Welcome to the Literary LGBT+ booktoker series for pride month. Wether you are in quest to dive in the queer experience or you want to explore authors that represents LGBT+ in literature while depicting thought provoking characters, this is the place where you will find the perfect recommenders along with their queer recommendations.
Kate Polaski—username @katie.bex3—started her tiktok journey in the start of 2020. Her account is great to follow if you are into fantasy with a spice of humor. Her tiktoks serve as LGBT+ representation and her witty commentry to discuss the queerness in books like Harry Potter won’t let you get bored.
Here’s what Polaski has to say about her experience:
When Did the journey of being a booktoker start?
I think I posted my first TikTok in January of 2020, and everything just took off from there. I got hooked on the serotonin rush of posting a video and seeing that people liked it, so I just kept posting, talking about basically anything and everything that I find interesting. It leads to a very diverse stream of content, but because I’ve loved reading since before I could even do it myself, a lot of my content started to revolve around books. I guess I just have a lot of opinions and jokes to share about them. I like to say that I’m trying to be a booktoker, but I’m just very distractable. Apparently, some people like the content enough to stick around, which feels amazing.
What was your aim and determination behind it?
I’ve always wanted to make people laugh, and I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it in the time I’ve been alive. In the beginning, that was pretty much my only goal; to make strangers on the internet think I was funny.
Did Your Aim changed with time?
Once more and more people started to watch my content, I knew that I actually wanted to have a message, and use my voice to discuss the social issues that I’m passionate about as well as just making people laugh. If I didn’t use my platform, no matter how small it is, to push for change, I don’t think I could respect myself as a person.
What’s the first book you ever remember reading?
Well, my favorite book as a kid was “Pat the Bunny”, because I had an actually stuffed version of Pat the bunny who was my constant companion. He’s sitting right next to me as I type this actually, still going strong after 20 years. He’s one part of my childhood that I’m never going to let go of. Love that little dude.
Has a book ever changed your life?
When I read the book “Dress Codes for Small Towns” by Courtney Stevens, it was the first time I’d ever really seen myself in a main character. The book revolves around a bisexual girl in the South, and her queer identity, as well as her relationships with her community and with religion, are major themes. I was raised Progressive Baptist, and my mom is an ordained minister. “Dress Codes” was really the first time I’d seen an LGBTQ+ discuss religion in a positive light, and it actually meant so much to me that I had my mom read the book too. The bisexual MC was also a big deal for me. As much as I connected with characters like Hermione and Annabeth as a kid, there was always something about me (aka my sexuality) that didn’t quite fit with them. Being able to read about a character who represented me in ways that I’d never seen before, as small of a thing as it may seem, was hugely validating.
What genres do you love?
My favorite genres are realistic fiction and historical fiction. I read a lot of YA Novels, but I have a soft spot for Children’s and Middlegrade too. I think stories we tell our kids can be some of the greatest ever, and they certainly have a lot to say about the things we value, both as a society and as individuals.
Are there any genres you dislike?
I don’t like thrillers or horror stories, they get far too intense and gory for my taste.
How do you think tiktok plays a role in the representation of LGBT+ community?
I think the biggest thing that TikTok does is that it allows people on the app to see parts of themselves represented in creators. The TikTok algorithm allows for some really specific targeted content, so it’s possible (and actually quite easy) for users to find content creators who share their sexual orientation, gender identity, political views, etc.
How can you relate yourself to this role?
I’m always very open about my bisexuality on my TikTok as well as my struggles with ADHD and other mental illnesses. It’s cliche, but if I can help even one person feel like they’re not so alone after all, and that someone is having the same thoughts and feelings as them, then it would make everything worth it.
What change Do you want to bring to the world?
There are so many things I’d like to change about the world, but I think something that I can actually have an impact on is creating the most accepting and open generation of people possible. Every change starts with a small action, so if I can encourage anyone to rethink their opinions on a social issue or just encourage them to have more empathy towards their fellow human beings, I’d consider it a job well done. I plan on becoming a teacher once I graduate college, so I’m already super excited about the positive impact I’ll get to have on my future students’ lives–especially if they’re struggling with their identity, I would love to be a pillar of support for them.
What LGBT+ authors would you recommend and why?
I think everyone should read “Juliet Takes A Breath” by Gabby Rivera, firstly because it’s just a fantastic book, and secondly because it really caused me to unpack how I continue to uphold racist infrastructure as a queer white woman. I’d also recommend Meredith Russo, Ashley Herring Blake, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and Nina LaCour, who have all written amazing books which center around LGBTQ+ characters.
Any advice for the LGBT+ community for this pride month?
I guess the biggest thing I’d want to tell everyone in the LGBTQ+ community is that they’re amazing and I love them!! I don’t have any untapped wisdom or anything, but I’d want to remind anyone who might be struggling with themselves or their identity to know that there are people out there in the world who care about you and want you to succeed, no matter what. You might not have met them yet, but I promise you that your people exist.
Featured image by the gator’s eye