Queer Can Lit Newsflash: Upcoming Queer Issue of Room Magazine, Fantasy by Trans Femmes, New Queer Indigenous Work, and More!

Welcome to this second installment of my new monthly-ish column news about stuff that’s happening in the Canadian and/or Indigenous LGBTQ2IA+ literary world. Have something you think I should cover next time? Send me an email: stepaniukcasey [at] gmail.com.

Did you love jia qing wilson-yang’s debut novel Small Beauty? I know I did, and you probably did too, so  while you’re waiting for her next full-length work, you should read her short story “Rewinding” which was recently published in Rice Paper magazine. The story also features illustrations by Jesse Zhang. To give you a taste, here’s how the story begins:

She couldn’t sleep. It had been a horrible day. A day that felt like it was going out of its way to tell her that she wasn’t right for the world. As if she had been the subject of a poorly lit reality show about Asian transsexuals, as if the movements of her day had been broadcast on television for the world to judge. Which, if she was being honest, was the kind of show she would watch.

In case you missed my original review of Sigal Samuel’s debut novel The Mystics of Mile End, I should tell you that I LOVED it and it was one of my favourite reads last year. The novel is about a Jewish family and is set in Montreal (the Mile End neighbourhood, specifically) so it’s especially apt that a translation of the novel into French just came out! It’s exciting that a novel set in a diverse neighbourhood full of Yiddish, English, and French speakers is going to be newly available in one of those languages. (There’s also an Italian translation coming up).

Speaking of Anglophone queer Canadian books being translated into French, Amber Dawn’s debut novel Sub Rosa – which was the first novel I ever reviewed for this blog! — recently got picked up to be translated into French too. Also in Amber Dawn news: her latest novel Sodom Road Exit is set to come out from Arsenal Pulp Press next year and the cover is BEAUTIFUL. Check it out:

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Feminist literary mag Room Magazine has an upcoming issue that is going to be particularly up the alley of anyone who reads this blog, whether you’re a queer reader or queer writer. Their current call for submissions is for issue 41.3, “The Queer Issue.” The full call reads:

Room magazine invites women and genderqueer folks who identify as part of the LGBTTQIA+ spectrum to submit their best poetry, fiction, CNF, and art to our first queer-themed issue. We especially encourage submissions from writers affected by multiple intersections of oppression, such as racism, classism, ableism, fatphobia, ageism, and transphobia.

This issue is a celebration of emerging and established queer writers and artists; the creative work itself does not have to be queer in focus. Do you want to queer genre? Create a poem about the corporatization of Pride? Or just write microfiction on the minutiae of daily living? All types of submissions are welcome.

New work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha will also be featured in this issue, which will be edited by Leah Golob, and assistant edited by Arielle Spence and Rebecca Russell. The call for submissions is open until January 31st.

this-wound-is-a-worldHave you heard of Billy-Ray Belcourt (Driftpile Cree Nation)? I hadn’t until I went to a reading featuring his debut poetry collection This Wound is a World (shame on me) and I was so moved and impressed. He calls the book an “instruction manual for a queer Indigenous future” in this CBC interview. You all should really get this book in your life. Look for more on This Wound is a World on this site in the future! The publisher describes the book as “scavenging for a decolonial kind of heaven where ‘everyone is at least a little gay.’” To quote from my memory of the event, one of the lines in a poem is “I’m a hopeless romantic who hopes every blow job is transformative.”

Are you a trans feminine writer who writes fantasy? You should definitely submit a pitch to Maiden, Mother, and Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes! It’s being published by Bedside Press in Winnipeg, edited by Gwen Benaway ,and will include written work by Kai Cheng Thom, Casey Plett, and Gwen Benaway and art by Alex Morris. I am eagerly awaiting this collection!! Bedside Press is the same publisher who put out Love Beyond Body, Space, & Time: An Indigenous LGBT Anthology, which I review here. Given how great that collection was and my love for the work of all those authors who are already included, I have very high hopes for Maiden, Mother, and Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes. Also, that title! And this beautiful cover (art and design by Annie Mok)!

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Posted in Alberta, Amber Dawn, Anthology, Asian, Canadian, Fantasy, femme, Fiction, Gay, Indigenous, Jewish, Lesbian, Montreal, Poetry, Queer, Queer Can Lit Newsflash, Short Stories, Trans, Trans Feminine | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with a Queer Reader: Cameron Talks PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, Queer Australian Books, and more!

