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June 14, 2024 63 mins

Gabby Rivera's 2016 book Juliet Takes a Breath is a coming of age and coming out story of finding voice, identity, feminism and support through women. 

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Speaker 1 (00:05):
Hey, this is Anny and Samantha. I will put my
stuff I've never told you product if I heart to you,
and welcome to another edition of book Club Pride Month edition.
Although we do talk about this stuff all the time,

so I will say this is a pretty recent book.
It came out in twenty sixteen, so spoilers if you
haven't read it. We are talking about Gabby Rivera's twenty
sixteen book, Juliette Takes a Breath. It is an award
winning book. It's really a highly reviewed that. It was
partially inspired by Rivera's own coming out and feminist journey

at the age of nineteen, and it is a really
great coming out story. It's a great coming of age story.
It's a great figuring out your whole deal story. It
has themes of family, of being Puerto Rican in America,
of trying to learn and grow but also realizing what
doesn't work with you, and finding your own voice. By

the way, we have talked about Gabby Rivera before because
she also wrote the solo series America about America Chavez
for Marvel. So we've done two episodes on America Javaz
check those out. Who is and this is a quote
from Rivera's website, a portal punching queer Latina powerhouse. So

also Rivera hosts Joy Uprising, which is a podcast that
quote brings together her favorite revolutionary humans to honor joy
in a chaotic world. So that's cool. And this work
was adapted into a graphic novel, and we were just
talking about that. I don't think that episode has come
out yet, but we were just talking about how we

joy graphic novels that don't necessarily fit into what you
might think a graphic novel should look like. So I
think that's really cool. So let us get into the plot.
This story largely follows queer Latinx teen Juliette, who has
grown up in the Bronx, surrounded by her family, like

has never left the Bronx. During her first year of college,
she discovered the book Raging Flower Empowering Your Putty by
Empowering Your Mind by Portland, Oregon based white feminist Harlow
Brisbane or Brisbane. It was a really important book to her,
so she writes to Harlow that's how the book opens,
explaining how much it impacted her, how many questions she has,

and asks for an internship Harlow offers her one for
college credits, where Juliette would be helping with Harlow's next book.
At the same time, juliet is struggling with deciding whether
or not to come out as a lesbian to her family.
She is in love with her girlfriend and she is

weighing on her She hasn't come out. She does come
out the night before she leaves her Portland, and it
has mixed results, but especially her mom is not cool
with it, calling it a phase and kind of walking
away and closing herself off. So Juliette goes to Portland,
is picked up at the airport by Harlow, who is

immediately like a hippie, astrology or a white woman. From here,
we learned that Juliette has anxiety and asthma, and when
Harlow changes the assignment to it's still for the book,
but she changes the assignment to tracking down women based
on scraps of information that Harlow has collected over time.

Juliet freaks out, only compounded by the hostility of another
person staying with Harlow named Fenn, and the general lack
of people of colored. Juliette does her best tracking the
women on these scraps, developing an interest in the librarian Kira.
At the same time, her girlfriend is avoiding her, not

answering her text calls. Juliette is introduced to a lot
of new ideas and terms, and Harlow takes her to
an Octavia Butler writing class, where juliet writes a sci
fi story and then witnesses an awkward encounter with Harlow
lecturing other white women. Maxine, a black woman who is
in a poll relationship with Harlow, asks Juliette about it later. Eventually,

things culminate into Harlow using Juliette in a racist, tokenist
way to prove she is what she, as a white feminist,
has done and has done the work. Juliette panics at
being used like this and by someone she respected, and

she books a flight to Miami to see her cousin, Ava,
who has long been telling her to come visit and
they can talk about all these big ideas. There, Juliete
reconnects with her aunt, who her mother claimed was gay,
and Ava, who answers her questions about a whole host
of intersectional feminist topics, and Ava takes Juliette to a

party for queer people of color. While there, Juliette feels
happy and free. She leaves her EX message because yes,
by this point they have broken up. It was like
a letter that her center. It was like I found
someone else. We're broken up. And then her EX responded again,
was like I made a huge mistake. I'm so sorry.

