My name is Nyan and I’m a non-binary, asexual who is gay (in terms of my assigned gender, which was female). My pronouns are they/them/their only and it’s nice to meet you.
Welcome to PRIDE Month! This is one of my favourite times of year because the community gets to celebrate who we are with unabashed fun and pride as awesome individuals, whether we’re out, not ready for that yet, or slowly tip-toeing towards that goal. Do not apologise for who you are, and do not feel like there’s something wrong with you. You are you and take comfort in knowing that your feelings and identity are supremely valid. Lift that chin up, brush off those shoulders, and smile like the radiant rainbow unicorn (or dragon or cat alien) that you are!
This year is extra special to me because my best friend, Sir Besty, is celebrating with me by embracing herself as a trans woman. I couldn’t be prouder of her and I look forward to supporting her through her transition (I had permission to chat about this, don’t worry, I didn’t carelessly out her; I’d never do that). She came out last year to me and has since then been taking slow steps towards becoming the woman she is inside. Last year, when she was trying to understand herself and what it meant to be trans, she read a bunch of memoirs and shared a list of non-fiction LGBTQIA+ recommendations that y’all should definitely visit (or re-visit)! Recently, she tried on her first summer dress and she rocked it! Girl can rock a dress much better than I ever could, which should have been the first indication to me that I was decidedly not a woman myself. Oh, the awkward dysfunctions of a sexually and genderly confused teenager. Woot!
To kick-off the PRIDE shenanigans for myself, I have compiled a list of LGBTQIA+ books authored by Asian writers that are currently on my to-read list. With June being so jam-packed with current readathons and challenges, I’m not sure if I shall be able to get to all of these within the next four weeks, but I am hoping to relish them sometime during 2019-2020. Thus far I have eight total titles to share with you. If y’all have any more recommendations for me (especially if the book has lesbian and/or asexual representation) please drop them for your non-binary cat-alien in the comments below! I’d be ever so grateful! They don’t have to be authored by/be about Asians, just be #OwnVoices Queer. ✌🏾
The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang – A Singaporean silkpunk fantasy novel that revolves around two tight-knit twins—Mokoya and Akeha—who were born with similar special gifts with different affects. When a rebellion in the realm starts to take root, one twin must choose between preserving the power of state at the cost of their bond with their twin, or watching the realm erupt into chaos to keep their sibling closest to them.
Bright Lines by Tanwi Nandini Islam – A Bangladeshi fiction novel that is about an orphaned girl named Ella who moves from Bangladesh to Brooklyn to live with her aunt and uncle after losing her family. One summer when she comes home from college, Ella encounters her cousin’s friend, Maya, and an intimacy starts to bloom. Meanwhile, her uncle Anwar deals with dark secrets of his own; ones that shall force them to travel back to Bangladesh and mend the past, their family, and themselves.
Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai – A Sri Lankan young adult fiction novel taking place in the 1980s in Sri Lanka, it follows 14-year-old Amrith, who is living with his uncle and aunty, trying to forget his past with his doting, dead mum. During school holiday, Amrith hopes to participate in the school’s production of Othello. When Amrith’s cousin visits from Canada, his feelings and world erupt in a monsoon of chaos as he experiences first love.
Money Boy by Paul Yee – A Chinese young adult novel about a teen named Ray Liu who lives a cushy, suburban life with great technology and an array of video games. However, he’s just a little bit lonely and doesn’t quite fit in, being an immigrant kid that struggles with English. Then one evening his army-veteran father discovers that Ray has been looking at gay pornographic sites and throws him out of the house. When Ray is robbed and beaten on the streets, he starts to contemplate the notion of using his body to make money.
Seven Tears at High Tide by C.B. Lee – A Chinese-Vietnamese young adult fantasy story about a heartbroken boy named Kevin Luong. On a crisp evening, he walks along the shore and recalls an old legend his mother told him. Deciding to try it out, he drops seven tears into the ocean and wishes for a summer of joy and love. Shortly afterwards, he rescues another boy named Morgan, who later confesses his love for Kevin. What Kevin doesn’t know is that Morgan is a selkie who must choose between his love for Kevin and his selkie loyalty come summer’s end.
Huntress by Malindo Lo – A young adult fantasy story—also a prequel to the author’s previous work, Ash—that follows a world where the sun hasn’t shone for years, threatening the survival of people. Two teen girls are sent on an epic journey to the enigmatic city of the Fairy Queen, Tanlili. The trek takes from them many members of the party, forcing the girls to rely on one another to make it to the end. In the process they start to fall in love. However, when the time comes, only one Huntress can save the kingdom. The very thing that brought them together, may tear them apart for good.
The Paths of Marriage by Mala Kumar – An Indian contemporary multi-generational novel about three generations of women and the cultural restraints and realities that have prevented them from living as their own individuals. When the youngest generation—an out lesbian to all but her family—is confronted with her biggest fear of revealing herself to her family and losing the woman she loves forever, she must make a drastic decision, one that shall rain down chaos on the cultural comforts and outdated ideals that have followed these women through the decades.
Valmiki’s Daughter by Shani Mootoo – A Trinidadian fiction literature novel that follows a Trinidadian family, the Krishnus, which consist of a father and daughter in a closed society. Valmiki has hidden away a painful secret about his sexual identity for many years, while his youngest kid, Viveka, battles an excruciating secret of sexual identity herself. As father and daughter deal with their skeletons, the very foundation of their family is endangered to unravel.
I would like to wish a happy PRIDE month to all of my LGBTQIA+ brothers, sisters, and gender non-specific (neutral, fluid/flexible, non-binary/non-conforming, questioning, etc.) mates out there a wonderful month of you being you.
Additionally, I want to say that I understand how stressful PRIDE month can also be for anyone who isn’t out yet. Please, don’t feel pressured to do anything that you’re not ready to do, such as coming out. It in no shape, form, or anything other synonym for those words makes you a lesser or insignificant part of the community, and it also does not devalue your identity(ies). You being you also means doing whatever is right and comfortable and psychologically safe for you!
Much love and blessings to you. ☮️ 🏳️🌈✌🏾