Cameron is a gay man studying and writing in Sydney, Australia. He reads a bunch, watches a lot of film, and reviews local work for the student magazine he’s an editor on. Cameron also writes a fair bit of fiction. You can find him on Twitter at @Cameron___c.

Keep reading to hear about Australian queer books, seeing something of yourself in the past when reading older books, looking for a broader range of experiences in fiction, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, how fruitless searching “gay” on Goodreads is, and more!

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What was the first LGBTQ2IA+ book(s) you remember reading? How did you end up reading it (i.e., were you searching for queer books or did you just happen across it?)

Perks of Being a Wallflower, which is like, the heterosexual’s queer book. I found it at thirteen because one of my friends was really into it, and I loved that there was a queer character. In retrospect, I was very pleased with a pretty minor part of the story.

What is/are your favourite LGBTQ2IA+ books, and why?

Oh, jeez: I really love Barracuda, by Christos Tsiolkas. It’s definitely informed by queerness and how it impacts the protagonist’s masculinity, and there’s a lot that’s very familiar. But I think that’s got more to do with its Australian setting, than anything. There’s also Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, which is an extraordinarily moving classic. If we’re allowed to choose non-fiction, I’d go with Boy Erased by Garrard Conley. It’s a really detailed reflection not just on conversion therapy, but on how masculinity informs homophobia. Also Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, because, like, duh, it’s Virginia Woolf.

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book have you read that best reflects your experiences as an LGBTQ2IA+ person?

I don’t really think I have one that stands out as being particularly representative of my experience. There’s another Australian book, Fairyland, by Sumner Locke Elliott, that was published in the 90s, a year before he died. He was a fairly well-known author but he hadn’t come out before he published it. It was reprinted in 2013, and I’ve had it for a while but I only read it recently. It’s about Sydney, where I grew up, and there’s also something very resonant about the alienation and loneliness faced by the protagonist, even though it’s set in the 30s and 40s. It’s nice to see something of yourself in the past, because the mainstream understanding of queer history is that we emerged out of the aether sometime in the ‘60s or ‘70s. Even if we don’t really believe that in those particular terms, that’s the view we come back to, so evidence about how wrong that idea is is nice.

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book do you wish you could read but can’t because it doesn’t exist yet?

I don’t know. My view on representation is that people shouldn’t be looking for the one story that perfectly validates their life or experience, or whatever, but we should have a broader range of experiences to read about. I guess I’d like a really sort of literary set of short stories all about queer people. I used to really love really cishet coming-of-age short stories that were really grungy but really moving and intense, and I guess if I’m really self-indulgent, I’d like some queer variation on that.

How do you find LGBTQ2IA+ books? How easy or hard is it in your experience finding the ones that you want to read?

It’s incredibly difficult, so I guess I seek them out whenever I’m looking through what’s coming out. Searching for ‘gay’ books on Goodreads, or whatever, tends to end up with a bunch of really eroticised or flat, boring narratives. In film I tend to try and get myself review tickets to screenings of queer stuff, but I can’t really do the equivalent with books, and I think that’s because publishers are more conservative in both the practical and the political sense, because there’s less money to invest into what’s assumedly ‘niche’ art that’s automatically irrelevant to cishet people.

Do you know other LGBTQ2IA+ readers or participate in any LGBTQ2IA+ reading communities (in person or on the Internet)? What’s it like? Why or why not?

I know a bunch of other queer readers, because I have Twitter and go to something called National Young Writer’s Festival, and queers are just naturally magnetised to each other in those settings. Which is good, but I do wish I had something more formal. I tried to set up a queer book club through my university once, but it fell flat due to lack of interest.  

Thanks for being our first Australian queer reader Cameron! If any gay men have any tips for searching online for gay books, comment here to help Cameron out. It’s requests like this that make me sad there’s no queer men’s version of Autostraddle.

Posted in Fiction, Gay, Interview with a Queer Reader, Non-Fiction, Queer | Tagged | Leave a comment

Magic, Action, Feminism, Political Intrigue, and Emotional Depths Too in Lydia Kwa’s ORACLE BONE

Vancouver writer and psychologist Lydia Kwa’s latest offering Oracle Bone is an epic and ambitious novel that’s a skillful blend of magical realism and historical fiction, with notes of epic fantasy and mythology as well, to create a book that, above all, never ceases to transport you utterly to a different time and place. It also has ample doses of feminism and a dash of queerness.

