Jun 22, 2016

Bisexuality in YA - Ashley Herring Blake || Pride Month 2016

Hi guys!

Today for our Pride Month special post, we have Ashley Herring Blake over here at Chasing Faerytales, who's going to share her thoughts on the representation of bisexuality in YA fiction!

Ashley is the author of Suffer Love, a huge advocate for diversity on twitter and such a sweet person in general! I am so happy to have her here on the blog, and let's hear what she has to say about bisexuality in YA!

The first time I saw myself in a book, I was thirty-four years old. It was 2014 and the book was Tess Sharpe’s Far From You. While I was reading about Sophie’s chronic pain and bisexuality, about her heartbreak over losing Mina and trying to solve her murder, I don’t think I even realized I was seeing myself on the page of a book. No, I wasn’t trying to find a killer and no, I don’t suffer from a chronic illness or pain, but I am bisexual.

Now, I know that.
Now, I’ve embraced that, proclaimed that, loved that about myself.

Then, my breath caught in my chest every time Sophie talked about Mina. My pulse kicked up a notch. I felt flushed and nervous. It took me about another year to really understand why and it wasn’t only because it was a well-written book with beautifully crafted characters and emotional language.
It was because there was a piece of myself stuck inside Sophie and she was trying to get out. Far From You set me on my own hunt with my own mystery to solve—my own identity.

I found other books, other girls on the page who helped me untangle the knot in my heart and mind. I wrote my own bisexual girl, the girl who for a long time, believed the way she thought about girls was how all girls thought about other girls. A girl who realized, no, the way she thought about girls was a little different and didn’t in any way diminish how she also thought about boys, didn’t infringe on her capacity to fall in love and stay in love.
And I finally got it. I got myself. Loved myself. Saw myself.

And then Orlando happened.

And I was scared and sad and angry and hurt for my queer community and my Latinx friends. I was scared for those who are so much more visibly queer than I am. I was scared for all of us. There are so many emotions, I still don’t have words for them. They’re too deep. Too fresh.

It’s enough to make us all cower.
It’s enough to make us hide away.
It’s enough to pull the books from the shelves and wrap our arms around our queer youth, protecting them from every ugly thing.

But we can’t do that. We can’t protect them from everything, no more than we can protect ourselves. But we can say You matter. We can hold their hand at their first Pride parade. We can go with them so they’re safe in a bathroom. We can tell them We hear you. We can make sure they know that they exist. We can make sure they’re not thirty-four years old the first time they see themselves between the pages of a book.

We can tell the stories and encourage them to tell their own.
We can write good books. Books that can heal and comfort and set free and empower and change hearts and minds.
More than ever, queer representation in young adult and middle grade literature matters. Picture books. Early readers. All of it. These kids need our words and our voices.

Just like we need theirs.

Write the queer stories. Support the queer stories. Support the stories for, about, and by queer people of color. Lift up those intersections and give the kids who are scared and alone, out and closeted, a place to go.

We need these stories in the world because art changes lives.

It changed mine.

And maybe one day, my own sons won’t be scared to go to a club and dance with their friends and with the person they love.

Maybe one day, you and I won’t be either.

That was such a beautiful post Ashley! *squishes* Thanks a lot for sharing it with us!

You guys, don't forget to check out Ashley's books! Her Suffer Love - a beautiful and heartwrenching YA contemporary came out last month, and I am beyond excited for her next book, How to Make a Wish - a LGBT YA which comes out in 2017 and sounds amazing!!!! 

About the Author

Hi, I'm Ashley. I used to write songs and now I write poems and books. I read them a lot too. I like coffee, my boys, gloomy music,, anything with pumpkin in it, stuff hued in Tiffany blue, scarves, and walks. I don't like olives or soggy asparagus or humidity and have not a lick of visual artistic talent.

I live in the best city in the world, also known as Nashville, TN, with my witty husband and two boisterous little boys. Previous jobs include songwriter and performer (though I made about enough money to cover the gas to the gigs), substitute teacher, barista, ABA therapist, special education teacher in a private school for kids with autism, and the hardest job in the world, mommyhood. That last one is still happening, along with lots of word making. 

Suffer Love is my first novel (okay, I wrote three before this one, but those were just life lessons) and I'm represented in all things literary and worthy of attention by the amazing Rebecca Podos of the Rees Agency.

Find Ashley at :

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