We have to talk, and Juliette's like, actually, I'm good.
So she leaves her ExM message saying, yes, I hope
one day we can be friends, but I we're not
going to get back together. She and her mother make amends.
Juliette goes back to Portland, where Harlowe tells her that
she and Maxine have broken up and that she's been

jealous of Maxine's other partner, and offers Juliette acupuncture as
a sort of non apology. Juliette talks to the people
of color like Maxine about Harlowe and eventually confronts her,
telling her how much that whole thing hurt her, how
racist she'd been, how Juliette felt guilty for not saying

anything but that Harlowe's work was important to her. Then
she has a moment in the river, because this all
happened over a hike where she accepts everything she's learned,
all what the women have taught her, and how much
she still has in front of her, and she takes
a breath and she returns home with writing ideas in mind.

That's verridence. So there are a lot of big themes
in this book. One of the biggest is feminism. Here's
a quote from the opening from the letter that Julia
writes to Harlow. But I'm writing to you now because
this book of yours, this magical Labia Manifesto, has become

my bible. It's definitely a reading from the book of
white lady feminism. And yet there are moments where I
see my round browns in your words. I wanted more
of that, Harlow, more representation, more acknowledgment, more room to
breathe the same era as you. We are all women,
we are all of the womb. It is in that

essence of the moon that we share sisterhood. That's you.
You wrote that, and I highlighted it, wondering if that
was true. If you don't know my life and my struggle,
can we be sisters? Can a bad white lady, like
you make room for me. Should I stand next to
you and take that space? Or do I need to
just push you out of the way claim it myself

now so that one day we'll be able to share
this earth, this block these deep breaths. So I like that,
like getting to the end, we do. You know what
happens both with Harlow but also with the like taking
a breath, that whole theme throughout that she takes that
breath at the end, and that does you know from

the second you read it, you're like, oh no, don't
meet your heroes. When you're like first introduced to Harlow,
you're like, oh no, no, no, no, like ooh, which
leads us to white feminism and racism, which is a
big topic of discussion in this book. Here's another quote.
Harlow made it seem like those white girls had to

give us something, I replied, turning my head up a little,
like as if we couldn't do our thing without them.
See you get it? She said, she being Maxine here.
Space isn't theirs to give to us. Nor is Harlow
separate from those girls. They are her, she is them.
White allies need to keep that distance out of their
community education. Damn. But like at least she said something, right,

I asked. Maxine raised an eyebrow, shaking her head. Her
rich full laugh wrapped me up. These sweet potatoes and
mushrooms weren't trezo and a side of toastonaise, but they
were love. I joined in with my wheeze laugh. Her
shoulders heaved up and down with each breath. She'd fit
right in at the breakfast table back home. Maxine dapped

at her eyes with her napkin, in all love and seriousness.
She slowed down and looked at me square in the eye.
You know, just saying something is good enough until it
isn't at all. So I think, also going back to
that first quote we read where she's talking about like
taking space or like pushing out of the way, that

hearkens back to this this moment in this quote, and
there are a lot of there's a lot of conversation
about like microaggressions and tokenism, and Maxine and Harlow's relationship
is really interesting where they seem to kind of push
each other a lot, that keep coming back to each other.

But also it's like Harlow doesn't know so much about vaccine.
So it's a little hmmm.

Speaker 2 (10:12):
I think this all really just takes place in an
understanding that because a lot of white feminists take under
the pressure that they must be a savior. She does
talk about being a savior and having that savior complex, which,
you know, anybody who is marginalized knows this feeling that
people who come in with like I have to stand
up for you, and I'm going to do this for
you and I and and if they're not getting the

appreciation they think they deserve, then they feel like they're
the next victims.

Speaker 1 (10:38):
They're the victims of this situation.

