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This week is banned books week. As of right now, I’m applying to graduate schools to get my masters in Library Sciences so I can become a fully certified librarian, so banned books are close to my heart. Frequently. Because I carry them in my arms, tightly, in fear that someone might snatch them up from my possession. Because they’re banned.

Okay, I’m being a little dramatic.

But seriously, some of the most important books in my life that I have read have been banned books. These are the books that explained to me how other people feel in situations I’ve never been in. Books that open my mind to new experiences and life lessons. Books that allow me to travel when I didn’t have the money for a plane ticket or even gas. And it upsets me profusely to think that we are limiting the infinite possibility of those who will soon come to be the workers of the world. Especially considering how many friends I have that didn’t go to college, and lacked access to incredible books that were banned from their classrooms when they needed them most.

Like Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. One of the most honest books on suicide I’ve ever read. It made me ache and relate in so many ways. My personal encounter with suicide is not one that I write about, but Thirteen Reasons Why writes out what many people cannot even bare to discuss, let alone write. It’s a book that I feel many teens should read, to help understand how powerful actions and words can be at tearing down a person who has faced too many bullies in their lives. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s important.

While The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth has not officially been banned to my knowledge, it did undergo a distinctly distasteful and unfair removal from a high school reading list in Delaware. This book is very honest and painful. It’s written beautifully, and I read it twice the first year I bought it off amazon. It makes me thankful I have such understanding parents, and helps me examine how tough it has been for some teens as they are forced to come out of the closet in situations they never wished for themselves. I worry that this school district will not be the first to ban this book.

There is the ever so popular Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This book has been holding a place on the top 100 banned books for many years. It’s a scarring book, to be honest. But I also had to read Lord of the Flies by William Goulding (also frequently banned) when I was in high school, which is just as painful, and I turned out just fine. In fact, I think it gives kids a chance to open their eyes up to how important friendship is, and what it means to need more help than you can ask for in life. And, for those of you who have only seen the movie, the book has a lot more to it. Trust me, you should read it.

And One of the most Influential book series I’ve ever read: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. This series showed me that some of the best friendships go through tough times, but last forever. It taught me to do what’s right, even if I’m the last one standing, and the odds are stacked against me. It made me realize that you don’t need magic to overcome darkness, but the courage to face the darkness in our lives with the belief that we will make it through. There’s no way I’m going to keep these books from my future children. They need these stories to feed their imagination, open their minds to what they can accomplish, and teach them how to be strong in the face of destruction.

While there are MANY other books out there, I just wanted to list a few to spark your interest. Perhaps you should question how many banned books you have read. Perhaps you should invest your time into reading more. And perhaps these books have, and will continue, to open your mind. This is what a future librarian hopes and dreams for. Open Minds.

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I don’t really have time to watch actual scheduled TV. In fact, like a true modern-day college kid, I forgot what it was like to have anything other than Netflix. Don’t even get me started on commercials.

But I have this special place in my heart for The Fosters. I’ll brave the commercials for them, which really aren’t that bad considering all ABC Family does is promote their own shows and movies. Anyways, I’ve gotten into the habit of watching it with my girlfriend, even though at the moment we’re many miles apart. We text our surprise, excitement and heartbreak as the episodes play out.

Before new episodes of The Fosters air, new episodes of Switched at Birth come on. My girlfriend likes to watch that as well, and tends to catch the episode before. This week she texted me during Switched at Birth because apparently there was a lesbian couple featured in the episode. My girlfriend encouraged me to watch it because it made a very important statement on how people dress and the things high schoolers go through when it comes to adult standards on appearance and what makes you “normal” or a “freak”.

It was such a good episode that I felt like looking up ABC family to see if they had any other good LGBT representations. There was the obvious, The Fosters, starring some fantastic lesbian moms, a transgendered young man in a group home for girls, and a couple young boys who do not appreciate the use of labels and struggle in the depths of homophobic adults.

There’s also the incredibly popular dark-mystery drama, Pretty Little Liars, which I managed to finally get lost in their tangled web of lies about mid-fourth season. One of the main characters is a lesbian, and they show this teenager’s development as she not only faces a hella-creepy stalker, but finds herself in a relationship with a girl, roughs her way through the struggle of coming out to friends and family, and learns what it’s like to feel free to be who you are. And as an added bonus, afterellen.com writer Heather Hogan created a brilliantly written recap of every episode, which is why I believe I braved the insanity of that show for as long as I did.

