Review: The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill

Veiled in the comfort of a child’s tale, Kelly Barnhill spins a story of gender and life, power and knowledge, memory and perception, and most importantly, family, both given and found.

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Discussion with spoilers.

Gender and Life

The Girl Who Drank the Moon is an empowering story that centers around four women and one man. It delves into concepts of gendered roles of parenthood and caretaker that take them in ways that I did not expect.

One of the core narratives is the relationship between the town craftsman and the woman he falls in love with. Their love is dynamic and their relationship is one of true love, meaning here that they care for and take care of each other. Instead of a story of a princess in a tower, we are given the tale of a husband and wife who work together with a desire to protect and serve the other. This selflessness made me think and consider how I want my personal relationships to be. Do I go out on my own to care for that person, just as that person does the same for me? This one of the many examples of Barnhill questing after what gender roles mean for people and how they fulfill and overcome them.

Power and Knowledge

The knowledge within the Protectorate, the main geographical town in the story, is hidden and stowed away in a tower. In keeping this knowledge in a tower, Barnhill provides us with a strong lesson for how knowledge can be kept from people in order to grant power over them. Many of her positions on power made me (re)consider Foucauldian ideas of power and knowledge.

Memory and Perception

Memory is lost in this story, and then it is restored. Barnhill plays with how we perceive each other by casting a spell over her main character, Luna, who forgets all about magic. In juxtaposed scenes, we move between Luna and her grandmother, Xan, with Luna unable to see the magic and Xan able to see it. This disjointed perception of each action and scene allows us to muse on how perception affects memory and memory changes perception.

Family, Given and Found

The core narrative is that of a town who gives up their children in order to appease the evil witch in the woods. When the witch in the woods finds these children, she takes them to another land and gives them up for adoption. One child, though, she takes as her own grandchild, Luna, our protagonist. What I find so complex in this story is that family is both given and found. Family is found in the relationship Luna has with the family she believes to be her true family—a witch, a bog god, and a dragon—but family is given in the devotion her mother who is forced to give her up holds for her for thirteen years. We see that family is not simply a mother, a father, and children; family is complex and nuanced.

Spinning and Veiling

The final thing I want to note is Barnhill’s beautiful prose. I reacted emotionally not only to the actions of the characters but also to the words that brought them to life. Christina Moore’s voice was part of that with her wonderful narration; however, the physical words, the choices made by Barnhill, gave the entire story a lilt and airiness that invited you to nestle your mind into the world of words and never come out. The words were the mother’s breast a child lays its head on, the warm cave a bear hibernates in, and the fuzzy blanket that surrounds one on a crisp winter morning.

THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON
By Kelly Barnhill  
388 pp. / 9 hrs. 31 mins. Algonquin.
IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

This book was listened to in its audiobook format, narrated by Christina Moore.

Review: Forever Elle, by Heather Chapman

With daring charm and grit, Heather Chapman weaves a tale of many forms of love—familial and romantic—in this tender story about Elle’s growth into a lady—even as the text itself questions what exactly a “lady” is and can be.

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“In this early 1900s historical romance and coming of age novel, we meet Elizabeth (Elle) Pratt, who hasn’t grown into herself just yet. Caught between her father s high expectations, the farm she grew up on, and the wealthy airs she learned at school, Elle is at a loss when tragedy strikes and she must head back home. There she must reconcile her two worlds, as well as the scrawny neighbor-boy turned handsome farmhand who always turns up when she least expects it.” (Book Description)

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Forever Elle by Heather Chapman

From the first lines of Forever Elle, the voice shines through. It is not a shy voice, but a daring one—a voice fit for a mountain valley: “It was a relief I wasn’t scared of heights. But then again, if I had been, I’d never have climbed that oak in the first place.” Chapman’s word choice allows us to inhabit the wild Teton Valley, with its attitudes, aromas, and actors becoming vivid and real to us.

