October 11, 2021 • By Christine Pasalo Norland

Recommended Reads

“Thirty-three years ago, on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, we first observed National Coming Out Day as a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out,” writes the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) on their resource page for National Coming Out Day, which is celebrated annually on October 11. “HRC celebrates all who have come out as LGBTQ+ — that takes bravery, and we commend you.”


It’s also a day to acknowledge those who don’t feel safe coming out, as Jessa Powers reminded readers of The Advocate in 2018. “Dear Closeted Reader,” begins Powers in the commentary “To Everyone Who Has to Stay Closeted on National Coming Out Day.


“I'm sorry that you have to watch people's videos, posts, and announcements from the closet today,” writes Powers, who came out in 2014. “For some people, coming out can literally be a matter of life and death; it could also mean the loss of housing, family, and financial security.”


Let’s also remember those who came out to a loving community yet were still met with violence. According to the HRC, at least 38 trans or gender non-conforming people have been killed in 2021 so far, the majority of whom are Black or Latinx. “These victims, like all of us, are loving partners, parents, family members, friends and community members. They worked, went to school and attended houses of worship. They were real people — people who did not deserve to have their lives taken from them,” writes HRC.


Hello Barkada would like to hold space for the range of truths lived today and everyday for LGBTQIA2S+ family, friends, neighbors, and community by offering the following three book recommendations. While each work of art reflects and centers a spectrum of experiences, together they remind readers that the power of coming out and being out is bolstered when met with love.

GIOVANNI’S ROOM” BY JAMES BALDWIN

PENGUIN BOOKS


Originally released in 1956, Baldwin's novel centers on David, a young white American in 1950s Paris whose inward and outward struggle to be openly in love with Giovanni, a handsome Italian barman, ends in tragedy. Told in David's perspective, the story is tumultuous and triggering for the way David internalizes and projects his oppression.


Baldwin faced pushback to have his manuscript published as he'd submitted it–titled after a man and centered on white gay characters. But, as Kittitian British novelist Caryl Phillips writes in the introduction of the pictured 2001 reprint, Baldwin "refused to allow anybody to curtail his freedom, or dictate the terms of his own life, both personally and professionally."

FLAMER” BY MIKE CURATO

GODWIN BOOKS, HENRY HOLT BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS, MACMILLAN • FIND CURATO ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER, AND INSTAGRAM


Curato's debut graphic novel tells the story of Aiden Navarro, a young Filipino American teen at an all-boy camp during the summer before high school. Amongst the setting of campfires, basket weaving workshops, and archery, Aiden finds himself constantly defending how he expresses himself while internally questioning why he has a crush on his friend and tentmate Elias. A beautifully illustrated story that features panels and pages ranging from cinematic to intimate, this work is vital for its honesty, compassion, and hope.

I’M A WILD SEED” BY SHARON DE LA CRUZ

STREET NOISE BOOKS • FIND DE LA CRUZ ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM


Part memoir, part social justice and women's health history primer, De La Cruz's debut graphic novel is a refreshingly pointed addition to the discourse of intersectional identity, self acceptance, and community. Cishet white patriarchy is gloriously called to task amidst De La Cruz's humorous personal reflections on Xena, hating then loving her older brother's hand-me-downs, and an "uneventful coming out story." Radiating color from saturated rainbow hues to her style of storytelling, De La Cruz's work is a celebration and call to action.

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For resources about coming out, visit HRC’s Coming Out Center. For those who are cisgender and heterosexual, learn more about moving from allyship to being an accomplice for LGBTQIA2S+ people by Googling “accomplice for lgbtq.”


To see all of the books included in Hello Barkada's "Recommended Reads" series, please visit the Resources page.

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