Guest Post: My Faith and my Queerness by Vanshika Prusty, author of Droplets of Starlight from KEEP FAITH (out now!)

Today I am happy to give this space to Vanshika Prusty, one of the authors in the Keep Faith anthology edited by Gabriela Martins, where they will talk about the relationship with their religion and their queerness. This is only one of the many personal stories that brought this anthology into existence. If you’re religious, faith is one of the many aspects of yourself that will intersect with your queerness, and this essay focuses on that.

Keep Faith is an anthology for everyone who has ever wanted to read a collection of diverse and queer stories with a focus on faith, in a broad sense. It’s out now and you can buy it on Gumroad!

flower divider

TW: Self-harm mention, depression mention and mention of non-acceptance from family for sexuality and gender.

I was sixteen when I figured out that I’m bisexual.

I’d just moved from India, where I’d known of only three sexualities: being straight, being gay or being a lesbian. And only one out of those three were okay in my conservative family. So, you can imagine how deeply I repressed my feelings towards people who weren’t cis-men.

It wasn’t so much that there wasn’t information accessible on Queerness and being part of the LGBTQIAP+ community, but more so that it wasn’t easily accessible to me. On top of that, I didn’t have the encouragement to seek out that information as a kid or a teenager when I was surrounded by people who were disgusted at even the thought of someone not conforming to straight, cis-centric views of romantic and sexual relationships. I would’ve been ridiculed at best, and I don’t even want to imagine what would’ve happened at worst.

After I moved to Canada, when I was fifteen, a friend (at the time) of mine and I discussed queerness. I was fascinated at the fact that I could so openly and freely discuss this with someone and moreover, on the fact that a community of people who loved so freely existed. When she told me that bisexual people, those who are attracted to two or more genders, existed, I knew that that was me. I remember my exact words being, “I’m bisexual, I’ve always been bisexual.”

That conversation didn’t resolve all my issues with sexuality and gender. But it was a start, and it put me on the right path to find the labels for myself that I was comfortable in. After the conversation, I also realized that I had a lot of unlearning to do. Unlearning of internalized misogyny, homophobia and transphobia that I’d eaten up from my parents’ friends, and from conservative Indian news that promoted these bigoted views as patriotic and as what ‘good Hindus’ did.

And in my unlearning, I distanced myself from my religion because the news we’d watched in India, and that my papa put on in Canada, too, framed hating people who are queer as something every Hindu should be proud to do. It was quite possibly the worst thing I did to myself.

In the years I denied myself the love I held for my religion, my depression got worse, I selfharmed more often, and suffered in school. I hated everything about myself that made me who I am. I hated that I was from India, that I was from a Hindu family, that I wasn’t born in an accepting family. It didn’t help that my sister tried outing me to my parents because she was angry with me. It was even worse that my parents called me to say they didn’t believe her because ‘no kid of theirs is going to be disgusting’. Yeah, 2015-2017 were absolute hell for me.

My parents aren’t violent people, that’s not what I want anyone to take away from my
reluctance to tell them. I don’t think they would hurt me physically if I told them that I’m a bisexual, non-binary woman. I think it was the fear that they may not love me anymore—that their love isn’t unequivocal or limitless; that it is conditional—that has kept me from telling them. So, I felt like I had nowhere to go. No one to ask for help, no one to understand me.

This loneliness—this fear that kept blooming in me. It sent me into a spiral. I felt suffocated every single day until I finally fell on my knees, quite literally, in front of my gods in the prayer room we have at home. I don’t even think that’s where I was going, but that’s where I ended up.

My parents are from Cuttack and Ranikhet in India, and they have different rituals and
basically different religions, if you really look into it, but they worship similar gods, and their most important god is the same: Jagannath, or RadheKrishna. Him and Radhe are the gods I grew up worshipping the most. I was attracted to them from a very young age as it is; to their story, to their morals and…just…them. In general. I don’t really know how else to explain it than that I felt at home if I knew they were with me, or near me.

