Book of the Week – Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

BeautifulMusic“I know this is a radical idea, but people should get to be who they want to be. If you’re going for the top of the charts, all right. A side all the way, go for it. But if I want to play my B side, I should get to play my B side. And only the cool kids listen to B sides” (p. 41).

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (@kirstincm) is a story about Gabe, a transgender high school student. Gabe (whose birth name is Elizabeth) has a cool job as a radio DJ, a supportive best friend and mentor, and big plans after graduation. However, his parents think he’s crazy and his classmates aren’t exactly supportive. Within this story, Kirstin Cronn-Mills creates realistic characters that expose many of the challenges and difficulties faced by transgender individuals. From the first page to the last, readers will cheer on Gabe throughout his journey and look for ways to “let [their own] B sides play”.

For more information about Beautiful Music for Ugly Children check out the author’s website: http://kirstincronn-mills.com

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Book of the Week – Fag Hag

“I was never pret20140403_132109ty in the conventional sense. Hell—I was never pretty in any sense. But I smoked and cursed and made a lot of wisecracks, and for some reason that seemed to attract lots of gay men. Maybe they saw me as the kind of clownish sidekick who’d never try to get down their pants. I certainly saw them as the only kind of men who’d pay attention to me. They were the only ones who liked me for me and didn’t judge me by my face or my boobs. When I got older, I got tired of going to dinner parties alone, so I proposed to one of my gay friends” (Rodi, 270).

It’s a tale as old as time: girl meets boy, boy likes boys, girl drives herself crazy trying to get said boy to notice her. Such is the story of Natalie, the protagonist of Robert Rodi’s novel Fag Hag.

Natalie isn’t always a likable character, but she is a fascinating one. When she falls for Peter, a charming, devastatingly handsome gay man, she falls hard and determines to make him hers. She remains convinced that she can win his affections if she just tries hard enough—and chases any potential suitors away. She is usually successful in this endeavor, until a very different kind of man comes along. He’s not Peter’s usual type—which makes him much harder to shake.

Peter and Lloyd, his new beau, embark together on a journey of self-discovery as they fall deeper in love. Undeterred, Natalie digs in her heels and devises an elaborate plan to snag Peter once and for all. Rather than delighting in Peter’s happiness, she dismisses his contentment as a temporary state and comes up with increasingly risky schemes to make Peter understand, once and for all, that he must be hers.

Readers who enjoy fictional characters they can relate to and/or root for may not appreciate Fag Hag, as Natalie often behaves selfishly and irrationally. The author also has a tendency to rely on broad stereotypes when crafting supporting characters. Overall, though, the book is a fun, quick read for those who enjoy a quirky and occasionally dark page-turner.

Written by Jamie, GLBTSSS Office Supervisor

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Book of the Week – Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships

This month (OpeningUpApril) is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and here at the GLBT Library we are supporting this cause by promoting items that focus on healthy sexuality and relationships. One of the items included in our Library displays is “Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships” by Tristan Taormino. “Opening Up” explores the benefits and challenges of open relationships and helps readers broaden their views on intimacy. Over one hundred women and men were interviewed by the author and their diverse experiences and viewpoints make “Opening Up” incredibly informative.

“Opening Up” is separated into three sections: Section 1- Choosing an Open Relationship, Section 2- Styles of Open Relationships, and Section 3- Creating and Sustaining Your Relationships. A useful resource guide that includes books, websites, groups/organizations, and other related resources is also included.

If you would like more information about Tristan Taormino and her other publications check out her website: http://tristantaormino.com/

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Book of the Week – Lesbian Passion: Loving Ourselves and Each Other

Relationship book20140325_084134s can be a bit of a gamble. Some are timeless, filled with advice that speaks to any generation; some are hokey, filled with catchphrases and designed to sell rather than to advise.

Lesbian Passion: Loving Ourselves and Each Other by JoAnn Loulan falls mostly into the first category, offering advice that is relevant to lesbian women of all ages. The book opens by encouraging women to learn to love themselves before all else, to nurture their spirits and take the time to explore their own bodies and learn what excites and pleases them sexually.

