Down the TBR Hole #5

Down the TBR hole is a weekly meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story that revolves around clearing out all the books on your TBR you’re never going to read anyway. I’ll let Lia describe how it works:

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when youre scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well thats going to change!

It works like this:

~ Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.

~ Order on ascending date added.

~ Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.

~ Read the synopses of the books

~ Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’ve been putting off doing this because I am in such a lazy mood and had a couple books that I really wasn’t sure about, but I haven’t been posting much on the blog so I need to do something.

Down the TBR Hole

#1: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

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I really enjoyed the book she co-wrote with David Levithan and have been meaning to read this one for a while. Maybe next year will finally be the time.

Verdict: Stay

#2: Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep this one, but reviews have told me that one of the protagonists is bi and she has a female love interest so that’s made me more interested. Additionally, the other protagonist is Mexican-American (I think?) and both characters have disabilities. Also, it’s in my local library system.

Verdict: Stay

#3: Proxy by Alex London

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Another one I wasn’t sure about, but both boys are apparently queer according to Goodreads people. However, this was meant to be part of a trilogy and the third book was never published. There is a short story to round out the series, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how to get it since it appears to have only been distributed via the author’s newsletter. As much as the whole concept of this dystopian story interests me, I don’t have time for this shit.

Verdict: Go

#4: Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz

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I almost read this for Diversity Bingo this year, but I’ve chosen something else to read that I already had access to. I’m still hoping to read it, maybe next year.

Verdict: Stay

#5: I Know Very Well How I Got My Name by Elliott DeLine

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I really wasn’t sure about this one since it had fallen completely off my radar. However, I do need to read more books about trans boys. Sounds like it’s gonna be a rough read (there is apparently a graphic rape, for instance) so I don’t know when I’ll be in the right headspace for it, but I’ve read some dark shit before so I should be okay.

Verdict: Stay

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#NaNoWriMo Introductions

So, while I’m not planning to share as many excerpts as I did for the Camp NaNoWriMo events this year, I’m still gonna be popping in from time to time with updates about my WIP for November. And apparently October, because NaNo prep is a thing.

Anyway, Gem on Twitter put together some questions about our WIPs and I wanted to curate them all in the one place since I foolishly didn’t include my WIP hashtag in all my responses.

1. Have you done NaNo before? If so, how did it go for you? Motivating, stressful, both?

Fun fact: that 91k novel is the one I’m reworking for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Because it was a Mess.

2. Do you plan out your novels? If so, how detailed do your outlines get?

3. Do you know what story you’ll be working on for NaNo? If so, tell me a little bit about it.

4. Do you use inspo boards or folders for your novels? If you have some pics or quotes ready, feel free to share 🙂

5. Do you have a reward or punishment system in place to motivate you to get to your daily goal? Accountability partners?

6. What are some of the silly things you tend to find in your first drafts, esp when you were just focusing on word count, not quality?

7. Do you have any self-care ideas put in place to avoid overwork/stress?

(WORLD. I MEANT WORLD.)

8. Do you have any friends who would be willing to listen to you gush/rant about your WIP while you write? If not, I suggest this.

9. What are your wildest wildest dreams for this WIP?

Ta da.

#NaNoWriMo 2017 Novel Announcement

Less than a month to go until NaNoWriMo and I finally figured out what I’m gonna write: a rewrite of my first ever NaNovel from 2011. Originally titled Deathwitch, I’ve recently come to the understanding that I tried to squish two novels into one and completely did not do the first section justice by doing that. I don’t have a title for this new version yet, since Deathwitch refers to plot points that won’t even start until the sequel, so I’m just calling it by the main plot idea and hashtagging it as #QueerZombieKillingCheerleaders on Twitter. Long, but accurate.

Here’s my summary on the website (since the title will possibly change, the URL might as well):

When Gwen Parker has a bisexual awakening at a party with her lesbian best friend and cheer captain, Miranda, she expects the weirdest part of the year will be navigating her ex-boyfriend’s creepy football buddies and her father’s inability to remember she’s queer. Reading weird books about the occult is just a hobby she fits in between school, cheer practice and babysitting her little sister.

