August & September Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello and welcome to my wrap up for both August and September. I didn’t read very much in these months, so I’m combining them. Let’s just get right into it.

The first book I read in August was Good Talk by Mira Jacob. A graphic memoir told in a series of interviews and conversations with her son, her parents, various people in her life or fictional conversations with celebrities. Jacob looks at the American experience through the lens of being a first-generation American, coming from a family of immigrants. She speaks about her experience of being the only non-white student to win an essay contest and how it felt to be a brown-skinned New Yorker when 9/11 happened. — This was an unique take on a memoir, using a mixture of drawings for people and pictures for backgrounds. I’m not entirely sure I like it personally, but I did enjoy reading this and seeing the various experiences that Jacob has had. This is very much about the immigrant experience and growing up surrounded by that.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao. Huaxia is at constant war with Hunduns, mecha aliens that lurk beyond the great walls, and they fight the aliens with Chrysalises, which require two pilots. Zetian, a 18-year-old, signs up to become a concubine-pilot, who usually are the ones to die while the male pilots burn through them. Zetian signed up because she wanted to kill the man who had murdered her sister, and she gets her wish in a way no one anticipated. She eventually gets paired with one of the strongest and most unpredictable pilots, but she’s not about to back down. Not when she could burn her way through the ranks and destroy the system, preventing more girls from being sacrificed. — There is so much that happens in this book, I wouldn’t be able to cover it all without spoiling some major plot points, and I wouldn’t do it justice! Zetian is based on the first empress of China, so this is essentially Asian-inspired sci-fi/fantasy. You can really feel Zetian’s rage at this unfair system, one that is rigged in favor of the men, the overarching oppression of women and keeping them under control. She is far from the stereotype of a meek and obedient Asian woman, is a powerful woman, not afraid to take risks, but it doesn’t veer into becoming the opposite stereotype. She’s still human, still feels fear and has emotions, struggles with her being. This book challenges the strong binary traditions and thinking of Huaxia, and by extension, the world’s. It absolutely speaks against patriarchy and strong gender roles, not allowing those to be a determinant in how Zetian lives her life, along with her lovers. There is polyamory that comes up later in the book, along with men loving men. I could go on and on, but I would prefer you go read this amazing and epic story. This is the first in a series, and I can’t wait to see what Xiran Jay Zhao writes next!

Juliet Takes a Breath: The Graphic Novel by Gabby Rivera, illustrated by Celia Moscote. Juliet is headed to Portland, leaving the Bronx right after she came out to her family. She’s not sure she’ll ever speak to her mom again, but to figure herself out, Juliet is going to Portland to intern with her fave feminist author. However, it’s not a perfect plan since Harlowe is white, has a different upbringing, and isn’t all-knowing. Juliet is dealing with figuring out her identity as an out Puerto Rican lesbian, and she lucks into finding some queer family who help guide and encourage her. — This is based on the novel by Rivera, which I’ve already read. This is essentially the same story, just in a visual format. The colors and art in this is gorgeous! I really enjoyed this, and would recommend it even if you’ve already read the novel.

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo are both students at an elite school, Niveus Private Academy. At the start of their senior year, they’re both selected to be prefects, which is going to look fantastic on their college applications and puts them in running for valedictorian. Not long after the announcement, a mysterious person calling themselves Aces starts sending mass texts to the whole school, revealing secrets about Devon and Chiamaka that could completely destroy their carefully planned futures. The secrets start out as very minor and seemed like a sick prank, but become more serious and dangerous, stacking everything against them. Chiamaka and Devon race to stop Aces before it gets deadly, and expose Aces for who they are. — This is so so good, and I can’t believe it’s a debut! Àbíké-Íyímídé does a great job of creating and building up the unease, suspense, and the sense of danger everywhere we turn. Chiamaka and Devon are the only Black students at Niveus, and it does quickly become obvious they’re being targeted because of that. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that there are queer characters in this. It’s a weird phrase to be saying, but this book is very cinematic. I can easily see this being adapted to the big screen, and I hope it is, with a great director.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. Deka is coming of age and is about to undergo a ritual to determine the purity of her blood. Deka prays it’ll run red and not gold. Those who bleed gold are impure and will be put to death. The feared day comes, and Deka bleeds gold. She’s locked away from the town as the elders attempt to find her final death. Deka goes through an unimaginable amount of pain before she’s rescued by a mysterious woman who wants to recruit her into an army of the impure, called alaki. This is when Deka learns that those who bleed gold are considered demons and have supernatural gifts. They’re sent to fight creatures called deathshrieks, which threaten the safety of the Otera empire. The deathshrieks attack villages, stealing young girls and killing all else. Deka also learns that she is unique, even among the alaki, and is figuring out what this all means for her. She also learns of many dark things that have happened in Otera’s history, realizing that all she’s been told growing up is not the whole truth. — There is so much that goes on in this, but it is incredible. It is very dark, and a lot of violent things happen, including allusions to sexual assault, torture, war, child soldiers and a bunch I’m not covering. Make sure you look up a full list if you need to check. This is a story about a girl who was raised in an extremely patriarchal society, one that controls women by judging the “purity” of their blood, and when they’re recruited into the army of impure, they’re sent to the frontlines ahead of the men soldiers. It’s a very violent story full of exploitation and oppression, but also has stories of love, people caring for each other, finding their own meaning among the horrors that surround them. I didn’t care for the romance between Deka and her assigned soldier, but that was minor. There is a queer relationship which is casually mentioned, but not until much later into the story, nearly at the end. I’m also so over gendered magic because it never considers the relationship that queer, trans, and nonbinary people have with it. Fantasy also rarely considers the lives of queer, fat, and disabled people, which would’ve been nice to see in this especially since it speaks of revolution and pushing the envelope of who can do what. However! That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy The Gilded Ones. I did very much, and I will definitely be picking up the next Deathless book when it comes out.

