Review: Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall – Or: Straight people are crazy!
Hi again. It is winter, it is cold outside, and so, what’s better than to snuggle up in bed with a cup of tea and a good book? If you’re thinking “Reading trashy YA-novels in the cold, empty space that is the Ü35.” You’re absolutely correct. If you find yourself disagreeing with this, call in! (I’m very lonely.) A while ago, on a stormy night, I found myself browsing the internet for fun Young Adult novels and stumbled upon quite a few interesting ones. If you may or may not know, I’m part of a tiny book club that likes to engage with high-brow literature (such as: Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight), so, for a change, I was really looking for low-brow stuff. Something easy to read in those hours not filled with uni reading and homework, stressing about my lack of romantic life, or doing extensive research on who the hell Gwyneth Paltrow thinks she is! And finally, after looking for 5 minutes, I found it. The most promising book for this purpose Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall. And when I say promising, I mean that in a bad way. The summary, the cover design, everything about it looked… just sooo awful.
Once I had actually purchased the novel, I dropped everything else I was reading to engage with this one, because I just couldn’t wait for the awfulness to unfold. And, oh boy, was I in for a surprise! To quote everyone I’ve ever went on a date with: “Wow, I had such low expectations, yet still, somehow, I’m disappointed!” However, I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t able to turn a bad experience into a way to get what I love most: attention. Hence, I started writing this rant-review. (That may turn into a guide telling straight people how to do better at some point.) And here it is.
This is a ride! – Summary
This novel follows the lives of Gideon, Kyle, Ruby and, for some reason, Ezra. The former three are high-school students, the latter is Gideon’s older brother, who has moved to LA to become a surfer after graduating high-school. Gideon and Kyle have been best friends and neighbours since childhood. Ruby is Kyle’s girlfriend of six months, which makes Gideon feel some type of way. And while Ruby is a popular cheerleader and Kyle is on the basketball team, Gideon is what people call a “nerd” and a “loser”. So far, so formulaic. Since most of this info is established in the blurb, the combination of that with the cover and the title of the book alluding to a Taylor Swift lyric led to my belief that this story would be about a gay boy (Gideon) falling for his presumably straight best friend (Kyle), thus leading to a conflict with the mean and pretty girlfriend (Ruby) of said guy. While this sounds very clichéd as well and has been done a thousand of times with all-straight characters, it would have been entertaining to some extent, maybe even cute in some parts. However, the book turned out to be nothing like I expected it to be. Kyle actually is established as bisexual right from the beginning of the story, eliminating the aspect of a gay guy pining after a straight guy. This is no reason to be happy though, because it does not improve the story at all. It’s one of the many things the author (who is a heterosexual woman) handled insensitively.
So, Kyle is out to his best friend, but not to his girlfriend. This changes 15 pages into the book, when he comes out to her. This book was written by a well-meaning straight person, so, of course, she is “super cool and accepting” for like 5 minutes before making it all about herself. She now believes that he doesn’t trust her and confronts him at the school ball, literally the day after he came out to her. If he really trusted her, he would have told her from the start. The fight resulting from that makes Gideon feel happy, who then concludes that he must be into Kyle. He leaves the ball and makes lists at home, since he is a planner, one of his few character traits. Lists with titles like “am I into Kyle?” “am I gay or Kyle-sexual?” (can you tell this was written by a clueless straight person?) and “reasons why Kyle sucks!”. The last list will come in handy for the plot later, I promise. Gideon concludes that he is gay and hides the lists. Kyle, in the meantime, apologises to Ruby for not coming out to her at an earlier stage of their relationship. Ruby accepts, but at the same time seems to stop trusting him and becomes super jealous of Gideon for being close to Kyle. Which really intensifies when Kyle and Ruby come over to Gideon’s place, and in a very convenient moment Ruby finds the lists Gideon has made about Kyle. She takes photos of them only to “make sense of the whole thing”. This is followed up by a scene where Ezra (Gideon’s brother) hits on her. Yes, someone who graduated two years ago is hitting on an underage high-school-senior. At this point, I am fed up with this straight bullshit, but I’m not a coward, and I also have 23 years of experience in dealing with straight people, so I read on! And trust me, reader, it just gets worse from there on.