Chapman handles the realities of the early 1900s with deft skill. She navigates them in a way that doesn’t excuse what happened during that time but gives them the reason for the time. For example, when handling a whipping from her father, Elle says,

Daddy acted like I’d made him do it, like he was forced into pulling off his belt and pelting me. Maybe it was easier for him to blame me, or maybe he truly hated it as much as I hated it.

Forever Elle, Heather Chapman, page 6

Chapman’s character recognizes the absurdity of the action, the pain it causes, the harm it does, but Chapman writes in a way that we grasp how a thirteen-year-old and her father would both view the beating in the time period. That type of writing requires skill and a focus on words that Chapman clearly manifests.

This focus is seen throughout the novel. As Chapman returns to this core relationship between Elle and her father, we realize that it is because of these childhood moments that her entire life is forced to happen in a very certain way. Does Elle blame her father? Of course. But does Elle also make her own way in her life? Yes, she does.

That’s the power of this book. Elle is a character reacting to her childhood but also paving her own path to adulthood.

Additionally, the family dynamic that exists between the entire Pratt family strengthens the entire arch of the novel. This is not a simple, quick romance novel; instead, it is a slow burn that allows us to see Elle grow and develop. Particularly, we see the relationships between Elle and her father, mother, brother, and sister are rich, complex, and pliable.

The core to this novel is Elle’s approach to being a woman and a lady. Early in the novel, she is told by her father that

the country ain’t the place to raise a lady

Forever Elle, Heather Chapman, page 47

which causes the entire next act to occur in Virginia at the house of Elle’s aunt and uncle. Within these conflicting worlds—the “civilized” East Coast and the “uncivilized” mountainous West—Elle discovers what being a lady means to her and not what is forced upon her by those in society and culture.

The little things in the book made me care. For example, I felt instantly connected to the moment when Elle’s mother gives her a map in chapter nine. That moment encapsulates the character she and her mother have become through the last eight chapters. It’s only a paragraph long, but Chapman allows us to gain a dividend for the investment of eight chapters up to this point:

Mama had given the map to me before kissing me goodbye. “It always helps to know where you are and how much farther you have to go,” she had said.

Forever Elle, Heather Chapman, page 62

My complaints for the novel were few and trivial. The characters laugh and cry a lot, as though it is the only human reaction one can take in the Teton Valley. I hope for her next book that Chapman reaches out for a greater range of emotional reactions that her characters make in intense situations. Additionally, some characters were not given enough page time for us to fully care about them before they left us forever. Particularly, William Caldwell enters the story relatively late and quickly bows out. We are left to wonder about how he came so close to Elle within the time gap that is represented within the time gap that is the three blank pages between Part One and Part Two.

Despite these complaints, I found the novel to have a strength that was pleasantly surprising. I was grounded within the familial relationships, which allowed me to see how Elle loved. I particularly enjoyed the integration of the letters from Elle’s siblings that kept this book fulfilling the promises given in the beginning chapters. We were not disappointed as Elle navigated these relationships and the twists that time (and our author) put into them.

Ultimately, I viewed the narrative as one against essentializing gender and gendered experience. Yes, the country ain’t a good place for a lady, as her father tells her, but Elle isn’t just a lady trained in a finishing school. She’s a fully formed woman with mistakes and triumphs, affected by her environment and victorious against it—instead of being Elle the mountain girl or Elizabeth the lady or Lizzy the loving niece, she is forever and always herself, Elle.

FOREVER ELLE
By Heather Chapman
Illustrated by David Polonsky 
224 pp. Sweetwater Books.
IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Target

At the request of the author, the reviewer provided a review of the novel. This book was read in its PDF print book format.

Syllabus: An American Literary Canon

I promised it, so here it is. This is my reading syllabus for this year when it comes to my choices for an American literary canon.

American: authored in the United States of America or by someone born or connected to the United States (roughly)

Literary: Considered literature in the eyes of the “academy”

Canon: a collection

The Reasons Behind the Syllabus

I created this syllabus for this year for two reasons. The first reason is I plan on being a professor of literature, and I realized that I haven’t read a lot of the literary “classics” that are in the “canon.”