That’s all of what I read in August and September. I haven’t been reading much this month either, so I might bundle October with November, we’ll see. Let me know what you think of these books, and I’ll see you next time!

Big Life Update

Hello and welcome! I know, it’s been two months since my last post. Part of that is I just haven’t been motivated to make videos/posts. That’s part of it. Part of it is that I’ve just been busy doing things. I will give a quick sum up and catch you up on what I’ve been up to.

In August, I had a family reunion from my dad’s side of the family. It was really good to see them. I hadn’t seen many of them for a long time, years. So it was really good to have that short weekend with all of them getting together. Plus we had my two aunts and a cousin visiting for one week, so it was really good to see them. That was nice. So of course, because they were here, I wanted to focus on them, spend time with them.

Then I was involved in the Deaf artists retreat, over a long weekend. Several different Deaf artists got together, mostly from the PNW, some joined from other areas. This was just a great experience. I really enjoyed it, I went as an artist. And I do have a project from that. I still haven’t really started editing, but my goal is to do that while–over the next few weeks. That’s my goal. It was a really great experience. Meeting new people, working with some people that I’ve known for a while or followed for a while. It was a really rich experience. I’m now on the committee for that, and I’m really looking forward to the future, what happens from now on.

Right after the retreat, I went on a road trip from the retreat which was in west Washington, down through Oregon and to north California. Unfortunately, I had to cut it a little short, because the fires… It’s not great air quality. While I stopped by a beach, my car got broken into. I’m fine. It happened while I gone, and they stole mostly what had just sentimental value, nothing with monetary value. Most of what they stole was dirty laundry. So…suckers! Yes, it was annoying that my window was broken, but. The important thing is that I’m fine, things can be replaced. Nothing really valuable like my camera, laptop, iPad, none of that was stolen. So that’s the important part. And really, that trip was good. Getting out, sightseeing a little bit, visiting my friend in Oregon. It was good to see him for a few days.

Not long after the roadtrip finished, I got asked if I was available for a work trip. Sure, so I was arranging hotels, flights, all of that, making sure everything’s good to go for my trip to California and Colorado. I enjoyed it, it was a good trip. I enjoy the people I work with. It was ten days, but exhausting. I came back home, and had only a few days to rest before I went to catsit for a friend, and a friend was visiting from out of town for a week or so. That was really good to see them here, meeting in person, finally. I was taking them and showing them around Seattle, that was fun.

Now you’re mostly caught up on the last two months of what I’ve been up to. Last, but definitely not least, I’ve moved! This is a different location, you can’t tell because of the blank wall. But yes, trubiz! I now live in a house. I have three roommates, they’re all hearing and don’t know sign. But I’m working on it! This house is in the Green Lake area, close by. This is one of my favorite areas of Seattle, I just love this area. So I saw this place, oh yes. I was lucky to get this place. The rent is really good for this location. I just moved in, barely over a week now. I will not show the outside of the house, to protect my privacy and that of my roommates. I probably won’t give a house tour, probably not. But my room, yeah. Once I’m more settled in, have my room set up how I want it, then I’ll show you. For now, just know that I have my own place in Seattle now. I’m very excited about this, much closer to everything. Just happy I found this place, and that I can finally move.

So that’s the two months that I disappeared for. I wasn’t motivated partly because I was tired from all of my doings – work, friend visiting, travel, moving to a new place. And I just wanted to say hi, yes. I’m just busy, and not motivated. I might disappear again for a month? Because I’m leaving soon to travel for a friend’s wedding, visiting a friend, a bachelorette party. So… I will try to, when I have downtime, I will try to do videos and editing, yes. I will try, but no promises. Just saying, don’t be surprised if I disappear again for a month. Go ahead and leave in the comments if you have any questions about what I’ve been up to, or… Any exciting life updates with you all? Let me know! I miss making videos for you all! I’m hoping to get back into it, we’ll see. Thank you for watching, I hope to see you again soon!

June & July Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my wrap up for June and July! I read 10 books in June, and six of them were completed during the Queer Lit Readathon. One of them was intended for that, but I didn’t finish it in time. And in July, I read only three books. I decided to go ahead and combine them into one video. I’ll also be keeping my reviews brief unless it was an ARC, which I already have a full review for. Let’s get started!

My first book that I finished in June is Men With Their Hands by Raymond Luczak. This is a book written by a deaf author about Michael, a young deaf man from a small town who moves to New York City, struggles to fit in and find his people until he falls in with a chosen family of deaf gay men from various backgrounds. This is set over decades, starting in 1978 and finishing in 2003 (this book was published in 2009). — This book was fine, I gave it three stars. I thought it was a decent concept and story, but I felt the plot was somewhat lacking. There’s an archetype of almost every type of a gay person and they’re all completely different, which is fine! It did feel a little forced, like Luczak was attempting to cover all his bases. There’s naturally going to be some similar people in a group, or some overlaps, so I think it was a little over the top to make all of them completely different people. I didn’t feel there was any real depth or meat to the story. There is sign language used in this, and Luczak chose to go the route of writing in a modified form of ASL gloss. For those who aren’t familiar, ASL gloss is writing out the signs a person uses with English words, but in the order that the person signed. So it can look a little like “broken” English, and it really doesn’t capture the nuance of ASL, because it doesn’t include facial expressions and body language. Luczak modified it to be more of a mix between gloss and English for some more clarity. However, I don’t think it was fully successful. But I personally don’t think I’ll really ever be happy with how sign language is portrayed in written form. Moving on!