Ruby’s dad loses his job. Once again confronted with being poor and not the popular cheerleader girl everyone thinks she is, she comes up with an idea. Why not threaten and blackmail the gay guy, who happens to have wealthy parents, to pay him back for being gay and richer than her. This blackmailing doesn’t matter much to the story, as Gideon then comes out to his family and friends, who are very cool and accepting. Then Gideon and Kyle almost kiss, which leads Kyle to break up with Ruby (the girl he was in love with 5 minutes ago) so that he’s able to date Gideon (the guy he’s in love with all of a sudden). All this happens within the timespan of two weeks or so. Ruby is heartbroken, but quickly finds a douchebag to date. Said guy treats her like shit, but they’re really making it work! There’s little to no plot after that, if there has been any real plot before that point. When one of Ruby’s friends leaks the mean list Gideon has made about Kyle, they break-up. However, Ruby steps up and saves the day to get them back together. Awww, how heart-warming, right? I’m just kidding, it’s utter bullshit.
Kyle and Gideon rekindle their relationship after being broken up for like a week. Ezra, who is relatively unimportant to this story, but for some reason a narrator in a lot of the chapters, finally gets a date with Ruby, after hitting on her for quite a while. For the record, he’s at least three or four years older than her and we have no idea if she’s eighteen or not. And he’s been hitting on her while she still was dating Kyle (so, two weeks ago). However, he’s a straight, broke loser in his twenties, so of course he dates a High-School senior. As you can see, everyone gets their very own, badly-written happy ending. Except for me. I am mad. I am livid. Can you believe the audacity? Someone sat there, wrote these 200 pages without any good plot-points, and then it got published? To quote Bella Swan seconds before hitting Jacob with a car door: Are you joking me?
Considering that the book lacks plot, one might hope that the characters would be a bit more fleshed out to make up for it, but they’re not. All of them could be summarised by two or three words. Especially Kyle and Gideon are painfully reduced to their respective sexualities and their one shared interest, which is Lord of the Rings. They seem to be secondary character in a story that, judging by the blurb, should focus on them, but instead focuses on the straight characters. Listen, I have low expectations, but I was still so underwhelmed.
Fetishizing queer people and Biphobia
Judging by every snarky remark I’ve made and every bit of shade I’ve thrown in the summary, you can probably guess that I hated this book. Hate is a strong word, but it applies in this case. Here’s the thing: I expected this book to be trashy. I was ready for it to be bad. But this book wasn’t just bad. It was problematic in so many ways. It was irritating, and throughout it all, I had hoped that there would be a point where it changes for the better. I had hoped that there would be to be cute moments, relatable moments, yes, maybe even these “gay fear” moments I can find myself in. But there was nothing. It was devoid of life, heart, and empathy. It lacked soul. It lacked everything a YA love story needs to be good. I wasn’t even expecting it to be original, I wasn’t even expecting the author to write a great queer love story, or anything. But this book still was such a let-down. Instead, it was clearly a story written for an audience of straight girls.
Now, queer stories or storylines written by straight women for straight women just for voyeuristic entertainment purposes is a tale as old as time. Exhibit A: fanfiction. There are just as many “uwu my sinning gay beans yaoi!!”-stories (Editor’s Note: I hate this sentence with all of my existence) as there are stories glorifying toxic and abusive relationships *coughs* After by Anna Todd *coughs*. And with the rise of media with prominent queer representation came more and more fetishizing of queer people and their relationships. The immediate association between queer identities and ideas of forbidden sex etc. has been around since forever, and sex has been used to demonize us for ages, thus, a straight woman writing a 1000+ word fictional piece about two queer men having sex purely to entertain their fantasy of something taboo and forbidden in their reality rubs me the wrong way. Especially if the characters don’t properly prepare for anal sex, or don’t even use any sort of lubricant or protection. I could go on about why that’s disgusting and really homophobic in its own special way, but I don’t want to make this a ten-page essay (Editor’s Note: The irony!). And I don’t feel like going into straight people’s perception of top and bottom. I really don’t. But like, yikes, am I right?
