Why Harry Potter Is No Longer Relevant To Me

There was a time period during my earlier youth when I was obsessed with Harry Potter, as were a large majority of children around my age at that point. It began around seven or eight, and lasted up until about 19 or so, for me. I fancied myself an aficionado on all things Harry Potter related, and indeed I was knowledgeable about it in a certain factual sense. However, until The Cursed Child came into existence, as well as the subsequent casting of an actress of color for Hermione, I did not realize how ignorant I had been up until then. After much thought and research, I will explain why this series does not stand the test of time for me.

At the time of inception of this seven book series, matters regarding the LGBTQIA+ community had only really became mainstream in recent years. The Stonewall Inn riots had been a turning point, but there was much ground to be made still in regard to national and international media in the U.S., and worldwide respectively. The Philosopher’s Stone, after all, was published by Bloomsbury in London just a scant three months after Ellen had announced that she was indeed gay, back in 1997. Harry Potter, at its core, is a children’s series that can be enjoyed by all ages. It is, however, a product of its time. One where those who were not what mainstream media expected them to be, would more than likely flop. Ellen’s show, after all, was cancelled shortly after her admission. While that seems a world away, as well as not that long ago, times have changed much since that pivotal year.

In recent years though, J.K. Rowling has been criticized for her lack of diversity in the books, which as an adult well into their 20s, is not lost on me. However, had it been brought up years beforehand, I would not have understood the condemnations properly for what they were, because as has been pointed out, it is not simply about lack of LGBTQIA+ diversity, but of all sorts of missing representation for a series that supposedly has people in it from all over the world.

Moving back to The Cursed Child – it opened in the same month, ironically, 19 years after the first book in the original series had been released. To long time fans, given the casting news it had been a shock to the system, as we all digested the newest lore and content that had been released, albeit knowing that it had not been Rowling who singlehandedly had penned it. While the actors and others who created the play, I have no qualms with, I do however, reserve a certain frustration with the original series author, Mrs. J.K. Rowling herself.

Why, you might ask? Well, it’s plain and simple. Her excuse of the political climate as a reason she did not create a single drop of LGBTQIA+ diversity in the series might have flown back then, but in this day, it is a lack luster one, bordering on insulting. The Cursed Child, which was released in 2016, easily could have been imbued with some of our community’s flair. Was it? Of course it wasn’t, because her ally ship only goes so far as her tweets.

Talk is cheap, they say, and she has done a hefty amount of that in recent years. Back when the series concluded, collectively, the fandom was heartbroken, as it had been a part of our lives for years. That, was understandable. However, if we had known then what we do now, I wish that we had bit the bullet, and thanked her, then moved on our merry way to other books that actually represent a larger portion of her reader base, rather than continuing to harp on the point of wanting more. I owe that time period in large part to what my favorite childhood author has done thus far publicly.

Bear in mind, that I do not believe an author must include LGBTQIA+ people or people of color, various religions, etc. in any work. However, I find it disturbing that given the diversity of the world, that one could wish to sideline or exclude these narratives all together, or add them in after the fact as an aside, rather than have canon text to back the claim up. In that same vein, professing that the only characters who are queer, happen to be a Nazi, and a deeply flawed man? It’s ludicrous, as well as a dangerous message to send to future questioning children, or those who are straight and viewing queer people through media, as well as their own lens. That is a topic for another day though.

So, where does that leave me, a parent, who wishes to pass on only the best of literature to my daughter, who is learning about the world around her, including history of those who came before us? While I have two choices, I can only condone one – shedding the attachments of my earlier years, in hope that I am able to find and boost works that show people of all kinds, rather than exclude them as so many other media forms have done before.

J.K. Rowling and the series of Harry Potter is not inherently bad, and I do still find value in it. Likewise, I did indeed learn from it, both what to do and what not to. However, given the lack of diversity across the board, it is one that I no longer care to uplift.

