We were asked by Charlie at Stripes Publishing to be a part of the blog tour for Proud. Blog Tours are not something we get involved with a whole bunch anymore, but how could we pass up the opportunity to talk about one of our favourite books of the last year?
When we were approached to join in with this wonderfully lengthy blog tour, we got thinking right away, and the post that best suited the both of us was to talk about what Proud means to us.
We both have different reasons for loving this book, and different opinions of the stories and reasons again for loving each of them. We want to talk individually about our thoughts on Proud, what it means to us and why we think your should pick it up!
Even before Proud was released, I was ridiculously excited about reading it. We did a read-along of another of their anthologies, A Change is Gonna Come, (a wonderful book by BAME authors) a couple of years ago and loved the focus on inclusivity that Stripes Publishing had. The fact that this book was written and illustrated by LGBTQ+ voices is something very close to my heart as it is so important to have own voices championed.
This book means a lot to me because of the spotlight it gives to those who are often marginalised. I LOVE that there is a mixture of known authors and new authors – Stripes put out a call for people to submit a short story for the anthology. The amount of inclusivity means a lot to me too because it has such great representation of all different identities. It’s actually a good learning curve for all – we try to do a lot on our blog for LGBTQ+ representation but of course we don’t know everything! Reading stories of identities I have never seen in a story before is truly brilliant.
I’m very comfortable with my sexuality and have been for a while now but I know it can be hard sometimes when you first question it and I know others who find it very difficult. A lot of it depends on our interactions and our environment I think and anytime there is something in the mainstream which positively represents LGBTQ+ identities, I think we should be proud of it and voice our support. It’s important to talk about gender and sexuality, especially since there are so many who are still discriminated against often just because of one part of their identity.
I’ll talk about my favourite stories and poems in the book during our read-along but there are some truly wonderful and such unique stories! Some of them are so different to anything I have ever read and I adored them.
I knew from the moment it was announced that the Proud anthology would mean a lot to me. Personally, i don’t really associate with many aspects of being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I am proud of who i am, i’m proud to be pansexual, and demisexual, and i’m proud of the achievements that the LGBTQ+ community have made in the previous years.
However, i’m not huge on talking about my sexuality, less so in the last couple of years. I came out when i was in secondary school, so i was 16 when i came out to my family and friends. That’s pretty early on i think to make such a statement about yourself. That means i spent a few of my teenage years talking about being LGBTQ+ and shouting from the rooftops about. As i hit my twenties, i will still tell people that i’m in the LGBTQ+ community if i’m asked, however, i’ve become a lot more reserved about talking about my sexuality. To the point it sometimes makes me feel awkward. This sounds ridiculous considering we run an LGBTQ+ book club (which i love) and champion diverse reads. But it’s true for my personal life, not so much my reading life, i still love to read about LGBTQ+ characters and try to find myself in them.
So when Proud was announced, i had a sudden burst of feeling included in something. Which i think was a lot of the issue why i was feeling so off about talking about LGBTQ+ things. But all of a sudden, i felt included, and noticed, and a part of something that i never thought i would be. Proud means to me inclusion. I feel noticed from this book and i can talk about it in such a way where i connect to the stories and feel proud of the community, but behind the safety of a book.
To me, i guess Proud has given me a way to get back in to the LGBTQ+ community and start talking again like i am a member. Proud means that i’m included and that i’m a part of something that i was struggling to find my way back to. Whilst reading Proud, i had feelings that i hadn’t felt since i was a teenager. So it means an awful-lot to me in terms of who i am and what it has helped me realise.
If you need another reason to pick up Proud after all of that, we have a read-along starting TOMORROW, that’s Monday the 11th of March of Proud. We will be reading one story a day from the book and talking about it over on our Twitter. We hope you can come join in the conversation and get involved with everything that’s happening.
A read-along for us felt like the best way to promote Proud, it’s inclusive to everyone and brings the reading community together, just like Proud does. We will be discussing Proud as our book club book of the month on the 29th of March in Chapter One Books, Manchester. Come join us at 7pm for a chat about it! Alternatively, if you can’t make it to book club, the read-along is open to absolutely everyone! So you can still join in.