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore. This is a beautiful and very difficult story about Ciela and Lock who both experience being sexually assaulted at the same party. They slowly discover this, and develop a fragile friendship built on her family’s pastelería where she might have a little magic, and his secret, otherworldly forest. — I thought this was heartbreaking and very well-written. McLemore really took care with their characters, and never wrote anything graphic, but gives you enough to understand what’s happened. There’s elements of magic and surreality woven throughout, with Ciela’s ability to know exactly what pan dulce a person needs at the given moment, that gift disappearing after the assault, and things in the world turning into mirrored glass, bringing dangerous magic with it. Also! Ciela is pansexual, and there are other queer characters throughout. I would absolutely recommend this read, if you are able. Obvious content warnings for sexual assault, please check for others to make sure.

Now, we’re on books I read for the Queer Lit Readathon. First up, I read The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston. This is the second book in the Once Upon a Con series, the first being Geekerella. This is the same universe, but following Jessica Stone, one of the stars of Starfield. She plays Princess Amara and wants out, and Amara might be killed off in the show. Amara is Imogen’s favorite character, she doesn’t want that to happen, so she’s doing what she can to stop it from happening. Someone mistakes Imogen for Jess, and they end up being thrown together, they trade places to figure out who leaked the newest script. — This leads to some chaos, because of course. This was a great fluffy summer read that happens at a con, just like Geekerella. I enjoyed it.

The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan. Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana has very conservative Muslim parents, and she does her best to live up to their expectations. However, she’s finding it harder to do as her parents continue to blatantly favor her brother, hiding her makeup and “inappropriate” clothes, along with her girlfriend. She hopes to keep it hidden until she escapes Seattle to go to Caltech, pursuing her dream of being an engineer, but one day her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend. They’re devastated and immediately take her off to Bangladesh, forcing her into the world of arranged marriages and tradition. Rukhsana is floundering but realizes she needs to find the courage to stand against tradition for herself and her love. — This was very frustrating to read, I could really feel Rukhsana’s anger and frustration with her overbearing parents. She also had to deal with her non-Bangladeshi friends not understanding what lengths her people can and will go to, to protect the family name. I thought this was a very touching story as Rukhsana reconnects with her family in Bangladesh, especially her grandmother. I would absolutely recommend it.

She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya. A love story between a man and his body, who’s exploring his relationship with sexuality, gender, and with other people around him. Woven throughout, re-imaginings of Hindu mythology that also explore the complexity of gender and how damaging the policing of it can be to humans. — I liked this far more than Shraya’s other book, Death Threat, I think because I had better expectations for this one. I also enjoyed both of the stories, especially the Hindu mythology reimagining. I love mythology of all kinds, and don’t often read Hindu stories, so this definitely got me interested in reading more Hindu mythology.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Ada is born in Nigeria as a fractured self, growing up as a concern to her family. Her parents had prayed for her to be born, but as Ada gets older, it’s clear that something went awry. Ada comes of age and moves to America for college, and the swirling chaos in Ada’s mind starts coalescing into more distinct selfs. Asụghara comes into being after a very traumatic assault, to protect Ada in any sexual or dangerous situation. Saint Vincent also moves in, and is hedonistic, not caring very much about Ada and what she wants. With these two mostly in charge, Ada starts fading to the back of her mind, her life starts going down a very dangerous and dark path. — This was my second time reading Freshwater, and I absolutely loved it. I appreciated it much more the second time around, because I understood more what it was about. Emezi talks about ọgbanje, which are often thought to be evil spirits in Igbo, these spirits plague families with misfortune. Ada is hosting multiple ọgbanje in one body, as said in this sentence: “The first madness was that we were born, that they stuffed a god into a bag of skin.” I’ll link an article here where Emezi talks about reorienting their thinking about gender, and wondering if they are an ọgbanje themself, and how the Western view of gender so often doesn’t align with how various cultures view gender. This book is just stunning, and I would absolutely recommend this. I have yet to read Emezi’s other work, but I look forward to it!

Me, Myself, They: Life Beyond the Binary by Luna M. Ferguson. A memoir where Ferguson talks about their journey of exploring their gender identity, their traumatic experiences with conversion therapy, sexual and physical assault, depression. Ferguson became a filmmaker, scholar, and advocate for trans rights. They were the first person to receive an X on their birth certificate, making history in the process. Ferguson talks some about the long journey and fight to get this marker changed, how they dealt with that and becoming very visible in the process. — I really enjoyed reading about this bit of queer history from the person who actually went through it. Ferguson also explains any terminology that might not be commonly known, but they never make it seem like they’re speaking down to you, it’s just along with everything else. I liked this, and would recommend it if you’re interested in a piece of queer history.

America, Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez by Gabby Rivera. America Chavez is a super-powered teenager who was a Young Avenger, she leads the Ultimates. In her own series, she’s going to college, but of course as a super, it’s not that simple. She has to stop interdimensional monsters, an alien cult that worships her, and then she can get started on her first assignment which gets her sent to the front lines of WWII, with Captain America there. — I’d only vaguely heard of America Chavez before reading this, so I feel like this was an alright introduction to this character that’s brash, full of confidence, and fearless. She’s a queer person who took on a Latina identity, she’s from another dimension so to blend in, she picked something that people told her she looked like. Her powers are very interesting! She’s very strong, can fly, and she can punch star-shaped portals between dimensions. The reason why I said alright is because the plot felt all over the place, I had to go back to re-read things sometimes to make sure I was understanding or find something that I missed. The art is fantastic, and I’d love to see more of it! After reading some reviews on Goodreads, it would seem that how America is portrayed in this is not the same as how she was portrayed in Young Avengers, so take that how you will. Overall, I did like this, but wasn’t blown away by it. I might be picking up more in the future.