I remember the night I cried my eyes out to Krishna and Radhe. I begged them for guidance. I screamed at them for the world they’d brought me into. I pleaded that they take me away. I was so angry with them, and so desperately craved their help. It was the night that began my understanding of intersectionality. Slowly, I grew to understand that, to be queer, I didn’t have to deny myself other parts of me. I understood that there’s no one way to be queer. I can be religious and I can be a bisexual, non-binary woman. I can worship my gods and love who I love, be who I am. I understood, not fully, but slowly, that the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

The next day, or so, I started writing what would become Droplets of Starlight. I knew it
wasn’t going to be a novel from the get-go, but I also knew that it was something I needed to write. Something I needed to do for myself, and myself only. I didn’t think I’d ever share it. In fact, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to share it because it came from such a personal place. Although, that’s not new. My writing has always comes from a personal place. Sometimes it’s from happiness, sometimes from a burden I’ve carried for far too long.

I feel that art cannot exist in separation from its creator. So, everything I write, in one way or another, is deeply personal. Droplets of Starlight is no exception to that. It was, perhaps, the first time I understood not to force myself to be separate from my art, something I’d been trying so hard to do with all my previous manuscripts. I think my art is better for it. I think I am better for it.

Writing Droplets of Starlight has been an honour. To write a story about a girl finding her
way to a place of happiness in her community is an honour. To write about her love for her gods, about her love for her family and the girl of her dreams…it has all been an honour.

Find Vanshika:

Website | Insta | Twitter



Keep faith, in the broad sense of the word. It doesn’t have to be a religion, unless you want it to be. It doesn’t have to speak about the universe, unless you want it to. It doesn’t have to be about anyone but yourself. Keep faith, in other planets and other houses; be it in the face of danger, grief, or while you spread your arms and laugh. Keep faith the same way you keep hope, bright and shiny, ever present. Keep faith in all your queer, beautiful self. Because you deserve it.

This is an anthology of 14 short stories, by 14 queer authors, where faith and queerness intersect. Incidental, purposeful, we-exist-and-that’s-why queerness. And faith meaning whatever you want it to mean.

An anthology edited by Gabriela Martins, with cover art by Kess Costales, and short stories by Adiba Jaigirdar, Bogi Takács, C.T. Callahan, Elly Ha, Gabriela Martins, Julia Rios, Kate Brauning, Kess Costales, Mary Fan, Mayara Barros, Megan Manzano, Shenwei Chang, Sofia Soter, and Vanshika Prusty.

#QueerLitStories: Autoboyography and Quiet Acceptance

queer lit stories

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 Hollie, one of the very first bloggers I followed specifically because she talked about queer themes. Her post puts into words some stuff I’ve felt for a while and I didn’t know how to express, so I’m particularly grateful to have read it and to now be able to share it with everybody!


The first time I came out, it was to my (then) bisexual boyfriend.

He was out to most of the school, and nobody really cared. He had dated boys and girls in the past, and then he was dating me. When I came out to him as bisexual, he was super supportive. Of course he was. It felt scary to say I’m bisexual even to a fellow bisexual who, at the time, loved me very much.

After that, it was still pretty smooth sailing. I came out to my mum in the car and she asked me what it meant. After I told her, she told me that she loved me and that she would relay the information on to my dad. The next time I came out was the second day of my first year at uni. One of the other girls in my dorm, now one of my best friends, shouted “me too!” and high-fived me.

However, I’ve often labelled my experience coming out as ‘quiet acceptance’. As a bisexual, it’s very easy for people to dismiss that part of me – that I like people who identify as girls as well as people who identify as boys because hey, I can happily have banter with my parents about finding a husband and giving them grandchildren. I can genuinely drool over male celebrities with my straight, female friends. I can chat with my one bisexual friend (who is currently planning her wedding to a man) about love and marriage traditions. I don’t feel like I’m faking it, but it’s the ‘quiet acceptance’ that often makes me doubt the people around me and how they feel about me.

