Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.
Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.
As a queer woman of colour, something that I’ve reflected on a lot is the burden that queer people of colour feel to ‘perform’ their queer identities. There is so much pressure to express queerness in ways that are highly visible, and for queer people of colour, when queer spaces are predominantly occupied by white people, it can be a heavy weight to bear.
I am incredibly honoured and delighted to have one of the sunniest and loveliest people in the book community visiting the Pond today. Carolina is a Puerto Rican teen book blogger, a co-host of the Latinx Book Club, and, quite frankly, such a wonderful voice in the book community. When Carolina pitched their piece to me, I was so excited to have them visit the Pond during Pride — and you won’t be disappointed by what you read.
But before we dive into their wonderful piece, for the friends who haven’t met Carolina before, I’d love to tell you all a little more about Carolina and their incredible book blog!
Carolina’s Book Blog, Santana Reads!
I know Carolina first as a passionate advocate for Latinx reads, and I also know them as a wonderful book blogger at Santana Reads — and I love every single post that they make. Carolina writes book reviews, shares author interviews, and even writes about topics that they’re really interested about. (I really liked their piece about how The Half of It isn’t a rom-com, but a love story!)
Recently, they posted an author interview that they did with Kacen Callender, author of Felix Ever After on the book’s birthday! And considering that Carolina loved Felix Ever After, I feel warm and fuzzies knowing they got the opportunity to have a chat with Kacen!
I love discovering new books to read through Carolina’s book reviews and book recommendations, and it was their love for Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega that motivated me to pick it up! I loved their review of Ghost Squad) – I hope you’ll give it a read!
Carolina: The Weight of Being ‘Out and Proud’: How Trans Books Helped Me Feel Validated
Pride for me is a bittersweet thing, because yes, I am out and loud and proud of my queer self, both of my sexuality and my gender identity. But also, it is extremely exhausting, because I have to loud and proud everywhere I go. Whenever I meet somebody, my mind has to think of what person will I be with them. Will I be quiet, moody self, will I touch on my more rambunctious, rowdy, wild, but still closeted side, or will expose every fiber of my queer being?
Everytime, the decision is hard, because if I expose my unapologetic queer identity, at what cost will it come? Will I be the butt of overtly sexual jokes or be made fun of because I’m not cis? Will people compare me to fictional creatures and say I’m crazy or I’ve lost my mind or making it all up in my head?
At times, even though I know I am part of the queer community, it doesn’t feel like a welcome space. Not just because it tends to focus on the cis white gay male narrative and there is barely any space for intersection, but also because there’s been a certain expectation created that if you’re not out, you’re hiding; you’re ashamed.
But I’m not ashamed, I am choosing to be safe in a world that doesn’t treat trans and queer folks in a fair way. It’s unfair that I have be loud and proud, when het people don’t have to make that effort, they can just exist. Why can’t I just exist? Why do I have to fight to be accepted for being myself when I’m just breathing? It’s tiring to be yourself in a world that refuses to look beyond the horizon. A world that pretends that the Milky Way is the only galaxy out there.
Books like Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, Pet by Akwaeke Emezi, The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde, and The Resolutions by Mia García have not only helped me see myself, but also validated my identity at times where even I question whether I’m valid or not. Moments where I still struggle to be okay with my identity, where I deal with dysphoria, where I use the wrong pronouns for myself, and I remember that even though it’s hard and there are a million obstacles in the way, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I love my body. I love my curly hair. I love wearing dresses and doing my makeup. But none of that changes the fact that I am mostly a boy and feel sexy in dress shirts, flannel, sneakers, and funky socks. ThatI often daydream of going to Prom and getting married in a suit. I’m not a girl, and just like Sebastian from The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang, I’m just a prince who likes dresses. No matter what society says or thinks, I know who I am inside and out and will always choose to live an authentic life.
Maybe people will question what I am, but who cares, let them wonder. Let them try to figure me out like a puzzle. At the end of the day, I am just a human. Isn’t that enough?
About the Blogger
Carolina is a bi, genderfluid, Puerto Rican 16-year old teen book blogger who is very passionate about diverse literature and supporting, boosting, and uplifting marginalized authors. When he doesn’t have their head stuck in a book, they can be found snacking on gingerbread cookies, napping, chilling with their dog, marathoning TV shows on Netflix, and playing Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. They are one of the co-hosts of the Latinx Book Club.
I really loved Carolina’s piece and I think their point about how queer people of colour have to fight to exist and be accepted can feel like a heavy weight – and highlights the importance and power of representation, and how books by queer authors can have revolutionary power.
I want to thank Carolina for visiting the Pond today! It was a delight to have them, and I hope you check out their wonderful blog.