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One Day At A Time and What It Means To Me

One Day At A Time and What It Means To Me

Disclaimer: First and foremost, because there has been some confusion, I just want to set the record straight and mention that I am not Latinx. I married someone who is, and that is where my last name comes from. It does not bother me that I am confused as someone who is, except that I refuse to falsely portray the narrative of someone I am not. To me doing that is the same thing as stolen valor, which is not okay either. So with that being said, I will continue this ramble.

As a good portion of the universe knows at this point, Netflix announced on Thursday, March 13th, 2019, that it cancelled One Day At A Time. To say that I am heartbroken is probably an understatement, to be honest. This show means so much to my family of three, who have two Latinx individuals in it, excluding myself, as I am Caucasian. However, in a show that was made primarily for Latinx people, I still see myself in the character of Syd, who is the only Enby I have ever encountered in on screen media. Being able to see myself, but also the fact that others found representation for their own lives, is why I am distraught at this decision.

In a world where there seems to be so much geared toward those who are not only straight, but also cisgender persons, finding someone who is transgender on television, much less almost exactly like me, was a profound moment. Likewise, to see someone with not only the same gender as me, but the same pronouns, was life altering. I cried over it, to be honest, because I never thought I would see the day when that would happen. So much of my viewing experience has surrounded seeking myself out in people who are only similar to me in certain aspects. At least that was the case, until Syd. Now that I have experienced this, I am only more insistent that it not be the last time I, or other enbies alike, do.

Whether Lin-Manuel Miranda and every other person who has pitched in pulls off saving this beloved show or not, I will be forever grateful that it allowed me to see myself in a positive light, through the inclusion of Syd. The script could have easily been written differently, as has been done many times before. I can only hope that the networks who may be considering picking up the show understand that beyond Syd, there is so much more to love about One Day At A Time, and that it deserves to dance its way into the hearts of more people for years to come. For now though, all we can do is take life as it comes – one day at a time.

The Weight of Years

The Weight of Years

Nearly two months ago, I sheared off over two feet of my hair. Relief was instant – I felt lighter than I had since I last did that over four years before. The first occasion that my hair was shorn, I equated it to the fact that in my life, I have always had bulky, and at times, disagreeable hair, which necessitates cutting off portions of it to varying degrees every so often. Now, as I’m older, I realize it was much more than that.

With locks that were over half the length of my body, it was difficult to believe that someone would not equate my appearance to a certain binary gender, rather than the way I wish to be seen – otherwise neutral, or non-binary. Dysphoria became the norm, as vulnerability encompassed a part of my mental state, which made each day or social outing that much harder. As each strand descended to the floor, I felt an extra breath of life fill my lungs.

Free from the burden of the weight of years, I have found a peace that only exists within me as I allow myself the room to be who I am, rather than what the world wishes me to be. However, I am far from where I want to be as a whole, but each change helps.

Interview With The Editor Of The Upcoming Nonbinary Anthology ‘X Marks The Spot’

‘X Marks The Spot’ is an anthology being put together by fellow enby, India Kiely. The collection will include various works, such as art, personal essays, and poetry, all from Nonbinary content creators. Each creation will be focused on what the individual creator’s experience with gender means to them. The deadline to monetarily support this project is March 3rd.

Though they are busy with this project and more, India was gracious enough to give me the time of day, as well as the interview below.

Question #1. What sparked the initial idea that led to the creation of this upcoming anthology?

I’ve always been very passionate about representation in the media, and through my own coming out as nonbinary it became very apparent that there is almost none for us. I started my YouTube in part because that was the only place I had ever seen anyone like me – but in the mainstream media, it’s almost nonexistent. So I knew I wanted to do something to change that. And then one night at about 3 am I had the sudden realisation that ‘X Marks The Spot’ would make an excellent pun title for a nonbinary anthology. Everything that’s happened since has come from that one random brainwave.

Question #2. So far, what has the process been like for you as you’ve worked to put this title together?

It’s been an incredible process. At times a little overwhelming – like when my tweet asking for essay submissions went semi-viral and I ended up with over 400 pitches in 48 hours. But overwhelming in the best way possible. When I first started, the submission deadline was a month earlier and I only ended up getting two responses. At that point, I thought maybe the project wouldn’t happen after all and I was prepared for disappointment. That tweet was kind of a last-ditch attempt to save it – I could only dream of getting this kind of response and yet it happened. The best part by far is the number of people who have told me how needed this anthology is, how much it means to them. That alone makes all the work going into it more than worth it.

