Reposted from our Tumblr, here are Amanda's responses to the Queer Reading Challenge!
i. do you often read queer writing? where?
I read a lot of queer criticism and some fiction, although fiction in genres that I like is somewhat harder to come by. My favorite go-to place for queer writing has got to be Autostraddle. The writing over there is sharp, critical, and incredibly engaging. And really, really witty.
ii. what was your first queer text? how old were you?
I was fourteen when I first read Nancy Garden’s Annie On My Mind. It was the first book about lesbians that I’d read, and I remember being so relieved at finding a book starring characters who acted and thought much the same as I did. As I was figuring out who I was and grappling with my sexuality, Liza and Annie were, too, and I saw myself in them. I identified most with Liza, and I dreamed of finding my own Annie who would surprise me, delight me, and make me feel as marvelously loved and in love, just like Liza. They were my companions along my journey of coming out to myself and now, whenever I happen to pick it up for an afternoon’s escape, the familiar pages feel very much like coming home.
iii. did you identify as lgbtq+ when you picked up that first queer book?
When I discovered Annie On My Mind at my local library, I was nursing a crush on my best friend that alternately teetered from infatuation (believing that imitation is the best form of flattery, I stopped dotting my i’s because she did!) and adoration, so while I wouldn’t say that I had put a name to it, I was definitely aware of and questioning my sexuality. I identified a lot with Liza because of the way she expresses the way she’s feeling. Things she says about Annie - for example, when she says, ‘The first day, I stood in the kitchen leaning against the counter watching Annie feed the cats, and I knew I wanted to do that forever.’ - were all things I could relate to and recognize in myself.
iv. did reading or writing play a big role in your coming-out to yourself?
You know, when I wrote these questions, I didn’t actually stop to think about how I would answer. This one’s difficult - not because I don’t know what to say, but because I haven’t really said it before, at least not publicly! Reading’s the easy bit: it certainly did. Finding books, poems, and historical figures (I am such a Carrie Chapman Catt fangirl, it’s not even funny) with whom I could identify was definitely instrumental in my becoming comfortable with and proud of my sexuality.
Writing was really prominent. I wrote stories all the while I was questioning, wrote more stories as I became more comfortable in myself, and, when I came out to my mother, I did so with words I’d originally given to a character in one of those stories. Mom’s read the whole story since, of course, and loves it, as do I - but it’s the one thing I’ve never ever submitted anywhere.
v. what’s your favorite queer book?
Rebecca and I are currently reading Tove Jansson’s (yes, you read that right, the same author who wrote the Moomin books!) Fair Play, which we’re enjoying very much.
Oh, and Annie On My Mind, as you probably guessed.
PS: Look, all those links link to Goodreads! You should join our Goodreads group- I’d love to have a book club while we wait for submissions.
vi. what is your favorite queer poem? post it and tell us why it speaks to you.
I did this already! Check out this post, about the incomparable II from Adrienne Rich’s gorgeous cycle Twenty-One Love Poems.
vii. what is your favorite work by a queer author?
Without a doubt, To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf: for its beauty, its attention to tiny, seemingly insignificant details, its grappling with the making of art, and its pages and pages of achingly beautiful prose.
viii. what is your favorite lgbtq+ book that has been adapted for film or television?
Oh The Hours, hands down. I don’t think I love any film quite as much as I love that one. Meryl Streep and Miranda Richardson are sublime, and I think the cinematography and the soundtrack do an excellent job of mimicking the experience of reading a sweepingly poetic book like The Hours.
My one gripe with the novel - and by extension, the film - is that I really would have liked to have seen Virginia Woolf’s moments of lesbian tension occur with a woman with whom she actual did have a relationship, like Vita Sackville-West. And I disagree with the casting of Nicole Kidman, but that’s another story.
My second favorite book-to-film project is Portrait of a Marriage. And then Albert Nobbs. Because I’m a Janet McTeer kind of girl.