Pride Month Picks | Social Science Reviews

These selections, both memoirs and sociological reflections, spanning everything from dating to parenting, identity to self-acceptance, are perfect suggestions for Pride Month and all year round.

Fat and QueerFat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. ed. by Miguel M. Morales, Bruce Owens Grimm & Tiff Joshua TJ Ferentini. Jessica Kingsley. May 2021. 224p. ISBN 9781787755062. pap. $19.95. SOC SCI
With this anthology, editors Morales, Grimm, and Ferentini, all of whom are writers, gather other writers and poets to explore what it means to take up more space than society tells us we should; how fatness is amplified by being LGBTQ+; and how radical love of the self becomes increasingly important for those who are otherized. Each of the contributors has a different relationship with their weight and sexuality: love, hate, indifference, gratitude. In a standout essay, Ferentini discusses how his body both prevents him from fitting into a particular gay identity and liberates him from the requirements of gender norms. Another piece considers, among other subjects, the emotions that come with embracing victories in LGBTQ+ rights while watching consistent efforts to overturn them. This varied collection—which includes everything from short poems, to fiction, to longform meditations on the quotidian—boldly showcases lives that are too often ignored, discarded, or discounted, and proves that there is no one way to be queer. VERDICT This must-have title is a radically necessary addition that will bring joy and understanding to readers. The contributors revel in their identities, thrive despite challenges, and claim the space they deserve.—Ahliah Bratzler, Indianapolis

Natural Mother of the ChildBelc, Krys Malcolm. The Natural Mother of the Child: A Memoir of Nonbinary Parenthood. Counterpoint  Jun. 2021. 208p. ISBN 9781640094383. $26. MEMOIR
This memoir and call to action centers on what it means to be a parent, when being a parent conflicts with your identity and sense of self. When Belc, who is nonbinary and transmasculine, finds out that he’s pregnant, he struggles deeply with his body and the reality of creating life. Belc’s experiences illuminate how female-centric our understanding of pregnancy is, and how that gendered perspective shapes the medical systems and legal processes individuals must go through during pregnancy and parenthood. The U.S. medical and legal systems are not designed to meet the needs of nonbinary parenthood; through detailed legal records and reflections on his experiences working with the state, Belc demonstrates why the system must be reformed. This memoir is driven by Belc’s distinctive voice and worldview; it’s reflexive and extremely blunt. At times, his stream-of-consciousness style can be disorienting—but then, discovering, navigating, rediscovering, and renegotiating yourself and your place in a world that wasn’t built for you is also disorienting. VERDICT A wholly unique memoir that will speak to readers navigating nonbinary parenthood, as well as those who seek to understand the limitations of the U.S. legal system when it comes to nonbinary and trans parenthood.—Siobhan Egan, Barrington P.L., RI

Hola PapiBrammer, John Paul. Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons. S. &. S. Jun. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9781982141493. $26. MEMOIR
There is an ease and charm to Brammer’s writing that will make readers feel as though he is sitting beside them, regaling them with his often funny, increasingly insightful, sometimes heartbreaking tales. Using a question-and-answer format (Brammer’s “¡Hola Papi!” began as a popular advice column on Grindr), this memoir touches on a myriad of topics, including what it means to feel authentically Mexican, surviving bullying, and the existence of "the one." With a combination of frankness and self-reflection, Brammer takes readers from his childhood in Oklahoma to his adulthood in Brooklyn and back again, recalling the situations and events that shaped and continue to shape him. This collection shines especially brightly whenever Brammer describes his coming-of-age experiences—figuring out his sexuality, as well as his efforts to grow into his career as a writer. As he does in his advice column, Brammer addresses readers directly, showing us the times he sought advice and the times he should have taken it. VERDICT Brammer's worldview is grounded in realism and self-deprecating humor; his book is likely to be a well-loved addition to any collection of personal essays or memoirs.—Rachel Rosenberg, North Vancouver District Lib., BC

Ex Girlriend of My Ex GirlfriendCourt, Maddy. The Ex-Girlfriend of My Ex-Girlfriend Is My Girlfriend: Advice on Queer Dating, Love, and Friendship. Chronicle. May. 2021. 168p. ISBN 9781797201825. $19.95. SOC SCI
Court, who is known online as Xena Worrier Princess, has built a wonderful book out of her popular zine. This is more than a colorful advice column; it’s a celebration of queer life and an affirmation of the beautiful nuances of relationships. Wroten’s charming, highlighter-bright illustrations distill the stories’ essences into funny mini comics; their inclusion helps keep the book’s tone light even when dealing with heartbreak and depression. Many of the scenarios in these letters will be recognizable to lesbian, bisexual, and queer women and people of marginalized genders. Court and her guest advice columnists (JD Samson, Samantha Kirby, Kalyn Rose Heffernan, and other wise sages) provide plenty of insight while dishing out honest advice and thoughtful suggestions with humor, hopefulness, and respect. The book concludes with resources on mental health, sexual violence, queer relationships, and more. VERDICT While many of these questions come from people in their twenties, the valuable advice and relatable anecdotes will have YA crossover appeal. LGBTQ+ people of all ages will find stories that resonate deeply, and will appreciate Court’s candor and humor throughout.—Rachel Rosenberg, North Vancouver District Lib., BC

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