That’s all I read for the Queer Lit Readathon. Those books cover nearly all of the bingo board, and for the remaining squares, I read more than half of Gilded Wolves, but didn’t finish.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. The pirate ship named Dove passes themselves off as a passenger ship until they’re on the high seas, then turn around and sell their rich and privileged passengers into slavery. One of the crew, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian to fit in and earn the respect of the crew. Flora used to be a starving urchin, and as a pirate: no trust, no sticking out, no feelings. But as they prepare this group of passengers, Flora is drawn to Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is being sent away for an arranged marriage. They both unexpectedly find something in each other. Pretty quickly, they plan a wild escape that will also get a mermaid free, involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, a witch, and the Sea itself. — I loved this very queer, very swashbuckling adventure. It starts off intense, and doesn’t really have much downtime. I really enjoyed reading this because it was never what you expected, the story beats weren’t completely predictable and just good. The way magic works in this is fascinating, and I love it. Essentially, it uses stories as a form of power, they’re how you can change the world around you, memories are also stories that we tell. I’m not doing a very good job of describing this book, but just trust me on this one, it’s fantastic and I would absolutely recommend.

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. Paris, 1889. The Exposition Universelle is in full motion, it’s brought new life to the streets and pulled ancient secrets from the dark. Séverin Montagnet-Alaire, a treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, is a pro at keeping track of dark truths. The powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them find something, offering a treasure he thought he’d never get – his true inheritance. To do this, Séverin pulls together a band of unusual experts: an engineer with a debt to pay, a historian banished, a dancer with a dark past, and a brother in arms. What they find may change the course of history, if they make it out alive. — I’m purposely staying vague. When I read this, that was a bit more than I knew. When I found out that this was set in 1880s Paris, extremely queer, disabled rep, a diverse cast? I didn’t need to know more, sign me up. I absolutely enjoyed every minute of reading this. The details are so rich, and there were several twists that were just delicious. This is the first in a series, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book!

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo. America in 1954, during the Red Scare, we follow seventeen-year-old Lily Hu in Chinatown as she struggles with the question of the possibility of two women falling in love with each other. The moment Lily and Kathleen Miller walked into the Telegraph Club, a lesbian bar, the answer confronted her right there and then. This is a time where it’s not safe for two girls to fall in love, and even more dangerous for Lily, being a Chinese-American. Her father’s been threatened with deportation despite his citizenship, her community is tense, but even with all of that, Lily and Kath risk it for their love. — I absolutely can’t do this book justice, it was just fantastic. The descriptions of the environment, especially in the Telegraph Club when they went and watched the male impersonator, Tommy, was just so good. This is a queer historical fiction, and I think it did an incredible job of telling this story without wallowing in trauma, repression, homophobia. It instead focused on self-discovery, finding a family and belonging, and loving. There are other longer, better reviews than mine so read those if you want, especially if I haven’t convinced you yet!

The Mark of the Bear Clan by David Allen Schlaefer. Ulla, a small green-eyed girl, is tromping along in the forest, looking for mushrooms to bring home when she runs into a bear. She gets badly mauled by it, but is saved by the famous wizard, Väinämöinen. After recovering, it’s discovered that her scar healed into a striking resemblance to a bear claw, the Mark of her clan. This is the start of an ancient prophecy about a child who will come from the North, and bring all the seven Clans together once again to defeat Löhi, the Witch of the North. Ulla lost her family at a young age, and is torn away from her village as Löhi’s forces start moving south, attacking and destroying the Northlands. Väinämöinen is traveling all over the lands, trying to bring tidings of war, warning people to prepare for hard times ahead, and using his magic to help however he can. Miles and miles away, Prince Egan is forced to become king when his father is killed by one of Löhi’s people spreading sickness. He’s burdened with war and all the tough decisions that come with at the age of around fifteen. — I really enjoyed this! It definitely reads as the beginning of an epic, and this is the first book in a series. This takes Finnish mythology and uses the world of the Kalevala (a work of epic poetry that compiles Karelian and Finnish mythology into an epic story) to tell a story that mixes the mythology with completely original characters to give us a new take on fantasy. I don’t really know much about Finnish folklore, but really enjoyed what I learned through this! This book had a very interesting approach to storytelling. It’d often swing between epic, fantastical, big storytelling and detailed descriptions of clothing worn by the different clans, farming methods, how these people live year-round, and so on. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoy high fantasy, detailed mundanity, and mythology from other countries.

Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel. The planet Ileri is planning to vote on joining the Commonwealth, but a government minister is assassinated, which threatens everything that people have worked for. Private investigator Noo Okereke, spy Meiko Ogawa, and police chief Toiwa are forced to work together on the investigation. They discover a wide-spread political conspiracy, something that was thought to have been left behind in the past civilization, and tensions running through everything. What these three discover could spark a whole interplanetary war if the mystery isn’t solved. — There is SOOOO much that I left out, because I don’t want to spoil anything, and I wouldn’t do it justice. This takes place mostly on a space station, with one brief trip planetside. All of our main characters are women and what we would consider senior citizens, which is great! This definitely changed how the story was told, because each of these characters have decades of experience and knowledge with them. This is basically a space opera, and damn, I loved it! There’s multiple queer characters, neopronouns are used, and all of them are BIPOC from what I can figure. One bit of note, there are a lot of characters, so it can sometimes be hard to keep track of who’s who, especially when the perspective’s changed between chapters. Just be aware of that going into this, but apart from this, I loved this book and would absolutely recommend for those who enjoy sci-fi, mysteries, thrillers, political intrigue.

That’s all of the books I read in both June and July! Let me know if you’ve read any of these or want to in the comments. Thank you for reading if you made it all the way here!

