Updated: Dec 31, 2022
Thanks to Fox News, I now have a new queer reading list [COMMENTARY]
By BARBARA MARIE MINNEY September 26, 2022
Fox News recently published an article with the headline “California high school teacher boasts ‘queer library’ with materials on orgies and BDSM/kink.”
The article describes a San Juan Hills High School teacher named Danielle Serio, who is also known as “Flint.” Flint has posted on TikTok several times describing a queer library of over 100 books that she has maintained in her classroom for five years. The article states that “[m]any of the details in the book are being withheld from this story due to its extremely sexually-detailed nature,” but goes on to describe some of the books anyway.
As I was reading the article, I could not help thinking that this is a great resource for me to develop my own queer reading list.
C.S. Lewis once said, “We read to know we are not alone.” I think this is a synthesis of the importance of the kind of books mentioned in the article. I remember that when my wife and I were on our own journey, we sought out books, articles, and Internet resources that assured us that others had followed a similar path to the one that we were now on. Of course, we had to take from those resources what spoke to us and leave the rest behind.
The first book mentioned in the article that I read is Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, which is described as “contain[ing]extremely graphic imagery of sex between women.” I found this description to be a huge exaggeration. Gabby Rivera describes herself as “a Bronx-born, queer Puerto Rican author on a mission to create the wildest, most fun stories ever.”
This book does contain sex scenes between women, but the descriptions are far from graphic. I would describe them as understated and extremely sensual. This book is about a journey to finding yourself and true identity. In reading this book, I learned a whole lot about Puerto Rican culture, racial awareness and white privilege, queer women of color, and an expansive and inclusive brand of feminism. A passage near the end of the book really spoke to me: “My story, my truth, my life, my voice, all of that had to be protected and put out into the world by me. No one else. No one could take that away from me. I had to let go of my fear.”
I also recently read Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune. TJ Klune is a bestselling Lambda Literary Award-winning author of fantasy and romantic fiction featuring gay and LGBTQ+ characters. This particular book had a profound effect on me. I don’t think that I have laughed or cried more while reading a book than I did while reading this one. The book is about redemption after someone dies with a queer love story thrown into the mix.
Ironically, in March, I purchased a copy of Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe at the Books-A-Million store in Venice, Florida, and read it while we were vacationing. This was about the time that this book was constantly in the news as an example of what is wrong with our educational system, and I wanted to see for myself what all of the fuss was about. This book is a graphic novel and is a winner of the 2020 Stonewall Book Award and a nominee for several other awards.
This book does contain some graphic depictions of sex, but I would not describe them as salacious or gratuitous. This book is also about the journey to finding yourself and identity. Again, I learned a lot by reading this book about being nonbinary and asexual and the struggles faced by those individuals.
Several other books mentioned in the article that I found to be of interest include This Book is Gay and The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality, which is described as discussing such things as “tucking” and “whorephobia” – the stigma against prostitutes.
I have also placed a hold at my local library on another book specifically mentioned in the article entitled Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Being Trans. The article describes this book as discussing BDSM, fetishes, and Fetlife, the social networking site for the kink community. I actually can’t wait to get my hands on this book to see what it can tell me about being trans that I don’t already know.
Barbara Marie Minney is a transgender woman, poet, writer, speaker, and quiet activist. She is a retired attorney and a seventh generation Appalachian via West Virginia and Eastern Ohio. Now based in Tallmadge, Ohio, her first collection of poetry entitled “If There’s No Heaven” was the winner of the 2020 Poetry Is Life Book Award and the Akron Beacon Journal Best Northeast Ohio Books 2020. It is available at www.poetryislifepublishing.com. Follow her at www.barbaramarieminneypoetry.com.