Speaker 2 (10:40):
And that's what Maxine talks about, is like, this is
why you this is what you're doing. You're not doing
this to be an ally. You're doing this to get
to be the center of the conversation again. And that's
that level. Because two white girls complained that the space
that they had gone to an event was for black
and brown people and that white people were well come

to join, of course, but this was not their space.
This is for them to observe. And then two white
girls complaining about like why can't it just be all
about every you know, all of us as is unity
and this was always the problem to begin with because
when it's quote unquote all of us, it means white centered, privileged,
white centered problems and again leaving out any marginalized person,

specifically black people and black and brown people in general.
And we're talking about like the black community and the
Latino community as a whole, because we know that's the
depth of the racism, and that there's this later privilege
and that Harlowe once again thinking that she was being
a savior coming to the rescue without hearing, without speaking up,

without actually taking time to learn, and that's that bigger
level of like see what I did for you kind
of thing. And Harlow does that again later where she's like,
of course I'm the big, bad white white lady, you
know that can't do anything again, centering herself in that
conversation instead of listening about what is going on going
on mazine talking about And then I get this taking

any scrap of what seems like goodwill and really like
and the same thing with obviously Juliette learning about feminism,
and this is someone who is a feminist who really
loves her body as a woman, and then like coming
in as like not being in love with a man
and not being centralized around men. So this is kind
of that elementary level, an introduction to feminism. So you

get really really enthralled by that and really excited, and
you want to run with that because it's something new
for you. But when you start and Maxine was the
same way, she was like she kind of said she
was worried about Julia doing the same thing Maxine did,
being enthralled with this woman who seemed like such an
open minded genius of her time, quote unquote, and then
as you start really unfolding all the layers, you realize, oh,

but that's absolutely one dimensional. Absolutely it stops at her privilege,
it stops at what she gets and she's done. And
that's that same level again with like white feminism when
we talk about it is they don't want to go
beyond when they get their rights.

Speaker 1 (13:06):
It's there.

Speaker 2 (13:07):
They go to get it first, and then we'll focus
on everything else instead of seeing the underlying issues. And
that's what she's talking about. Scene is talking about specifically
here is like she's getting what she wants. She wants
to be the hero, she wants to be the savior.
This is not actually being a good ally a good
comrade in this conversation, and I think it really opens

up Juliet's eyes, who hasn't had any feminism point blank
and realizing, oh, this may not be the route, like
her saying that she's an ally doesn't mean she's an ally,
and then seeing her cousin, which I know we'll talk about,
who has been fully undated in that world as well,
but from a Latino cultural background, like she's coming at

like being a feminist and what it looks like as
a brown person, as a Latina person, and understanding the
depth of colonization that happened to Puerto Rico and why
inherently why people can't be trusted who manam want to
say that because that's kind of that level. It was
like the heroine that she thought Harlow was actually ended

up being someone who was just as aggressive, just microaggressive
in the ways that she was being welcomed into this community, right.

Speaker 1 (14:17):
And I feel that it was such a great depiction
of because we've talked about this, when you go to
college and you realize like, oh, I didn't know about this,
or oh I didn't know about this, and you want
to learn more, and Juliette is such a fun character
in that way because she's she describes herself as very bookish,

like she wants to learn more. She gets this list
of book suggestions from Ava, and like seeing her learn
more about her culture and what happened, and like the
confrontation she has with her white girlfriend about Banana Republic.
I was like, yeah, it was just it felt very

that experience of when you go to college and just
you meet people and they open all these doors for you,
and sometimes they've been there that whole time and you've
just never asked them the question, right, which sort of
ended up being the case with Ava, who yes, we
will talk about I love that, but yes, so Harlowe

at this reading is asked a question about you know,
intersexual feminism essentially, but you know, including people of color
and what she's doing for that, and she uses Juliette
as a token and paints her life completely inaccurately and

completely racistly about like she got out of the Bronx
and it, you know, it was very violent and difficult
and all that stuff, and that wasn't her life at all.
Her poor area.

Speaker 2 (15:58):
They lived in a nice area. They actually really happy
she went to college. She's fine, none of that was
a conversation I don't understand.

Speaker 1 (16:09):
Right, So Juliette goes to Miami after that, she's so upset.
Then she comes back with all this, you know, like
newfound knowledge, and they go on this hike and Juliette
confronts Harlowe and here's a quote from that. That's not enough,
I continued, holding the tree I just kicked. And what

sucks is that I know that you know that deep
down you also know you get a pass, maybe not
from Maxine and Zira, but from every white lady in
that room. All of them just looked at me all
sad like, as if they were ready to discover their
own little lesbian latina from whateverhood and make themselves a
savior too, right, Yeah.