Until her teammate’s quarterback boyfriend develops creepy red eyes, students go missing and the dead rise from their graves… and everyone blames Gwen. It’s up to Gwen and her squad to find out the truth, and save their small town from a zombie apocalypse.

Unlike previous events, I’m probably not going to post as many excerpts because I think I was posting too much of my work. I will give updates and possibly share a few favourite lines.

In any case, I’ve got my Scrivener file and have started the vague beginnings of outlining (mostly half-assed character profiles at the moment) so hopefully I’ll be ready to go for November, since I’ve got quite a bit on late in that month and will need to write as much as possible early on if I’ve got a chance of winning.

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is hosted by The Little Book Owl and asks three questions:

  1. What Are You Currently Reading?
  2. What Did You Recently Finish Reading?
  3. What Do You Plan on Reading Next?

What Are You Currently Reading?

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I just started Shadowshaper tonight and am not very far in, but it’s already immensely different from the books I’ve been reading lately. I like that. I need to change things up a bit. I don’t read enough urban fantasy.

What Did You Recently Finish Reading?

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I loved Wild Beauty. The writing is gorgeous, if a little exhausting. It took pretty much everything out of me, and what little thoughts I had left went into writing my review, so I might just share the link to that and leave things there.

What Do You Plan on Reading Next?

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This is subject to change, but Mum grabbed Saints and Misfits from the bookstore for me recently and I think I might want to read it next. I’m not sure what mood I’m in at the moment. I’m still in a bit of a Wild Beauty hangover so it’s hard to decide right now. I think I definitely need to read a contemporary like this next, something completely different from what I’m reading at the moment.

 

Review: Wild Beauty

33158561Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

I received a review copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is my most anticipated 2017 release and I have been absolutely salivating over that cover. Oh, and I’m always here for the queer.

Details at a glance:

Title: Wild Beauty

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Genre: YA Magical Realism

First published: 2017

Format: e-ARC

Pairings: F/F (or F/NB?), M/F (main)

Sexual content: Implied, open for interpretation

Rep: Bisexual protagonist and cousins (Word of God, unlabelled in story), primarily Latinx cast, queer supporting characters including a gay man, unlabelled Word of God genderqueer character

Ownvoices: Yes for Latinx heritage and queerness

Content warnings: challenged homomisia (-misia = hatred/dislike), challenged racism, hints of challenged bimisia, bit of cissexism


Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing is absolutely gorgeous. So gorgeous, in fact, that it took me forever to read this book. The writing required my full, undivided attention and was so flowery at times that the concentration required sucked the energy out of me. I love the writing style, but this isn’t one of those books I can knock over in a manner of hours. Your mileage may vary.

The writing style in WILD BEAUTY is dreamy and atmospheric, full of lush descriptions of scenery and characters. McLemore is a masterful writer of flowery prose. While it was tiring to read, I was absolutely enraptured.

All five of the Nomeolvides cousins are in love with the same girl, but they live in fear that their collective love will make her disappear. I use “girl” to describe Bay because that is how she is treated and labelled throughout the book, but she would appear to be the genderqueer character mentioned in McLemore’s acknowledgements. I didn’t find it to be super clear in the text, but I’m not genderqueer myself so maybe I was missing something. I don’t think I’ve seen any genderqueer reviewers tackle this, but if someone has seen a review like that, please link me.

Anyway, the cousins give offerings to La Pradera, the land to which they are magically tied under pain of death, to try and save her, which leads to a boy, Fel, appearing in the gardens. Fel and the other protagonist, Estrella who is one of the Nomeolvides cousins, have incredible narrative voices and I love both characters to peaces. To be clear, their romance is the primary romance, with the other romance being prominent but not involving any POV characters.

The story is hugely family-focused, which makes sense given Estrella comes from a large family of assertive women, five per generation. While the romances are important, Estrella’s strong family ties form the backbone of the story. Each of her cousins–Gloria, Azalea, Dalia and Calla–are incredibly distinctive, though it did take me some time to pick up on their differences. Much of Estrella’s actions are fuelled by a need to protect her family.