If you’re a fan of Lydia Kwa, you probably know her as a writer of sensuous and emotionally intelligent poetry (her most recent collection being Sinuous in 2013). But even if you’re familiar with her poetry, you many not know her 2005 novel The Walking Boy, whose story chronically follows that of Oracle Bone; in a way, then, her latest novel is a kind of prequel or precursor to The Walking Boy, which Arsenal Pulp Press is set to re-publish in a new edition in 2018. But while Oracle Bone does feel like a story that has yet to end, it’s also a satisfactory narrative in and of itself, and one sure to satisfy fans of any and all of the genres that Kwa is nodding to.

Although I would definitely classify this novel as magical realism rather than fantasy, it does have much the same feeling that epic fantasy does, namely in the large cast of interconnected characters, the play with the idea of destiny, and the multiple epic journeys more than one character—some of whom could readily be called heroines—takes. The setting of Oracle Bone is 7th century China, which for any 21st century reader, especially a white person living in North America like me, is transportation enough from the world I live in. Yet the historical aspect is only one of the ways Kwa transports the reader: the 7th century China the characters inhabit is full of magic. It is a place where myths are alive, prophecies shape people’s lives, and animal spirits and demons live among humans.

Kwa weaves together four main narratives: the first follows a girl Ling as she grows up after being saved by a Daoist nun named Qilan from slavery after her parents are killed by highway robbers; her main journey is preparing for revenge on the man who took her parents from her. The second story, closely related to Ling’s of course, is that of Qilan herself and her efforts to stop a demon inhabiting a human’s body from destroying humanity using the mysterious oracle bone of the title. The third: empress Wu Zhao, a politically ambitious woman with humble origins who has clawed her way to the top, attempts to take complete control of the Tang court from the emperor, with the help of her lover Xie. The fourth: a Buddhist monk works under an elder monk Xuanzang—himself under the thumb of the emperor and empress—on the translation of Buddhist scripture but questions his place in the monastery, especially given his attraction to men.

If that sounds complicated, that’s because it is. (I told you this novel had much in common with epic fantasy; in fact, there is a helpful page detailing the cast of characters and their relationships with each other as is common in fantasy novels at the front of the book). But although the plots are complex, they’re also not hard to follow once you are immersed in the story. Another thing that’s essential to emphasize is that while action and plot movements are important, Oracle Bone isn’t one of those novels that sacrifices emotional depths or character complexities or spiritual relevancy for action. What I’m saying is that this story has magic, action, a fascinating historical setting, multifaceted characters, and all the feels. I feel that to tell you much more would be to deprive you of the pleasure of experiencing the novel for yourself, so you should just go do that now.

[Warning for graphic sexual and physical violence in the first scene, pages 15-22]

Posted in Asian, Canadian, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay, magic realism, Queer, Vancouver | Tagged | Leave a comment

What Else Can I Say Except I Loved It?: A Review of MEANWHILE ELSEWHERE: SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY FROM TRANSGENDER WRITERS

I honestly don’t even know how to begin this review because I loved Meanwhile Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers so damn much and I think I must accept that I will never be able to express in words just how great it is. If you trust my recommendations and want to save yourself the time of reading this long review, just go ahead and get yourself a copy of Meanwhile Elsewhere asap. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention how ground-breaking this book is: it’s the first anthology of speculative fiction by trans writers. At nearly 450 pages it is quite an offering, both in quality and quantity; editors Cat Fitzpatrick and Casey Plett have done an astounding job. There are simply so many incredible stories in the book, all over the speculative fiction map: horror, dystopian, alternate realities, mythical pasts, cyberpunk, and all variations of science fictional futures. I was totally blown away by the quality: their inventiveness, their humour, and their emotional impact. There were stories that made me laugh out loud, ones that made me think real hard, and ones that made me cry. I started reading this deliciously fat book back in September and some of the early stories are still burned in my brain; I know many of them will stick with me for a long time.

Naturally the collection is focused on trans experiences, in a way that wonderfully centres trans readers and implies a trans readership, or at least one familiar and informed about trans issues. Unfortunately that fact is still a notable one, with so many books with trans characters and by trans authors being pigeonholed into a mold for an implied cis audience. If I find it so refreshing to read trans books that are so authentically and messily trans, I can’t imagine how transformative it must be for trans readers.