The second reason is I need to take the Literature in English GRE subject test. This test is a really long test that asks questions on literature from the early-early years (Beowulf, Aristotle, etc.) to the present. The questions range from “What literary theory is presented in this passage?” to “Who wrote this passage?” So, one must be well-read when approaching this test. Hence, this year is for the American literary canon. Next year will be for British and World literature, along with philosophy and literary theory. The following syllabus is created with the end goal of being well prepared for that test.

I’m also creating this syllabus in connection to the Great Courses course, “Classics of American Literature,” which provides lectures that I can listen to while reading. I’ve also relied heavily on Google and the ninth edition of the Norton Anthology of American Literature.

The list is rather exhaustive, clocking in at 16 pages in Word. So, I skimmed it down a little bit for this blog post to just look at the major works I will be reading. If it says “Selected” on it, it means I’m reading the selections found in the ninth edition of the Norton Anthology of American Literature.

The other authors I will be doing various activities with, including reading the introductions that the Norton editors so expertly put together and utilizing the wonderful sources we know as Wonderful Wikipedia and the Google God to gather some basic info on them. If you want that exhaustive list, email me and I’ll send you the Word doc.

If you have any thoughts or ideas on what I should add to this list, please feel free to share 🙂

The Syllabus

Beginnings to 1820

Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography

William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation

John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity

Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Thomas Paine, Common Sense

The Federalist Papers

Phillis Wheatley, Selected Works

1820–1865

Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers and The Last of the Mohicans

Lydia Howard Huntley Sigourney, Selected Poems

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Essays

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Selected Poems

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Edgar Allan Poe, Selected Works

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter and Selected Works

Abraham Lincoln, Selected Speeches

Margaret Fuller, The Great Lawsuit

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick and “Bartleby, the Scrivener”

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass and Selected Poems

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Rebecca Hardin Davis, Life in the Iron Mills

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Emily Dickinson, Final Harvest: Emily Dickinson’s Poems

1865–1914

Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Pudd’nhead Wilson

Henry James, A Portrait of a Lady, The Ambassadors, The Turn of the Screw, The Golden Bowl, The Wings of the Dove, Selected Works

Kate Chopin, Selected Works

Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, The Red Badge of Courage, Selected Works

Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, Selected Works

Sui Sin Far, “Mrs. Spring Fragrance”

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Selected Works

Jack London, The Call of the Wild, White Fang, Selected Works

Upton Sinclair, The Jungle

1914–1945

Willa Cather, My Antonia

Gertrude Stein, Writing of choice

Robert Frost, Selected Poems

Wallace Stevens, Selected Poems

Ezra Pound, Selected Poems

T. S. Eliot, Selected Poems

Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

Edna St. Vincent Milay, Selected Poems

e. e. Cummings, Selected Poems

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Tender Is the Night, This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, Selected Works

Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, Green Hills of Africa, Garden of Eden, A Moveable Feast, In Our Time, Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Thomas Wolfe, “The Lost Boy”

Langston Hughes, Selected Poems

William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Absalom, Absalom!, Go Down, Moses, Selected Works

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, Tortilla Flat, Of Mice and Men, East of Eden

Richard Wright, The Man Who Was Almost a Man

J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Literature Since 1945

Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Theodore Roethke, Selected Works

Eudora Welty, Petrified Man

Elizabeth Bishop, Selected Works

Eugene O’Neill, The Iceman Cometh, Desire Under the Elems, Long Day’s Journey into Night, The Emperor Jones, The Hairy Ape

John Cheever, “The Swimmer”

Robert Hayden, Selected Poems

Randall Jarrell, Selected Works

Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie

Bernard Malamud, “The Magic Barrell”

Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain, Selected Works

Toni Morrison, Beloved, The Song of Solomon, Sula, Selected Works

Flannery O’Connor, Selected Works

Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”

Philip Levine, Sleected Poems

Anne Sexton, Selected Works

Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Adrienne Rich, Sleected Works

Ursula K. Le Guin, “Schrödinger’s Cat,” “She Unnames Them”

Sylvia Plath, Selected Poems, The Bell Jar

John Updike, “Separating,” The Withces of Eastwick

Philip Roth, “Defender of the Faith,” Novel of choice

Amiri Baraka, Selected Works

Audre Lorde, Selected Works

Mary Oliver, Selected Works

Lucille Clifton, Selected Works

Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

August Wilson, Fences

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

Art Spiegelman, Maus

Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

2019 Reading Goals

I like the number three. It’s not my favorite number, but it’s a number I enjoy. As such, I decided this year to have three reading goals. The word goals is used as an all-encompassing term to represent the ideals that I want to strive for in my reading.