Speaker 2 (16:49):
But also like, and I think it's something to be noted.
At the very beginning of the book, you meet Finn,
who is a Filipino uh person, young person that lived
with her, and obviously, from what we gathered, his mom
was in a relationship with Harlow and they all lived
as a family, and then his mom just left. So
he has a lot of feelings and he was very

antagonistic to juliet And I think It has something to
do with the fact that it is very much Harlowe
being like, I'm going to collect these people of color
to save them, And it was a big hint at
the very beginning of what this was like. She really
has a huge say of your complex in being this
goddess fairy for each one of them and showing them

the way without understanding like, hey, you're actually in the
way at this point, like you are a part of
you are the problem in this conversation, you like collecting
literally marginalize people for your crew of followers.

Speaker 1 (17:45):
We don't know what what you're doing.

Speaker 2 (17:47):
And obviously she very much says that out loud during
that moment of like, look what I've rescued, as if
she as if Juliette was a puppy from a pound,
and Juliette finally like she's having it. I love I
loved how well Riviera played this in that insecurity of
finding your voice because you know you're too insecure to

speak up because you're just learning, and you know you're
in a powerhouse full of people who have been in
this world for a long long time. Also, you're in Portland,
and I can't imagine the juxtaposition of being from the
Bronx coming to Portland because I couldn't imagine myself, but
like having that and then trying to figure out your
voice being nineteen with all these middle asied women who

are talking so many new terms, whether it's polyamory or
whether it's about gender pronouns. And this was in the
early two thousands, so this is my age. Rage. I
was like, oh, this is lovely this. I know this.
I know this feeling of being new and traveling by
myself or being somewhere new by myself in the early
two thousands, trying to figure it out where everybody was
somewhat accepting, but there was no actual terms for things,

like it was all very new and it was so
new that people were scared of it, Like this was
during that time, and so I loved seeing that perspective
that she put onto her character Juliet, which she understood
very well because she was like walking into a whole
new environment completely and trying to learn. So was trying
to find their voice, and that soul like moment with

Maxine where Maxine's like, you knew something was off, but
you didn't know how to phrase that. You don't know
what is off, and I think again, I'll talk about it.
I'll feel that way when people are saying things like
your English is really good or all these things, and
I'm like, this feels off. You know, you're trying to
be nice to me and you're trying to get to
know me, but in a weird way because you would

not ask any white person this question. So I'm very confused,
especially with my accent anyway, But like her learning all
these level but not being able to say because you're
just trying to fit in. You're trying to be appreciative
of being noticed or being talked to, being like being
a part of something in general. So like having her
come to that point of being like nom pissed. You

know you're wrong, and you know that in between this,
if saw this, they would paint me as the aggressive
person again from the hood as you try to put
me while you are just being so nice and kind
and helping a young girl out, Like that's literally the
picture that you portrayed, and you know how wrong that is.
And you have not said I'm sorry, and you've not
made a public apology and understanding and admitting that you

are wrong, as in fact, you've like doubled down by saying, look,
I'll introduce you to another Latino person. You're welcome. I
found one of your kind, essentially is what she's saying.
And I want to put this in here, and I
know I'm going to get some people will get real
mad at me. And when I say this, but in conversations,
when you see this of people with good intentions and

you are a person of marginalized community and you're trying
to come in and figure yourself out. And I say
this as a person who's trying to figure myself out,
there are moments when you kind of wish that You're like,
I have too many white people in my life, and
you're like, I'm gonna I'm gonna have to back off
because instead of trying to help you discover who you

are in this whole space, in this space of intersectionality,
they try to tell you how they're going to help you,
but it's all again white centered. And this is what
Harlowe was doing to juliet And thank god Juliette was
able to meet Magazine and Zara as well as her
new flame, which I'm sure we're talking about, Kira, of

seeing different perspectives on what was happening, because she needed
that to unfold the rest of what was missing in
her life, like the rest of the learning and unlearning
that she needed to do, and her own cousin Ava,
thank God, is a part of that too, and how
much they realized with each other, like they really are