The most important character in the story is easily La Pradera itself. The Nomeolvides women are beholden to its mercy and spend much of the story trying to interpret what the land is telling them. The mystery of why the land holds onto the women and takes their lovers from them, coupled with the urgency of Bay’s wealthy family upsetting the apple cart of their lives, drives the plot.

From the narrative, it seems like the Nomeolvides women are Mexican-American, given they were historically displaced by American land treaties, and Fel and his brother were undocumented immigrants from a couple of communities in Spain (Andalusia and near Ceuta).

It’s worth noting that bisexuality is pretty much exclusively described as an interest in men and women in this story, despite the apparent presence of a genderqueer character.

Overall, WILD BEAUTY is a gorgeous, atmostpheric read with an interesting mystery to unravel. The romances are gorgeous and the family connections are beautiful to read. It’s one of my favourite books of 2017.

Down the TBR Hole #4

Down the TBR hole is a weekly meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story that revolves around clearing out all the books on your TBR you’re never going to read anyway. I’ll let Lia describe how it works:

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when youre scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well thats going to change!

It works like this:

~ Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.

~ Order on ascending date added.

~ Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.

~ Read the synopses of the books

~ Decide: keep it or should it go?

Down the TBR Hole

#1: The Culling by Steven Dos Santos

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QUEER DYSTOPIAN. I got this from a friend as part of a book trade. As is probably evident from my previous Down the TBR Hole, I’m currently in a section full of queer books. I went on a huge adding spree when I was first starting to read more diversely and this book is a part of that. Fortunately, I still want to read it, though it will probably have to wait until next year since my TBR for the rest of the year is mostly set in stone aside from the Sapphic Readathon, which is about queer women and not dudes anyway. So… next year.

Verdict: Stay

#2: Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block

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Another book I added in my early queer book adding spree. When I started looking at this, I was determined to throw it off my TBR, but the fact it’s an Odyssey retelling full of queer characters has sucked me back in. Also: queer dystopian.

That reminds me. I need to read the goddamn Odyssey at some point.

Verdict: Stay

#3: Valhalla by Ari Bach

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I have an ebook of this. I can’t remember if it was free or just really cheap. Either way, I have a vague recollection of seeing Harmony Ink Press doing some kind of deal and I jumped on it.

Anyway, more queer dystopian. This one’s an interesting concept: a more brawn-than-brains protagonist in a world where war is supposedly obsolete. Except world peace is nowhere near as secure as it’s made out to be. The thing that really drew me in was the fact the protagonist is an angry, violent person. Also, I just found a review that describes the cast as “morally-grey misfits” and we already know I love me some of that.

Verdict: Stay

#4: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

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Another victim of my early days queer-book-adding spree. The MC is bisexual, which would normally draw me in all by itself, but I’ve really stopped caring about wanting to read this book over time. I just don’t think I’m in the mood for it anymore. If anyone reading this is looking for a book without any romance in it, though, this one might be worth checking out. It’s just not for me.

Verdict: Go

#5: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

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Come on. Queer princesses. Sapphic hate to love. Magic and shit. This is right up my alley. And I can request to get it transferred to my library for pickup.

Hell. Yes.

Verdict: Stay

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Bi & Pan Characters

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Broke and Bookish. This week’s theme is:

September 26:  Ten Books That Feature Characters ____________: Examples: Ten books that feature black main characters, characters who hold interesting jobs, characters who have a mental illness, characters that are adopted, characters that play sports, etc, etc. Can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

I saw Foxes & Fairytales did a list of bi characters for this week, so I’m going to do one as well with different characters, and with the addition of a couple of known pan characters in books I have read. Most of these characters are the protagonists in books that I have read, with one exception for each of those.

I also may have snuck an additional character in since there were multiple options for one of the books.

Top Ten Tuesday

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Grace from How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

Is anyone surprised? I love this book so much. I want to adopt Grace away from her terrible mother. I have a piano she can use!

Alex from Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

While Alex’s sexuality is unlabelled (possibly because she only woke up to her queerness late in the book), I really loved her journey to realising her feelings for another character as well as her literal journey to save her family from her own mistake.