Reading Goal 1

Never fall behind on assigned readings.

As many of you know, I am currently in grad school for my master’s degree. There is a lot of reading that goes into that. I think I averaged reading roughly the length of four to six book every week for my last semester. And this year, I’m expecting a lot of reading to come my way again.

I secretly love and loathe assigned readings. I loathe it because it’s assigned, and I always bristle at something when it is assigned to me. However, I love and cherish my assigned readings dearly because they open me to new things that I might not have read.

My first semester, I regret to acknowledge, I did not keep up on my readings as well as I should have. I barely skimmed the surface of most, and that caused my class experiences to not be as edifying as they could have been. So, I’m committing to not falling behind on my class readings.

Reading Goal 2

Read a rough sketch of an American literary canon.

The word canon always creates a war in any field. This last semester, we had many in-depth conversations about the “canon” of religious studies, going so far as to say there is a distinct canon and there is no such thing as a canon (both arguments are valid).

In the field of literary studies, the canon battle is louder than a cannon. With feuding anthologies and debating professors attempting to settle on what exactly makes American literature distinctly American or uniquely literature, we could go so far as to say there is a distinct canon and there is not one.

So, that’s why I specifically placed on this reading goal “an American literary canon.” The grammar faux pas is necessary. I will be reading the canon that I’ve curtailed for this specific year in order to read enough literature to feel grounded in the American tradition. In my next blog post, I’ll discuss further this canon and give you a taste of what it entails and why I am going on this journey this year (especially when I classify myself as a Medievalist who flirts with the Early Modern).

Reading Goal 3

Discuss what I am reading.

One of my core beliefs is that literature is meant to be read and talked about. When reading a book, we intimately inhabit the words on the page; the book changes us through this cohabitation with ink and paper, text and space. when talking about a book, we interact with each other through the medium of the words on the page; that interaction changes the world.

So, I want to talk about more books—in person and through text. If you see me, ask me what I’m reading. If you see a post from me on social media about a book, enter into a discussion with me about it. There will most likely be a lot more book-ish posts from me, especially if I want to reach this goal.

2018 Top Ten Books

I really love end of year reading roundups, so here’s mine! Here’s a list of ten books I enjoyed in 2018 with one-line review thoughts in no particular order (except the first one, because it’s my top read of 2018).

Educated, Tara Westover

I’m still thinking about this book.

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie

Sheher amazingness.

Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler

Make America Great Again Chills.

The Fifth Season, N. K. Jemisin

I will always sing the praises of Jemisin from now until after I die.

Vicious, V. E. Schwab

Victorious, delightfully so.

Tears in Rain, Rosa Montero

Let me go rewatch Blade Runner and reread this and then rewatch Blade Runner in an endless loop of awesomeness.

The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller

My gay soul sang.

Becoming, Michelle Obama

Excuse me as I’m still in awe of this woman.

The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson

Left my queer little heart over-brimming with joy.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli

Blue&Simon <3.

Love, Adam.

It Hurts

The words in General Conference can hurt. I know many people who believe this “hurt” is what is meant to happen in order for those of us who don’t conform to the Church’s wishes to be influenced into conforming. It is the “hard sayings” that prick the heart of the wicked.

May I contend that there is a better way to bring about repentance than hurting people and making them feel alienated? Because I believe there is.

Certain groups of people will always be hurt when certain things are said in Conference. But they also hurt because of what the membership of the body of Christ says after those words are shared on pulpits. Here are examples of responses online that people shared when Mr. Oaks spoke:

Think about it. You are just told by an apostle of God that what you’re struggling through—your sexuality or your gender identity—is contrary to God’s plan. That’s all you’ve been told. No help is given. No balm provided. A simple “That is not the way.” Even though you feel, in the deepest part of your soul and your very biological being, that even if it isn’t “the way,” it is still something you’re dealing with.