What’s so striking about Meanwhile Elsewhere is how speculative fiction opens up so much space for not only familiar trans coming out stories but also some just plain incredible fiction where being trans is incidental to the plot or organically integral in a way where the story is about being trans but also so many other things. The science fiction stories in particular imagine so many futures and possibilities which interrogate what it means to be (a trans) human; that is what I love about science fiction and what so many of the writers in Meanwhile Elsewhere do so beautifully. So many of the stories gave me that delicious feeling of seeing the so-called real world anew, from a fresh perspective, reminding me of that ever relevant impulse of science fiction, of imagining the world other than how it is, of imaging a world where things could be different.

If you’re looking for sapphic aka lesbian/bi women content, there is also a substantial amount of that, which I was obviously delighted about. FYI, there are definitely more stories by and about trans women than trans men or non-binary folks, so the queer women content makes sense. And there are some standouts by Canadian writers, including Morgan M. Page, Sybil Lamb, Trish Salah, Bridget Liang, and more! (Also let’s not forget Casey Plett is Canadian too!).

Can I tell you about the stories now?? Okay, but what do I even say because there are at least a dozen stories in Meanwhile Elsewhere that I could write a whole essay about. I will attempt to restrain my word count while simultaneously giving my love and passion full reign.

Were you expecting a gentle, unchallenging introduction to Meanwhile Elsewhere? Too bad. Do you know what the collection opens with? FUTURISTIC BDSM TRANS EROTICA set in a mysteriously paranormal deserted house in a future city’s undesirable quarter. When I say this anthology is unapologetically trans, in both its content and the audience it imagines, this is the kind of thing I mean:

She fell through the glittering cloud and landed on top of him, grabbing his hair and smashing her lips into his. His little cock has hard between his thighs; her clit was tenting her skirt.

Before you can recover from being simultaneously turned on and creeped out by that first story—“Control” by Rachel K. Zall—Fitzpatrick and Plett spin you into the darkest, goriest piece in the collection: Bridget Liang’s “Delicate Bodies.” Beryl, the main character, is a Chinese Canadian trans woman living in Toronto. It’s a regular day for her, on her way to a meeting with her Ontario Works caseworker who refuses to call her anything other than her dead name, until she gets bitten. By a human. What would you do if you became a zombie? What if you suddenly started to crave human flesh, and, after checking Facebook, realized that the zombie apocalypse is here and you’re one of them and your friends are mourning you in a way eerily reminiscent of the fucked up way they did that when you came out as trans? Here’s what goes through Beryl’s head:

She had a sinking feeling the only thing she wanted now was brains… But that was revolting! Her belly growled at the thought of eating human brains? Or just human flesh in general? Suddenly all she could think of was the salty warmth of blood pumping from a fluttering heart. Every fiber of her body was crying out for her to feed. Tear. Rip flesh. Bathe in the blood. Rinse. Repeat.

This was worse than testosterone! She was a vegetarian. Her family was Buddhist. She could barely stand the thought of eating meat, let alone her own kind!

Although, she thought to herself, were they really her own kind? People like her certainly weren’t seen as fully human. Not many professional queers were willing to hire a weird Chinese trans girl dropout who’d barely started her medical transition.

Such is the beginning of what becomes a tale of revenge fantasy violence and trans-zombie-on-trans-zombie sex. Just like the scariest zombie movie you’ve ever seen, “Delicate Bodies” is not for the faint of heart.

The collection takes a decidedly different turn with another story with Canadian connections: “What Cheer” by Vancouver resident RJ Edwards, a beautiful and weird and sad story featuring Christmas, aliens, and non-binary feels. Addie has returned to their hometown for Christmas to the complexity of negotiating how to not be too queer or trans at family gatherings so as not to “ruin Christmas” and trying to stay “cool and invulnerable” in the face of being in love with a friend who only friend-loves you back. All this would be enough for a fascinating story, except it’s just the setting for Addie finding a mysterious egg that spawns an alien double that looks just like them and wants to learn all about what it means to be human.

The fourth story, again, takes readers somewhere completely different with a hilarious story, “Satan, Are You There? It’s Me, Laura?” by Aisling Fae, in which Satan is a bad-ass trans woman and God is a douchebro who’s in love with her but obviously unworthy. I LOVE IT. I laughed out loud on the bus while reading that story.

Canadian Trish Salah’s “It Can Grow!!!” is next and it’s about a queer trans woman trying to figure out how to deal with her brain-eating amoeba and her inability to have an orgasm. Was taking home the trans guy she meets at the Toronto dyke bar where her girlfriend is a bartender a good way of dealing? Probably not. This story was bizarre and funny in a way that made me go “huh??” at the end and start reading the story anew.