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May Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome to my wrap up of May books…two months later. *shrugs* I’m dogsitting at the moment, so the shelves behind me in the video are not my shelves. Let’s get right into it. This month, I read mostly graphic novels because I wasn’t really in the mood to think too much while reading.

I read the third volume of Moonstruck, and it’s just as cute as the first two. A quick refresher for those who don’t know, the main character of this is a werewolf in a world where mythical creatures are real and mingle with each other and humans. Magic is a casual, everyday thing, and there are a lot of accommodations for the varying bodies of these mythical creatures. Cute, fluffy romance between the main character and another werewolf, and it’s very queer. Again, I kept feeling like something was missing. This series is just good enough for me to keep reading it, hoping it’ll get better.

The next graphic novels I binge-read were Skyward, Volumes 1 to 3. This is a world where one day, gravity suddenly became a fraction of what it was. Many people died, from shooting off into the sky, and those who were left adapted to life where basically everyone can fly. However, the wrong step can mean death. Willa loves this, and she works as a messenger, delivering packages across the city. But turns out, there’s a plan to bring gravity back and she gets mixed up in it. — I won’t say more details than that, because I enjoyed reading this not knowing much. I really liked seeing the little details that change with low-g. For example, the insects are huge now, because gravity isn’t holding them back from increasing in size. Desirable living spaces have become flipped, the closer you are to the ground, the more expensive it is and rich/upper class people live there with grav-boots, pretending everything is normal. The higher you go, it turns into the slums and where the poor live, because there’s greater risk of misstepping and falling up into the sky. There is one supporting character that is an amputee, nothing below the knees, but in this world, that doesn’t matter because they essentially fly or float everywhere. I enjoyed that little detail.

The third graphic novel series I read this month was Motor Crush, and I read the first two volumes. Domino Swift loves motorcycle racing and does it professionally in a racing league. Under the cover of night, she also participates in brutal bike wars against rival gangs to win a very valuable contraband called Crush. Crush is basically a machine narcotic that boosts engines to incredible speeds, and strangely, Domino needs it to live. — This was a little all over the place, so the story was hard to follow at times, but I really enjoyed this concept, and I’ll always be down for reading about badass queer ladies.

The first novel I read this month was The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green. This is a collection of essays by John, reviewing various things from the Anthropocene on a five-star scale, such as Canadian geese, sunsets, the QWERTY keyboard, and more. The Anthropocene is the current geologic age, the one that humans have lived in and profoundly reshaped the planet and everything on it. — I really enjoyed this, John has such an interesting thought process for many things, and how he writes about various subjects is just great. I laughed at several of these reviews, but that’s not to say that this is a lighthearted read. There are some very heavy and serious topics as well, including an essay about the pandemic. These essays show how powerful we are as a species, but also shows how much we don’t know and have no control over. This is absolutely worth the read.

The last graphic novel I read this month was Ms. Marvel Vol. 1, about Kamala Khan, an ordinary girl from Jersey City that suddenly gets superpowers. At first, she’s overwhelmed and tries to be like her hero, Captain Marvel, but realizes that she’s not being true to herself by doing that. We see her fumble her way through these new powers, figuring out how they work, what she should do with them, and if it might be too much for her to deal with. I definitely plan to read more of this series, I’m interested to see where this goes!

And finally, I closed the month with an eARC which is out now, Rabbits by Terry Miles. “The door is open.” We follow K, who is a pattern genius and a low-key obsessive about the legendary game, Rabbits. However, Rabbits is not a game known by all. It’s a mysterious game that only a few know about, and those people talk about it very carefully. There are a lot of questions about what exactly Rabbits is, but people know it’s been around since at least 1959, ten iterations have been played, nine winners have been announced. People wonder if it’s a reality-bending game or just something run by an extremely powerful being or artificial intelligence. Regardless, the winner is rewarded very well, but exactly how, no one knows. Wealth, recruitment into some top government agency, a key to the universe? It’s not all a fun game though. The more you play, the more deadly it becomes and players have died in the past. This has always been true, which is why K is surprised when Alan Scarpio, a billionaire, approaches him and says there’s something wrong with the game and it needs to be fixed before it’s too late. Then Scarpio goes missing and the deadline flies by. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. — When I first started reading, I wasn’t sure if I was into it. But I kept reading, and next thing I knew, I was into it. This is set in Seattle, so it was neat to see all of the little nods to specific locations like the Fremont Troll, the monorail, and so on. It was cool because one part of this game is noticing when details aren’t quite right, and I was able to catch them all because I’m from here! Obviously, as I’ve said, this is about an alternate-reality game. There are a LOT of references to other games, most of which went over my head because I’m not a big gamer, but it didn’t detract from the enjoyment for me. A lot of times, you will question what’s real and what’s not, because of the recursive nature of the storytelling. K and his friends chase down one lead to find something weird at the end, and another to find nothing. It loops on itself quite a bit, can get a bit repetitive, and is very technical and detailed. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this and would recommend it if you enjoy sci-fi, gaming, and slightly weird stories.

That’s it for May! My June wrap up is coming, I’ll be combining it with all my Queer Lit Readathon books, because I completely and utterly failed to do vlogs during the week of. Thanks for reading, bye!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Recent RID happenings

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. I’m back after a whole month of no posts. This is for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here. This video will be more specific to the signing community and the interpreting community, so feel free to skip this video if you’re not part of either community. If you are, you should watch this. I’ll be talking about the recent turmoil in the interpreting community about the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

For full transparency, I have not watched every video related to this situation. However, I have had conversations and discussions with people who have seen most of the videos and stayed more up-to-date with what was going on than I did. I will leave a link to a doc that someone created, it has a timeline of the key videos that were posted from both sides of this whole situation. Recently, I was part of a meeting between Deaf Interpreters in the PNW, and one of them mentioned that they had watched most of the videos to catch up, and said that it took them over four hours to watch almost everything. I’m mentioning this so you’re aware of how much there is to watch. I will do my best to summarize this without leaving out anything essential. This video probably won’t be perfect, and if anything comes up that I want to clarify or add, I will put it in a pinned comment below this video.