And then, once an apostle of God has illegitimized your very personal feelings, members of the Church cheer on those “hard sayings.” Instead of providing love for people who are struggling with coming to grips with what an apostle has said, these tweets—Oaks is on fire; Oaks is coming out hitting; Oaks is laying down the law—hurt. The words people speak in the halls of the church buildings for the comings months will harm because online or in-person, many members of the Church say the same thing. These sayings rip and tear at a soul—no matter how old you are, no matter how separated from these words you seem to be. They are, to utilize the Church of Jesus Christ’s framework, Satan working through you to harm these people who are attempting to reconcile what is happening in their body and what they are  being told over a pulpit.

It is a shame on every follower of Jesus Christ when a fellow disciple cheers for an apostle to “lay down the law” instead of doing what they have covenanted to do: weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn.

Instead of cheering for an apostle who says in dispassionate terms that a friend or family member of yours is not welcome in the house of God, why don’t you reach out in love to those people?

“I love you” is a simple text to send. A heart emoji is not that difficult to type. A “I’d love to listen to your perspective on what we heard in General Conference so I can understand more about you. I don’t want to talk; I simply want to listen to you. How about dinner this week?” is not that difficult to ask.

I remember being the person who would say, “Hot dang, this apostle is really saying it how it is.” It’s difficult to get out of that mindset. But we really do need to change our mindset from one that only supports apostles to one that has room for those who the apostles are “calling to repentance.”

People are not brought to God through hard sayings; they’re brought to God through Love.

Harvard Feels, Part 3

Tomorrow I start classes. Actual Harvard graduate school classes. I’m having a “I made it,” but then a “There’s so much more to go” feels right now.

Last night, I was piecing together what I’m hoping the next two years looks like, and there’s a lot to do. Right now, my Harvard feels are anticipation. Excitement. Nervousness.

Anticipation. My classes I’m taking all look awesome and work perfectly into what I want to be doing with my life.

Excitement. I’m going to be in actual graduate classes. It’s difficult to exude the excitement behind those words. Graduate classes. Graduate classes.

Nervousness. Will I be able to do what I came here to do?

Right now, I feel like this quote sums it all up:

[My] quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail to the ruin of all.

So, in the words of another one of my literary heroes: Hobey-ho, let’s go!

Other Flowers We Have

Other Flowers We Have
By Adam McLain

Consider the lilies of the field,
They toil not, they spin not.

Yet, other flowers we have,
That are not of that field.

Consider the tulips of the skies,
They lift our souls toward heaven.

Consider the roses of love,
Once hidden, now flowering, opening our hearts.

Consider the daffodils of peace,
Inviting all to envelop themselves in their calm.

Consider the hydrangeas of unity,
Together they flower—together they whither.

Consider the marigolds of light,
They brighten; they protect; they enjoy.

Consider the chrysanthemums of gold,
Wealth they share, freely and flowingly.

Them I must also consider,
And smell their aromas.

Some Thoughts from the Child of a “Weak” Family

The Latter-day Saint Church News recently stated this:

The Church cannot be strong if a majority of its leaders and members come from weak families, said President Dallin H. Oaks on Aug. 24.

“Conversely, if most of the families in a ward or stake are strong, the ward or stake will also be strong,” he said. “The same is true of the Church.”

I understand where this sentiment is coming from—the building blocks of the kingdom must be built strongly. The building block of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is family, and to the Church, a strong family is defined as a father and mother righteously leading children in attending church and living the gospel.

I, technically, come from a “weak” family, according to this definition. I was raised by a single mom. My parents were divorced from the time I was very young.

Being a male, I was groomed for leadership positions throughout growing up in the Church. I was told “One day, you will be a bishop. One day, you will be a leader in this church.”

But I was also told that a complete family was one with a mother and a father. It wasn’t my family. My family was a weak family.