Question #3. As you looked through the submissions, how did you end up narrowing it down to the ones that will be incorporated into ‘X Marks The Spot’?

Narrowing down the submissions was by far the hardest thing. Every story sent to me was so incredibly personal and moving and I would have included so many more if I could have. Ultimately though, it was so important to me that I be able to pay everyone fairly for their work so I knew I had to get it down to around 30. I cut them down in rounds and in the final round, I made a rough plan of the topics I want to include in the anthology and how each of the essays I had left covered those topics. When some of them covered very similar things, I was left with the really tough choice of trying to pick one of them. At times preference was given to more diverse voices – if we had five coming out stories and only one of them was about coming out in a non-Western cultural background, then I would make sure to include that one and one of the other five, rather than two Western narratives for example.

Question #4. For those Nonbinary content creators who did miss the cutoff, given the overwhelmingly positive reaction you’ve received so far, would you consider creating a Volume 2 in the future so that more may be involved?

I would love to be able to do something like that. I think I’ve made a few mistakes along the way, particularly with managing the Kickstarter and it would be great to have the chance to try again and to be able to learn from those mistakes. Or perhaps when I’ve finished my Creative Writing degree, I could pursue traditional publishing and see if I could put together another anthology with the backing of a publisher to get us an even wider audience. That would be the dream!

Question #5. Is there anything you’d like to say for those considering picking up this title?

If you’ve ever been curious about nonbinary people but don’t want to Google it in case you get the wrong info and don’t want to ask in case you say something rude – this is the book for you. You can get all the information right from us, in a way that we are happy to share it. And if you think maybe you or someone you love is somewhere outside the binary – I hope this will help. There’s an amazing community of us and you’re more than welcome to be a part of it.

Question #6. At this point in time, the goal has been exceeded with the help of 326 donors on Kickstarter, as well as the countless number of those who reblogged on social media. For those who already have, or for those still wishing to help this project gain traction and renown, is there anything you’d like to say to them?

I honestly cannot thank everyone enough for helping us to hit that goal. It means so much to me and to all the voices included in the anthology and to all the nonbinary people who have been sitting watching this happen. To have our stories respected and wanted in this way is incredible. I cannot put into words how much it means and I hope it lives up to the expectation.

Question #7. What do you hope readers across the board, no matter who they are, take away from this book?

That it’s okay to be different. That we don’t have to be frightened of something just because we haven’t heard of it before. And that it’s best to listen, to learn and to love with an open heart. Because I promise you we’re not so different. We just have a different experience of gender than you. We still laugh at the same jokes, enjoy the same foods, say aww at a cute dog. We’re your friends and your family and your colleagues. I think this book will show our differences and our similarities, both inside and outside the community. There’s no one way to be human.

One Day At A Time & Its Non-Binary Representation

Thus far, I have yet to find genderqueer representation in any of the on-screen media that I have consumed. Whether that be because it was so slight as to be unnoticeable, or because there was none to be spoken of, the character of Syd in One Day At A Time is the first time I saw myself on screen. To say that it was a profound moment in my existence, would be accurate.

If you follow me on Twitter, then it is no secret that I am a massive fan of the Netflix television show One Day At A Time. I have been counting down the days since I binged the previous two seasons until I could watch another one. As the third season premiere is one day away, I felt it more than appropriate to discuss my thoughts and feelings on a non-binary character being added to the diverse group of previously established characters. That is why I love ODAAT; the show, which in and of itself is a work of art, also includes non-binary representation within it.

Syd, the aforementioned character, is brought onto the show and introduced in a way that allows for the education of those, who are not familiar with others who utilize “they” and “them” pronouns. As it is a sitcom, there are jokes made, but the heart of it all lies with the respectful execution of this plotline. The fact that the effort was made for someone to accurately portray my existence made this show even better than it had been before Syd existed.