I also came to discover that ABC Family’s show Chasing Life not only covers the hardships of cancer that so many people face, but also what it’s like for a young girl to realize that she likes both guys and girls. And it’s so very hard to find positive bisexual representation in the media, especially about those who are trying their hardest to discover what they should do with their lives. While I have not watched the entirety of Chasing Life, after watching one scene of how uniquely the mother handles her daughter’s complete mortification of being caught making out with her secret girlfriend, I’m truly interested to see the rest of the show.

These are not the only shows on ABC Family that have shown representation of the LGBT community. In fact, I don’t think I can come up with a TV show on their network that doesn’t have at least one member of the LGBT community represented in their episodes.

While I am well aware of ABC Family’s addiction to drama can make people (myself included) wish they dialed the notch back a bit so people can go at least one episode without profuse crying, I think what they’re doing as a network to bring regular LGBT characters to the homes of many people is incredibly important. They confront some of the most difficult situations, like parents that struggle with coming to terms with their child’s sexuality, showing that we should not be defined by our gender when it comes to what we’re capable of as individuals, and how hard, harmful, and unwanted labels can be at times.

ABC Family is taking a huge step into media, giving millions of people the chance to see real representation constantly throughout the shows they air. It’s quite encouraging just thinking about it. I hope more and more people come to recognize what a difference they’re making.

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Why I Can't Say 'Love the Sinner/Hate the Sin' Anymore

This is the incredible article I referenced in my last post. Prepare to fall in love with it.

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This weekend I had the opportunity to talk with a few of my friends from my church back home whilst visiting my parents. Having open-minded conversations with Christians that actually want to understand my perspective is the kind of thing that makes my eyes tear up just thinking about it.

With several people I discussed how hard it was to try to be friends with my old best friend who immediately opened with a judging statement when I came out to her, and never bothered to try to understand or look at it from a different perspective. It kills me that some Christians let their mind become locked on one idea, and refuse to consider anything else because if they’ve believed it for so long, then it must be right.

And somewhere in the middle of this weekend filled with conversations, my girlfriend sent me an article about how Christians say “Love the sinner, Hate the sin” as a way to distance themselves from gays and label them sinners as if other Christians aren’t sinners as well. It’s the kind of article I want to print out and hand to everyone that makes me feel uncomfortable as a Christian despite the fact that everyone is welcome in God’s home because to him we are all created equal as his children.

And because of all the discussions I’ve had with my friends about how I’ve felt in the company of other Christians, people have asked me if I’ve considered giving my old best friend a second chance at being friends again. And while I managed to have civilized conversations with her this weekend, the reality is, I’ve given her multiple chances to have real conversations about why it hurt so much to hear her reaction to my coming out, but it’s really hard to talk with someone who doesn’t put effort into trying to understand. I may be able to go to church and see her there, being friends with my friends, inviting me to church parties, and sitting next to her in bible study, but I don’t think she’s going to be able to think outside the “Love the sinner, Hate the sin” perspective. It’s possible that all she will ever see me as is a sinner, rather than one of God’s children.

It kills me to know that she probably wont be the only friend I have that will see me this way. I just hope that God gives us the chance to show struggling Christians that we can be just as much of God’s plan as they are. We have the ability to show people his love, mercy, and grace because we have been the recipients of these things just as much as everyone else. And I can easily say that I have felt God’s love in ALL aspects of my life, even when I can’t feel the love of his people. Because God’s love is that good. And it gets even better.

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For almost two weeks, my laptop was out of commission. It’s quite an experience to not have my regular access to the internet. To be unable to just type up how I felt about something that happened that day, or read the latest article on feminism or marriage equality. 

I’ve always valued how powerful it is for the world to have access to so many things just at the typing of a few keys. What I didn’t realize was how important it is to me to have access to the internet.

The internet was the place I felt accepted. It showed me a world where people like me, members of the LGBT society, could meet and feel accepted. It gave me access to pictures of adorable gay and lesbian couples getting married. It kept me updated on the Human Rights Campaign and their fight for marriage equality. It empowered me to remember that Women can do anything men can, and that I shouldn’t let hateful people tell me being a feminist is wrong. It gave me access to LGBT books and shows.

For me, the internet helped me gain confidence in who I am, and constantly bring encouragement to my computer screen. If I hadn’t had access to the internet, I fear that I would still be afraid of who I am, hiding, or even something worse.

So I am thankful for the internet, and all it has done in my life.

