modest collection of queer Christmas romances and a handful of other holidays, queer holiday YA is very difficult to find, and any genre other than romance is thin on the ground. It’s frustrating to see so much demand for this and not see publishing houses prioritizing these titles—it’s not that no one is writing these stories, it’s that they’re not being picked up and promoted.

Which brings me back to my original question: what is the appeal? Why is there such demand for queer holidays books, especially for teens? In one respect, it’s simple: lots of people like themed reading, and queer people are no exception. It’s not unusual to want to prioritize horror books at Halloween or Christmas books in December, if that’s what you celebrate. I don’t think that’s the whole story, though.

Holidays are complicated for many queer people. It’s a time of family, togetherness, and tradition—and for many queer people, those have been difficult to come by. Biological families aren’t always accepting of their queer relatives, and whether that means ties are severed completely, or those relationships are made complicated, it affects how we think of holidays. Many people have to be closeted around their family or change their gender expression. They may be misgendered or face microaggressions when they get together over the holidays. Others have made their own chosen families, or are still seeking where they belong.

Tradition is also a sticking point for many queer people. Tradition can mean familiarity and happy memories, like exchanging stockings is for my family, but it can also be suffocating. It can be a reason to stifle someone’s gender expression, or an excuse to keep another family member unwillingly in the closet. Tradition can be used to reinforce repressive gender roles, or even to turn away from financial realities—it’s tradition for everyone to give everyone else a gift, regardless of who lost their job this year!

That tension between traditional depictions of holidays—as a mostly harmonious gathering of biological family—and the reality of many queer people’s lives doesn’t negate the appeal, however. In fact, I think that the fact that it doesn’t always match that vision of the holidays can make us long to have our own version. We want to see our own possible futures, and that’s even more important for teenagers. A queer holiday book, especially a sappy romance, can make us imagine that we can keep all of the good parts of the holidays without having to put up with the bad parts.

Queer holiday stories matter because they reconcile past and possibility. They imagine a family and traditions that are welcoming, that don’t require us to sacrifice parts of ourselves to fit in. I’m lucky enough to have a biological family who is accepting, but many other queer and trans people don’t have that privilege. Queer holiday stories let us immerse ourselves in a world that is gentler and kinder, that never asks us to choose between being our authentic selves and maintaining our familial relationships.

Even for queer people who have accepting biological families, it can still be alienating to see the same cis/het/allo Christmas stories over and over. Queer holiday books fill in those gaps as well as letting us imagine our own future traditions. I hope that soon we see a lot more queer holiday stories hit the market, especially teen ones and stories that depict many different belief system, races, genders, and other intersectionalities. The demand is there, so now we’re just waiting for publishing to pick up the slack!

Looking for sapphic Christmas books? Check out the Christmas tag!

This post originally ran on Book Riot.

A Very Queer Holiday star HJ Farr on trans representation at Christmas

HJ Farr, their short bobbed hair dyed to look like a Pride flag, on a Zoom call with Deity Blair, who wears a red jacket and matching red hair

HJ Farr and Deity Blair in A Very Queer Holiday. (YouTube)

Christmas can be a tough time of year for LGBT+ people, and the lack of representation in films traditionally watched over the festive period is only one of the reasons.

Family rejection, having to go back into the closet, having mental health issues exacerbated by Christmas stress, being around alcohol or spending the time alone can all be difficult, and that’s before you throw in the small matter of a pandemic.

For those going to see their biological families, Christmas films can be an awkward watch – the sprinkling of anti-LGBT+ “jokes”, the relentlessly heteronormative portrayals of family and romance, the insidious sexism of the socially accepted drunk uncles on-screen. But a better world is coming: Lifetime’s first ever gay Christmas film, The Christmas Setup, has aired, as has Hallmark’s first gay Christmas movie, The Christmas House.

Kristen Stewart also did some community service this year with lesbian rom-com Happiest Season, and Dolly Parton, in her spare time from funding the coronavirus vaccine, is bringing us Christmas musical Christmas on the Square.

So far, that’s mostly a lot of white gays – and where is the trans representation?

Stepping up to the plate to address this is A Very Queer Holiday, a musical LGBT+ web series that riffs on Hallmark’s signature holiday-themed romantic comedies – and stars HJ Farr as Pax, the first non-binary lead in a romantic comedy on Amazon Prime.

The queer Christmas film that will get even Scrooge into the festive spirit
HJ Farr plays the lead in A Very Queer Christmas. (Supplied)

Asked what they think of playing the lead in a Christmas series, Farr, sporting a flop of rainbow-coloured hair and an undercut, says over Zoom that “Christmas kind of sucks” for them.