I think it was about this point in the anthology when I thought, can Meanwhile Elsewhere keep this up? So far every single story has blown my mind. Well, the answer to that question is a resounding YES. Because the next story Calvin Gimpelevich’s “Rent, Don’t Sell,” one of my favourites from the whole anthology. “Rent, Don’t Sell” is about a cis lesbian veteran and amputee named Nok who deals with her PTSD and newfound disability partly through her job at SciFit, a gym where she inhabits the bodies of others who want to get fit or lose weight without putting in the effort themselves. This is only one use of the future’s body swapping technology: Nok’s love interest is Natasha, a trans woman who’s used it only to find herself struggling with a different kind of dysphoria in the body she thought she wanted. Nok’s sister Mara is also making use of the technology through temporary capitalist gains available by allowing her body to be rented for sex work; she too is unprepared for the consequences of the body swapping. For Natasha, it’s the realization that although she now inhabits a woman’s body, it isn’t her body; for Mara, it’s the ignorance of the kind of trauma a body can carry even if your mind didn’t experience it. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but be prepared for amazing Thelma and Louise-type feels (without any of the tragedy).

Would you even believe the next story “No Comment” by Ayse Devrim is another favourite of mine? It’s a campy, hilarious story about a trans woman Maryam who is a recent recipient of a uterus transplant in the near future. A la Jane the Virgin she finds herself mysteriously pregnant and acquiring mythic Virgin Mary status; unfortunately Maryam is, to quote her friend, “single, surly, and sauced” and about as far from holy as the good wholesome Christian woman whose uterus she inherited was righteous. She also has no time for the bullshit government doctors who want to study her as a medical curiosity. In the ARC of Meawhile Elsewhere that I read, “No Comment” was the first story and it was what made me fall immediately in love with the book.

Did you think Sybil Lamb’s novel I’ve Got a Time Bomb was a work of absolute genius that the world will never fully appreciate like I did? If not, please read that book now, and then you can fully appreciate being able to dive back into her mind in her contribution to Meanwhile Elsewhere. She’s at it again, with her story “Cybervania,” a gloriously grotesque and truly bizarre post-apocalyptic cyber punk vision of the future that I can only describe as quintessentially Sybil Lamb. The only thing that disappoints me about “Cybervania” is that it isn’t accompanied by Lamb’s unique, trippy visual art like her novel is.

Fantasy is definitely in the minority in Meanwhile Elsewhere in favour of science fiction, which perhaps speaks to the more ample possibilities and revolutionary potential in reaching towards the future in SF versus the more conservative tendencies of fantasy, so often looking to the past for inspiration. There are, however, two amazing fantasy stories, “Matchmaker” by Dane Figueroa Edidi and “Notes from a Hunter Boy” by Beckett K. Bauer that I want to mention. I can perhaps give “Matchmaker” no better endorsement than say that it reminded me of the best of season 6 of Buffy, but with a Black trans witch for a main character. “Notes from a Hunter Boy” is a unique historical fantasy, told in the form of a diary discovered eons later, in which the concepts of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are truly turned on their heads.

For another taste of Canadian urban centres in trans speculative fiction like Bridget Liang’s piece, see Morgan M Page’s short but powerful “Visions.” Like many of the other stories in the anthology, it centres on relationships between trans people; this time it’s a trans man who’s been haunted by visions of a trans woman’s future suicide which he has been destined to intervene in. This destiny has haunted him and shaped his whole life, bringing him to the slushy streets of Montreal from rural Vermont. When the moment finally arrives, Page takes the reader somewhere quite unexpected from the usual “don’t jump” narrative.

I have, of course, saved my very favourite for last: “Imago” by Tristan Alice Nieto. This story wrecked me, breaking me apart but then putting me back together, albeit in a bittersweet way. It made me cry. It is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. Tabitha lives in a future world where an epidemic that came to be known as the “White Death” has decimated humanity. A wonder drug called “Revivranol” was at first heralded as a miracle in response to the White Death and other kinds of dying, extending

viability for cardiopulmonary resuscitation from thirty minutes to twenty-four hours, and allowed the body to function in spite of massive physical trauma…But soon the promise gave way to reality. Those we revived came back broken, cold and distant…it was usually a confused and perverse confrontation as people tried in vain to locate a tiny fragment of the person they once knew within the talking pile of human remains that wore their lover’s skin.