have common ground and maybe even her little brother that
we find out later on, and I think that's beautiful,
but that this is that conversation that is so real
to me that I'm like, yeah, yeah, it kind of
gets to the point of like white allies mean well,
but they talk so much that they don't realize this
is more hindrance. And this is where white feminism gets

in the way. Listeners, I love if you are a
white person, please don't think this that I'm saying this
as an attack, but just coming from an all white
space as I have, and I'm telling you it's all
white space as in like my family and all of that.
You realize what boundaries that they put in front of
you or sometimes you know, what kind of obstacles I

put in front of you because of their good intentions.
But it doesn't it's not it's not in the end
that great, and this is where we see with Harlowe
as well.

Speaker 1 (22:51):
I thought it was really interesting that this book when
I looked up when it came out, I was like, really,
January twenty sixteen, because presumably had been written before that,
but that is when we had the Women's March, and
that was no rightfully called out for being white women
wearing these pink hats and sort of like pushing other

people out. And because of the title of Harlowe's book,
it has put me in the name. I just assumed,
and maybe it did because that's that was around before
that march. But I was just like, the timing is
very interesting.

Speaker 2 (23:31):
I think she was definitely making sure to a not
only be a little bit autobiographical and in her own story,
but it also really she does it in a genuinely
good way that again I read into this, and I
think probably a little bit differently in that level because
in seeing her come to terms with what she was

seeing because in her own again, I grew up being
told that I was being saved by white people, so
that wasn't new to me. It was trying to let
go of the fact that I'm like, I gotta stop
like falling into that for her to be seen as
that it was so new because she has a very strong,
very influential family, Puerto Rican family who have held her

up in those traditions. Like she talks about the food
feeling homie, and she's like loving it and missing it,
missing the like being hugged by her mom and getting
like the moments of like just being able to put
her head and smelling her mom and knowing that she
can be comforted that way, like going to see her
aunt and getting that hug that she needed because you know,
it was familial.

Speaker 1 (24:37):
But all of that to.

Speaker 2 (24:38):
Say is like to see like her intentions of being like, oh,
this is what the white community or like sees me
as as someone that needs to be rescued. What is
this and then not sure how to handle that because
it's so new to her because that was never a
thought for her. And interesting enough, like she never saw

that with Laney because she thought Laney, which maybe I'm
just putting words in her like writing in that Laney
was that person also like both of them were experiencing
new things. But it seemed like because she said, Sarah
the new girl was probably a white girl and she
now she's got to what she wants that she can

show presentably mm hm as a better representation for being
a good feminist lesbian. That it meant being white as
she saw it as as like Juliette saw it, And
I'm like, I think that in Lanie, who was very
very white, you know, according to what we read like
that to me was like that was a new realization

as well, and what she was to Laney possibly to
what she was to the rest of the world as well.
Like I think I found that interesting and I really
think that for me, Viera did a great job in
showing that as showcasing the a new a new baby
feminist that she says, or a new baby lesbian she.

Speaker 1 (25:58):
Says, yes, and Lane is the girlfriend that they broke up. No, yeah,
because Lane didn't want to introduce she was scared to
introduce Juliette to her like suburban white family. I think
we have a quote about that later. And then she
meets Sarah presumably yes white girl, and then she's not

so worried about it anymore. But then I guess it
didn't work out, or either she panicked but Juliette wasn't
a good or she was in a better place, and
I was like, you know what, I'm good she found her,
she said, she did. I did want to include this quote.
This is from when Ava and juliet are just having
their like amazing back and forth about feminism and thoughts

about feminism, when Juliette goes to Miami. And one of
the criticisms Ava has about the book is kind of
the emphasis and pre diference placed on like periods and
all like that stuff. So here's a quote. Her consistent

linking of genital's to gender as an absolute is violent
as hell. It's a closed fist instead of open arms,
you know. And besides, she added, staring at herself unflinching
in the mirror, womanhood is radical enough for anyone who
dares to claim it.