Honestly, there are not a lot of characters I relate to, whether they’re women, depressed, or bisexual, I find it difficult to truly see myself in characters. And hey, that doesn’t mean I want less bisexual female characters; I love reading about them and some of my favourite characters are bisexual men and women.

I’ve never felt my situation was understood until I read Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. Autoboyography is, in short, about two boys who fall in love during a creative writing class. One boy is bisexual and one is coming to terms with the fact that he’s gay. Tanner is our main character, and he’s out as bisexual to his family. He’s recently moved to Utah, and while he was completely out to all his friends back in San Francisco, he’s not yet made that move in Utah.

Why? Because his mum doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

When I first read this, my heart sunk. Tanner’s parents accepted him, but to me (and to Tanner), it was quiet acceptance. While he had their verbal acceptance and even their pride, wearing rainbow flag aprons and collecting gay pride bumper stickers, there is always a part of him that worries what his parents might think if he actually came home with a boy. It’s the same with his friends; he may not be out to them, but he fears what might happen if he was. I am out to my friends and to my parents, but to be honest, I rarely mention it, because it’s not really that easy to bring up unless I really push for it to be talked about which, come on, who likes talking about their queerness surrounded by a bunch of straight people? I’ve also had instances when my folks have asked that I don’t bring up my sexuality in front of grandparents. A part of me knows it’s because they probably won’t be accepting and so my parents want to protect me, the same way Tanner’s mum does. But the other part is wondering is it because my folks don’t want it to be a whole thing? Would it be a nuisance? So I end up not wanting to talk about it at all in front of them, not even the boy-attraction parts.

While I was jumping for joy at seeing a bisexual character actually experiencing this quiet acceptance that I feel, it made me feel kinda sad. It made me reflect on my experiences, and how quiet acceptance is not full acceptance. I will always have that worry about how people would react if I started dating a girl. Would my parents not take our relationship seriously? Would my friends not want to talk about her or even invite her to parties/days out even though their boyfriends would be there? It’s just a bridge I’m gonna have to cross when I come to it I guess. For now, the only pro-active thing I feel like I should do is get more queer friends because let’s be honest, would I feel this way if I had more than one queer friend?

But I want to say thank you to Autoboyography and to Christina and Lauren (I know! They’re two people!) for understanding bisexual struggles so intrinsically, and not falling into the many stereotypes that bisexuality unfortunately has.


Find Hollie:





#QueerLitStories: Finding Myself: Bi & Russian Rep in Books and More

queer lit stories

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 Sasha, a book reviewer from Russia. It talks about her relationship with various queer media (not just books!) and about her being Russian and bisexual. Thank you Sasha for your post!


Hello, I’m Sasha, I’m 23 years old and I’m so grateful Silvia has given me spot on her blog to talk about books I saw myself represented in.

I am Russian, I was born in Russia and I’m currently living there. I identify as bisexual. It’s been almost three year since I discovered I’m not straight.

The first book in which I ever saw two parts of my identity represented was in Abroad by Liz Jacobs. It’s an ownvoices book by Russian Jewish queer author. The protagonist Nickolay Melnikov is gay and Russian and he’s the best thing that happened. Even though he immigrated to the States and he’s a gay man, I instantly connected with him. It was incredible to see myself in the book like that, never have I been able to see these two parts of me in a book. The author manages to convey all those conflicted parts of our identity, with deeply rooted homophobia into the culture, importance of family and how it internalizes homophobia and how stressful it could be to open up.

It’s worth noting the book has a bisexual female main character Izzy and she discovered that she’s not straight pretty much at the same time I did, during her last year at university. I related a lot to Izzy in this sense, but I’ve got to admit my own Gay Discovery was less dramatic.


