After months of silence on Bonjour Cass, I am thrilled to present my new project on books and publishing from a queer perspective, QUEERLY SEEN.
Queerly Seen is my attempt to take everything I liked about Bonjour, Cass–writing about books, the focus on LGBTQ lit, interaction with the book blog community–and add in a few things I felt too boxed in to do on Bonjour, Cass, like criticism, essays, writing regularly, and a blog name that compels an acknowledgement of LGBTQ people. I am approaching it as a kind of Bonjour Cass 2.0: better and queerer than ever.
I began Bonjour Cass! in 2009, and I approached blogging as a way to keep my brain active during an otherwise monotonous, unemployed existence (my low level job at a mid-sized bank was a casualty of the Great Recession). While I was passionate about books and connecting with other readers who wanted to discuss them, I quickly grew alienated from a community of mostly straight bloggers. I was frustrated that even the most popular blogs writing about LGBT books were mostly run by straight people. I did not start Bonjour Cass with the idea that it would be an “lgbtq book blog,” but as my frustrations with the coverage of LGBTQ books mounted, I tried to shift my focus and be more “out” on my blog.
The weakness of Bonjour Cass was that it was founded without a clear plan and therefore did not have a clear focus other than to be a “book blog,” a limited concept constricted by my self-imposed limitations on the “correct” way to write for my imagined audience, my selection of books to read, how openly queer I felt comfortable being on the internet, and a sometimes paralyzing insecurity about my writing. I struggled to balance my desire to be “liked” with my anger with the coverage of LGBT books on book blogs and in the publishing world at large.
I did not write about the topics I am passionate about, like the representation of queer people in pop culture, especially literature; building a diverse queer community informed by feminism, anti-racism, and a commitment to social justice; and exploring how/if the simple act of reading can be a political action, or something that leads to political action. I ended up giving in to my overwhelming fear of “not being good enough”; it lead to not even trying because without attempting, one cannot fail. It was a terrible cycle that helps nothing.
So what has changed now that has allowed me to break free from my insecure, unproductive rut? What, over the past almost six (SIX) years since I started book blogging, have I done to change my circumstances?
Here’s a Bonjour Cass-ian list to explain:
WHAT I’VE DONE TO UPGRADE TO CASS 2.0
- Dealt with my shit. Which, you know, we don’t need to get into now, but suffice to say I’ve experienced more than my fair share of problems over the years, and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to find and utilize some amazing resources that have finally help me heal.
- Found my inner strength.After years of people telling me it was there, I found it! So that was cool. It also quieted the nagging voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough, and really, even if I’m “not good enough” for something, who cares? You can’t be good at something if you don’t try, and I’m really over not trying.
- Found the love of my life. Ugh, I know, barf. But also? She’s really great and she lifts me up and it’s beautiful. It’s amazing how much easier it is to challenge yourself when you have a strong support system.
- Spent a lot of time planning. I have spent months thinking, planning, and drafting what my ideal website/blog would be like, what types of posts and content it would have, and what I would have to do to ensure success. I realized that success for me is expressing myself through writing and being as authentic and “credible” as possible. I want to bring the authenticity of my personal story to my writing, and to my analysis of books and representations of queer people in literature.
Many thanks to the amazing bloggers and readers who have supported me and Bonjour Cass over the years.