I want to be upfront with where I stand. I am on the side of Dr. Jonathan Webb and the RID Board who resigned from their positions due to this. Thank you all for your hard work and service to this community who very much needs it. I am saddened that it came to this point, and that people—including myself—are only now doing something about it. Full disclosure, in this election cycle, I did vote for Ritchie Bryant. At the time, I didn’t know enough about all of the candidates, and I certainly didn’t do as much research as I should have. That’s fully on me. I’m saying this because knowing what I know now, I would vote for Dr. Jonathan Webb. Now I’m going to give you an overview of this situation, then talk a little more about my thoughts.

A few years ago, RID had their elections, and elected one of its most diverse boards in RID’s history. For the first time, there were three deaf people on the board at once, the board was full of Black, Indigenous, and people of color, had several DPIs (Deaf-Parented interpreters), and multiple LGBTQ+ people. Recently, RID had their election cycle again. Three people ran for president: Dr. Jonathan Webb, Ritchie Bryant, and Priscilla Moyers. 43% of the votes went to Dr. Webb, 38% went to Bryant, and almost 18% went to Priscilla. This was also the highest percentage of the membership voting, around 17% versus the usual 5% or so. Unfortunately, this is when a lot of very racist remarks and behavior started to really show. Now, I want to be clear – this behavior already had been happening to all of the BIPOC on the board, through emails, messages, and so on. It started to ramp up after RID’s release of a position paper where they said that CDIs should be used for all press conferences. Dr. Thibodeau confronted Dr. Webb during RID’s October board meeting, because he had accepted a job without a CDI. That job was not a press conference, just a standard political event. The position paper only focused on press conferences. After this election cycle ended, and the winners were announced, Dr. Thibodeau posted an angry vlog, saying that the fact that Dr. Jonathan Webb won this election was very audist, because a hearing person was voted in when there were two deaf people running for the position. This sparked a whole mess, people supporting Dr. Webb and the board, people supporting Dr. Thibodeau’s remarks. I won’t go in-depth on those remarks, but some key ones: calling Dr. Webb audist, using racist language to put him down, refusing to use his proper name and calling him Jon when he specifically asked for his full name to be used, among others. Many of these remarks were just lashing out, targeting Dr. Jonathan Webb, and forcing him off the board. Dr. Webb chose to resign for reasons he explained in his letter to RID, and shortly after, all of the current RID board resigned from their positions. These people cheered, saying they won. Won what? You succeeded in pushing out the most diverse board in RID’s history, leading to the next board being likely majority white, if not all white.

These people repeatedly said things similar to this: “put race aside, focus on audism.” Uh, you can’t do that. Any kind of -ism has to be confronted at the same time, you can’t pick and choose which ones you’ll fight. Black people can’t get rid of their skin color as much as we can’t change our hearing. Indigenous people can’t change their skin color as much as people can’t shake gender assumptions. By saying “ignore race in favor of audism,” you’re showing your privilege and are being racist. We cannot separate -isms from each other. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not. But we can’t pick and choose which issues we fight for, because uplifting others doesn’t work like that. It’s long been a problem in any type of activism – us first, then you. This is why it’s such a struggle to get anywhere, we’re working toward a common goal but not together. That has to stop.

I hope this has given you a good overview of this situation, and if you have any questions or want clarifications, comment below. I will pin anything important to the top. If you want to watch the videos, the link is here. But please be sure to take care of yourselves, many of these videos have racist, sexist, ableist, anti-queer, and other harmful language. I’m going to close this with saying have conversations with people, know where you stand, and do the work.

Are deaf people disabled?

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. Today I want to talk about deaf people and their relationship with the term “disabled” along with where I stand on this subject. I’m making this video in part because of a comment on my previous video that was somewhat rude to another commenter that did absolutely nothing wrong. You could say that this is a very controversial topic in the deaf community, so I just want to again emphasize that this is *my* view on this. This does not mean everyone else in the deaf community thinks the same way as I do.

Why don’t Deaf people consider themselves disabled? Deafness is not viewed as a loss, but rather a gain. There’s a whole community, culture, and language, with an identity built in. People take pride in being Deaf, and have no desire to change it. The only issue with wider society is communication barriers, not the hearing ability. Remember this, I will come back to it.

Why *are* deaf people disabled? This is obvious to most people: we can’t hear, therefore we are disabled. Deaf people argue against this definition because they say that we’re healthy, we function just fine, it’s that people don’t know sign. Ahem. Your internalized ableism is showing a little bit there. Anyway, while it’s true that we’re able-bodied, we literally cannot learn to hear. If the communication barrier was the only thing, then wouldn’t people from other countries that moved here be considered disabled to start with if they didn’t know English? They’re not, and over time, they can learn English if they choose to. So… There has to be something else. Ah yes, being deaf. It’s correct that if everyone knew sign, and everything had captions, being deaf wouldn’t be an issue at all, but that’s not the case. Therefore, we are disabled by our circumstances and environment.

What’s my personal view on this? Let’s go back to the rude commenter I mentioned. I can’t see the original comment, because the poster deleted it, but it said something about the disabled community and by implication, was including deaf people in it. The rude commenter basically was very snippy and said that they were in the wrong for saying Deaf people are included in the disabled community. I was going to reply and shut that down, but alas. So if it’s not clear by now, I consider deaf people to also be disabled. Yes, I will say I’m a deaf person first. That’s because it more accurately reflects my own personal experience, my needs, and immediately communicates to you what I might need in way of accommodations. Speaking of accommodations, it infuriates me to no end when I see these very same people, insisting that Deaf people aren’t disabled, whip out the ADA whenever their needs aren’t being met. The Americans with Disabilities Act literally has disability in the name, and covers a wide range of accessibility needs, including interpreters. So if we truly aren’t disabled, then we shouldn’t be covered under the ADA, no? Oh, what’s that? We need those protections? Well, gosh darn it, guess we’re disabled then!