As with all aspects of life, there are some who have raised concerns about Syd being identified as Elena’s girlfriend. Although I can understand why there has been criticism, I also am aware that in my own life, I still have family refer to me as “girl” or “mija”, rather than other words that would describe who I am. I think that this decision is another layer, which adds reality to a show made to represent so many groups of people, whether that be age ranges, ethnicities, or LGBT+ individuals.

While I cannot speak for the other ground-breaking portions of the show that do deserve all of the praise, I do have opinions about Syd. In short, I adore them and acknowledge that their mere presence in the show itself is a sign of the times and a beacon of hope that others notice those of us who are non-binary too. I am grateful to live in an age where One Day At A Time exists. I only hope that other forms of media will take note, and include us for the right reasons too.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own, and I receive no endorsement or monetary gain from this post.

Also, despite the surname I carry, which I adopted upon marriage to my spouse, I am not Latinx, but merely a caucasian LGBT+ person. I lay no claim to the culture, but I still enjoy learning about it, all the same.

Six For Sunday – Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads

Hi everyone!

I came across a blog called ALittleButALot, who hosts the #SixForSunday challenges. I love lists, so I figure I might give it a try, despite my dislike of the number six.

For today’s Six For Sunday Challenge, the topic is favorite LGBTQ+ reads. For my top picks, which will actually number in more than 6, I’ve chosen the following:

  • Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family 
    “When Wayne and Kelly Maines adopted identical twin boys, they thought their lives were complete. But by the time Jonas and Wyatt were toddlers, confusion over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo a wrenching transformation of their own, the effects of which would reverberate through their entire community. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years reporting this story and tells it with unflinching honesty, intimacy, and empathy. In her hands, Becoming Nicole is more than an account of a courageous girl and her extraordinary family. It’s a powerful portrait of a slowly but surely changing nation, and one that will inspire all of us to see the world with a little more humanity and understanding.”
  • Wolfsong by T.J. Klune
    “Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.
    Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road, the boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane.
    Ox was seventeen when he found out the boy’s secret, and it painted the world around him in colors of red and orange and violet, of Alpha and Beta and Omega.
    Ox was twenty-three when murder came to town and tore a hole in his head and heart. The boy chased after the monster with revenge in his bloodred eyes, leaving Ox behind to pick up the pieces.
    It’s been three years since that fateful day—and the boy is back. Except now he’s a man, and Ox can no longer ignore the song that howls between them.”
  • Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
    “Every life has a soundtrack. All you have to do is listen.
    Music has set the tone for most of Zoe Baxter’s life. There’s the melody that reminds her of the summer she spent rubbing baby oil on her stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. A dance beat that makes her think of using a fake ID to slip into a nightclub. A dirge that marked the years she spent trying to get pregnant. 
    For better or for worse, music is the language of memory. It is also the language of love.
    In the aftermath of a series of personal tragedies, Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people—even those she loves and trusts most—don’t want that to happen. 
    Sing You Home is about identity, love, marriage, and parenthood. It’s about people wanting to do the right thing for the greater good, even as they work to fulfill their own personal desires and dreams. And it’s about what happens when the outside world brutally calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts: family.
    Includes a link to listen to or download original songs to your computer
    Music by Ellen Wilber
    Lyrics by Jodi Picoult
    All songs performed by Ellen Wilber “
  • Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
    “Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
    But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
    It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.”
  • Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulhurst
    “Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile kingdoms.
    But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a land where magic is forbidden.
    Now Denna has to learn the ways of her new kingdom while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine, sister of her betrothed.

    When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, they discover there is more to one another than they thought—and soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
    But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.”
  • Picture Us In The Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
    “Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realizes there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined. Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan. When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed façade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.”
  • Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
    Summary for Six of Crows only to avoid spoilers – “Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
    A convict with a thirst for revenge.
    A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
    A runaway with a privileged past.
    A spy known as the Wraith.
    A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
    A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
    Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
  • All For The Game Series by Nora Sakavic
    “From Book 1: Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.
    Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.
    But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.”
  • The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater
    “From Book 1: Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.
    His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.
    But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.
    For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”