We Are Okay by Nina LaCour hit me with all the feels of grief. A queer girl grieving the death of her grandfather and running away from her problems is the story written specifically for me. While we’re on the topic of grief, Adam Silvera’s History Is All You Left Me is masterpiece for many reasons and among them a queer boy grieving the death of his ex-boyfriend was so heart-breaking and genuine. The portrayal of grief in these two books is phenomenal.

The first ever bisexual character I saw in book was Magnus Bane in Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones. The Shadowhunters Chronicles mean the world to me, because they led me to the friends I now have and being part of bookish community. Magnus Bane was a revelation, I don’t think I was even aware of a word “bisexual” before that book or that bi was a valid sexuality. Back when I read City of Bones I didn’t know I’m bi but Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood were an impulse to push me to research LGBTQIAP+ and specifically look for books with not-straight characters.

I have come across various queer representation since that first book and, of course, not all of them were good. The most negative experience I’ve had is the lack of queer representation. I know it’s a popular believe that no rep is better than bad rep, I’m living in Russia and all the media that I consume (i.e. TV with my father every day) is blatantly glaringly straight, so that’s perhaps the reason I am less opinionated on queer and bisexual rep in particular, because I crave it so badly and I want it in any shape and form I can get. Thus the most negative experience I can acquire from reading the book is to see no queer people at all.

To end the post on a positive note, I want to talk about queer rep in non-bookish media.

Podcasts! This is a very creative and inclusive form of storytelling. I adore The Bright Sessions and the casual way the writer Lauren Shippen introduces the sexuality of the characters in a “Oh yeah Mark is bisexual moving on with the plot” way. Or the thoughtful and genuine way of a teenage boy discovering he likes another boy type of story. This representation means so much to me because no matter how many times I hear that my sexuality is valid, it’s still hard. Seeing amazing queer characters doing wonderful and brave things builds up confidence and make me less afraid.

One of my new favorite fictional podcasts is The Penumbra Podcast (stories about queer characters by queer creators!). Juno Steel is the main character, Juno is bisexual disaster with avoidant type of personality, which is hi hello it’s me. Juno is frankly a mess, but! Seeing flawed imperfect queer character making it through and saving the day is inspiring beyond any words.

Another form of media that has been a big part of my life for ages is anime. The Yuri On Ice anime created something very important to me. It made me feel that being Russian okay. To elaborate, nobody told me being a Russian is wrong, but I consume American-centric and USA-made media, I used to be active on English part of tumblr and now I’m on English twitter with a huge focus on USA internal affairs. As you can imagine Russia doesn’t have a good rep there (for valid reasons but this post isn’t about that). This post is about me and I can say that before Yuri On Ice I was uncomfortable saying I’m Russian. It’s not that I didn’t feel proud but Russia has a terrible image and I honestly thought people wouldn’t want to talk to me if they knew where I’m from. Victor Nikiforov is a Russian queer brilliant figure skater who’s happily engaged with fellow figure skater Yuri Katsuki. This is huge. Victor is nothing like me, but people loved him and they accepted and loved him being Russian and I thought maybe people would like me too? I can’t say how much of this perception was faulty or not, but I know for sure after Yuri On Ice, after Victor Nikiforov, Yuri Plisetsky etc I started feeling comfortable sharing this part of my identity with the internet.

Thank you, Silvia, for giving me an opportunity to talk about myself and queer content, my two true passions.


Find Sasha:



#QueerLitStories: Even Side Characters Can Help

queer lit stories

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. 💖💛💙



Find Syd:

#QueerLitStories: Not A Bisexual

queer lit stories

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 guest post is by Annie Bear. Her post focuses on how a certain label can feel wrong for you even if you fit the theoretical definition for it. Thank you Annie for your post!