Speaker 2 (27:21):
Yeah, I love that. Like, Kira said that too. Kira
said that she is very focused on women, like she
doesn't like she equates women in a vaginas in a
story in this and not allowed for the in betweens,
and just being like the goddess has been feminine, which
feminine could be all across all genders, and we know this,

but like in general, like she specifically aims to women,
equating that the only way a woman is powerful is
through their vagina and uterus, and again it is very problematic,
especially in a world where she is supposed to be
a leader for the quick community. You know, like you're
leaving out a lot of the LGBTQI plus peoples and

you are excluding when you were saying you don't want to.

Speaker 1 (28:06):
Exclude, yes, And you know you and I have talked before,
we talked recently not everyone who identifies as a woman
as period for multiple reasons, right, And also, like I
do get, we've talked about this too. There's something in
our culture, in our society, periods are taboo. We don't

talk about them. I do get trying to, like, let's
talk about it. Let's there was period pride, it was
a huge thing while back. But in doing so, if
you're like leaving out everyone else, if you're not, if
that's your main focus and you're not talking about anyone else,
then you're yeah, you're excluding a lot of people, right,

a lot of people, Which kind of leads us into
the next theme I wanted to talk about, because there
is some there's elements of homophobia in here, of because
clear Juliette is how the book starts, is she's really
nervous about coming out to her family, and so she
she's like actually going back and forth about whether she

will at all, but then she finally does. It kind
of just comes out of her, like she says it,
and everyone kind of doesn't believe her. I was like, oh, yeah,
I've used that old excuse too. But then she says
it outright after having a very sweet conversation with her
little brother where he's very like, no, you got this.

So she does it, and then, like I said, mixed results.
But her mom was definitely the one that was the
most like, oh no, this is not correct. So here's
a quote from her mom. It's this book, isn't it?
This book about Mgina's. Has you messed up in the
head and confused? She said, looking past me anywhere but
at me, her voice heavy but not angry. My father

reached out for her hand and held it. No, it's
not raging flower. I love Laney. It's never felt like
this with a boy, I said, tears betrayed the tiny
bit of strength in my voice. Little Melvin bowed his
head low, his cheeks flushed. He nutched his knee into
mine and kept it there. I pushed my plate of
food aside, Mom and I stared at each other and

I felt like I was falling. But Juliette, she said,
you've never had a boyfriend, so how would you know.
All you know are these neighborhood boys. You haven't give
any of the boys at your college a chance. You
might like Laney, but it's not the same thing. I
promise you that love I love her, you don't know
anything about my feelings. So that's how it went. And

this was her final night before she left. And I think,
like in that conversation, because this is a fairly quick read,
I would say packs in a lot and a lot
of the stereotypes are kind of responses people get in
my experience when coming out, that it's a phase, you'll

grow out of it. Of course, it's a trend. I
do kind of it cracks me up this whole, like
you read this book and now you're gay, because that's
what they used to like ban books a lot of
times where people because the percentage of LGBTQ plus people

is higher than ever, people think it's like books or
whatever that's turning them gay. But as we've said before,
it's more likely that they've just know this is a
thing now, right, and they might not have before. Rivera
has like an interesting comparison where Juliette is thinking about

not being Puerto Rican enough, Like has she'd gotten people
saying she wasn't Puerto Rican enough for not liking or
not knowing about certain music or about certain things, and
how having that experience made this make her feel like, oh, okay,

well maybe I'm not gay enough. And then that's compounsioned
when she goes to Portland and she learns all these
new terms in the world of feminism and like maybe
I'm not a feminist enough, like all of those things.

Speaker 2 (32:18):
Right, I mean, in both of those situations, Yeah, she's
talking about being tested. Yeah, and then we I think
we can know that when anything. We're like, I'm a
fan of this band and you're like, oh you are.
We'll tell me the name three songs, you know, like
just stuff like that that we see. But when it
comes to your identity and you're like, what the hell,
why do I have to prove myself I exist?

Speaker 1 (32:35):
Like I'm here, I don't.

Speaker 2 (32:37):
I don't know how else to tell you, Like I
deal with the same microaggressions that you do, and assumptions
that you do. I literally I laugh because the other
day I had someone ask me if I like being
here and this is all?

Speaker 1 (32:48):
This is for real?

