‘How Books Illuminated My Journey of Queer Self-Discovery’

Some of my earliest book memories are family trips to WHSmith with our World Book Day book vouchers.

We received our vouchers at school and I held that card tightly, wanting to keep it wrinkle-free. Our parents would be very patient with me and my siblings as the three of us ran to the book stand before spending a long time making our choices.

We would also have a ton of fun searching the house for book character costumes to go to school in. In the years that passed, I remember dressing up as Angelina Ballerina, Pippi Longstocking, and a year later, of course, Sarah the Sunday Fairy.

World Book Day made a big impression on my childhood. The event was originally created by UNESCO in 1995 to “promote reading for pleasure and give every child and young person the opportunity to have their own book.” In fact, OECD research has shown that reading for pleasure is the greatest indicator of a child’s future success.

I am therefore very grateful to have had parents who encouraged us to read as children – I have enjoyed every book the Magic distant tree series from Enid Blyton to Suzanne Collins’ The hunger Games. But for me, reading was not only a passion and a pastime that followed me into adulthood, it also allowed me to discover who I am and find the LGBTQIA+ representation I needed to feel seen.

Over the past five years I have been on a journey with my sexuality, ending up with the labels ‘asexual’ and ‘lesbian’. As all aces will know, there is very limited asexual representation in the media. When I first started questioning my identity, there were virtually no top characters on TV. Still, I came across a few books.

Loveless by Alice Oseman is a YA asexual classic about Georgia, a teenager heading off to college and questioning her sexuality, making friends along the way while riding the roller coaster of college life. Reading Loveless was a real hit; so many of my experiences reflected back to me from the pages.

It’s an amazing experience to feel completely seen and understood through a book, and more than that, books like Loveless even gave me the invaluable sense of community with other top people that I have today.

Leave a Comment