Mental Health Bookclub discussion

Archive > 35. Read an LGBTQIA+ book

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message 1: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthais) This can be fiction or non fiction, and featuring a character or written by an author who identifies as LGBTQIA+

Some lists
Best YA Fiction with GLBTQQI
Best LGBTIA literature
Best GLBT Non-fiction
25 Queer Authors You Should Read

Some examples - fiction
Rubyfruit Jungle
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
The Hours
The Color Purple
Tipping the Velvet
Brokeback Mountain
The Price of Salt

Some examples - non fiction
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
The Argonauts
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders
A Queer and Pleasant Danger: The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She is Today
Not My Father's Son
Seriously... I'm Kidding
Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out

Discussion points
- What did/will you read? What did you think?
- Identifying as LGBTQIA+ often leads to stigma/prejudice, and many counteract this with things such as Pride marches etc., to protest against prejudice. What can we learn from this community in how we can deal with stigma towards mental health?
- Are there any examples from your book of characters facing and overcoming prejudice because of their identity?
- Which element of LGBTQIA+ did your book cover? As understanding of different identities and experiences grows, LGBTQIA+ becomes more of an umbrella term for a huge spectrum of people - similar to mental health. Do you agree with generic terms such as LGBTQIA+ / mental illness being used for people like us and those portrayed in your book? How does it help/hinder awareness and challenging prejudice?

message 2: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthais) For this task I read The Argonauts. This was another one that came from Emma Watson's book group, I didn't really know what to expect when I picked it up. I didn't love it, if I'm honest, but I think I was more put off by the structure and language rather than the content. There were some really profound ideas and observations around change and traditions, identity, life and death, but it wasn't a very accessible book. Full review here

I think the LGBTQIA+ community offers a great example of pride in their own identity. When they've had to fight so hard, for so long, to be allowed to own their identities in society and gain reproductive and marital equality (which they still don't have in a vast number of places), I love how this community refuses to be silenced and openly celebrates difference. I would love to see that kind of celebration from the mental health community.

Of course it is different, we don't have the same inequality in the sense that our mental health issues won't block us from things such as marriage; but on the other hand we experience some stigma in a different way. At the core of it though, I think we should be able to be proud of our own identity - whether that's someone proudly suffering from mental health issues as a core part of who they are; or as someone who suffers but identifies as being strong for living with it or overcoming it. Either way, mental health can have such a silencing effect and that's a big thing we need to overcome.

My book was quite fluid, it covered a trans experience in that the author's partner was transitioning, but 'queer' was used often through the book, so I got the impression that that was how the author at least identified herself. I do think as awareness has grown of the vast spectrum experiences that fall under this umbrella, it seems to me to be an unhelpful acronym. At some point we have to stop adding letters! It can also risk generalising across experiences - for example, what I've read would suggest that a trans experience is radically different to that of someone who is gay or lesbian, but still identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. Yet they would both fall under this umbrella and be represented by that term. That means that someone could write about "LGBT issues" when they're actually only writing about trans issues, or gay issues etc. I've heard often that trans people don't always feel included by this community, despite the 'T' in the name; and from my own experience as a bisexual woman, I've experienced prejudice from gay and lesbian people who believe my identity doesn't exist - e.g. "Bi is just one step on the way to gay!"

So I think in conclusion, that the generic terms can help initially, in including you in a community of people who may have had some of the same experiences as you, but it can be harmful in making people outside of that community believe you have experienced something you haven't or vice versa.

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