Speaker 2 (32:48):
And I was like, what do you mean?

Speaker 1 (32:49):
You mean? Like where? What now?

Speaker 2 (32:52):
And I kind of bypassed that question. Then he asked
me again and like do you like being here? And
I said where to cater and then he was like, no,
the US and I was like, oh uh, I've been
here like like and he like trying to backtrack. And
this was a younger dude, and I was like, are
you are you kidding me? I just wanted to get

my carbaged. I'm not really sure where that came from,
but okay, but like being tested and being told that
at the same time being like, but you're not really
like that that level of conversation the same way with feminisms,
like but are you do you support these things? Or
do you not support these things? Or do you devote
this way? Have you done these things? Are you part
of these activism? Are you like are you marching in
the streets every day? Like have you, like a boycotted

all these like you? There's so many levels of like
you have to prove yourself and it's not good enough
for most people, and there's different levels of what constitutes
you being enough of these are things and she says that,
and then I kind of wanted to go back to
about how the whole the phase you grow, you'll grow
out of it, because I really loved the Auntie line
in which the daughter Ava was like, Mom, you're bye too.

We're both by Are you kidding me? And the aunt
laughs and says, yeah, I guess that's what it is.
We're by this, meaning that even though her sister, Juliete's
mom was like, your aunt went through up phase two
and like this girl, and the aunt was like, no,
I loved her. I loved this woman, but it didn't
work out and that hasn't changed the fact. But I
still love her today, as in like, I have not

changed from being by. I just am with a man,
which is what we see so often in the BY community.
I know Annie that you have talked about this, like
we've talked about this repeatedly, about the fact that just
because you see them, you see someone in a hetero relationship,
does not change that they are queer, like they still
are bisexual, and that kind of the Auntie was like, no, yeah,

I'm by, yeah, absolutely, and like all of them hugging together,
loving each other and being like even though the mom
really thought she had Juliet with this point in actuality,
the aunt was like, no, I haven't changed it. I'm by.
I just didn't know the word for it. I just
am who I am, essentially is what they were having
that common. But I really loved that was a confirmation

for Juliette of being like, it's okay, it's okay, and
it's not a face, Like I don't see that as
a face either, which is still really, really, really offensive
in every way it is. Oh, here's another quote. It
says tee Wepa didn't move. She stared hard at me
and said, you were born in the middle of the

night on a Monday, September sixth, nineteen eighty three. I'll
never forget that day as long as I'm living and breathing.
My brother came out of the delivery room, first time
in my life I'd ever seen him cry and told
us you were a baby girl. Tit wiped her eyes.
I've loved you from that moment and I always will.
I don't care if you're gay or if you shave
your head, or or if you become a falcon, offered

little Melvin from the backseat, tit Weppa laughed, Or if
you become a mother Falcon, I'm your t tee and
nothing will ever change my love for you. I really
wish we had more things with Melvin. Little Malvin, to
be honest, he was fantastic.

Speaker 1 (36:00):
He's the little brother and he's like a nerd but wonderful.
I mean that's how like word nerds aren't wonderful. He's
like a really sweet, like speaks wisdom nerd.

Speaker 2 (36:13):
Yeah, he's a smart little brother who adores his sister
beyond anything else, not surprised for anything. She comes out
to him first and he's like, yop, okay, you're an
animorph just like great.

Speaker 1 (36:26):
Just a great thing.

Speaker 2 (36:27):
And then he gives her an emergency pack for her
to open when things are bad and it's perfect for her.
But like, I love their relationships so much and how
much they love each other and how much they support
each other, and even him being like seven years younger.
I think he's like twelve or fourteen and she's like nineteen.
That he is like the support system she needs, which

is phenomenal. So good.