In all seriousness, deaf people have a lot of parallel goals with the wider disability community. We all want access to things that will make our lives easier, make it possible for us to comfortably participate in society, and not just be pushed to the side and forgotten about. I also want to add, by saying that deaf people aren’t disabled because we have a culture and language, you’re excluding all those who don’t know sign, became deaf later in life, and so many more on the wide spectrum of deafness.

One last thing, and it’s a very minor thing that I’m sure most people overlooked. For a while now, any time I say deaf, whether that’s in my captions, text messages, posts, and so on, I don’t use the big D anymore. I did in this video to be clear that I was talking about culturally and signing Deaf people, but otherwise, it’s been lowercase d. In my view, because we are disabled too, and I want to include everyone who doesn’t fit in that small cultural/linguistic box, I use the lowercase when I’m speaking about the wider community.

Disability rights are deaf rights too. Don’t be an asshole. Leave your thoughts in the comments, and keep it civil.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Note: Thanks to Phelan’s videos (signinngwolf on TikTok) for helping me formulate and structure my thoughts a bit. I agree with a lot of what they say in their mini-series, and have borrowed some of it for this video.

Round 7 TBR | Queer Lit Readathon

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome! Today, all the hosts of this round are sharing our TBRs, or To Be Read. This is what we hope to read during this week full of wonderful queer books. Kathy and I tend to try and go for a full blackout, which often results in having a list of five to ten books. I just want to be clear this is not what you have to do to participate! If you read even just one queer thing, you have taken part.

A few things before I go into the books. Multiple books are from the library, and I should be able to have them all during the readathon. For clarity’s sake, I will only be telling you the title and what challenges I’m applying them to. Many of these books also cover other challenges on the board, but I don’t want to bog this video down with repeating the challenges. I also won’t be going into much detail of what each book is about, because I’ll be doing a wrap-up at the end of the week, possibly a vlog if I remember! After the list of planned reads, I’ll throw in a few honorable mentions at the end.

I’ll go through the library books first, starting with Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi, which is the Group Read. It’ll also go toward Hard-Hitting Contemporary, and I already know it is, because this will be my second time reading this book. However, I have a different perspective on it since I last read it, so I’m interested to see how differently I read it now.

Next, I want to read She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya. This will cover two challenges: Shorter Than a Novel, and M-Spec. Last round, I read something by this author and was okay with it, I’m hoping that this will be a much more enjoyable read.

Me, Myself, They: Life Beyond the Binary is a Memoir by Luna Ferguson. I’m very interested to read about this person and the work they’ve done!

This is a book that I’ll be reading first, since it’s due back the second day of the readathon, The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashely Poston. I’ve read one other book by this author, Geekerella, and really enjoyed myself. I’ve seen this one recommended multiple times by Kathy, so I’m finally picking it up. This will Bring You Joy and Summer Vibes, because I’ve been told this is a fun, fluffy read, and it happens at a con, which always gives me summer feelings.

Then I plan to read The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan, which will meet the Religion, Recommended, and Underrepresented Identity challenges. I’ve seen this recommended by multiple people, and I’m putting this in Underrepresented, because we so rarely see anything about queer Bengali people in literature or media.

Now we’re onto the books that I own! First, The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi. I didn’t even realize that this book was queer when I got it, but I’ve see reviews listing queer characters. This will hit the most challenges at once: Not Set on Your Continent, set in Paris; Vintage, happens in the 1880s; Choose Your Own Category, historical fiction; Intersectional, multiple queer characters that have other identities from my understanding; and as an bonus, there’s disability rep in this as well.

And for the final book on this list to be read during the readathon, we have Draw the Line by Laurent Linn. I’ve had this for a while, and it looks really interesting because it’s a mixture of text and graphics because the main character is a comic artist. This will hit the Superheroes challenge, I hope!

With those books, I have mentioned all of the challenges but one – 40%+ BIPOC. The intent of this challenge is to get you to make sure you’re reading widely and intersectionally, not all from white authors. I have seven books on my list, and four of them are by BIPOC authors, so this challenge is ticked off as well.

Books I want to mention that I considered for this readathon, but ended up not going with for a variety of reasons – the hold time is too long, it’s not available at my library, or other.

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore. I actually have this checked out at the moment, but I’ll likely be reading it *before* the readathon because it’s also due on the second day of the readathon and I don’t want to attempt to finish two full books in the first two days, especially when there’s a hard return time, because they’re both ebooks. This would have gone toward M-Spec and Hard-Hitting Contemporary.

A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian. It also would fit Hard-Hitting Contemporary and Intersectional. I already had these challenges covered by other books, so I decided to read this another day.

And for the last book I was considering, Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo. This hits the most challenges this round: Choose Your Own which I decided would be historical fiction, Intersectional, Vintage, Underrepresented Identity, and Recommended loudly by Adri. I would have definitely gone with this book for the readathon, but the library waitlist is so long, I’m still three or four weeks out from even being able to get my hands on it.

Those are the seven books I’ll be reading, plus some recommendations for this round! Let me know what you’re most excited to be reading this round, if you’re participating. Bye!

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Sign language to text recognition

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome back! I know, it’s been a while. Some new things in the background! Things are still changing in this room, I still have a lot to go. My Patrons already know this, but I’ve been busy with a new job. I’ve been figuring out what the process looks like, what my process looks like, and having work from that. It’s going good. That’s why I’ve been gone for a while. So that aside, let’s get into this video topic.