Ever since coming out 8 years ago, I have simply called myself ‘gay’. I never felt a huge need to label exactly what type of gay I was, though society kept asking the question. I would tell some people I was lesbian and then they would start judging the fact I had been with men before coming out. I would tell some people I was bi and they would start thinking I was a cheater or just experimenting. Telling people I was gay left too much information to the person to decide who I was for myself rather than letting me define my own self. I have always seen ‘gayness’ as a spectrum. Some people are on the completely heterosexual side of the spectrum, and some are on the completely homosexual side of it. There are many places in between the two sides, and I find myself somewhere in the middle. I’m not exactly a 50/50 bisexual, and most people you meet aren’t. Bisexual is a loose term for people who find themselves attracted to both genders. You could be 90% attracted to men and only 10% attracted to women and be considered a bisexual, or it could be the exact opposite, or any other fraction of the two, or you could be attracted to both men, women, and non-binary genders. I don’t know my exact numbers and to some of my friends, its a game they play guessing what they are. When I’m crushing on a guy they start saying I’m 90/10 in favor of men. If I’m crushing on a woman they say I’m 70/30 in favor of women. I never thought either of those fractions accurately described me but its a game they play and think is funny.

When I first came out I had to learn the harsh reality of telling my straight friends I was bisexual. Or the unfortunate experience of telling men or women in bars I was bisexual. Men saw it as a challenge, that ‘one night with me will make you straight’ or that I would go have a threesome with them, and women thought I was too green for them and not really gay. None of these ideas had any glimmer of truth behind them and yet men kept expressing these thoughts. Just because I’d date a man doesn’t mean that I am ‘cured’ or ‘straight again. No matter what gender I am dating, my attraction to women or men doesn’t disappear. Despite who I’m dating my sexual orientation is the same, it doesn’t change even if I marry and stay with one gender for the rest of my life. A straight person doesn’t erase their sexual orientation when they date someone, why do bisexuals have that stigma? Being bisexual also doesn’t mean that I am up for threesomes or polyamorous relationships. I’m a serial monogamous, I don’t shame or critique anyone who is poly, that’s part of their sexual orientation and that’s great. It’s just not mine and being labeled that and having my behavior expected to be similar to a poly person isn’t me.

Due to all these reasons, I have never said or claimed the term bisexual. I’m simply gay. I fall under the umbrella of people who aren’t straight.

Viewing my sexual orientation in this manner limits the representation in media that directly relates to me. I tend to go looking for bisexual representation instead, and to this day I still haven’t found a halfway decent representation of someone who is bisexual. Nothing I have read with a bisexual character accurately depicts the struggle that we go through in both the lgbtq+ community and out. Most bisexual characters also end up with men to ‘play it safe’ and only flirt or sleep with women on occasion. TV shows and movies use bisexual characters as a sex appeal for their storyline and not for the representation. After watching these programs I feel used and cheap and not validated.

When it comes to books, I tend to shy away from books claiming they have bisexual representation, because they tend to come off more as trope-y than anything. I find the same thing with books about lesbians. I also don’t see my sexual orientation as the most fascinating and important thing about me. Books and other forms of media and storytelling tend to focus only on who that character decides to date. I may be over critical and over analytic but there are only a small number of books that reflect how I feel about myself and about my sexual orientation.

The first ‘gay’ book I ever read is the one that most aligns with how I see myself.

Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg forever will be in my top five books ever. For me, it was a book about two women who loved each other, neither of them defined their sexuality and their town didn’t feel the need to. They just were two women who found a friendship that developed into a beautiful relationship. Their relationship and sexuality weren’t the main focus of the book either, there was a much bigger plotline or two around the pair. The whole book may seem understated to some people and not have enough ‘gayness’ in it. But to me, I will always cherish it and reflect on it as a way to understand myself more. Its the book I use when having to explain my own sexual orientation. Being not bisexual is hard to find true representation, but when I choose to label myself and look for representation in that I still fail to find anything that relates to me. Fannie Flagg herself lives a life where she is free from the labels. Having only dated women, she doesn’t label herself a lesbian. She’s a gay woman who writes, acts and lives a life outside her constant need to be labeled. Her characters share the same ideals. As do I.

My name is Annie, I am a writer, a reader, forever student, and not a bisexual.


