My first instinct was to write this post about what it was like to be back home in Mississippi for winter break. Though I love being close to my family and back in the place that I think of as home, my life there is very different than the one I have at school in Boston. Being in Mississippi prompts unique stresses and concerns, and I spend a lot of my time there being hyperaware of myself and my gender presentation.
One recent example: I needed a haircut, and I found myself trying to research, and then divine via Facebook pages and websites, which salons would be least likely to be overtly homophobic, give me a feminine haircut, or charge me double for a “woman’s” cut despite my incredibly short hair (points of concern listed from most to least stressful). It turned out fine; I spent my morning in a salon with a wall dedicated to lovely wedding photos of the owner and his husband, but what should have been a relatively easy process became something else entirely. Some folks might suggest that my stresses at home are rooted in outdated paranoia, but my caution is built from experience, personal and communal, and from years of being able to pass, watching and listening quietly as people said and did what they might not have if they knew a queer person was in the room.
In any case, the strange tension between feeling at home and feeling alien felt worth exploring more, but I quickly got tired. There is a temptation for me, when writing or speaking about what it’s like to be queer, to focus on the struggles. This temptation has only been made stronger this year, which has been pretty bleak for most of the people in my life, including my queer family.
I am in need of a break, and I am sure I am not the only one. Last week, a friend of mine asked me if I had any recommendations for articles, essays, or books describing what it’s like to be a lesbian. Shocker, I did. I am, and have been my entire queer life, an avid consumer of queer books and queer media generally. Growing up, it was my window into a world where I had community and it served as a reminder that I was not alone. Now, I am lucky to have a strong queer community on my campus, with Point Foundation, and from my work in college and before law school. Still, queer media provides a much-needed source of hope and solidarity. There is power in representation, and, especially this year, there is something wonderful about being reminded of the strength and breadth of queer community and of the joy being queer can bring.
In that spirit, as all of us continue working and supporting each other, I’m offering up a list of the five pieces of queer media that gave me the greatest joy this year. The list has been shaped by law school, which serves as a real and frustrating barrier to my queer media consumption, so some of these are a few years old.
It’s a mix of non-fiction, young adult fiction, and poetry, with a web series thrown in for good measure. I read one with my tiny, week-old niece in one arm, another on an airplane during a particularly rough period. My friends and I watched Carmilla in my living room, snacking and cheering and not caring at all that we were definitely older than the target audience. What they all provided was joy. I hope they can do the same for anyone who might need a minute to breathe and something queer to keep them company.
The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson
Bone, Yrsa Daley-Ward
Carmilla (web series)
Girl Mans Up, M-E Girard
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli
This post was written by Point Scholar Sarah Bacot.
Sarah is studying at Harvard Law School and plans to work with queer people through a career in public interest law. After undergrad, Sarah spent a year abroad working on a project that ultimately strengthened her desire to work for social justice. Read more about Sarah here.