And guess what, Mimi? This isn’t exclusive to fanfictions anymore. Stuff like that now also happens in published books. It probably started out slowly, with gay characters being really tiny side characters, or characters that were confirmed as queer once their liberal-centrist author had killed them off. But now they’re even more prominent side-characters, and in few cases even the main character. While there are good portrayals of queer characters, there also are a lot which really just do the same stuff fanfictions do. Luckily, it’s not going as hard on the sex part, but there are similar tendencies. It’s more like “Oh, look at those gays, they have rights now and they do exist, they are cute, let’s treat them like a fun attraction to watch!” Or the queer characters simply exist to serve the straight main characters. *cough* The Mortal Instruments *cough*
Exhibit B: This utterly, utterly shitty novel. Sandy Hall’s intention most likely wasn’t to write a queer love story to give queer teenagers authentic representation of their experiences. If indeed that was her intention, I’m sorry, but she has done a shit job. Not only did she completely fail to put in any effort, she also managed to include so many problematic points along the way. This book probably prides itself in having a bisexual protagonist and narrator. However, it also happens to be rampantly biphobic. Ruby’s immediate trust issues after Kyle’s coming-out play into old stereotypes. Gideon makes a few “you can’t decide” comments. And he’s supposed to be his super accepting best friend, while she’s his super cool girlfriend. (Which goes to show, friendship doesn’t mean people can’t be shitty in regards to queer people’s identity.) I’m not expecting these characters to be perfect, and yes, they may have to grow, but none of it is ever really questioned or re-evaluated by the novel. It’s simply presented as normal and acceptable, or even, in Ruby’s case, as part of being cool and accepting. Kyle’s rather flippant feelings towards either his girlfriend or his best friend further establish this stereotype about bisexual people being indecisive when it comes to relationships. Most of the romantic connections have no real build-up, there’s no proper explanation or something. It’s just… there all of a sudden, whenever it’s convenient for the plot. At one point, in one chapter, Kyle jumps from loving his girlfriend to not loving her at all because he loves Gideon now. The feelings seem to happen like a switch, rather than develop. Which not only is bad on a writing style level, it’s also super problematic when it happens to the only bisexual character in the novel. Kyle seems to be written as a bi character simply to make the love triangle including queer characters plausible, and thus his sexuality is used as a plot device.
When it comes to fetishizing queer people, it’s less like “oh look how cute” because literally no moment between Gideon and Kyle was written to be romantic, hence no cuteness. It’s more of a feel-good moment for straight people. It’s as if Sandy Hall looked at her fellow straight people and said “Look how far we’ve come! We are so accepting of the gays. We truly are heroes. We should pat ourselves on the shoulders. The gays should be grateful.” And I think that’s absolutely wild. But I’ll discuss that more thoroughly later on.
There is one last, very disappointing aspect that fits this subchapter though, since it refers back to fanfiction tropes of reducing queer men to a supportive role for straight women, while excluding queer women entirely or pushing them to the background. While a queer male couple works pretty well in catering to a straight, female audience, a queer female couple does not. Do you know how certain straight women get to know a queer man and want them to be their “gay best friend” but when it comes to queer women they give off this “ew, don’t hit on me!”-energy? It’s pretty similar to that. And since that’s the case, queer woman only take on the tiniest of roles in these stories. For Been Here All Along I don’t even remember the names of the two queer women, who are hinted to be dating. But, like, only in the background.
Coming-Out… but make it centred around straight people!
As I mentioned before, coming out plays a big part in this 200-page nightmare. Like everything else, the story doesn’t handle these situations well at all. In fact, Gideon’s sexuality is treated like a non-issue and as this huge thing throughout the novel at the same time. Kyle’s sexuality is treated almost worse, as its only impact seems to be the downfall of his relationship with Ruby. So, let’s just start right there.
Kyle is out to his family and his best friend. Besides the incident where Gideon makes some biphobic remarks this isn’t really discussed further, I don’t even remember Kyle’s parents or his siblings making an appearance. So, his only coming-out storyline is tied to his girlfriend Ruby, and we know how that one turned out. Right from the start, she is at the centre of it, as she reacts overly cool and accepting and even thanks him for telling her, which is, just in my humble opinion, a weird thing to say when someone who’s close to you has their coming-out. But it gets worse! There’s a fight, because Ruby, one day later, feels like Kyle doesn’t trust her. And she thinks confronting him about her unfounded trust issues, and kind of blaming him for not telling her about his sexuality earlier, is the right thing to do. Are straight people okay? Guilt-tripping queer people for when they come out is so bad on so many levels, but straight people honestly kind of love doing that.
