Throughout the summer students, faculty, and staff at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith will release weekly reading (and watching) lists, centered around amplifying diverse voices, and sharing fulfilling, fun, moving, and monumental stories with the UAFS community.
For the second week of this summer series, the dedicated librarians at the UAFS Boreham Library and Dr. Jordan Mader, chemistry professor and advisor to the UAFS Pride Club, created a list that celebrates and honors the LGBTQIA+ community and the excitement of Pride Month.
Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher, Surviving Ophelia by Cheryl Dellasega, and Ophelia Speaks by Sarah Shandler; Recommended by Dr. Jordan Mader
These works look at the effects of societal pressures on young girls and give responses from mothers and adolescents, respectively. While it doesn’t focus exclusively on LGBTQIA+ content (they were written before that was much of a thing), they were very helpful to me. Ophelia Speaks was written as a response to Reviving Ophelia. They are all sad and uplifting at the same time, and I think nearly everyone will find something to identify with, especially in Ophelia Speaks. The Boreham Library has Reviving Ophelia in Book, DVD, and Streaming Video.
Based on a webcomic series, these graphic novels tell the coming-of-age story of Eric Bittle, an ex-junior figure skating champion turned college hockey player learning to cope with the contact sport—and his feelings towards Jack, his attractive team captain.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli / Love, Simon directed by Greg Berlanti; produced by Temple Hill production, Wyck Godfrey, Marty Bowen, Pouya Shahbazian, and Isaac Klausner; Recommended by Jason D. Phillips
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn't play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone's business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he's been emailing, will be compromised. With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon's junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he's pushed out -- without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met.
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey; Recommended by Amanda Sexton
Upright Women Wanted is purely a fun read. It’s for all the queers who grew up having to watch John Wayne movies with their parents, wishing that there had been at least one gay person in the Wild West. Imagine Cat Ballou married to Annie Oakley and you’ve got Upright Women Wanted. It’s a post-apocalyptic Wild West tale where books are banned, but there are lesbian and non-binary librarians to save the day! “Fight the state. Be a librarian.”
Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers; Recommended by Amanda Sexton
This book is a dose of normality for queer women. Grace is a typical gay woman in her twenties. A recent PhD grad who is feeling completely lost. She has always followed the rules until one day she wakes up in Vegas to find she’s married to a random woman. Honey Girl follows Grace in her journey of self-discovery, dealing with trauma, new romance, and the warm fuzzy feeling of a late-night text.
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen – recommended by Alora Bauer
A fairytale retelling, a coming out story, an immigrant account – there are so many layers to this beautiful graphic novel. Centered around a mother and son's relationship and their struggle to communicate across language and cultural barriers, The Magic Fish reveals the power of stories and shared experience to bring us together.
Dr. Mader also recommended: Better than Chocolate, But I’m a Cheerleader, Bound, Imagine Me & You, D.E.B.S., Fried Green Tomatoes, In & Out, The Birdcage, The Object of my Affection, Chasing Amy, Kissing Jessica Stein, Lost & Delirious as great movies to add to your summer watch list.