Mx. Tylor Lof – Conversations with LGBTQ+ Booktokers

Their videos highlight the queer experience along with LGBT+ recommendations for middle schoolers also including ways to educate in a queer environment and ideas for virtual classroom.

BookTok LGBTQ Voices LGBTQIA+ Reads Young Adult

Mx. Tylor-Lof- username @mx.readtherainbow– runs their tiktok account solely dedicated for incredible YA queer recommendations. Their videos highlight the queer experience along with LGBTQ+ recommendations for middle schoolers also including ways to educate in a queer environment and ideas for virtual classroom.

@mx.readtherainbow

#bhm book recommendations for middle grades! #bookrecs #booktok #readtherainbow #diversifyyourbookshelves #altteacher #teachersoftiktok #tiktokteacher

♬ Level Up – Ciara

 

Here’s what they has to say about their booktok experience:

When the journey of being a booktoker started? 2. What was you aim and determination behind it?

My journey with booktok started during the pandemic. Like many millennials I think boredom and curiosity during those stay-at-home months took me to TikTok, and I saw it as a platform to play and explore without some of the pressure that Instagram had put on me. I’ve played around a bit with what I post, but I’ve always hoped to be able to share great books, especially featuring characters and stories that exist at the margins of the dominant narrative, while also having a space to just vibe as a queer, non-binary teacher.

Did it (aim) changed with time?

I don’t know if my aim has changed, but I did find myself taking a step back momentarily this spring to care for my mental health. I’ve been gearing up to post more frequently again, and I think that my aim is definitely more centered in sharing diverse books and queer joy.

What’s the first book you ever remember reading?

The first book I distinctly remember reading was Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. It was the first book I checked out with my own library card— I think I was in second grade. It’s held a fond place in my heart ever since!

Has a book ever changed your life?

Oh, yes! Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff absolutely changed me. This is a fairly recent release, but reading this middle-grade story of trans-self discovery touched and healed my inner child in ways I wasn’t even aware I needed. It really demonstrated to me the importance and impact of representation in kids’ lit.

What genres do you love?

I am most drawn to thrillers, fantasy, science-fiction and contemporary fiction. Anything queer-related, regardless of genre, immediately piques my interest.

 

IMAGE VIA TIKTOK

Are there any genres you dislike?

Straight romance. I also almost always dislike time-travel related stories.

How do you think tiktok play a role in the representation of LGTB+ community?

I think because of TikTok’s algorithm it’s made it easier for those of us in the LGBTQ+ community to find and connect with each other. Regardless of where you live and what your home community is like, you can hop onto TikTok and bask in a sea of queerness. Of course, it isn’t without its issues— just as in real life, TikTok most often centers white, thin, able-bodied voices. We have to be aware of the intersectionality that exists within our community and be conscious in seeking out creators outside the mainstream idea of what society thinks queerness does/should look like.

How can you relate yourself to this role?

I grew up in a conservative home and community without the language to describe my identity or out role models to look up to. I am both excited and intimidated to now be able to exist in a role where I can be a kind of role model for a happy queer adult that I wish I could have had. I would have figured myself out a lot sooner if I’d had access to the spectrum of representation I can find on TikTok!

I don’t always know what I am doing, but if my videos or recommendations can help increase support for LGBTQ+ inclusion in elementary spaces or help anyone feel seen and validated, then that’s all I could hope for.

What change you want to bring to the world?

I want LGBTQ+ kids to see themselves not only recognized and included in their classrooms and the books they read, but also celebrated. This spring I started a Rainbow Club for LGBTQ+ students and allies in my school community, and while the support has given me so much hope, the push-back only shows me we still have so much to fight fo in order to protect queer and trans youth, and that’s where I have found my mission.

 

 

What LGBT+ authors would you recommend and why?

Kyle Lukoff is a major one. He has written both picture books and middle grade novels that joyfully and lushly capture experiences of trans kids. My Name is Max, How Aiden Became a Brother and Too Bright to See are my top picks.

Recently I got to moderate a panel for Pride Book Fest with several amazing LGBTQ+ authors on the topic of writing middle grade fiction, and it made me love them even more. Maulik Pancholy, Jake Maia Arlow, Chad Lucas, Claribel Ortega, and A.J. Sass are all not only phenomenal authors telling beautiful queer stories, but are also just kind and charming people.

Noelle Stevenson of Lumberjanes and Nimona, Molly Ostertag of The Witch Boy, and Kat Leyh of Snapdragon are three of my favorite queer graphic novelists. Every one of those novels is not only beautifully illustrated, but also have some of the most endearing characters. My students and I can’t get enough of their work!

Any advice for the LGBT+ community for this pride month?

There is no right or wrong way to be queer. There is no right or wrong way to come out (if you even want to come out) and it’s never too early or late to come out, as long as you feel safe and ready. Who you are is perfectly made, exactly as you are, and I hope you are proud of yourself. Don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise- your story belongs.

Featured Image via Mx. tylor-loF