First of all, it’s a queer person’s own choice when to tell people about their identity. There’s no requirement to tell people at all, even if they’re the most tolerant. And as I’ve said earlier, even the most tolerant people can behave very problematic towards queer people. Friendship doesn’t automatically mean that a) straight cisgender people will be good allies and b) queer people have to share all their secrets to prove that they trust straight friends and that said friends are tolerant. And I think that’s precisely the problem when it comes to such friendships. Sometimes a straight cisgender person will behave problematic, but if the queer person calls it out in order to help them become a better ally, it turns into a thing where it is perceived as an attack on the straight friend. Because some straight people cannot handle being confronted with the reality that they might not be as woke as they think they are. And I think that’s bullshit. So is expecting the queer people in your life to simply validate your “wokeness” so you can feel good about yourself. In Ruby’s case it’s like “Hey, I’m tolerant and my boyfriend hasn’t told me he’s bi for 6 months, that means he doesn’t trust me and I must confront him!” instead of maybe considering that coming-out is a highly personal process and it takes time, no matter the opinions of the people in your lives. Once again, I don’t expect teenage characters to be perfect, nonetheless, I expect the book to maybe also go into detail why such behaviour isn’t right. However, just by having Kyle apologise to Ruby after their fight, it clearly presents this as not only normal but right. I reiterate: guilt-tripping queer people into coming out by questioning their trust is bad. Coming-out is hard enough as it is, we don’t need straight, cisgender people to turn it into a way to offend them in their fragile wokeness.
Gideon’s coming-out process faces a similar straight-centred narrative. He accidentally comes out to his brother, Ezra, who I keep forgetting about, who then tells him that telling their parents will be absolutely fine. In fact, he should tell them, since they are not homophobic, and they’ve also been really cool about Ezra not wanting to go to college in order to pursue a surfing career. They weren’t shocked about that, which leads to the conclusion that they are not homophobic. What!? When Gideon tells them about being gay, shortly after starting to date Kyle, they are super accepting. His mum says that they are “not those kind of people”. This is another thing straight people love doing. Pretending homophobia is so far out of their woke reality that they don’t really have to see it as a problem, and can simply shrug “those kind of people” off, by listening to that awful Macklemore song, saying “love is love” a couple of times and really liking that one movie about the gays. Once the parents react positively to the coming-out, Ezra has to point out that he knew they’d be “cool and accepting”. The mum even throws Gideon a coming-out party , despite Gideon not being comfortable with it. But she’s just such a fun, tolerant person that she has to throw her gay son a party to honour her tolerance! The author seems to think that this is a good narrative to tell, and probably feels good about the idea of coming-out parties where straight people can see a gay person up close. I could also talk about the blackmailing stuff, but I really don’t want to do that now. Let’s just move on to the next one, I can’t take this anymore. Straight people are so wild.
Well, here we go again. As if the straight-centred coming-out storylines weren’t bad enough, we also have a straight character right in the middle of a queer love story. And it’s not in the “Oh you’re gay I know another gay you should go on a date!” kind of way. It’s so much worse, and I just want to scream. The one thing the book does excellently is capturing the heteronormative world we live in. It really captures the way everything that doesn’t fit into those ideals has to be justified somehow, by comparing or contrasting it with heterosexuality, inevitably making cis-heterosexuality the centre of queer identities. I don’t think that was done on purpose though. I think the author just wrote a shitty book with no effort, but more on that later.
The love story (if you can call it that with its lack of build-up and properly established romantic tension) between Gideon and Kyle resolves around Ruby. Of course, she’s Kyle’s girlfriend at the beginning of the novel, but even after they break up, the novel puts more effort into Ruby’s development after the break-up than into the relationship between Gideon and Kyle. The thing with Ruby is that she could have been a villainous character in a classic teen movie fashion, which would have made the novel more exciting. Instead of really going for it, the novel does not commit to that idea at all, and instead turns her into some sort of tragic heroine. Ruby is only presented as a person who does bad things when it is necessary for the plot. She’s presented as a bad girlfriend while the novel still wants us to root for Gideon and Kyle (which does not really happen as they are very boring). And it does that by making her like the teacher that’s giving Kyle a hard time. In hetero world, that somehow is meant to insinuate that she’s a bad girlfriend. This is supposed to explain Kyle’s rapidly changing emotions towards her.
Most of the time though, the novel immediately justifies her actions. When she blackmails Gideon, it’s because his family is upper-middle-class, while her family struggles. Plus, Kyle might leave her for him one day. So, the solution is threatening and blackmailing, right? None of that really justifies blackmailing a closeted gay kid, but according to the novel it’s enough to make her the victim in this situation. After all, he’s about to steal her boyfriend. (Straight women need to understand that no one is trying to steal their boyfriends. We don’t want that man-baby!). In this situation, there’s a clash between class struggle and homophobia. Gideon’s sexuality obviously doesn’t exempt him from the privileges of being wealthy, however, the novel solves it badly by using his wealth as a go-to excuse for homophobia. Yes, rich people who are queer are just as bad as straight rich people (case in point: Ellen DeGeneres), however, this is no reason to be a homophobe.