“Christmas is not my time of year,” they say. “Holidays in general are… I have a really close relationship with my family, but my mom died when I was really young. So, I have all of the memories of how good Christmas used to be and then all of the like, post-that stuff of still being a child, but now it sucks.”

With their spouse, Farr has made new Christmas traditions – travel, usually, with trips to London and Costa Rica – that are “less about the presents and the old traditions”. This year, they plan on writing letters to friends over the festive break. When the people behind A Very Queer Holiday began putting out feelers, Farr says they were “definitely apprehensive because I don’t like Christmas”.

“But as I read the script, it kind of, put me in a Christmassy mood? I didn’t expect it, at all,” they say, laughing. “And just the fact that it’s representing trans and non-binary characters without the story being about that, or about coming out… shouldn’t be as refreshing as it is.

“I read the script. And it was like when you put on a really cosy sweater, and it fits you perfectly, and you’re like, this feels amazing. This feels like it was made for me.”

Farr, who came out as non-binary after playing a character who was genderless, says that understanding their own gender better has made them a better actor. “There was so much that made more sense when I discovered my own transness,” they say. They play all genders now, reminiscing about playing a teenage boy in a recent production – the dream gig in many ways.

A Very Queer Holiday also features Deity Blair, Adam B. Shapiro (The Normal Heart, Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish), Lateefah Holder (Modern Family, Transparent, Disjointed), Sean Thompson (Sunset Boulevard on Broadway), and John Lehr (Geico Caveman, Friends, Quickdraw, Ten Items or Less, Jailbait).

The series is led by an all-queer female creative team and was, because 2020, filmed entirely on Zoom. But the Christmas message of the series – which goes into queer chosen family, dating and navigating the holidays – is perennial.

As Farr says: “I think the message of the series is that the holidays can be a magical time. Even, or especially, for queer people. Because when we find that chosen family, and if you have your biological family and your chosen family, you can have so much support.

“There’s magic to be found in the holidays. For me personally, I was so anti-holidays for so long. And then my spouse and I found each other right before the holidays. There are a lot of things working against you, but sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and put yourself out there. There is magic to be found in the holidays.”


What Queer Parents Can Teach All Families

What Queer Parents Can Teach All Families

In an article for the Boston Globe this past weekend, a queer mom reflects on talking with her daughter about her family structure and donor siblings, as well as the lessons this holds not only for her but for families of all types.

Children in Silhouette

In “A lesson in queer parenting that’s good for any family,” Stephanie Fairyington writes about introducing her 4-year-old daughter to her donor siblings—something she and her spouse were happy to do, but struggled to find the words to explain. “The topic was far too complicated for her language and understanding — and ours…. The way we laid it out was spectacularly idiotic from beginning to end,” she admits.

They sought help by connecting with other queer families and by reading children’s books that included families like theirs. Despite their earlier bumbling, though, their daughter came to take pride in her extended family. The moms ultimately realized the value in discussing their family’s difference and “in the way that her lived reality challenges social norms,” which may help their daughter foster a compassion for other marginalized people. More broadly, too, Fairyington says, queer families challenge traditional conceptions of family, making room for new possibilities that can help make the world kinder and more inclusive. All parents, she says, can learn a lesson here.

For me to say more would be to recreate her piece, which I don’t want to do. Go read it. Then, if you want some further related reading for yourself or your kids, try these books:

  • Random Families: Genetic Strangers, Sperm Donor Siblings, and the Creation of New Kin, by Rosanna Hertz and Margaret K. Nelson, the result of interviews with 212 parents (two-mom couples, different-sex couples, and single parents) and 154 of their donor-conceived children. The authors explore how parents chose donors, how they and/or their children chose to connect with donor siblings, and how the children within a donor network made sense of their donor and each other. Grounded in academic research, Random Families is nevertheless an accessible and informative read for anyone who has or is considering donor conception. Full review.
  • Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction, by Kim Bergman (Conari Press), offers a detailed look at assisted reproductive technology, including assisted insemination, in vitro fertilization, and surrogacy, written in a way that doesn’t take a medical degree to understand. Bergman, a licensed psychologist and senior partner at Growing Generations, the first surrogacy and egg donation agency dedicated to the queer community, devotes a whole chapter, too, to ways of talking about their creation to your child(ren) and to the outside world. Full review.
  •  You Began as a Wish, also by Bergman, is a simple and melodic picture book appropriate for even the very youngest children, based on what she’s been advising parents for 30 years to tell their kids and what she told her own kids about their creation. Full review and author interview.
  • Zak’s Safari: A Story about Donor-Conceived Kids of Two-Mom Families, by Christy Tyner, is told from the perspective of a young child with two moms. Buy it at the link, or read it free online in English, Spanish, or French at the book’s website. Full review.
  • What Makes a Baby? by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth, remains a gem of all-gender-inclusive explanation for young children about reproduction. Full review.
  • Picture books that specifically talk about donor siblings include Your Family: A Donor Kid’s Story, by Wendy Kramer, co-founder and director of the Donor Sibling Registry (also available in Spanish); Jennifer Dukoff’s Meeting My Brother (watch the author read it here), and I’ve Got Dibs!: A Donor Sibling Story, by Amy Dorfman.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Black queer travel guide wants to build bridges across the diaspora

