For today’s post, I am excited to feature a guest blog from Lisa Bunker, the author of the LGBT middle grade book Zenobia July (published on May 21st), as part of the “Hear My Roar” Blog Tour. Thank you so much for sharing your advice for young, LGBT readers as well as more about your book!
After the death of her last surviving birth parent, Zen has moved to live with her cool lesbian aunties in Portland Maine, and takes the opportunity to live and attend school as the girl she has always known herself to be. She’s living in stealth, so when someone posts hateful memes on the school website, she has to decide whether to offer her advanced cyber-skills in pursuit of the hacker, despite the risk of premature outing increased attention may bring.
Zenobia July has several characters in it who identify outside the traditional gender binary. What advice would you give to young readers in a similar situation?
Dear Young Human,
If you’ve started to feel that the traditional binaries are too simple to explain the you-ness of you, cool! Welcome to the Rainbow Family! And, may I step in for a second as your temporary Auntie of choice and offer some thoughts?
First and most importantly, in case no one else has said it to you yet (or even if they have): no matter what word(s) you end up using to describe yourself, you are a beautiful human, worthy to love and be loved, exactly as you are. No footnotes, no conditions, no provisos. That’s for always.
Secondly, please, if you possibly can, take your time. Identity is as much a journey as a destination, and exploration and experimentation are definitely part of that journey. Some versions of self you try won’t work out, at least not completely. Don’t worry about it! Breathe! Rest when you need to! It’s all part of the process.
That said, when you do feel sure of next steps, I encourage you to take them as soon as you can. I got through my own transition by neither forcing myself when I didn’t feel ready or holding back when I did. It worked out real-world fine.
One more thing about time: if someone in your life is struggling with understanding who you are, try to give them time too. First reactions don’t have to be final reactions, and if they love you, most humans will try to learn and re-connect. Keep yourself as safe as you can while they’re doing their work, and don’t give up on them too soon.
Third point: you are so not alone. I know it feels that way sometimes, but please, try to remember, there are literally millions of other people like you. They can be hard to find, and you won’t connect in a useful way with every single one you meet, but there are still plenty enough that you should always be able find the connection you need. Friend groups, community spaces (real world and online), family of choice…these are the ways the Rainbow Folk support and uplift each other.
And finally: no single identity-marker defines a human. Of course your gender and orientation are crucial facets of your total being, but they are only facets, and you have so many more: your loving heart, your quirky mind, your particular body, your talents and strengths, your blind spots, your knowledge, your humor, the experience of your life until now. All these and more make you who you are, a precious irreplaceable soul, unique and beautiful.
Hang in there, dear! It truly does get better!
Lisa Bunker lives and writes in Exeter, NH. Zenobia July is her second book; her first, Felix Yz, about a boy fused with alien, came out in 2017. In 2018 she was elected to represent her town in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. She is married and has two grown children. Her geekeries include chess, piano, gender, storycraft, and language. You can learn more about her work at lisabunker.net.
The “Hear My Roar” Blog Tour is spreading the word about three brave and inspiring middle grade books being published this year! You can see previous stops in the tour and follow future posts below:
May 20 – Reed Family Reads – Creative Instagram Picture
May 21 – Tucker the Reader – Review
May 22 – Four Violet Reviews – Craft + Creative Instagram Picture
May 23 – The Quirky Booknerd – Review
May 27 – LGBT YA Catalog – Author Guest Post
May 28 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Review + Moodboard
May 29 – The Nerdy Girl Express – Review
May 30 – thebookishfiiasco – Instagram Picture
MY CORNER OF THE RING
June 3 – Iwanicki Mom & Daughter Adventures in Teaching – Moodboard
June 4 – Bridget and the Books – Review + Why it’s important for girls to have books on girl power
June 5 – Babybibliophile – Creative Instagram Picture
June 6 – The Book Blondie – Playlist Recommendations + Creative Instagram Picture
June 10 – That Reader Girl – Moodboard
June 11 – Eastern Sunset Reads – Listicle: Other books with Strong Females that come out swinging
June 12 – DJ Reads Books – Reflection + Instagram Picture
June 13 – Between the Shelves – Playlist
GIRL WHO SAILED THE STARS
June 17 – 4dogsandanurse – Review + Playlist
June 18 – Two Points of Interest – Review
June 19 – Always in the Middle – Review
June 20 – Bookish Friends and Feline Fancies – Creative Instagram Picture
June 24 – trissinalovesbooks – Review + Creative Instagram Picture + Inspired by the Book: Piano Music
June 25 – Cozybooknook – Creative Instagram Picture
June 26 – Drop and Give Me Nerdy – Creative Instagram Picture
June 27 – DoodleMom’s Homeschooling Life – Review + Listicle