The blackmail situation goes on for a bit, but then Ruby quickly drops it because she’s a good person and too good to do such a mean thing. Later on, though, once Gideon and Kyle are together, Ruby thinks that Gideon should be grateful that she didn’t out him. Because queer people owe straight people a lot of decency for being treated with basic human decency, right? I owe straight men gratitude for not being openly homophobic, right? I owe straight women gratitude when they just tokenise my existence for their needs, because at least they’re not homophobes, right? Yikes!
After her relationship with Kyle, Ruby starts dating some other guy, who is mean to her. And also talks shit about queer people, as does one of Ruby’s friends. Said guy, whose name I don’t even remember due to his lack of importance, then randomly dumps her at school a few days into their relationship. While this is probably not a fun experience, it is simply there to make us feel for her and understand why she’s angry at her former boyfriend and his new partner. When her friend then leaks the “Why Kyle sucks” list Gideon made, which still is a weird thing to make let’s be real, and breaks their newfound relationship apart, it is a wake-up call for Ruby. After everything that happened to her during the last two weeks of her life, she knows that she has to step up and make things right! Wow, what a heroine, right? I can’t believe she would save the day. Anyways, she kind of steps up and gets Gideon and Kyle back together, with the help of Ezra, who has kept the remaining lists for some reason. If you, like me, forgot who Ezra is, because he, like me, has no importance in life whatsoever, here’s a quick reminder: He is Gideon’s creepy, straight brother. And together with Ruby, they make up the two straight people who save the day, because they’re so tolerant and accepting, that they bring the queer people back together. Thank god for straight people, we would be lost without them, right?
Think of it like this. Ruby is the Taylor Swift of this novel. She is the centre of the queer rights movement! And shade never made anybody less gay! It’s not weird to equate homophobia and violence against queer people with shade, right?
The reason I take issue with this is that Ruby isn’t supposed to be a person who has done bad things trying to make a change and do good, she’s not supposed to be the asshole. The author just seems to think this behaviour is normal and okay. Which further proves that straight people are absolutely crazy. Giving Ruby a “redemption” after half-heartedly presenting her as a misunderstood person we should feel for is just another way of making straight characters the centre of this story. And I think maybe the author should have just stuck to straight characters in that case, instead of writing this queerbaiting money-grab of a novel.
How to write queer characters if you’re straight (with a surprisingly deep™ conclusion)
I could go on and on about the problematic tendencies of this novel and its characters. I could also give further criticism of it on a more literary level, for example by pointing out having four narrators for roughly 200 pages, lack of clear distinguishing features in those narrators, lack of overall characterisation and so on. I could point out that despite the shortness of the novel, I felt bored at times. I could point to the plain, lacklustre writing style, especially when it comes to transitions between chapters. I’m just going to skip ahead and talk about the real problem here. Sandy Hall is a straight woman in her forties, who is known for writing quirky (in my opinion just straight up weird) love stories about straight people that are meant to be read by straight people. This queer love story is no exception when it comes to target audience. It is perfectly clear that this novel is just a story about two guys to grab the money of Hall’s straight, female, teenage audience. It’s one of the prime examples of a straight person jumping on the hype-train when it comes to popular book genres.
We’ve seen this before with well-thought-out dystopian novels leading to a flood of novels that simply repeated this trope for money, we’ve seen countless identical love-triangles repeated over and over again, we’ve seen strong female characters leading to so many books with female leads, whose only feature is being a copy of a strong female character. Now it’s come to straight people just writing trope-y, stereotypical queer stories for money, inflicted with toxic abusive behaviour simply taken from popular straight love stories. As a queer person, this development really bothers me. You know, queer representation is still not very strong when it comes to literature, even in YA-literature. And if there is, it’s mostly white, gay men, while other queer identities are neglected or ignored completely. And most of that queer representation is just… bad. As mentioned before, it’s mostly side-characters that are there to serve the straight protagonists. Or confirmed by the author instead of the book. Yes, there are good books about queer stories, but they are few, and rarely ever really popular. Besides Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda (which of course isn’t without flaws), most of my favourites are rather unpopular. And in most cases they’ve been written by queer people, thus leading to a less problematic portrayal of queer characters.