Black queer travel guide wants to build bridges across the

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.  




COVID ‘amplifying’ inequalites faced by queer Black people, study shows

COVID 'amplifying' inequalites faced by queer Black people, study shows

Black LGBT+ lives land in the intersection of racism and homophobia. (Getty/Hollie Adams)

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing huge strain on Black queer households as decades of discrimination compound economic insecurity, a worrying new study has found.

The report released by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) identifies American communities that are bearing the brunt of COVID-19, noting that LGBT+ households were disproportionately challenged in work, school, childrearing, healthcare, financial insecurity and social isolation.

In particular Black and Latinx LGBT+ people are facing significantly higher levels of financial insecurity, with a shocking 95 per cent of queer Black households and 70 per cent of queer Latinx households experiencing at least one serious financial problem since the pandemic began.

And more than half of Black LGBT+ households have been unable to get medical care or had delayed medical services because of the economic strain of the pandemic.

“The pandemic has disrupted life for all of us. Yet, some communities have borne the brunt: Black and Latinx people, low-income people, and, as this new data shows, LGBT+ people,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director at MAP.

“Decades of discrimination on the job, in healthcare and beyond, combined with uneven legal protections around the country make LGBT+ people more vulnerable to pandemic-related instability and insecurity, with an even more devastating impact on LGBT+ people of colour.”

The long history of racial discrimination in the US is contributing to many problems, but the disparity is also seen in the wider LGBT+ community, with queer people of all backgrounds experiencing increased challenges compared to the straight population.

For example, LGBT+ households are twice as likely to be unable to get necessary medical care and four times more likely to go hungry.

Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of LGBT+ people and their families experienced a job loss or disruption, compared to just under half (45 per cent) of non-LGBT+ households.

29 per cent had serious problems with internet connection for work or schoolwork at home, compared with 17 per cent of non-LGBT+ families. And a quarter were unable to access prescription drugs or experienced a delay, compared to just eight per cent of straight people.

“It’s clear that the COVID-19 has amplified and exacerbated disparities that existed before the pandemic,” concluded Logan Casey, policy researcher at MAP.

“LGBT+ people were more likely to struggle with economic stability and have challenges with access to health care prior to COVID, and that’s even more true now.

“The existing patchwork of legal protections is insufficient, which is why we need a nationwide law like the Equality Act so that LGBTQ people in every community are protected from discrimination.”






You Deserve a Break, Here’s Some Cute Queer Celebrities and Their Even Cuter Pets

You Deserve a Break, Here's Some Cute Queer Celebrities and

We are celebrating all things food today, in the form of an Ask Me Anything for our A+ subscribers! Come hang out with us and learn how to roast a turkey, turn your stuffing into edibles, and perhaps even a brownie for dessert?

Queer as in F*ck You

26 Adorable Queer and Lesbian Celebs and Their Pets

“(The judge) found a way to use existing laws to give us the first birth certificate of its kind.” This Throuple Made History With Their First Child. Here’s What Their Lives Are Like.

Why is our impulse to only use “he” pronouns for Elliot Page? Give Elliot Page — and All of Us — the Rightful “They”

Who James Baldwin Knew. A gorgeous piece from the NYT about Baldwin and his relationships with ng Lorraine Hansberry, Toni Morrison, Miles Davis and others. (You know what else this reminds me of? Not to toot my own horn, but one of my favorite pieces I wrote this year, for this very website you are reading right now: “The desire to find footprints of something gay and happy and Black to write about led me back to Lorraine Hansberry and James Baldwin. Two Black queer writers whose friendship and intellectual partnership have become a myth of its own right.”)

🚨 New short fiction from Autostraddle’s own Kayla Kumari Upadhaya in Catapult, featuring a cute baby, a barbecue, some hot mommi action and a series of unfortunate events! 🚨 (KAYLA WE ARE ALL SO PROUD OF YOU!! CONGRATS!!💋) Olive Olivia Olive Olive

Saw This, Thought of You

The Year We Lost. When we look back on 2020, will we see past all the things that didn’t happen?

