Varying Shades of Sexuality // Seeing Myself in Books

SeeingMyselfInBooks

Books are a wonderful place to learn about new people, new worlds, and new experiences, but sometimes you just want to see characters that remind you of yourself when you read. It’s not too rare to see bookish characters in books (I know, what a shock!), but there are some other traits that you just don’t see as much – so, when you do see characters who share these characteristics, you want to jump up and down and shout “where have you been all my life, one-personality-trait-or-life-experience twin?” At least, that’s how I normally feel – thus this new feature, where I look at these amazing books that are obviously wondrous things!

I’m not totally comfortable talking about my romantic life and sexuality, even though it’s something I kind of obsess over in my head – it’s definitely one of those things that I think about over and over again when I’m trying to fall asleep at night, even though it probably gets me worked up and a little anxious, which definitely doesn’t help with falling asleep, but I never said it actually made sense, now did I? Anyway, it’s not something I talk about a lot because I feel like it’s just one more way that I’m different from my peers and most people in general, mainly because I don’t feel like there’s a box that I quite fit into. I think about boys, but I’m much more likely to think that girls are pretty and fascinating, which makes me think that I might be bisexual, but I also don’t have the same interest in physical things and feel like I could never date someone else I’m already comfortable around them, i.e. already friends with them, which makes me think that I’m demisexual. I don’t have any romantic experience, which already alienates me because this is obviously pretty much unheard of by the time you reach college, which also makes me think that I can’t actually put a label on myself because I simply don’t have the experience to back it up – for all I know, I could be a form of asexual who like romance in theory but isn’t interested in it much beyond that.

Basically, my sexuality confuses me, and it can get difficult to read book after book about characters who know who they are – either straight or gay, with the occasional bisexual – without too much angst. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of romantic angst, but I would definitely relate to it more than all of these characters obsessing over abs and butts and stuff, which is something I’ve never really gotten – seriously, why are butts considered attractive, they’re just used for expelling waste and sitting on! That’s my issue, though, so never mind that.

I’ve gotten used to supporting romances in books without actually relating to the protagonist completely, but then I read Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols, the second book in her Superlatives series. Harper isn’t me, but she’s more me than anyone I’ve really come across, and that didn’t just make my day, it pretty much made my year, if not my life.

I like labels – I’ve never been one of those people who dislikes them, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I simply like them because it makes it easier for me to feel like I belong, like there are other people like me out there, even if I don’t know them personally. Reading Harper’s story really made it feel like I’m not alone, even though we aren’t romantic twins at all.

Harper has had boyfriends in the past, but two of them were actually gay, and any others were apparently more like “practice” romances. She obviously has some sexual drive and recognizes that boys are attractive, but it’s fairly small – until she starts to get to know the love interest, Brody, and suddenly her sexual drive really kicks in. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she’s demisexual, but she certainly seems to have shades of it – she needs a relationship that’s a little deeper than seeing someone who’s hot and turns her on. In a way, she’s just learning about much of this romance and sexual stuff, even though she’s a senior in high school, and that was great to see. It’s not my situation at all, but it’s so much more my situation than what I’m used to reading, and that made all the difference.

I want to see more books like this. I just talked about a similar subject in a recent post about my own writing and sexuality, but this is coming from me more as a reader than a writer. I know that it can be scary to write about something you don’t know, especially when it’s not as clear cut as liking everyone of your own gender or everyone of the opposite gender, but I want it to happen anyway. I’m tired of just reading about characters who focus on the physical and then get to know someone – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what I experience, and every once in a while, I’d love to read about a character who thinks more like I do when it comes to sexuality.

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