This is the setting for this remarkable story, which integrates tidbits of butterfly biology, superstitions about and prejudice against people with albinism, grief over lost love, the impossibility of conceiving of your own death, the peculiarities of memory, and the cruel directions capitalism leads people in dire circumstances as well as those willing to capitalize on the miseries of others. Midway through the story Tabitha thinks:

I can’t shake the feeling that I should feel something more than mild disappointment at the thought of being dead. I think about all the things I never got to do, all the people and places I’ll never see again, but it doesn’t stir anything. Perhaps it’s a blessing, perhaps I’m protecting myself from the immeasurable cognitive weight of truly comprehending my own death.

You will weep and be forever changed by “Imago,” I promise.

There are so many more amazing stories that I didn’t have space to mention, like “After The Big One” by Cooper Lee Bombardier, about surviving an apocalyptic earthquake with an intergenerational trans and queer group of misfits; “Heat Death of Western Human Arrogance” by M Tellez, a story that beautifully imagines a sentient non-human, non-gendered being with rhizomatic thinking; “Schwaberow, Ohio” by Brendan Williams-Childs, featuring an autistic trans man living in a future where biotechnological advancements threaten the existence of trans people and neurodiversity; “The Gift” by Ryka Aoki, a story about a future so lovely and trans positive it’s heartbreaking to realize we are not there yet; “Thieves and Lovers” by Emma Addams, a tale of old Hollywood glamour and future holographic selves; “Angels Are Here to Help You” by Jeanne Thornton, a delightfully weird and funny space tale about leaving Earth on a spaceship you built yourself and financed with money you embezzled from your cat.

I am so excited for the future of speculative fiction and trans fiction and that very special intersection of trans speculative fiction that Meanwhile Elsewhere represents. Get this book, and get it now.

[Strong warnings for sexual and physical violence, as well as emotional abuse and suicide in a significant amount of the stories.]

Posted in Asian, Canadian, disability, Erotica, Fantasy, Fiction, Lesbian, Montreal, Non-Canadian, paranormal, Queer, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Toronto, Trans, Trans Feminine, Trans Masculine, Transgender | Tagged | 2 Comments

10 Funny and Weird Search Terms that Have Brought People to This Blog

  1. erotic lesbian shortz

I assume this is referring to short stories or videos instead of the things that you wear on your legs instead of pants when it’s hot out but either way I do not provide access to them on my website. But I am interested in what lesbian jean shorts would look like.

  1. good lesbian dystopia

I realize this person is referring to dystopian novels, but as it’s written, it seems like they don’t really know what dystopia means. Although maybe an all lesbian dystopia couldn’t be that bad.

  1. lesbrarian sex

Is this like how straight people don’t know how two women have sex but like for people who are straight and not librarians who don’t understand how queer women librarians have sex?

  1. are witches bisexual

Yes, yes we are. All of us. See Meags Fitzgerald’s graphic memoir Long Red Hair.

  1. lesbrarian kissing the witch

Can someone please write a book on this topic that combines three of my favourite things? I would definitely review it.

  1. tough and tender gay area

This sounds like some great fridge magnet poetry. Who wants to finish the poem?

  1. link me up to lesbians in Canada

I’m sorry my blog doesn’t do this, but know that we all pretty much want that all the time.

  1. define lesbrarian

Does my website answer this question sufficiently? Let me know.

  1. looking to get into gay porno in prince edward island

Well now I’m curious to know if there is indeed a viable porn industry on PEI. Anybody got the inside scoop?

  1. bad ass lesbians in Toronto

I was looking for these too when I lived in Southern Ontario. Did you find them? Maybe you found them in some Dionne Brand books like In Another Place, Not Here instead of real life.

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Interview with a Queer Reader: Amanda Talks Octavia Butler’s Genius, Rereading Tamora Pierce, Alison Bechdel’s FUN HOME, and more!

Amanda is a 24-year-old genderqueer, Midwestern Hufflepuff. (Yeah, Hufflepuff solidarity!) Amanda is queer, nonmonogamous, and very feminist. She works at a nonprofit arthouse theater and film festival as the Director of Theater Operations. They also volunteer with the Harry Potter Alliance as the Fandom Forward Project Leader and do some freelance writing. Find her on Twitter at @amandandwords or at amandaplanet.com.

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Keep reading to hear Amanda talk about rereading Tamora Pierce, the genius of Octavia Butler, writing the book you want to see in the world, how awesome the YA Pride website is, and more!

What was the first LGBTQ2IA+ book(s) you remember reading? How did you end up reading it (i.e., were you searching for queer books or did you just happen across it?)

