Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Pride Month: The Need for the Coming Out Story

In the past I have made my thoughts and opinions of the coming out story very clear; they are not particularly my favorite story to read/watch/listen. I even wrote an essay on my issue with the coming out story and how I feel it is an overused plot for lgbt+ fiction and how the genre needs to move away from that plot so that lgbt+ characters can be treated as something beyond coming out as gay.

Today though I want to say something different; although I still have the same feelings concerning the coming out plot in lgbt+ fiction, I want to talk about how the coming out plot is important to readers of lgbt+ books as members of the lgbt+ community or as a loved one of someone who is lgbt+.

It Happens to Everyone in the Community

Coming out as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Asexual, or Queer (if I missed a form of sexuality I’m sorry, things just keep on getting added and I don’t keep myself as updated as much as I use to) is something that every member of the LGBTQA has the opportunity to go through.

The story is different for each person; coming out can have negative consequences; I’ve read and heard stories of teenagers being thrown out of their homes or disowned by their families because they’re not straight. In some worst case scenarios it has lead to said person taking their own life. It’s a scary realistic fear every person who’s not straight (I don’t feel like typing LGBTQA right now) has in their mind.

In the past based on what I’ve been told by older friends, the option was never to come out to family members. Just live their romantic/sexual lives in secret and in a sense catfish your loved ones into thinking you just haven’t found the ‘right member of the opposite sex’. Although this solution seems like the easiest one, it’s not the right one. It’s not good to hide and lie to your loved ones, even if the end result wouldn’t be a happy one, it’s better that they know the truth. Atleast it’s better than them finding out via accidentally catching you watching gay porn.

Not all coming out stories end in hurt, some families and friends are happy and supportive of those who come out. If the coming out story, both in reality and the media, has done anything for everyone, it’s given us a form of normality. It has taken the dreaded confession of what a person is and weakened the possible reaction of hate. It has helped turn hatred towards someone for not being straight into understanding, support, and joy. Or atleast reduce the amount of homeless gay teens (hopefully).

It’s a Coming of Age Story

The coming of age story is a story where the protagonist goes from youth to adulthood. I’m not saying coming out as gay makes you a responsible adult ready to take on life, but things do change and your world is shifted.

What better plot to a coming of age story than to have your protagonist come out as gay? It could be the central plot to a story where the protagonist spends most of the book wondering what will happen once they come out as gay and suffering anxiety because of it. Or coming out can work as a macguffin where it simply serves the purpose to get the plot going and your protagonist doing things.

At the end of the story the protagonist will have changed, hopefully for the better (unless the author is Orson Scott Card). The protagonist can either have a very nice happily ever after, or a very vague unknown open ended outcome.

It Can Give Courage, Discussion, and Understanding

The first time I learned of the concept of being gay I was eight. I didn’t think it was a big deal, just a little off. Then puberty hit me; I hoped and prayed that it was just a weird phase I was going through. I thought that being weirded out by two men kissing a little was enough to prove I was straight to myself and supported my hope that I was going through a weird phase.

There wasn’t much LGBTQA media aimed towards teenagers (that I knew of) in the early 2000’s to 2008 so I didn’t have access to coming out stories until I was more or less an adult. I did have the internet through, access to Japanese manga, and an older friend who took the time to listen to me.

These stories that vary from worst, best, and okay reactions to coming out as LGBTQA. They can give someone who is going through what I and others went/are going through courage to talk to their parents, family, and friends and discuss what is going on with them in their life, and these discussions even lead to weeding out who’s a real friend and who’s a fakeass bitch. I can’t guarantee to every person reading or watching a coming out story that things will have a ‘Kurt Hummel being embraced by his dad’ reaction, but it can always, hopefully, open the door for discussion and the ability to face the fear of the unknown.

Bisexuality is Real, Don’t be an Asshole About It

Many people say that bisexuality is someone who doesn’t want to come out as gay or something for people who just like to sleep around with both genders. Don’t be one of those assholes please. Be supportive of your friend or loved one who knows that they do love both genders.

Part of My Own Story

There are two versions of my coming out story; the one for school and the one for home. The one for school was the shitty one; shortly afterward being outed I was harassed by a classmate for two and a half years (I think he dropped out of college and has a kid now. I gave him the wrong answers to a final exam so he didn’t graduate on time).

Coming out at school was done because Melissa Richardson outed me. Melissa Richardson is a fake ass cunt who loves the band Bowling for Soup. I will say thank you to her for allowing genuinely kind and loving people into my life who were nice to me during my time of being shunned by my peers. I hope whatever version of Christianity you’ve made up for yourself this year is to your liking. The mantra of “this shit is over after May 2008” played in my mind until I got my diploma from highschool, hugged my dearest friends (I’m sad to say I lost touch with all of them), and left those who wronged me to the rest of their lives.