With the logic that Mr. Oaks lays out—the Church cannot be strong if a majority of its leaders and members come from weak families—where do I fit in? Because I come from a “weak” family, am I weakening the Church by participating as a member or in the leadership?

The answer to that question doesn’t completely matter for this exercise of thought. What matters is that I thought these questions. I thought it every time I was told “You’ll be a good leader” and then in the same chair, just on a different Sunday, I was taught that the proper family—the strong family—is one with a mother and a father. And then, I was taught that strong families are what make up a good Church and that I should strive to create a family with a mother, a father, and children—even though my own foundation is not of that “strong” family.

It’s a cyclical thought pattern that demeans my experience and what I have to contribute to the community. Is it Mr. Oaks’s fault that I’m thinking these things? Do I think that he feels that I wouldn’t be a valuable contribution to the membership and leadership of the Church? No, I can’t know for certain what Mr. Oaks believes or what he wants. But, what I do know is that his words do have ripple effects to them—ripple effects that if we don’t talk about them, then they’ll never be seen.

Teaching that a “strong” family is one that has a father and a mother at the front, and considering families that don’t have that as “weak,” is very detrimental to people who are on the weak side of this binary. It’s not fun, nor is it enjoyable, to attend a church where each Sunday you’re told your family situation is “special,” “not the norm,” and “weak.” It is definitely not an enjoyable situation to have your teenage mind turned to this one line—”Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.”—to encompass your entire family experience when you ask the question “But what about my experience?” It’s rather harmful to a child’s psyche to consistently be told that his family doesn’t fit the perfect ideal that God has set up.

Please be careful how you teach the idea of family because each family—even the “strong” families—are unique and cannot be encompassed in a single document. Rather than proselytizing the ideal, celebrate unique situations and make your church surroundings a place that can nurture any type of family.

Something to Say, Something to Share

How can I have a voice, I remember asking my introduction to literary theory teacher, Professor Silva, when I’m not unique?

This is an idea that I’ve wrestled with off and on as I’ve pursued a career in the humanities. When I first began as an English major for my undergraduate degree, I questioned the uniqueness of my voice. I didn’t feel that unique—I was male, I was Mormon, and I (regrettably) thought I was straight. Since I was at Brigham Young University, I was surrounded by so many people that I thought were just like me.

I asked this question as we talked about feminist theory and critical race theory, two theoretical methods that attempt to share the words of voices that have been marginalized throughout history. If these two theories were attempting to share unique voices, how could I get a unique voice when I fit in with so many other people who had already written things?

I’ve gone on to recognize that I do have a unique voice. I mean, coming from a Mormon background, being gay, and living and working within predominantly conservative areas leads to that uniqueness, along with so many other factors in life. I have discovered things I want to say, and I know I’m the one who can and must say them.

Those moments in my undergrad when I questioned whether or not I had something to say have taught me that sometimes it’s not about what you have to say; sometimes, it’s about what you have to share from others.

For the past week, I was in Utah producing the first season of my podcast, Queer Spirituality. This idea of something to share really hit home as I recorded the various queer and queer ally voices. I attempted to have every episode speak for itself, without me saying anything, because, despite having opinions on matters related to queerness and spirituality, I wanted to give the stage to other people to simply share what they experienced.

And shared they did.

The fundamental reason for my methodology of Queer Spirituality—to let the people I interview speak for themselves, with little to no input from me during the episode (I did walk them through how I wanted them to discuss queerness and spirituality in relation to each other)—hearkens to this idea that I discovered in the beginning of my undergrad. Despite having things to say, I can (and should most times) be quiet because sometimes it’s more important to share what other people have to say, rather than sharing simply what you have to say.

I know that I can’t say everything that others experience, either individually or collectively, which is why I’ll share what they say. I’ll share the space, so they can speak for themselves, and I’ll share their words, so they can voice their experience as their experience. When I was inducted into the Women’s Studies Honors Society, I made a simple pledge—to use my privilege to help others—and that’s the thing about saying and sharing: it’s using what I’ve been given to help everyone.