My Pride Month Reading Challenge has come to an end.
I enjoyed reading a wide array of books and graphic novels that covered topics like first loves, coming out, and heartbreaks, as well as discovering one’s self-identity, freedom of expression, and freedom to love.
Although I read so many types of stories, I had one question ring through my mind the entire time: where were these when I was growing up?
Growing up in the early 2000’s I didn’t know of any LGBTQIA stories. Even reflecting now, I don’t remember having access to any of these types of books.
I questioned this because reading these books provided me with so much joy and happiness as well as a sense of connection. I empathized with a lot of the characters in these stories I read. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had connections with stories until I took on this challenge.
While reading these stories, I felt like I understood the characters, and I felt like they understood me too. We had something in common, and I didn’t struggle to feel that.
I also felt seen and heard. I saw some of my own experiences played out through the lives of these characters.
And it all felt normal.
This is why LGBTQIA stories are essential.
These stories help foster a sense of normalcy around LGBTQIA. Reading about people’s everyday lives and challenges who identify other than heterosexual and cisgender emphasized how normal they are.
This sense of normalcy may also bring pride to people who may have felt ashamed for being different. This is important, especially for children and teens (and anyone else) who are first experiencing these feelings of being other.
Although these stories normalize LGBTQIA lives, there are still specific challenges and experiences unique to every one of us. And reading about these are necessary to us because they nurture and help us grow. They offer us glimpses of what may be in store, like navigating coming out, fostering healthy relationships, and building confidence.
These stories are also important for people who don’t identify as members of the LGBTQIA community. It helps them understand the community better, and it teaches tolerance, acceptance, and appreciation for people who identify differently from them.
Although Pride Month has come to an end, I’m so happy to complete this challenge. That said, I’m continuing this challenge throughout the rest of 2021. But instead of challenging myself to read LGBTQIA stories, I plan to also read books with more intersectionality and include Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, and Differently-Abled Bodies’ representation and voices.
Overall, I read 3,472 pages throughout this challenge. I also saved $317.78 by borrowing all of these books from here at the library. PS I read a few more books this last week, including Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, The Stonewall Riots, The Adventures of Honey and Leon, and What If It’s Us).