Oh, good question.  I think the first explicitly queer book I remember reading was The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce.  It was published in 2005 so I would have been 12 at the time. I didn’t seek it out as a queer book, I’d read the Circle of Magic series and my cousin, who worked at a bookstore, got an advance reader copy for me. In the book one of the main characters, Daja, falls in love with a woman. I’d been with the characters in the series for years and reading Daja’s realization that she was interested in a woman, and their subsequent romance, was more than captivating. I reread their scenes over and over again. I still reread it at least once a year. It’s a really good book. (Also: I tweeted a version of this to Tamora Pierce and she tweeted back to me! How kind!)

Oh my god, that’s so cool about Tamora Pierce. What is/are your favourite LGBTQ2IA+ books, and why?

Oh so many! Definitely Will of the Empress because it has a special place in my heart. Wolfcry by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes is also a favorite. It was the first book I read that I knew was written by a queer person about a queer person. Plus, I am a sucker for YA fantasy – especially when it involves queer romances. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel is also a classic. I didn’t read it until college but I think I read it at just the right time. Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis (or Lilith’s Brood) trilogy is my favorite trilogy of all time. It weaves so many complicated threads together in a unique and very sci-fi way. I reread it this summer and these lines have been rooted in my brain since:

“Do you still want to be male?”

Had I ever wanted to be male? I had just assumed I was male, and would have no choice in the matter.

The series has helped me tremendously with understanding my own views of gender.

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book have you read that best reflects your experiences as an LGBTQ2IA+ person?

I don’t think any single book reflects my experience as a queer person. It’s a jumble of stories and characters and feelings. If I had to pick one that’s the closest, it’s probably Fun Home. Alison Bechdel’s recollection of her childhood memories of sexuality, gender, and mental health mirror my own.

Which LGBTQ2IA+ book do you wish you could read but can’t because it doesn’t exist yet?

Ooh, probably one about a gender questioning ‘girl’ who doesn’t think they’ll ever want to settle down with one person even when they’re in love. They’ll, of course, learn about ethical non-monogamy, destroying the gender binary, and learning how to relearn consent. Also there would be aliens or shapeshifters. Honestly I might write this.

How do you find LGBTQ2IA+ books? How easy or hard is it in your experience finding the ones that you want to read?

The internet and perusing through used book stores. I love the Twitter and website YA Pride. It’s been great having a LGBTQIA book list to read. It can be hard finding queer books that I really want to read, or that are my specific brand of fantasy or sci-fi. I’m working on requesting a bunch of queer books at my library. Help the next generation of queer readers!

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Do you know other LGBTQ2IA+ readers or participate in any LGBTQ2IA+ reading communities (in person or on the Internet)? What’s it like? Why or why not?

Yeah, definitely. I love the YA Pride Twitter. I’m not a young adult anymore but their content is A+. I was on a “How to Write Straight Characters” panel at Nerdcon:Stories last year and Vee, one of the badass co-creators of the site, live tweeted it and reached out to me about their site. I wish that it had existed when I was a teen! Twitter in general is my go-to for recommendations. I also find some great queer book and show recommendations from the Femsplain Slack channel. The #amreading and #queer channels are always top notch. Also the staff and volunteers at the Harry Potter Alliance are pretty queer (I might even say majority queer) so there’s always someone eagerly sharing rave reviews about a book or series they’ve recently finished.

I wish I had an irl queer reading group — maybe someday!

I look forward to reading your alien/shapeshifter non-binary poly book someday Amanda! And I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said about YA Pride. They are such an amazing resource! You all should definitely check them out if you haven’t already.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Interview with a Queer Reader, Non-Canadian, Queer, Young Adult | 1 Comment

Four Amazing Queer Canadian Short Story Collections You Must Read

Have I mentioned lately how much I love short stories? I mean, I adore a good novel too, obviously, but novels get a lot of love, whereas short stories and the writers who are so talented at writing them get the short shift a lot. Someone told me once that short story collections apparently tend to not sell very well and it’s very hard for writers to make a living writing only short stories, with some obvious exceptions like Alice Munro. (I’m sure this is a complex issue someone in publishing could explain; if you have insights, let me know!) Mostly I’m upset because I love reading short story collections and it always seems like there could be more of them around, especially by queer Canadian authors. Short stories especially great if you don’t have much time to read or don’t know when you’ll have time again. Read one short story in an hour or two and get complete satisfaction! The following books are some of my absolute favourite, favourite short story collections; they’re all also queer and Canadian, obviously.

Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

This collection of speculative fiction is my favourite Nalo Hopkinson book (with her other short story collection Skin Folk being a close runner-up). I also love many of her novels, but short stories, for whatever reason, seem to really shine in showcasing Hopkinson’s totally wacky, unique imagination which Junot Diaz said is “an imagination that most of us would kill for.” The best word I can come up with for describing these stories is mind-expanding. They give me a trippy, awed, uncanny kind of feeling as if I am seeing the world from a different perspective for the first time, as if I’ve encountered something completely unique but also strangely familiar. Falling in Love with Hominids is full of ethnically and racially diverse queer characters (men and women) and quite a bit of genre diversity: moving from horror to science fiction to fairy tale re-tellings to completely uncategorizable. A little taste: post-apocalyptic Toronto where puberty triggers zombism; God is human, and she’s a Black tomboy girl who rides a skateboard; a bullied fat girl turns into a dragon and gets revenge; a ghost is forced to live in the mall he died in. Read my full review here.

Canary by Nancy Jo Cullen

Canary is perhaps the very best kind of realist fiction there is: rooted in the everyday and ordinary, but finding the very weird in that life at the same time. It also feels achingly like real Canada, rooted in specific places, ways of speaking, and rural ways of life. The stories in Canary take place in the homes of Vancouver hippie yuppies, in trucks driving west from Fort St John, in the Okanagan as the 1976 eruption of Mount St Helen’s looms, in gentrified neighbourhoods populated by 60-year-old homophobic straight men and hip 30-year-old gay men, and at big backyard birthday parties where old grudges emerge and some people get too drunk or high in front of family. While many of the characters are queer, none of the stories are about being queer or coming out, which is so refreshing. For example: one story is about a married Catholic merchandise salesman who’s a closeted gay man; another is about a dissatisfied queer stay-at-home mom; another features a marriage breaking up when the woman unexpectedly leaves her husband for a woman. Cullen’s ability to draw such rich characters in the small space of a short story is admirable, as is her ease at capturing everyday Canadian vernacular. Read my full review here.

Out on Main Street by Shani Mootoo

This collection of short stories was Shani Mootoo’s first book, before she went on to write her incredible first novel Cereus Blooms at Night. There are some really remarkable stories in this early book, investigating the complex reality of being an immigrant in Canada. Mootoo especially focuses on the identities and intersections familiar to her: being Indo-Trinidadian, being a woman, and being queer. The titular story in particular is a wonderful, nuanced exploration of all those issues. Set in Vancouver’s Little India area on South Main St, the “out” in the title is relevant in more than one way. A butch Indo-Trinidadian woman narrates the story in Trinidadian accent—“Another reason we shy to frequent dere is dat we is watered-down Indians—we ain’t good grade A Indians”—as she and her girlfriend shop for Indian sweets. The story brilliantly shows as the women flip from being insiders and outsiders with the other Indian: allies against racist white intruders in shop, bonding with other Indian women over sexism, but also othered as queer people and as “watered-down Indians.” Out on Main Street is a beautiful book examining the inbetweenness of being a (queer) woman of colour immigrant. Full review here.

A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett

I read this collection almost exactly a year after reading Canary and it blew me away in a very similar way, where I was astounded at how unbelievably real and true it felt. I love Plett’s writing because it shows such an uncanny ability to really see her characters in all their flawed and complex glory. She paints them with compassion and empathy but also fierce, even ruthless, honesty when necessary. Most of the characters are trans women, from Annie, a cynical hilarious dyke who hates New York dyke culture to Zeke, who’s going home to visit her Mennonite grandpa but can’t go as a girl. A lot of the relationships the stories focus on are also between trans women. Zeke asks her friend Carla, who’s also trans, to accompany her on the homecoming trip and pretend to be her girlfriend; their friendship, bonded by their shared love of books, is beautifully drawn. “Annie and Lizzie” is an achingly lovely, sad, and sexy love story between two trans women. In “Winning,” a mom and daughter who are both trans clash over their very different understandings of being trans. These stories can be the emotional equivalent of a punch in the face but also a tiny, stinging paper cut. At the same time, there’s something so healing and cathartic about their honesty, in their insistence that you’re not alone in your pain. Also, for something completely different, one amazing story has a talking cat. See my full review here.

Posted in Butch, Canadian, Caribbean, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay, Lesbian, list, Nalo Hopkinson, Queer, Rural, Science Fiction, Shani Mootoo, Short Stories, South Asian, Trans, Trans Feminine, Transgender, Vancouver | 3 Comments