But I am worried for those who do not have this kind of access. Worried about those in the LGBT community that are growing up suppressing themselves because they do not understand what it is like to find people who are like them. People who are understanding and supportive. 

Right now our world struggles to have completely supportive communities. And I know from the patterns of history that it is very possible that even if we do achieve marriage equality in a few years un the U.S., that we will not find ourselves in completely accepting communities in the near future.

I don’t know how to help those in the LGBTQ community that do not have the same priviladges that myself and anyone reading this. But I hope to one day find a way. Because life isn’t easy for anyone, and I want to help. I want to help those who do not understand.

So, any ideas?

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I know it’s a bit dorky, but one of my favorite things to do is hold my girlfriend’s hand. It makes me happy. So this commercial by Allstate really got to me. I’m not one to overly endorse companies, but I appreciate that they’re willing to step out and say that they support members of the LGBT community. I’m well aware they’re not the first company to come out in support, and I’m thankful that they probably wont be the last. I’m incredibly excited to see how the world is changing for the better, it makes me hopeful for the future.

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Bad Blood Between The FDA and The Gays

Reality: The FDA Bans Gay and Bisexual Men from donating blood.
When I first heard about this in high school, I thought they meant all people in the LGBT community. Suddenly I was confused and afraid, not sure why limitations would keep popping up in my life all due to my sexuality. It really upset me, but soon found out that I probably should not donate blood due to a heavy medication that I have to take for my severe asthma and allergies. Now I don’t have to worry about having an excuse to not give blood, but it still bothers me that there are plenty of healthy donors out there that have been banned from giving blood.
One of my friends recently shared with me an active movement to attempt to draw attention to the ban and remove it to help save lives. He has a blood type that is commonly needed by the red cross, but he is not allowed to donate. His passion made me realize that so many people could benefit from having more healthy and willing donors. Help us make a difference. Donate blood, donate money, buy a t-shirt, spread the word, sign the petition, do what you can. I know I would go donate blood if my medication wasn’t dangerous to others.
This is our chance to make a difference in something that could not only benefit the LGBT community, but also save the lives of many people in need.
Let’s make a difference.

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This is the video that really pushed me to write about the importance of consent. If you haven’t seen it, it’s pretty great, and explains the importance of consent way better than I do.

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted because life is a crazy-hectic mess, and class has been overruling tumblr for the last few months. But I came across a video that really verbalized some things I’ve been trying to communicate to others lately, so I’m just going to hop right on back into my comfy spot on tumblr and write about it.
I’ve recently found myself in cahoots with a beautiful girl. About a month ago I asked her to be my girlfriend, and we’ve been doing cute things like holding hands and going on dates ever since. But one of my habitual things I do when I’m with her is ask for her permission. I say things like, “Can I kiss you?” “Is this okay?” “Do you mind if my hand is on your back?” “How are you doing?”
She told me recently that she was annoyed the first time I did that, and the whole time she was thinking, “Just kiss me already, the anticipation is making me nervous!”
And don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited she wanted me to kiss her, but we’re both extremely awkward people, and it was really hard to tell from her facial expressions if she actually wanted me to kiss her or not, and sexual assault is not my game.
You see, one of my roommates once dated a guy that made her feel horrible about herself because he did things like make her take her shirt off, and touch her boobs when she hadn’t given him permission. She liked his attention, but he was overly aggressive. She even came home with bruises a couple times from their make out sessions, when he would push her into things. And another good friend of mine was raped by a guy she was just friends with because he wouldn’t take no for an answer and forced himself on her.
We live in a world where sexual assault and rape happen way too often. Rape culture is something I’ve found myself talking about more and more in class and with the people I love and care about. I’m upset with how hard it is for both men and women to understand why we should check for consent throughout our relationships, especially considering how damaging it can be to both of the people involved.
I will keep constantly checking in with my girlfriend when we’re together because I care and respect for her. The last thing I want to do is make her feel uncomfortable or unvalued because I’m an inconsiderate and forceful girlfriend.
If you’re in a relationship, it’s not just about you doing what you want. You should care about the other person, and show them that by respecting them. And don’t let them make you feel any less by letting them do things you’re not ready to do. There should be a mutual respect in a relationship, so nobody feels damaged, devalued, or assaulted.
Care for your partner. Ask for permission. Check for consent.

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"This world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another. If we took just five minutes to recognize each other’s beauty instead of attacking each other for our differences. That’s not hard. It’s really an easier and better way to live."

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