As you’ve seen from the title, today I’m talking about sign language to text recognition. I want to quickly talk about this, because I’ve been getting a few emails. I’m still really conflicted about this. Basically, I’ve been getting emails asking if the person can use my videos on this channel for training their AI to recognize what sign means this, translating into text. This is because all of my videos have captions included, so they can use that in parallel to figure out what a sign can mean in English. I have problems with that. For several reasons.

First, I’m sure this is often not their intention, but when they contact me asking that… Basically, they’re looking at it as sign, ASL, to English. Like that can be done just looking and translated. I’m like, hmm. That is pretty much interpreting, translating, from one language to another. You’re not trying to create something that will take sign and make it into sign writing, for example. This is not equivalent to vocally spoken English becoming English text. That’s because they already have equivalency, while sign doesn’t. And my captions don’t always exactly match what I say.

Second, my signing has a range. Sometimes it’s very English, sometimes it’s more ASL. It depends on the day, what my brain process is, and so on. So… Your trained AI will learn that changing range, it won’t be able to identify that difference. Also, it’s learning from my signing. It will learn how to translate *my* signing style, not other people’s. Some people are more strongly ASL than I am, some people are more English, or use SEE. All of that. Learning from me is a tiny step, and barely even scratches the surface of all that ASL is.

Third, for those who are watching, you can clearly see that I’m a white, masculine-presenting person. I’m also queer. So that means my signing style, for those who aren’t skilled in ASL, often shifts from masculine to feminine. I tend to stay around the middle. So because of that, it means your AI will learn… It won’t learn how to read someone who’s very feminine or very masculine. They’re very different in how they sign certain words.

Fourth, like I just said, I’m white. You will be training your AI to learn from a white person. I don’t sign the same as a Black man, or a Black woman. Or even queer Black people. I don’t sign the same. This runs into the same problem as facial recognition. Facial recognition is biased to white people, because white people designed it in the first place, developed it, trained it on white people’s faces. It often makes mistakes with Black people. I foresee this sign language recognition will be the same with Black and people of color.

Fifth, I know the reason why they contact me is because I have *many* videos, almost 400 now. So that’s a big resource for training an AI, and out there, there are limited resources for the training. I get that, but like I’ve said, I am one person. Training your AI on one person won’t lead to effective understanding.

Vocal speakers are diverse – high, deep, lively, monotone, accented, regional, fast, slow, and the list goes on. It’s the same in sign, the same. Signing fast, slow, feminine, masculine, with facial expressions. Expressions are important. All of that… That’s why even speech-to-text recognition struggles sometimes. If you have a strong accent, it doesn’t understand. Even your register, it can’t understand some registers. You will run into the same problems in sign, and maybe even more so, because sign, specifically ASL, is very varied in our language structure, our linguistic features, how we express, and all the different things. So training your AI on one person is not enough.

I just mentioned facial expressions. That’s one of the things that I feel like many of these people who want to do sign language to text recognition work forget about the expressions. They tend to focus on the hands, how the hands flex and move, focusing on that. Facial expressions are very important. For example, if I were to say: I’m happy! Or: I’m happy. It’s the same sign, happy, exactly the same, but the expression changes the whole meaning. Happy! I do mean I’m happy, but if I say happy. Obviously I’m not. That sign language recognition tends to be missing that and not include expressions.

All of what I’ve said so far, I haven’t even mentioned coding. Coding is the most tough part of this whole thing. I personally don’t understand code, I don’t understand how to do it. I may understand really basic things, but in-depth typing, no. But I do know people who do. And I know of one group with deaf people that are working on trying to develop a method of recognizing sign language. They’ve really struggled, it’s tough. They’ve been working on this for several years, and they got nowhere near. And they’re deaf, know the language, and so on. So when I have hearing people–hearing people!–contact me saying that they’re doing this as a project for my university, my last semester, or my thesis project, whatever. That caused conflict for me, because they’re hearing. They probably don’t really know sign. This is their temporary, their final project. They probably won’t continue it after graduating. So… I almost feel like, what’s the point? I’ve had several, three or four different people contact me asking for this. I already understand enough that I know it’s not possible, even with in-depth training and such. This is a long-term project, if you really want to invest in it. I did have one group from the UK reach out. They are aware that BSL and ASL are different. They’re working on both ASL and BSL, okay. And they are planning on having this be a long-term project, alright.

I’m not knowledgeable on coding, but I know enough to recognize that what these people are trying to do is very tough. Because they’re trying to teach an AI or program a full language that has varying ways of signing it, teach it that when the programmer themself may not be knowledgeable with this language. Then taking that language and translating to a full other language. I don’t know if our coding or tech capabilities are there yet. Or if they will ever be.

So this has happened often enough recently, that when people reach out saying that they want to do this… I’m inclined to ignore it or say thanks, but no thanks. Because–especially if it’s a university project. I’m like, you will not be able to do this in one semester, you will not.

So from now on, any time people contact me for a university project or thesis or whatever, I will be saying no. Because… You do it, then what’s next? Will you make that available to the deaf community? High chances are no. Because it didn’t succeed, or with what you did, but you graduated so there’s no need to continue. So where’s your exchange for my sharing? All of that was just me throwing out things, unscripted. So I’m probably missing a few things, I don’t know. Leave in the comments what you think about this and how you feel about people doing this, the concept of this. Whatever. Leave comments below.

If you want to support my content financially, I would really appreciate it if you joined my Patreon or made a one-time donation to my Ko-fi tip jar. Subscribe to my channel. Follow me on my socials – FacebookTwitterInstagram. Thanks for reading, see you next time.