Now I’m not saying that straight people should never write about queer people and should never include queer people in their stories (I do not have the legal powers to do so). And I’m, despite everything I’ve said in this article, not heterophobic, although sometimes straight people are really testing me. There’s just a lot to pay attention to when attempting to write queer stories, if you’ve never really had the experience. Straight people may be able to write lovely queer characters into their stories that don’t feel like tokenising, or pandering, or baiting. But I do think it takes effort, and a certain sensitivity towards queer minorities. I’m just one tiny baby queer here, who barely has any experiences in writing fiction, and the little experience has been me writing bad fiction. Nevertheless, I’m trying to maybe come up with a few helpful suggestions you could follow in case you’re thinking of writing queer characters (hopefully with good intentions).
As a straight person, you’ve never been through the coming-out processes, you don’t know what it feels like to question whether a family member or a friend might still like you, you never had to go through the process of coming to terms with your own identity and how it might impact the way you live your live, and you never had to question the safety of your own home. So, you have to do research to get an adequate understanding of it to find a way to properly write about such issues. And maybe putting queerphobic violence and queerphobic slurs into your stories isn’t such a good idea either, since it’s another experience you don’t have. (if you’re a cishet man who’s scared walking alone at night because straight men could beat you up for being obviously straight, call in and correct me on that one.) Thus, it could come across as simply reproducing those things without reassessing them and just showing off other people’s traumatic experience. And it does reduce our experiences to whatever terrible thing straight people have done to us in the past. So maybe refrain from that. Don’t reproduce stereotypes, and don’t make it super sexual. I know straight people have this “I don’t care what they do in their bedroom!” attitude when it comes to queer people and I’m tired of our romantic feelings and experiences immediately being sexualised.
Try and make it seem realistic and not just pair off two people who don’t really match because they simply happen to both be queer. That’s boring. Try and give queer characters their own storylines apart from straight people (including coming-out to straight people), make their concerns unrelated to those of straight main-characters, and give them their own agency instead of simply installing them as the gay sidekick. Don’t apply too much of straight relationship standards onto them, and don’t go into butch-femme top-bottom relations, that’s just weird. Don’t call your own character a twink, it’s not funny or cool if you people do that to queer people.
And most importantly, if you don’t want to do research on queer issues (despite the million coming-out videos there are on Youtube) and you don’t feel open to accepting criticism and instead see it as an attack on your hetero “wokeness”, just don’t bother including queer characters in your stories. Just leave it be, because that’s representation queer people, or at least I, can gladly do without. We’ve always found good queer stories elsewhere, even if it’s just a niche little book, or a webseries. We don’t need anyone’s shitty attempt at what they perceive as the authentic queer story. Sorry to be a bit harsh here, but if you don’t want to do the work and you don’t want to face criticism and learn, you simply don’t have good intentions.
Finally, just try and be mindful, just the same way you would do as a friend and ally to queer people. (If you have an all-straight-cisgender group of friends, maybe think about why.) Listen to them, and when they call you out for misbehaviour, take it to heart and try better. As queer people, we often feel like imposing on people if we ask them to try better, and then instead just don’t point things out for fear of being a burden. So, if we do say something, it’s not a simple attack on you that’s meant to hurt you. It’s probably something we’ve been pondering on and dealing with for longer. Just try and pay attention, put in the slightest bit of effort, and sometimes just shutting up and not jumping in with a comparison to your straight experiences is a good fucking idea. It’s honestly just the bare minimum, yet somehow it still seems like so much to ask for. Now, I’m just presenting my humble opinion here, and I might just be a quirky queer guy who listens to Carly Rae Jepsen, wears flannels and has a severe anxiety disorder. However, to people’s surprise, I also happen to be a real person with real feelings, and I, like so many of my queer siblings, am tired of just being seen as some sort of stereotype comfort-friend that’s meant to validate straight people who think they’re super tolerant. I don’t want to stay quiet so (cishet) people can live in their comfortable, woke fantasy. Not anymore. Queer people deserve better than that, and they deserve better than Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall (tying this weird off-topic conclusion back into the main topic).
If you do want to read good books about queer people, maybe give Alice Oseman’s graphic-novel Heartstopper a try. Or her books Radio Silence and I Was Born For This. If you’re a fun person who enjoys fun books, read those.
– Robin was listening to Saves the World by MUNA while writing this article.