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Rumor Mora and Nyx Llorca from 27 Hours by Tristina Wright

While I had mixed feelings about the book as a whole, I loved Rumor and thought the bi rep was done well. Nyx is on-the-page pansexual rep with a trans girl love interest and I loved her too.

Estrella from Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

This one comes from Word of God rather than textual evidence, but I’m still loving Estrella and her cousins.

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Ida from Ida by Alison Evans

This is an Aussie one. Ida is a plus-sized bisexual Vietnamese-Australian girl with the ability to turn back time… or so it appears. Her love interest is nonbinary.

Sophie from Far From You by Tess Sharpe

I mean… come on. I had to include her. I love Sophie. She’s been through hell and back and she just keeps on going. She’s also the first on-the-page bi character that I ever read.

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Chris from The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis

Chris is only the second on-the-page pansexual character I have read. I related to a lot of her experiences as a university dropout trying to find a new place in the world.

Frankie from Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler

Frankie Bellisario is the first on-the-page pan character I have read. I remember her being a lot of fun to read and it was also cool to read about a character for whom monogamy isn’t really her natural state, but she’s willing to try for her love interest, Samara.

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Seth from Coffee Boy by Austin Chant

Seth isn’t a protagonist, but as the main character’s love interest in a romance, he is extremely prominent. He’s an extremely caring guy who is hyper-aware of the power imbalance between him and the much-younger protagonist, Kieran.

Reese from Adaptation by Malinda Lo

I haven’t read this one yet, but I was just reminded of this book’s existence. And apparently Reese has both male and female love interests.

Down the TBR Hole #3

Down the TBR hole is a weekly meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story that revolves around clearing out all the books on your TBR you’re never going to read anyway. I’ll let Lia describe how it works:

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when youre scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well thats going to change!

It works like this:

~ Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.

~ Order on ascending date added.

~ Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.

~ Read the synopses of the books

~ Decide: keep it or should it go?

As per usual, my TBR has grown since the last time. So let’s trim some branches. Or, at least, attempt to.

Down the TBR Hole

#1: Huntress by Malinda Lo

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This is a prequel to Malinda’s novel Ash, which I read late last year and really quite enjoyed. I was pretty sure this one was available at my local library and just checked their website to find I was correct. I’m always down for more F/F, and maybe I can read it for the Sapphic Readathon in December. Even if I don’t manage it then, it’s still worth keeping on my TBR since a lot of the queer books I read these days are contemporary, which is moving away from my fantasy roots that I would really like to maintain.

Verdict: Stay

#2: Adaptation by Malinda Lo

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My specific local library doesn’t have this one, but another couple within the same system have it so I can request it when I wanna read it. And apparently the bi MC has male and female love interests. Cool.

Verdict: Stay

#3: Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

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I’ve known multiple dancer girls who are recovering from eating disorders, so this feels like an extremely important book to read. From the reviews I’ve read, it also sounds like bisexuality is handled really well, which is no surprise considering the author is bi. While parts of it are harmful to lesbian readers, because of the remainder of the subject matter, I still think it’s worth reading with a grain of salt.

Verdict: Stay

#4: Pantomine by Laura Lam

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This one has been on my radar for a long time. However, I think the time has come to recognise that I’m probably never going to read it. The only thing that kept it on my TBR this long was the intersex rep, since I stopped having any real interest in the story itself years ago. Maybe I’ll get around to reading this eventually, but that seems unlikely.

Verdict: Go

#5: Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

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Another queer classic I need to read. It’s available in my library’s network, though it’s another I’ll have to request a transfer for. I actually love how the Goodreads blurb talks about it being a banned book that was publicly burned in Kansas like it’s a badge of honour… which, honestly, it kind of is.

Since this fits into what I hope will end up being a quest to read the queer classics, this is definitely staying on the TBR.

Verdict: Stay

 

 

#BiVisibilityDay: 90+ Bi, Pan & Other Multi-Attracted Twitterers

I’ve been sharing my bi blog posts here and there for Bisexual Visibility Month and I wanted to do something cool for our day. So this is a list of Twitter-users who are attracted to multiple genders.