I was impressed to see that the author broached some difficult topics that are often ignored except in targeted specialty publications. Loulan is unafraid to speak of issues such as addiction and recovery from childhood trauma. But Loulan also addresses general relationship concerns, such as keeping the spark alive in a long-term relationship and what action to take when a partner feels neglected.

Because the book was published in 1987, some of its contents have become a bit dated. Statistics collected on lesbian behavior have likely changed, and figures on rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) do not reflect current numbers. However, there remains good health information. The author discusses frankly how lesbians can pass along STDs—and how women can prevent them. She reminds women that even though they reside in a low-risk group when having sex with other women, they are still at risk for HIV and AIDS if they don’t use protection. This is especially relevant today, as a woman-to-woman case of HIV transmission was confirmed in February of 2014.

All in all, I would recommend this book to a woman who is looking for general relationship advice rather than current facts and figures. Those who are interested in finding current health information and resources can always contact the GLBT Student Support Services office, where all requests for information and referrals are handled with care and discretion.

Written by: Jamie, GLBTSSS Office Supervisor

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Book of the Week – Branded by the Pink Triangle

“Branded by the Pink Triangle” by Ken Setterington details the treatment and persecution of gay men by the Nazi regime during World War II. In concentration camps, a pink triangle was sewn into the prison uniforms of gay men, in the same way that the Star of David was used to identify Jewish individuals. This book includePinkTriangle_Setteringtons more than just an historic perspective on the brutal treatment of gay men by the Nazis; it also includes personal narratives from survivors. An extensive bibliography is also included which leads readers to other useful resources. “Branded by the Pink Triangle” was a 2014 Stonewall Book Award – Honor Book and is a significant contribution to this area of literature.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic check out these items from the GLBT Library:

 

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The Gay & Lesbian Review has Arrived!

G&LRWe have received our first issue of The Gay & Lesbian Review!

This bi-monthly magazine provides a forum for discussing issues and ideas that are important and interesting to the LGBT community. Topics covered in this magazine broadly include history, culture, and politics. Each issue also contains reviews of books, plays, and movies.

In the March-April 2014 issue you can find articles about camp, drag kings, Harry Chess (the first gay comic hero), and short story author James Purdy. In addition, there are insightful reviews of a few new books including “The Leonard Bernstein Letters” and “The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray”.

Be sure to stop by the GLBT Library and check out this awesome new resource!

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DVD of the Week – Red Without Blue

“I really don’t think that I was born in this world as a man or as a woman. I think the process of changing was the path I was born into.” –Clair Farley

RedWithoutBlue“Red Without Blue” is a groundbreaking documentary that chronicles the lives of two identical twins, Mark and Alex, as Alex transitions from a man to a woman named Clair. Covering a three year period, this film documents the twins’ lives as they work to redefine their family. Through candid interviews, Mark and Clair recount their difficult past and their current efforts to find themselves. As Mark and Clair reassert their bond as identical twins, they also question the normative standards of identity and gender.

The GLBT Student Support Services Office is screening a new film!

Film: What’s the T
When: Thursday, March 6th at 7:30pm
Where: Rose Residence Hall B111, Indiana University

“What’s the T” follows the lives of five transgender women and explores the problems and triumphs they experience on a daily basis. Immediately afterward there will be a small panel to discuss the film’s content and transgender issues at large.

Find out more about the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/656546337735020/?ref=22on

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Books of the Week: LGBTQ Graphic Novels and Comics

Are you interested in learning more about the LGBTQ graphic novels and comics we have available at the GLBT Library? This blog post, and the similar post on the GLBT Student Support Services at IUB Facebook page, highlights this genre and some of our most interesting items.

The first item, “No20140211_113400 Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics”, is a collection of queer comic books, strips, graphic novels, and web-comics that present LGBTQ themes from the perspective of an insider (Hall, Editor’s Note). This collection is not a complete anthology of queer comics. Instead this work provides readers with a starting point within the queer comic genre. The works included in this collection were created by diverse authors with unique perspectives. A brief history of queer comics is presented as well as a list of additional notable works for interested readers.

