We all have people who inspire us. In this blog post, Library staff and select members of the LGBTQ+ Services Committee, opens a new window share both fictional characters and real-life individuals who have and continue to inspire us to be ourselves, navigate self-acceptance, work to create a more just world, and express our inner uniqueness. Links in this blog post go to books, streaming video, and music available at your library!
Julián from Julián is a Mermaid, opens a new window. Julián, a child of maybe 7 or 8, wants to dress up as a beautiful mermaid and attend the annual Mermaid Festival in this beautiful picture book by Jessica Love. Julián can inspire all of us to live our lives as our truest selves.
Richard Brown, Ph.D. Dr. Brown was a theater professor at the University of Delaware while I was a student there in the mid-1990s. He was the first person that I had met that I knew to have HIV/AIDS and lived his life as an out gay man despite pushback and discrimination from the University. Seeing how he led his life helped me when I came out of the closet. He was one of many from his generation who helped open the door for the rest of us.
One of my early inspirations was Leslie Feinberg, opens a new window, author of Stone Butch Blues, opens a new window. Leslie was a fierce worker’s rights advocate, and the most visible transgender role model of their time. Leslie helped pave the way for so many of our transgender community members to live their true lives. Stone Butch Blues won the Lambda Literary Award and the 1994 American Library Association Gay & Lesbian Book Award.
One of the LGBTQ+ fictional characters that has personally inspired me is Aristotle from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, opens a new window. Seeing a main character that was both gay and Mexican American really resonated with me. I actually felt seen and represented. And, if some guy like me can navigate the scary road of self-acceptance and sexual identity, why couldn’t I?
A real life LGBTQ+ person who inspires me is Miley Cyrus, opens a new window. If you didn’t know, Miley identifies as pansexual which basically means she’s attracted to people of every gender identity. She’s a rock star and exudes confidence which inspires me to do the same.”
My best friend, Meikil A. Berry (d. 2018) inspires me. She described herself (by quoting Audre Lorde) as a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet." She used her writing to explore and deal with issues of identity, racism, child abuse, and domestic violence. She wrote a one-woman show entitled No Resuscitation Required and performed it in Tucson in the mid-1990s. She read from her collection Closet Blues at the PCC Proscenium Theatre. She performed at the Dunbar Cultural Center in 2017. She read her own work and Beah Richards’ “A Black Woman Speaks… of White Womanhood, of White Supremacy, of Peace." She wrote, gave readings, and performed throughout her life. She believed in writing as means to create a more just world.
The fictional character who inspires me is Taako, The Adventure Zone, opens a new window – Balance (podcast and graphic novel series). Taako inspires me because he’s so unapologetically himself, regardless of how over the top, admittedly sometimes abrasive, that may be. His identity is important, but it’s not the main point of the plot, it’s just another part of him that he’s direct about.
Hunter 'Ich' Dolgner is my real-life inspiration. Hunter is an amazing artist, a great writer, and my best friend of 13+ years. He’s so talented, creative and skilled, and it was due to his coming out in the first place that led me to question my identity, and he helped me on my path of figuring out who I am.
Ronan Farrow, opens a new window is an inspiring figure for his intelligence and commitment to investigative journalism.
I'm inspired by Julián from Julián is a Mermaid, opens a new window and Julián at the Wedding, opens a new window by Jessica Love. The expression of Julián's identity begins with a quiet revelation: "Abuela, I am also a mermaid." With fierce determination and creative ingenuity, along with the unconditional love of his grandmother, Julián's transformation is gorgeous and amazing to behold! Julián is an inspiration to express our own inner uniqueness!
Hands down, Brandi Carlile, opens a new window. She's been an inspiration to me for years. Becoming a mother, keeping your heart young, holding your head high... her songs resonate in more ways than I can count. Her rise to fame was slow, but steady, and now—a multiple Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter and producer—she is an advocate for causes ranging from spreading awareness for health issues to LGBTQ+ rights and empowerment of women.
Cameron Post, from The Miseducation of Cameron Post, opens a new window, is inspirational. She's overwhelmingly real and compelling. Cameron shows a range of emotions—from confusion to amusement—which bring her character to life in poignant and relatable ways.