generally bookish

„straight is the default“ | thoughts on sexuality + book recommendations

08/11/2019

Hoohoo, guys.

This is something I’ve thought about for ages. It’s quite personal in some points and some of it might not make complete sense, but I’m doing my best.
Since I’ve read Simon vs. the homo sapiens agenda by Becky Albertalli the one phrase hasn’t left me. Straight is the default. I’ve known this, I’ve thought about it but still these few words burned themselves into my mind.

What I want to say is: I’m not straight. That’s basically the only thing I’m sure of when it comes to sexuality. When I was younger I was sure I’m only into boys. I convinced myself I was. It felt like there wasn’t any other possibility. And to be honest, there wasn’t. Not really. If you didn’t show interest in boys at my school, you were a weirdo. So I put my thoughts in a box and put them away into a corner of my mind. And I forgot about them.

But the older I got, the more I thought about it and the more I understood. I began reading about different sexualities, stuff I’d never heard before. In my teenage years there were the „normal“ ones and the „odd“ ones, meaning gays and lesbians. The two words were thrown around as insults and I did cry more than once when this guy asked me if I’m a lesbain. And because of my short hair as well. I cried several times afterwards as well. And thinking back now I wish I knew what I know now.

The first time I cried because I thought „is that what the guys think? That I’m a lesbian? Is that why I don’t have a boyfriend?“ which is just plain stupid. I’m sorry, younger self, but it’s not. You didn’t have a boyfriend because they were all idiots. But at that time, when you were a girl you had to have a boyfriend.

The times I cried afterwards was because of another reason: insecurity and being unsure of yourself. Remember how I packed away my thoughts and feelings? Well, they were coming back up. I wasn’t sure of myself anymore, I was afraid of being the odd one, the one standing out, the one being different. I had a bad time, but brushed it aside. My last school year wasn’t a happy one. Well, most of my time at school wasn’t a happy one and I’m so glad I’m out of it, but that’s a whole other story.

Fast forward to the present. I’m now 23 years old, I moved away from home, I’ve learned a lot about the world and myself. I still don’t know who I am but I’ve taken big steps in getting there. I’ve learned to accept myself and to listen to others, especially those who aren’t the default. I have a boyfriend. People automatically assume I’m straight. Just because we’re a woman and a man, does that mean we both have to be straight?

So, what do I want to say with all of this? Straight is the default. Everyone automatically assumes you’re straight just by looking at you. Straight=normal is edged so deeply into our brains, we have to unlearn it, by repeating it, by convincing ourselves that not being hetero is a good thing. It’s a hard process and, in my case, contained a lot of tears and doubts and being afraid and I’m sure there will be more of these in the future. Straight being the default is so bad for people, especially younger ones who go through unsure times anyways. You’re being told by society that being straight is normal and everything else isn’t and it has taken me years to accept that I’m not straight but I’m still normal. The thing is, I have no idea how to label myself. There are so many possibilities and I’m not sure if one of them feels right. Mostly, because I’m still so unsure of myself. But that’s okay, I guess. At least, I feel comfortable that way. I just am. And I wouldn’t be where I am now without the people who have constantly helped me, knowingly or not. My parents for accepting me, the friends I could confide in.

To sum up my ramblings: Straight is the default, but it shouldn’t be. It is harmful in so many ways. But what I want everyone to know is this: You’re okay just the way you are. You might not feel that way now, but you are. You’re okay and you and your feelings are valid. I hope you can accept yourself and if you’re in an unfriendly/unsafe environment, I hope you’ll get out. Society is a shithole that makes you doubt and gives you shit, but there will always be people who care and who help and eventually, you will be okay.

I just don’t want anyone to be alone in figuring life out, not if they don’t want to be. There’s other people not being sure about shit in life, there are others who want to help you. You’re not alone.


And because books have helped quite a lot, both in understanding myself and keeping me company, I want to show you some of my favourite LGBT+ books.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

gay, bi, lesbian

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.
Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.
Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.
Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep. (goodreads)

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

bi, ace (& aro?)

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined. (goodreads)

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

bi

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.
Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.
Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.
The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families‘ abilities—before the Gray devours them all. (goodreads)

Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green

gay

In the town of Newsands, painfully shy Alex is abandoned by his two best friends for the summer. But he unexpectedly lands a part-time job at Wonderland, a run-down amusement arcade on the seafront, where he gets to know the other teen misfits who work there. Alex starts to come out of his shell, and even starts to develop feelings for co-worker Ben… who, as Alex’s bad luck would have it, has a girlfriend.
Then as debtors close in on Wonderland and mysterious, threatening notes start to appear, Alex and his new friends take it on themselves to save their declining employer. But, like everything in Wonderland, nothing is quite what it seems… (goodreads)

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

ace (questioning)

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.
Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish. (goodreads)

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

bi, gay

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.
Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? (goodreads)

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

bi, lesbian

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.
Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe. (goodreads)

I was born for this by Alice Oseman

trans, bi

For Angel, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friend Juliet, her dreams, her place in the world.
Jimmy owes everything to The Ark. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band with his mates is all he ever dreamed of doing.
But dreams don’t always turn out the way you think, and when Jimmy and Angel are unexpectedly thrust together they find out just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be. (goodreads)


And these are some of my favourites. Which LGBT+ books do you love? Which make you feel seen?


Until next time,

  1. Great post! I totally agree that straight shouldn’t be the default. I think books could really help to change this. I didn’t know that Sorcery of Thorns has LGBT+ characters, that makes me even more interested in the books. I recently read The Long Way to a Small Planet, it’s a comforting read with many LGBT+ characters!

    1. thank you!! ♥ Books are a small step towards it, I believe. And no, it shouldn’t be, but it’s so deep down in people that even LGBT+ people often question themselves. It’s a long way to accepting who you are (at least t was for me and many others I know of)…
      Yes, Sorcery of Thorns is amazing!! It’s one of my all time favourite books.
      And I really want to read Long Way to a Small ANgry Planet, it’s been on my tbr for 500 years 😀

  2. I don’t feel like I could say anything, so I just want to tell you that this is a great post and that I’m sorry for the struggles you’ve been through. ♥ (Ah, yeah, and that at least two books on your list are on my wish list BECAUSE OF YOU. :D)

    When it comes to LGBT+-books, I just don’t read enough of some (mostly because I don’t buy books this often and I don’t read this much atm but that’s no excuse). I like imon but everybody does and I also liked „If I Was Your Girl“ by Meredith Russo. And I also have the urge to mention „Auf der anderen Seite der Sterne“ by Liv Modes because it was written by a friend of mine and I totally loved the love story.

    Love, Dana

    1. thank you! Thank you so much! ♥
      Alice Oseman & Jen Wilde’s books are always a good choice. I love both their books so so much, they are very dear to me 🙂
      I really, really want to read all of Meredith Russo’s books and I’m ashamed of myself that I haven’t done so yet. If you ever need more recs, feel free to ask. Or check out people like Kai (fantasticbooksandwheretofindthem on instagram) who always have amazing recommendations as well!
      Love,
      Kat

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