July Favourites

Books

I turned 19 this month, and two fantastic books I got for my birthday are Cinder and The Three Body Problem.

Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is a dystopian fairytale that follows a young, put-upon Cinder that contends with being a cyborg, an evil stepmother, and being thrust into a political nightmare. Unlike a lot of YA, this book rejects the genre’s most irritating tropes while also centering on people of colour. Asian characters people the novel, and it’s refreshing to see them being taken seriously as humans (or cyborgs).

The Three Body Problem is a sci-fi novel by Chinese author Liu Cixin. After being disappointed by some of Kim Stanley Robinson’s most popular books, I’ve moved away from sci-fi. This book has 100% brought me back. Liu merges the aftershocks of the Cultural Revolution with his own brand of sci-fi, and it’s absolutely compelling. I’ve already reserved the rest of the trilogy at the library and I can’t wait to get my hands on them!!

Comics

Ever since I started uni, I’ve been feeling very disconnected from the LGBT+ community. Back in high school, I was surrounded by other lesbian and bi girls – now I’m studying in a different country where I’m the only person in my entire friend group that’s LGBT+. To stop myself from feeling all on my lonesome, I’ve been reading some LGBT+ comics!

Kabi Nagata’s autobiographical manga My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness was relatable in so many ways. She describes her experience with mental illness, how she grew to let go of her parents’ expectations, exploring her sexuality, and how recovery helped her become a full person.

Gengoroh Tagame’s My Brother’s Husband follows Yaichi, a single dad dealing with the aftermath of his estranged brother’s death. When his brother-in-law, Mike comes to visit him in Japan, he’s shocked by how much his brother kept from him. Over the course of the series, Yaichi discovers how his reaction to his brother’s homosexuality contributed to their estrangement, and begins to heal and become more open-minded about us LGBT+ folks. In my opinion, the manga is for straight people, thanks to Yaichi as an avatar for the homophobic but willing to change, and Mike’s eternal patience and willingness to put up with homophobia around him. That asides, I thought this was a really sweet story and I was so excited

TV

GLOW!!! Oh my god, I love this show. I’m writing this right as I finished the first season and I’m so excited. I was a fan of wrestling already (Stone Cold Steve Austin has an AMAZING podcast if you’re interested) and I was so excited to see so many women wrestle. I’m really excited to see them explore the issues and characters they brought up in the first season and take them further. Who’s your favourite so far? Mine is Carmen and how she overcame her anxiety. I’m curious about how the show will deal with the racial stereotypes they use for their heels, and whether the women of colour in the show will be able to break out of the boxes they’ve been forced into, and whether the white women feign ignorance. It’s out on Netflix right now, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Film

Okja is an American Korean movie about corporate greed, and environmental activism. It also left me snivelling and worrying what would happen if my dog was a super pig owned by a corporation.

Youtubers

I’ve already pushed Lindsay Ellis here before, but she really does make AMAZING video essays. They’re well-thought out, funny, and helped me think more critically about my own reviews.

Somebody else that I’ve mentioned here before is Maangchi – seriously, watch any of her videos on fried chicken and tell me you aren’t salivating.

Podcasts

Never Before with Janet Mock is brilliant. Thought provoking. Exciting. FABULOUS. Also, her interview with Lena Dunham made me see her in a new light, which shocked me too.

Life

In July I deleted all my social media apps, and only kept messaging apps. I still think I can cut down on the amount of time I spend tied to my devices, but I’m glad that I at least can’t aimlessly tool around on my phone anymore.

And lastly, a very belated favourite – the birth of Beyoncé and Jay’s beautiful twins!!

Featured image from Netflix.

This week in links: Meninists, true crime, and social dance

Alison Willmore discusses the self-referential documentary Casting JonBenét and how it criticizes the prying view that audiences love so much.

William Finley’s experience at Fyre Festival.

Pink News is Britain’s main LGBT+ news site.

Adam Serwer and Katie J. M. Baker interview men’s rights leader Paul Elam’s daughter and ex-wives, and describe how he “turned being a deadbeat dad into a money-making movement.”

Captain Andy explains why Laci Green taking the red pill is an uncritical appeal for the inherent goodness of bigots.

Study shows that telling LGBT+ children “it gets better” is a complete cop-out.

Featured image by Jonathan Rodriguez for BuzzFeed News

 

 

Islamophobia and Chechnya’s concentration camps

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Chechnya has been kidnapping gay and bisexual men and detaining them in concentration camps. Approximately 100 men have been detained, and an estimated 3 have been murdered.

When discussing this, several news sites (the Guardian, Daily Mail, Times, and yes, Breitbart) as well as people mention that it is a predominantly Muslim country.

However, several people have been using this fact as a way to criticise Islam – a lazy way of getting a couple Islamophobic digs in while also caping as a supporter of the LGBT+ community.

Such articles subtly conflate Islam with homophobia, a shallow analysis that harms the Muslim LGBT+ community.

Religious texts are above all else interpretive – even scholars using a similar method, such as Biblical literalism, can end up with a broad span of answers depending upon what they focus upon.

Faith doesn’t need to exist in opposition to the LGBT+ community – just as organized religion can be a tool to oppress, it can also be a tool to uplift and empower. Religion is, above all else, run by the powerful who impress their views upon the greater community, whether these are of tolerance, or of homophobia and sexism.

Blaming Islam for the violent homophobia orchestrated in its name does the LGBT+ community a disservice, just as with blaming any kind of religion.

Understandably, many  of us LGBT+ folks are wary of religions, due to the overwhelming prevalence of homophobia disguised as gospel that threatens our lives. We certainly can be critical, and feel hatred towards people that use religion as a weapon against us, but religion can be reinterpreted in far more tolerant, and accepting ways.

A further issue with linking homophobia with Islam is in the ways it allows (mostly white) people to distance themselves from their own homophobia. It’s far easier to feed into the image of the racialised, dark-skinned Muslim that is ignorant, violent, and backwards, than to look at yourself and how your own communities perpetuate homophobia. Perpetuating this view of Islam justifies the violence against Muslims, particularly Muslim women, that continues to this day.

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If you still have trouble squaring Islam with the existence of LGBT+ Muslims, you can take a look at the work of these people and get some insight into their experiences with religion.

Here, LGBT+ Muslims, Christians and Jews describe their relationship between their sexuality and faith.

Dr. Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle’s demonstrates that homophobia has little basis in the Quran.

Imam Daayiee Abdullah has created a lecture series on the LGBT+ community and Islam.

The Advocate showcases over 20 LGBT+ Muslim activists.

 

 

Imaam is a UK-based advocacy group for LGBT+ Muslims.

LGBT Muslims “discusses the issues surrounding Islam and sexual, as well as gender, diversity. We are offering diverse and positive perspectives from varies individuals, organizations, and will do our best to give historical background to these modern issues.”

If you want to make a concrete impact upon the lives of the gay Chechen men that have been targeted by these homophobic crimes, or receive current information about this crisis, you can donate to and visit the Russian LGBT+ Network.

Illustrator and filmmaker Maeril created a webcomic that explains how bystanders can respond to Islamophobic acts.

Additionally, you can contact your political representatives and demand that they push for these gay and bisexual men seeking refuge to be given visas.

Cover image from Imaamlondon.wordpress.com