The fathers and father figures of Michael Brown, Terence Crutcher, Daniel Prude, Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, and Jacob Blake to reflect on the violence that forever altered their families’ lives — and what it means to raise a Black man in America: Visible Men, Black Fathers Talk About Losing Sons to Police Brutality

Over at Vulture, Rachel Handler is celebrating “Nancy Meyers Week” and honestly, it’s perfect?

This has left everyone on the Autostraddle team ENRAGED AND FOR GOOD DAMN REASON: A New York City Paramedic Was Doxxed For Being On OnlyFans. The Real Scandal Is Not Her Sex Work

Political Snacks

A story in two parts:

First, Hawaii Representative and former Presidential hopeful (and, I’m sorry but this is my column so I will just say it — I hate her) Tulsi Gabbard introduced a bill called ‘Protect Women’s Sports Act,’ that’s a cute name for a very transphobic piece of bigotry trying to pass itself off as law.

WELL! Then Minnesota Representative Angie Craig has this to say about it:

(No way this piece of legislature goes anywhere, right? If that changes, I will be sure to let you all know.)

Joe Biden Has Reportedly Picked Pete Buttigieg to Be Transportation Secretary

And finally — a reminder note from our A+ Director, Nicole:

Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle’s Deputy Editor and a black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 250 articles for us.

Right-wing bigots declare war on Ritz Crackers over queer Christmas ad

Ritz Crackers released moving festive ad "Where There’s Love, There’s Family" last month

Ritz Crackers released moving festive ad “Where There’s Love, There’s Family” last month

Conservative activists have declared Ritz Crackers an enemy in the “culture war” after a Christmas ad featuring a queer couple.

The brand released moving festive ad “Where There’s Love, There’s Family” last month, featuring a number of people finding connection from isolation – including a man who is shunned by his parents, but finds a happy place with his partner and chosen family.

The ad, part of a partnership with non-profits including the It Gets Better project, riffs on the idea of what family means, concluding: “The holidays are about spending time with family, or the one you make.”

While there’s very little in the ad to be offended about, that hasn’t stopped anti-LGBT+ conservative activists from bombarding the ad with hateful messages. It has racked up more than 6,000 dislikes on YouTube, and hundreds of hateful messages on Facebook.

Right-wing activists lash out at ‘disgusting’ advert

One commenter raged: “This is disgusting! Why are you promoting homosexuality? That’s nasty. For shame Ritz, I’m throwing all my crackers out. You’ve permanently lost a customer.”

Another fumed: “What a sick demented commercial.”

The American Family Association (AFA), an ultra-conservative lobbying group, has declared war on the company, lashed out at the ad’s depiction of a man “putting on lipstick like a woman and effeminately clinging to another man”, claiming it is intended to “brainwash children and adults alike by desensitising audiences”.

The AFA has launched a full-scale pressure campaign telling the company to “stay away from social agendas” – less of a dog whistle, more of a fog horn – encouraging supporters to send a pre-written complaint telling Ritz the ad ” will influence my future purchases”.

The message continues: “I am extremely disappointed that Ritz is refusing to remain neutral in the cultural war.

“Ritz is pushing the LGBTQ+ agenda on families with its most recent commercial. People who are already confused about their gender identity should not be encouraged to embark on a dangerous and unhealthy lifestyle.”

Ritz Crackers is facing attacks over its moving festive ad
Ritz Crackers is facing attacks over its moving festive ad

The group quoted evangelical radio host Dr Michael Brown, who has previously staged protests at Pride events and advocated for the criminalisation of homosexuality in Uganda. He said: “There is so much confusion in our society today. Same-sex attraction, same-sex marriage, gay Christianity, transgender identity, what’s right, what’s wrong.”

AFA raged: “Ritz needs to hear from you. Supporting the transgender agenda instead of remaining neutral in the cultural war is just bad business.

“If Ritz Crackers refuses to remain neutral, then Christians will vote with their pocketbooks and support companies that do.”

Ritz Crackers remains silent as haters rage

The company is yet to respond to the abuse.

Launching the ad campaign last month, it said: “Ritz is on a mission to help make the world a more welcoming place. That’s why we’re partnering with The It Gets Better Project, Hispanic Star and Invisible People by donating $50,000 to help support communities in need this season.

“The It Gets Better Project aims to uplift, empower and connect LGBTQ+ youth by providing access to a collection of inspiring stories of resilience and determination, as told by members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“They envision a world where all LGBTQ+ youth are free to live equally and know their worthiness and power as individuals.”