Another sub-genre of LGBTQ graphic novels and comics that is massively popular focuses on main characters that are superheroes. In “Northstar”, the superhero and his X-Men teammates battle an evil psychic intent on provoking disasters that will destroy humanity. This item is particularly unique because it includes the historic comic in which Northstar publicly announced he was gay, one of the first superheroes to do so.

20140211_113425The next item, “Are You My Mother” by Alison Bechdel, details the author’s turbulent relationship with her emotionally distant mother. What makes this item especially unique is the author’s use of characters, such as Virginia Woolf and psychoanalytic theorist D.W. Winnicott, to work through the tangles of her past.  Alison Bechdel is also the author of the pivotal series “Dykes to Watch Out For” (http://dykestowatchoutfor.com/)

The last item, “A+E 4ever”, is vastly different from the previous three items and takes the reader on a journey into genderqueer life. This graphic novel explores the love and friendship between Asher (an androgynous guy) and Eulalie (a lesbian girl) as they discover that affection is sometimes ambiguous. “A+E 4ever” was also a 2012 Stonewall Honor Book in Children’s and Young Adult Literature.

Each of these items shows the diverse nature of the LGBTQ graphic novels and comics genre. Items within this genre can focus on superheroes, friendships and romantic attractions, issues with family and friends, historical perspectives of how the genre has changed over time, and a variety of other ideas. If you would like more information about how LGBTQ graphic novel and comic book characters have evolved over time, check out this blog post by Comic Book Resources: LGBT Characters, Themes Throughout Comics History

Be sure to stop by the GLBT Library and browse the 9.850-9.858 call number range for more graphic novels and comics!

 

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DVD of the Week – Fish Out of Water

In an origiFishoutofWaternal and humorous way, Fish Out of Water tackles the seven Bible verses used to condemn homosexuality and justify marriage discrimination. Using animated illustrations as well as discussions with celebrated scholars, Director Ky Dickens shows how these passages are often misinterpreted and misquoted in regard to same-sex relationships.

Through interviews with hundreds of LGBT people, viewers are able to learn more about individual experiences with faith and sexuality. These interviews offer unique viewpoints that span across culture, race, age, socio-economic status, and religion.

Fish Out of Water is an accessible and engaging documentary that discredits conventional arguments of hate and gives a voice to the oppressed.

Find the DVD at the GLBT Library!

Check out the trailer here: http://www.fishoutofwaterfilm.com/trailer.html

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Book of the Week – And the Band Played On

AndtheBandPlayedOnHow was AIDS introduced to the gay community? Why did it spread so quickly? Why did health officials and researchers seem so slow to respond as people died of this disease? The answers to these questions may seem straightforward, but And the Band Played On tells of the political battles, feuds between research groups, lack of knowledge, funding woes, and false starts that helped AIDS spread so rapidly across the United States and throughout the world.

Shilts’s work is occasionally heavy on statistics, but these numbers are essential to help the reader understand the spread and scope of the disease and the sheer number of lives effected. Overall, the book reads more like a novel than a textbook, making it easy to move through in spite of its size (650 pages). While the work focuses on the effect of AIDS on the gay community, it does not ignore the spread of AIDS through blood transfusions, shared needles, or heterosexual contact. Those who remember the AIDS crisis at its most frightening—when the body count skyrocketed but before there was any effective treatment—will remember such milestones as Rock Hudson announcing that he had AIDS or the disease being talked about in news-magazines such as TIME, and this book helps put those events in context historically.

Because this book was written in 1987, its contents may seem lacking, as it focuses on the beginning and height of the American AIDS crisis. AZT, the first truly effective treatment option for people with HIV, is introduced at the very end of the book, and the book makes no mention of more recent treatments or the crisis of AIDS in third-world nations. Therefore, this book should be understood as a historical snapshot rather than an all-encompassing look at the AIDS epidemic.

Occasionally graphic, often moving, and thoroughly sobering, this book is essential for anyone who seeks to understand the spread of AIDS and how it shaped public health policy, the gay community, and sexual politics.

If you’re interested in And the Band Played On, you’d also enjoy We Were Here (available on DVD at the GLBT library) and Bad Blood (on DVD but not in the GLBT library collection).

Written by: Jamie, GLBTSSS Office Supervisor

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