Find Annie:

Twitter: @annie_bear92

Bookstagram: bears_books

#QueerLitStories: How I Saw Myself in a Son of Hades

queer lit stories

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 Alexis (The Sloth Reader), a pansexual booktuber. I love it because it talks both about the general feeling of seeing yourself represented as a queer person but also not seeing your specific identity in books. I feel like that’s a common experience for many queer people, so thank you Alexis for your post!


Hello! I’m Alexis and I’m known as The Sloth Reader in the online bookish community. You can find me on Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m here to explain why I saw myself in the character of Nico di Angelo from the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.

To give you some relevant background information, I identify as being pansexual. I’m just over twenty-three and I’ve only used that specific label for myself for the past year or so. I’ve always known that my attraction went beyond just liking boys, but I’ve had a difficult time with my sexuality because of my inability to find a label that fit me. I don’t necessarily feel like labels need to be definitive for every person, but that was something I desired for myself. I tried for a long time to fit myself into the bisexual label, but it was never a perfect match. I have very close friends who identify as bisexual, and I think knowing that our feelings didn’t perfectly line up made the label an awkward fit for me. As a teen, I convinced myself that I didn’t truly feel the way that I did. I thought that if I didn’t feel like I was bisexual, then I wasn’t really attracted to multiple genders. Because of this mindset that I had talked myself into, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I really opened myself up to exploring all the possibilities that existed for me.

I think Nico’s struggle with his sexuality really resonated with me. I do want to clarify that there are some huge differences between Nico and myself. Firstly I’m a twenty-three year old woman from the United States. Nico is a fourteen-year-old boy from Italy who was born in the 1940’s. I’ll leave out the demigod and fantastical elements as obvious differences. There are very distinct cultural and specific to the story ways that factor into Nico’s inability to accept his being gay. Nico feels as if he’s different and unwanted from the rest of the characters in the book because of his parentage and his history. These things negatively affect Nico’s desire to accept his sexuality because he longs for acceptance and fears his queerness will further divide him from other characters. I’ve been fortunate enough to have met and befriended many queer friends in my lifetime, so I’ve never felt that distinct negative feeling of not belonging. However, I can only imagine how some young queer people might be able to connect to that feeling.

However I do feel like I can relate to the struggle of self-acceptance that Nico goes through. While they may have been for very different reasons, both he and I had trouble with accepting our queerness. Because I couldn’t find a label that fit for me, I had completely written off being queer as a possibility entirely. I saw my own turmoil and my own dishonesty to myself in Nico’s character. I didn’t read the Heroes of Olympus until I was older and finally accepting of my sexuality. I remember getting to the part in book four, The House of Hades, when Nico finally has to confront his feelings. I cried for the teenage me who could so accurately relate to pushing down the feelings I had felt. And I also cried for the teenagers who got to read Nico’s story and see someone just like themselves, for perhaps the first time. I would never want any person to spend their formative years denying who they were, like I did. I understand that so many people have factors beyond their control that affect their relationship with their identity, like Nico does, but just being able to read a story with someone who has walked a similar journey can make such a difference.

I’d also like to talk about how underrepresented I do feel in my actual identity. I can name only three or four books with characters that express pansexuality, and only maybe one or two that use the actual word. I believe that every person should have the opportunity to see themselves represented in literature. I get beyond happy when I hear about books featuring any identity, whether it’s books about lesbian or trans main characters. There have been recent releases with asexual leads and my favorite read of 2017, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, featured a proudly bisexual main character who got to blatantly be with both men and women in text (with a QPOC love interest and an asexual side character). These recent releases are an incredible step forward. I’d like to see a future where every identity can have their own wall of books in a library.

But I also can’t help but feel like a lot of my own turmoil could have been remedied had I read a book with a character or love interest who was pansexual. I didn’t get the opportunity at twelve or sixteen, by which time the damage for me had already been done, to see a character express a sexuality that I wasn’t aware was an option. I would never want to take away from the representation that has changed the lives of so many people. I just wish someone had taken the opportunity to write a book, or better yet publish a book, with such an underrepresented sexuality. Had I read a book like Elliot Wake’s Black Iris (which was mentioned in the previous post by Melanie) when I was a teen, I feel like I would have spent a lot more of my life happy with who I was.