Of the multi-attracted orientations, bisexuality is the most visible and we are the only one with a month, week and day dedicated to us. Because of that, and because I’ve seen pan folk wanting to get involved, I opened this list up to anyone who is romantically or sexually attracted to multiple genders. People on the ace and aro spectrums are included. I’m one of them. We are all valid and deserve recognition.

Disclaimer: Some people on this list are my personal friends. I also asked the Twitterverse for other people who’d like to be included and accepted most people who replied. Because I’m a member of the bookish community, most of these people are book reviewers or writers, but we also have a few people from outside the community.

I ended up with over 90 people on the list. For the sake of everyone’s eyes, I’ve grouped them alphabetically. I also removed most emojis from people’s bios.

Bi, Pan & Other Multi-Attracted Twitterers

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On the Marriage Equality “Debate”

TWs: homomisia, transmisia, child molestation, mental health, suicide, conversion therapy

Australia is a homomisic* mess right now. You’d be hard-pressed to find a queer person who hasn’t been affected in some way. I’m on the more fortunate side of things, being a cis white adult woman with a supportive middle class family. But even I’m feeling the burn. I can’t speak on other people’s experiences, but I can talk about my own, and how even things that seem minor shouldn’t be goddamn happening.

*The -misia/misic/misiac suffix means hatred or dislike. I prefer it, to make sure I’m not hurting people with actual phobias (because homophobia is about bigotry and is not a literal diagnosable phobia OKAY???), but often can’t use it because it’s not common knowledge. So anyone who wants to try and derail this by crying about HOMOPHOBIA IS A PHOBIA THEY CAN’T HELP IT or some shit can go fuck off.

I suppose I should explain how the hell we are in this situation.

Basically, the conservative government (who are a coalition of the so-called “Liberal” party and the notoriously bigoted Nationals) ran for election on a platform that included holding a non-binding plebiscite vote on the issue of marriage equality, as opposed to the centre-left party, Labor, who promised a free vote in parliament. For some ridiculous fucking reason, the Coalition actually won the election.

Despite the LGBTQIAP+ community speaking up about how putting our rights to a public vote, actually giving ad revenue to both sides (read: PAYING homomisiacs to abuse us publicly) AND emboldening random Australians to behave like fucking assholes would be actively harmful to us, especially our youth, the government went ahead… even though breaking election promises is something of a national pasttime among our politicians.

Labor actually listened to us and refused to vote for the plebiscite when it was brought to parliament. Multiple conservatives, including our former PM and unshakeable bad penny Tony Abbott, threw a hissy fit and claimed the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, along with the Greens party, did not trust the Australian people to have a respectful debate. The thing is? We have plenty of evidence from Ireland’s vote that points to such public votes being actively harmful to LGBTQIAP+ people. So… more like Shorten was trusting the members of the Australian public who stood to be negatively affected by a public debate on our human rights.

Bill Shorten’s comment on election promises has to be my favourite thing ever:

Oh, spare me. These guys have broken election promises on just about everything you can think of.

And the other thing is: I made an election promise that we would have a vote in Parliament, so I’ve got to be true to my election promise.

The real issue, though, is: what is in the best interest of the nation? And is it really the best use of $122 million?

We could use this: we’ve done some research. We could do dialysis for Indigenous Australians in remote communities for decades using this. Thousands of extra nurses, thousands of extra teachers. This could go and help with our police force, keeping us safe.

Like him or not, he knows what he’s talking about.

So, the vote to hold the plebiscite failed. Then the government decided to get sneaky and hold a (also non-binding AND now non-compulsory) postal “survey” instead, run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, without having to put it to a parliamentary vote by characterising the $122 million as a supposedly “unforeseen” expenditure vital the running of the country. This was not unforeseen, as they had been threatening to go this route if Labor did not let the plebiscite through, but somehow the High Court did not rule their use of the funds illegal.

In the midst of this, campaign ads from both sides began airing, well before ballot papers started arriving in letterboxes across the country. And that’s as good a time as any to start talking about the detrimental effects this bullshit is already having on our community.

The YES campaign’s official ads are based on positivity and community and just overall being a nice person. Because… ya know… that’s literally what this is about for the LGBTQIAP+ allies. But the NO campaign…

Hoo, boy. Where do we even start?

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