This guest post series is all about queer people talking about their relationship with queer books, whether they saw themselves represented in them or not. If you would like to write a guest post for me, the rules and info on how to contact me are on this post.
Today’s post is by my friend Syd. It shows that sometimes the representation is so scarce that even a minor character can have a huge impact on you. Thank you so much Syd for your post!
When Silvia had tweeted that she was going to do a guest post series on her blog all about queer representation in books – good or bad – I was ecstatic. I wasn’t quite sure if I actually wanted to do it, but #QueerLitStories seemed like such a great idea.
And then I thought about what book I would talk about if I did a guest post for this, and my mind couldn’t help but immediately go to The Upside of Unrequited.
I’ve questioned and changed my identity several times, but just recently I came out as pansexual and I believe it truly is the identity that fits me. I’ve read very few books with pansexual representation, but the book that first made me question whether I’m pan and has the best pan rep in my opinion is Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited, specifically Mina, the protagonist’s sister’s girlfriend who is pansexual. I actually cried when it said that word on the page. Queerness is often so stigmatized; people will never say the actual word “gay” or “trans” or another thing on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum, so when I read “pansexual” on the page of The Upside of Unrequited, I legitimately cried.
The thing about Mina, though, is that she’s not even a main character. She’s barely even a side character. And yet, I felt so well-represented in this book. That’s the importance of representation, that so many people don’t understand. It can help you in so many ways. Of course, Mina wasn’t 100% me – she’s Asian; I’m Middle Eastern – but that’s perfectly okay! I know that not all characters with one of my identities aren’t going to completely represent me.
Also, when I read The Upside of Unrequited, I didn’t even identify as pansexual at that time. It helped me so, so much. I read it almost a year ago, when I was a newbie to the book community and the queer community as well. I couldn’t describe my feelings, because everyone in my life would resent them, tell me I’m just in a phase, tell me I’m just bi, etc. But this book…it gave me so much hope. I love it to death. The importance of representation, y’all. It’s amazing. I’ll never comprehend how people don’t understand the huge importance of diversity in media. If it weren’t for this book, I probably would have repressed my emotions and said I was bi or a lesbian instead, when I’m not. I am pansexual. I am pansexual. I am pansexual. 💖💛💙