Coming out at home started with my cat because you have to practice with someone who can’t judge you too harshly. Eventually though the first human family member I admitted this to was my brother. I don’t remember why but I was feeling okay that particular friday night. I asked my brother something, he replied with a asshole remark, I brushed it off as whatever. I was eventually called back into the room and he hugged me telling me I was loved. I don’t know if it’s because two years of being a youth leader at our church gave him good observation skills about me not being at my happiest, or if somehow my low key status at school (look there were over 1000 students my graduating year, even with what I provided above I did go through four years being very low on the social radar) had somehow gotten to him.

He was very understanding, I think it’s because he was taking both psychology and sociology at the time. He did warn me that our parents were suspicious of my sexuality and to not come out by accident. That it would be better to come out in person.

The December of that year I told my dad I was gay; it was a scary morning for me, and the biggest relief in my life. I was still loved by my dad, I wasn’t thrown out, I wasn’t told it was a phase in life, I suspect he may have secretly prayed to God to make me straight or send ‘the right girl’ for me, or that this was a sign I was supposed to join the priesthood (I don’t understand why older catholics are trying to get so many people to become priests. Fuck that shit). Over time I’m sure he accepted it.

My mother found out via literary gay porn (yes my porn is in ebook format, no it’s not Fifty Shades, I can do better than that). It ended as well as it sounds.

Your Story Will be Different

I’m aware my story was more or less a walk in the park compared to others. While I did have a shitty time at school, my home life was more or less the same. To the teenager reading this little blog right now who is scared not knowing what they are, please take time to sort things out mentally and talk to a school counselor or someone you really trust about your struggle. You will know when you are ready (also for the love of everything sacred do not let porn of all things out you).

To the teenager who is aware they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, asexual, or queer, I can’t guarantee things won’t be happy when you come out. Every situation is different, I have no end all perfect solution to this problem that doesn’t involve brain slugs or corgis. If you are planning to come out to your parents and fear being thrown out, please make precautions and make sure someone will be able to help you in a bad situation. There is also always hope that your parents or guardians will be understanding of the situation and totally accept you as is. And please, please, please do not consider suicide as an option should things go wrong. It’s not a solution. If you are feeling scared about your current situation please contact the National Suicide Prevention HotlineThey even have part of their website devoted to you.

To the Minority of LGBT+ that are Christian and unsure of if it is a sin, it’s not and Jesus loves you regardless of who you love, unconditionally. There are others like you that believe in God too, I’m one of them.

You Will Always be Coming Out

Something I’ve learned since coming out in the first place is that you are forever doomed to be coming out. While coming out to your family and friends is the main milestone in life, you will always end up coming out; it will either be to a homophobic person talking shit about gay people, it will be to new friends who haven’t realized you’re not straight, it will be to someone your friends set you up on a date with not realizing you’re not straight, it will be to whatever eventually replaces Facebook in the future of social media and you gotta answer what you are interested in for relationship purposes.

And finally you will come out to the person who matters the most to you, your future spouse. The one you want to love the most for the rest of your life.

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Pride Month: Interview With the Wagner

Continuing with LGBT Pride Month this week I was fortunate enough to have an interview with Cody Wagner, author of The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren last night.

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BaS- Today on Books and Smizmars we have a special guest, author of the award winning book The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren Cddy Wagner

Cody-Hi! I’m also known as Cody. JK

BaS-That damn keyboard, how are you today?

Cody-Lol I’m doing good! Just worked out and had my protein shake. So life is good. (I only workout for the shake.)

BaS-I’ve never had the shake. lol

Cody-Oh I tried a bunch of different ones (some really bad) before finding one I liked.

BaS-well that’s good

Cody-Also: Thanks for interviewing me! I’m Super excited.

BaS-I’m super excited you said yes! Right then, so where did you come up with The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a SIren (TGTGtDaS)

Cody-There’s a facebook post: “He said Yes!” Well I always knew I wanted to write a YA LGBTQ book. I just didn’t know what it would be about. Some ideas were in my head (the most prominent was sorta like that Diary of a Wimpy Kid) but nothing really appealed to me. So I actually wrote a completely different manuscript. Then, one night, I was talking to my sister about Greek Mythology and we got into the Siren. Somehow, this question randomly came up: you think gay guys were immune to the Siren’s song? And that actually kick-started the book. Funnily enough, we were just joking around but the idea stuck with me. And the rest of the book fell into my head. The next day, I ditched my other manuscript and started working on TGTGtDaS

BaS-That’s awesome! It is an interesting way to come up with a story. If you don’t mind, what was the synopsis of the other book? Was it similar?

Cody-Lol It’s not even a little bit similar. Whereas TGTGtDaS is a YA LGBT, the other is adult dystopian mixed with literary history. It’s essentially about a desperate man who tries to create a religion. I honestly don’t know exactly how to categorize it, but there you go. WHen TGTGtDaS is finished, I will be hopping back onto it.

BaS-Good to hear, I look forward to it when TGTGtDaS is finished. How was TGTGtDaS witten? Was it planned or made up as you went along?

Cody– So writers are sometimes designated as “pantsers” or “planners”. Pantsers fly by the seats of their pants and make it up as they go. Planners plan things out. I’d say I fall somewhere in the middle. I’ve tried just sitting down and writing. But, oh man, did I write some garbage! I have to begin with some direction. So I typically have a loose outline telling what each chapter is about (in just a few sentences.) Then I go in and blow them out. I don’t plan too much more than that because there’s this cool thing that happens: sometimes, characters take over the story and they end up doing something different than you expected.

BaS- I’ve heard that happen with a few authors.

Cody-Admittedly, book 2 was a bit different. I didn’t have every chapter planned out. I only had the next one or two chapters in my head and that’s it. The rest of the book ahead of that was blank.

BaS-oh wow

Cody-I think a more practical way to put it is that when you’re writing a scene, you’re immersed in the emotion that can cause things to play out differently. Yeah. Book 2 was EXTREMELY difficult for me. I always thought sequels would be easier. They definitely are not.

BaS-I believe you. Just getting one book finished is exhausting, then you gotta do it again!

Cody-Yep, exactly! And you have to market as .well.

BaS-ah. What influences went into writing TGTGtDaS

Cody-You mean who/what influenced the story?

BaS-Correct

Cody-Yes! I understood correctly! Ok I have to give a shout out to Harry Potter. It definitely played a part. In TGTGtDaS, the main character, Blaize, is sent off to a boarding school that is *very* different than it appears. It’s not a school of witchcraft or anything, but the feel is similar in that Blaize’s real home is at school. I also loved that, although there are sad/serious moments, Harry Potter also has times of joy. I wanted that in this book. While Blaize goes through some awful stuff, he also has a lot of fun. I also have to say that young me (trademark pending) influenced the book. I grew up in a tiny homophobic town. And I wanted to give young me an escape so I wrote the book for him. Honestly, the book is for all those kids like me, the ones who wanted to be themselves but weren’t able to. I’ve had several reviewers say the book reminds them a bit of gay Harry Potter and I think that’s the highest compliment.

BaS-I actually did get a Harry Potter vibe from it based on it being a boarding school with fun shenanigans happening.

Cody-SWEET!

BaS-Par of me did also wonder if there was a bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in there based on the title.

Cody-Oh Really? Interesting. I’ve never actually seen the show.

BaS-It was a great show, it’s not on Netflix anymore.

Cody– I have tons of friends who loved it. I’ll have to ask the ones who read the book if they also saw similarities.

BaS-Great! Why did you choose to have TGTGtDaS as a YA book?

Cody-Because I really wanted to give something to younger people who might be suffering or questioning or just curious. I don’t try to claim that my book is the be-all-end-all. But I’m just trying to show that gay kids are like everyone else. That’s one thing I worked really hard at with TGTGtDaS. I didn’t want a book about gay teens. I wanted a book about teens who just happened to be gay. And they go through the same stuff everyone does. I also deal with bullying as it’s something I dealt with as a kid. Bullying sucks (when I was a kid, older guys raised me up a flagpoles by my belt loop!!!). But looking back, I saw that it really does get better. And I want to try to convey some of that to teens.

BaS-I actually did notice you spent more time on the cast as regular teens rather than stereotypes, THANK YOU! And holy crap a flagpole? That’s actually physically possible and not something on tv?

Cody-You’re welcome, I’m basically a 14-year-old myself sooooo. Oh my belt loop broke like 10 feet up. Luckily I grabbed the pole and managed to slide down.

BaS- that sounds slightly less painful than falling onto concrete.

Cody-Very much yes! But imagine sliding down into the waiting arms of bullies. It was like slow motion. Maybe one day I’ll write a story about it.

BaS-oh dear, that does sound pretty awful.

Cody-I think those experiences can make us better people. More sympathetic or just kinder. I’m definitely not saying I’m perfect. But I’m actually glad it happened in a way.

BaS-Understandable. Now that you bring that up, there is a character named Jimmy who is bullied by two of his peers, was he your outlet for the events that happened to you?

Cody-Yes. Blaize is my outlet for wanting to be popular. Oh man, I thought being popular would solve all my problems. I put those jocks on a pedestal in high school. And I really wanted to have Blaize deal with that. Regarding bullying, Jimmy is definitely my bullying outlet. He feels a lot of things I did. It was cathartic writing that and watching Jimmy come around. Honestly, I started the book with the intention of making Jimmy unlikable. But then I felt what he was going through and he grew into probably my favorite character in the book. He actually changed as I wrote him.

BaS-It was an interesting form of character development to read through. You already answered this, but to continue on the subject, is there any of you in Blaize?

Cody-Oh very much yes. He’s goofy and unsure, just like I was. And he has lots of mouth diarrhea like I used to. On the other hand, though, I was a VERY oblivious teenager. I think it’s what got me through. And I was also very self-involved. Blaize is actually pretty intuitive and aware of his faults (even if he doesn’t fix them). That’s very different from how I was.

BaS-To be fair I think most teens are still oblivious, it must be the hormones.

Cody- That’s very true! LOL

BaS-ANy real life inspirations for other characters in your book (besides Hermione)?

Cody-As I mentioned, Jimmy is based on someone from my childhood. Also, Molly (Blaize’s little sister) is loosely based on my sister. We just talked about kids being oblivious, but my sister was the exception. So hyper aware and extremely sensitive. And I pulled that into Molly. I just love her. As you noticed, Cassie is loosely based on Hermione. I think some differences will come out in book 2 (#spoileralert LOL :)). Surprisingly, Roze isn’t really based on a specific person. I just knew what I wanted her to be and gave her characteristics to match.

BaS-How nice! Does your sister know that Molly is based on her?

Cody- Hmmmm…I don’t think so, actually. That’s because Roze originally had my sister’s name in a very early draft and I ended up changing it. So she’s bitter LOL.

BaS-oh dear! Better get a new character to fix that up! JK

Cody- LOL! In the first draft, every character was named after someone I knew. Then I went back and changed them all. I think she’d be happy knowing Molly is based on her.

BaS-I’m sure she would. The next few questions are going to be a little bit about the world of TGTGtDaS, if there are spoilers just say so.

Cody-Sounds good!

BaS-Does anyone besides the main protagonist Blaize and his friends know about the mysterious Siren?

Cody-Oh gosh. Well, I think, by the end of book one, readers strongly suspect the school knows. That’s probably obvious. But that is addressed in book 2. I just can’t say how. Yet. Mwhahahaha!

Bas-I’m gasping in shock!

Cody-Lol! I’m sensing some sarcasm? If not, um, sorry!

BaS-It’s a little bit of actual response and sarcasm lol.

Cody-Lol I just have a big mouth! And I have to be careful. For reals. I’ve been known to just blurt out horrible spoilers. That’s how I’m like Blaize.

BaS-oh dear, maybe you should troll your fans by giving outrageous unlikely events in place?

Cody-OH OK here goes: At the end of book 2, Blaize wakes up and realizes everything was just a dream!!!

BaS-Funny thing, I had suspected the Harry Potter series would end like that (spoiler, it doesn’t.) Concerning the school, the students do have access to a computer in their rooms, do some students ever use their computers to log onto social media services such as facebook and twitter? It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while lol.

Cody-If Harry Potter had ended like that, I would have thrown my books out the window!!!

BaS-Yikes, that would have killed someone!

Cody- Yeah, so there’s a good question. I don’t dive into it much. Here’s the thing: I have to give a LOT of faith to the students at Sanctuary. Given social media and everything, it would be really hard to conceal the school’s true nature. Especially with hundreds of hormonal teenagers, LOL. But I really want it to seem like, despite their differences, the students know what’s at stake if they “spill the beans.” So I assume they use social media. But they’d post only trvial things. Most, if not all, don’t want people to know they’re in a “healing” school. So they wouldn’t be posting “I’m having cleansing corn today!” LOL That’s why I don’t go into it so much. As they wouldn’t share anything relevant to the story. Does that make sense at all? I will say YouTube becomes more prominent in book 2. But that’s all I’ll say.

BaS- Oh sweet, I love YouTube!

Cody-Yeah I spend way too much time on it.

BaS-Concerning the school, it is said that students will be expelled concerning the secret being revealed; are there any families that are aware of the secret, but sent their children there for other reasons (such as bullying or harassment from a normal school)?

Cody-Oh gosh. Another great question. And one that will be addressed. So I’m trying to think how much to say. The thing is, that’s not going to be dealt with until book 3. So if I don’t answer…well, it will be a while.

BaS-Understandable, final bit of questions concerning the school; Any teachers dating each other, has a student ever been expelled for just having the worst grades, and how good are those healing hamburgers?

Cody-LOL Fun questions! Yes! Teachers are dating. In book one, two teachers hold hands at orientation. I’ve thought some about Adkins and Principal Wolcott. Maybe some details will emerge at some point. No one has been expelled for grades. Again my book takes the liberty in assuming that these kids want to be at Sanctuary so badly they will do enough to stay there…Even if it’s barely enough. Unrealistic? Perhaps. But, I think if sanctuary really existed and provided what it does, the students would REALLY REALLY want to be there. OH! LOL The food is actually based on the cafeteria at Texas Tech University. I ate lunch and dinner there every day for a year. Sometimes it was good. And sometimes it was gross. LOL I’d say the Healing Hamburgers are decent.

BaS-Oh wow, I hope none of the cafeteria workers at Texas Tech put two and two together.

Cody-I’m sure they won’t as that probably describes most cafeterias in the country.

BaS- True; considering many books are being adapted into movies and television shows, how would you feel about TGTGtDaS beng adapted into on or the other and who would be your ideal cast?

Cody-Uh that would be AMAZING. Like truly amazing, because that means people read the book and want more. That’s like the dream. THE DREAM!!! So I thought about the cast and it was really hard thinking of people who fit the characters in my eyes…until… I watched Ben Platt on the Tony’s. He’s the star in a musical called Dear Evan Hansen. And after I saw him: I realized he’s Blaize. He’s the perfect Blaize: endearing, goofy, etc.

BaS- He was also in Pitch Perfect.

Cody-Yep! I didn’t think much of him then, but his performance in Dear Evan Hansen is amazing. And I’m a singer as well so I was really surprised by his voice.

BaS-That’s good to hear, maybe they can sneak in some musical numbers.

Cody-LOL! TGTGtDaS: The Musical, I’m totally down! When Principal Wolcott reveals the true nature of the school, that would be a touching number!

BaS-it would! Just a few more questions before we finish things up.

Cody- OK shoot!

BaS-Who are your favorite authors? DId any of them provide some extra inspiration for TGTGtDaS?

Cody-Not sure, I don’t read. Kidding.

BaS- I was about to throw my laptop across the room in shock!

Cody-John Irving made me want to write. When I read A Prayer For Owen Meany, I was so touched, I decided I wanted to make people feel that way. He’s a beautiful writer. Naturally, I’m also drawn to JK Rowling. She made me bawl in book 7 so I have to give credit where credit is due. She’s also AMAZING at telling back story. I also love Neil Gaiman and his stuff. Also, while their books may not be my favorite, I’m sometimes drawn to authors by their writing style. For example, Jonathan Franzen writes some of the most amazing sentences.

BaS-Very interesting, also fun fact: both JK Rowling and Neil Gaiman have been on The Simpsons.

Cody-Really? Oh that *is* a fun fact! That’s like how you know you’ve made it: when you’re a voice on The Simpsons.

BaS-Yes, maybe one day both of us will end up animated with yellow skin.

Cody- Or I’ll just get jaundice and pretend.

BaS-haha. Finally what can we expect in the second book in TGTGtDaS? Bonus question: will we see you at Texas Teen Book Festival 2017?

Cody- Oh gosh. OK. Well, on a higher level, the book is much faster than book 1. Stuff starts hitting the fan and it never really stops. Especially as Blaize tries to decide if he wants people to know about his new power. Naturally, the Siren kicks up her efforts. How? I can’t say, but it becomes imperative that Blaize stop her. It’s really a cat and mouse game for much of book 2. Also, Blaize may or may not fall for someone. That’s all I can say. Well at this point, I will *definitely* be at the Texas Teen Book Festival. I had *such* a great time last year! It was amazing! One of the best festivals I’ve ever been to.

BaS-Yay! Hopefully I’ll be able to make it too. THank you so much for giving Books and Smizmars your time for this interview.

Cody-Awesome, I hope to see you! You are SOO very welcome! I hope it’s not the last interview as it was super fun! And I hope you have an amazing evening!

BaS-Thank you, to you as well!

That was Cody Wagner author of the YA book The Gay Teen’s Guide to Defeating a Siren. You can visit Cody’s website at http://www.wagner-writer.com/ and his Good Reads page at https://www.goodreads.com/wagner_writer.