Though as it stands, I’m still happy that at twenty-three, I found comfort in the story of a fourteen year old son of Hades.


Find Alexis:


#QueerLitStories: Black Iris and pansexuality

queer lit stories

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.

I am so honored to have my friend and fellow blogger Melanie as my first guest, and I would like to thank her again so much for writing it and for all the support she keeps giving me ♥divider-2461548_960_720

When Silvia asked the queer book community if they’d be interested in writing guest posts on her blog about their positive or negative experiences with seeing themselves represented in literature, I knew that I couldn’t resist talking about Black Iris by Elliot Wake and how much that book literally changed my life.

I should probably preface this by letting you know that I am a cis, able-bodied, white passing, young, immensely privileged woman that lives in the United States. I have also had a very supportive immediate family when I was discovering my sexuality, and when I eventually came out to them all early in high school.

Very early in life I realized that I was attracted to more than just boys, so I took on the label bisexual in high school, even though I always felt like it wasn’t 100% a perfect fit for me. I had very serious relationships with both men and women all throughout high school and college, and even though I could say things like “I love the dimples on the lower back of my girlfriend” or “I love the broad shoulders on my boyfriend” I still didn’t have a good understanding of my sexuality, but I chose to identify as a bisexual/biromantic.

And then in 2015 I read Black Iris by Elliot Wake and my life was changed forever. And that book alone is what made me realize that my true identity was pansexual/panromantic. To say this book changed who I was as a person is honestly such an understatement. I read the most beautiful quotes that, for once in my life, described me and my feelings:

“If I was gay, I wouldn’t need an asterisk beside my name…… I wouldn’t have to explain that I fall in love with minds, not genders or body parts. People wouldn’t say I’m ‘just a slut’ or ‘faking it’ or ‘undecided’ or ‘confused.’ I’m not confused. I don’t categorize people by who I’m allowed to like and who I’m allowed to love. Love doesn’t fit into boxes like that. It’s blurry, slippery, quantum. It’s only limited by our perceptions and before we slap a label on it and cram it into some category, everything is possible. That’s me. I’m not gay, not bi. I’m something quantum.”

I cried so many tears. Happy, sad, questioning, understanding tears. And even though the main protagonist, Laney, never uses the word pansexual to describe themselves, Black Iris is a love letter to every queer kid that is questioning their sexual identity. I’ve never read a book that more perfectly talks about sexual fluidity still to this day.

Also, I completely understand that being bi doesn’t limit the person to only liking two genders, but I finally understood that my sexual attraction had nothing to do with gender, and I was honestly liberated. The feelings that I felt when closing that book still makes me weep to this day thinking about it. I truly do not have a combination of words to explain what I feel for this book. It was nothing short of a cathartic experience, and I owe Black Iris and Elliot Wake so much.

Black Iris is a book about vengeance and revenge and all the messy parts that come along with those two things. And I believe with my whole heart it is best to go into this story blind. But it’s very dark, and twisted, and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but it truly did change my life. Laney’s sexual questioning throughout the novel literally changed who I was as a human being.

But please use caution picking this book up because it heavily talks about mental illness. Also, trigger/content warnings for sexual content, bullying, abuse, addiction, drug use, homophobia, suicide, and talk of rape.

And this is just a hard book to read. It takes a lot from you, regardless of your sexuality. All the characters make choices that you are forced to watch, while covering your face with your hands, and squinting between your fingers. But you also won’t be able to look away.

And this probably goes without saying, but it was my favorite book of 2015, and will be one of my favorite books of all time forever. And I am forever grateful for Black Iris, because it was the book that helped me proudly tell (or scream at) the world that I am pan. 💗💛💙


Find Melanie: