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Member Spotlight: Molly

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Each month, we invite DBC members with a connection to our theme to share their personal experiences with us. Interested in sharing your story with the DBC community? Email us at diversebooksclub@gmail.com.


 

DBC Member Spotlight

Molly

@readmollyread

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Please introduce yourself to our members.

Hello everyone! I’m Molly, @readmollyread on Instagram, and I use she/her pronouns. I grew up carrying a book with me wherever I went and, now that I’ve recovered from a serious case of literary burnout after completing my undergrad degree last winter, I’m back to my bookworm ways. I currently work as a research assistant at the intersection of criminal justice and public health and I am deeply passionate about health justice, patient advocacy, and biomedical ethics. When I’m not reading or working, you can catch me watching the most recent season of Survivor, rooting for the Boston Celtics, or trying to keep up with way too many podcasts.

Why is this month's topic near and dear to your heart?

When I was 15 years old, I wrote my parents a letter telling them that I was gay. I am incredibly grateful that they reacted positively to my revelation and that sharing this part of myself with those closest to me has changed my life for the better. However, my path to ‘coming out’ was not easy. I spent much of the year prior struggling to figure out what it meant to be gay, if I actually was, and how being gay would impact my life. Until that point, my family had lived in a tiny, conservative community in rural New Hampshire for many generations. This small town was in no way a hotbed of social liberalism or open mindedness. In fact, I knew only one openly gay adult throughout my entire childhood and recall many people making hateful, homophobic remarks about her presence in the community. Though I never doubted my family’s love for me, the social climate of the community in which we lived made me fear that they wouldn’t accept me. I was scared, confused, and alone. I was lucky to have access to a few helpful resources during this time, not the least of which was books. A handful of young adult titles that gave me a look into the experiences of teens similar to myself, made me feel less alone, and gave me the courage to embrace my identity. In retrospect, I realize that what these books offered was representation, and that representation can open the door to understanding and acceptance. This notion of representation and the vital role it played in my own self-discovery process is why I am excited about the DBC’s focus on LGBTQA+ books this month and why I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my story.

Have you read any of our December selections: Giovanni's Room, We Are Okay, and George? Please share your thoughts!

I have only read We Are Okay and can tell you that I absolutely loved it. In fact, I devoured it in one sitting, cried the entire time, and then told everyone I know that they have to read it. Interestingly, my reaction was only partially due to the queer aspects of the story, which I think is part of the book’s brilliance: it is a story with queer love, but it is not a story about queer love. Don’t get me wrong: it is important to have stories that truthfully represent things like queer romance, self-discovery, and coming out. However, it is also important to have stories that extend beyond those familiar tropes. There is so much more to a person who is queer than their queerness and I think LaCour does a beautiful job of conveying that in We Are Okay.

There are very few queer main characters for young people to connect to. Who were your literary heroes as a kid?

My childhood literary heroes were mostly quirky and intelligent girls. Think Junie B. Jones, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Matilda. I have never had any queer literary heroes, unfortunately, but I would like to give a shout out to the authors who write queer literature. They tell important stories about queerness that, once released into the world, become a source of comfort, connection, and education for queer and non-queer readers alike. I think that is pretty heroic!

What additional LGBTQA+ reads or resources would you recommend to our readers?

I would encourage members looking for more LGBTQA+ reads to seek out literature written by queer authors. Queer authors are able to use their lived experience to write authentic stories and characters which decreases the likelihood of encountering negative and harmful stereotypes. Supporting queer authors also increases the visibility of queer authors, which allows for more queer authors to write more queer literature. So really, it’s a win-win situation.

The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQA+ youth via a 24-hour hotline, education resources, and training for youth and adults. A few other organizations that are doing important work in the LGBTQA+ community include the Audre Lorde ProjectKeshet, and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

Is there anything else you'd like our members to know?

You might remember that one summer day in 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage and a bunch of your Facebook friends put a rainbow filter on their profile picture. That was a big moment for the LGBTQA+ community but it did not mark the end of the oppression of queer people in the U.S. and worldwide. In the U.S. alone, violence and discrimination against transgender people is steadily increasing; only nine states have legislation banning conversion therapy; men who have sex with men are still banned from donating blood; and 28 states have no legislation preventing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. These are only a few of the very real issues impacting the LGBTQA+ community today but are enough to prove that the fight for justice is not over. I would encourage DBC members to join this fight by supporting people in your life and community who identify as LGBTQA+, taking a stand against all forms of discrimination, and continuing to expand your knowledge of queer people’s lived experiences. And, if you identify as LGBTQA+ and feel comfortable sharing your story, please do -- there’s no tool stronger than your own voice!