Speaker 1 (36:52):
Yeah, he's great. He was reading Anamorphs when you're first
introduced to him, and I love how he just accepts
It's like, Yep, that's who you are. It's like I'm
a big a two. Yeah. The story, it is letter.
I love it. It's so good. I did want to

speak to going back to that kind of like you're
not enough worry when it comes to to I think
a lot of things, but in this case, like being queer,
but also like the whole feminist thing we've been talking about.
When you don't know the terminology, here's a quote. You know,
I didn't know the words. No, I didn't know my

ginger pronouns. All the moments where I was made to
feel like an outsider in a group that was supposed
to have room for me added up and left me
feeling so much shame, burning hot cheeks, eyes swollen with tears.
That were all the words I couldn't say. That's what
my shame looked like. Yeah, and I think, like going
back to so many advert conversations we had just like

any other group of people, there are biases everything in
the queer community, and yeah, if you're new to it,
it can be really scary when people are like, have
you read this? Do you know this? Do you know
this term? What it is? And so when she's kind
of bombarded with all of these things she's never heard of,

and then that can make you feel even more doubt, like, oh,
I didn't even know about that. But as you said,
when she goes to visit her aunt and cousin in Miami,
she's like, oh, yeah, I didn't know that was a
word for it.

Speaker 2 (38:40):
But yep, I love the relationship goes on. Your one
job is to just accept what a person feels comfortable
sharing about themselves. No one owes you info on their gender,
body parts, or sexuality.

Speaker 1 (38:55):
Yeah. I liked that there was also discussions around on sexism.
One of the opening scenes, I would say pretty much
is around that and around like she describes herself as
sort of a bigger brown queer woman and having shame

around like the clothes she wears or her body. But
a lot of times, like there's a pretty there's a
scene in the beginning where she's confronted by neighborhood dudes
who are just doing that horrible harassment do thing that
some tubes do, and she has a quote where she's like,
you know, I felt so good in the morning when
I put this on. I felt so cute, And now

I feel gross and wrong and weird because it was
like a halter top that was showing off her breast
and like tight pants and all this. And she felt
really good about it, but then they came and her
asked her, and then she felt bad about it. And
so she does have a lot of things in here
about discussions of feeling of her weight, of of sweating

like a normal human person. But a lot of us
can relate to being told that's like not ladylike, oh no,
and having a lot of anxiety around that. And as
you mentioned, I just read an article about this, but
it's been around forever, but I just read an article
about how so many times when you see queer people

in the media, it is kind of the straight white
version of like the nice queer person who is in
a woman's case, she's thin, she's white, like, she's still
like traditionally beautiful to heterosexual people, which is a huge conversation.
There's a lot of things to impact there, but her
having anxiety around that and not fitting that when she's

coming out, and she did get some of these anxieties
from her family and I related to this quote, Nina,
from now on, you must always wear bra. Your breast
will get bigger, like mind grandma's. You must protect them.
Trust me, Eventually you will need the support as well.
Men in public are even in the house, should never
be able to see the outline of your tatitas or

the poke of your nipples. Put your bra on the
second you wake up in the morning. Men can't handle
seeing those things. It makes them crazy. Remember, they're just
not as smart as we are. Mama, From now on,
you must shower every day and always rodioda and imperfume.
I do not want my little girl to be stinky.
You are too pretty for that.

Speaker 2 (41:30):

Speaker 1 (41:30):
I feel like a lot of us had this talk
where it was all of a sudden, like you gotta
smell nice, and you gotta wear this, and you can't
wear this, and I was not allowed I had to
talk to my house, I was not allowed to go
out without a bra, and I hated bras. So it
was just really annoying. But then it kind of gets
in your head of like, oh, yeah, men can't control themselves,

and when which I'm saying in terms of what people
are telling you and then when she Juliette is about
to have her coming out situation with her family, she
describes the harassment incident she'd gone through with these dudes,
and some of the people at the table were like, Oh,

it means he likes you, or oh it means yeah,
that's just them whatever. So that was just something. When
I was reading, I was like, yeap, heard this one,
and then this one's kind of a big mess of
a theme. But I did pick up on some big
ideas about religion and belief systems. So obviously there was

kind of the white hippie aura thing that Harlowe was
doing that was very about like our aurs have to
sink and the moon and all of this, this kind
of stuff that was present throughout. So here's a quote.

Speaker 2 (42:56):
The only thing we can really do, juliet is to
develop our our own sustainable theodiocees. You know, we need
to create our own understanding of divine presence in a
world full of chaos. My God is black, it's queer,
it's a symphony of masculine and feminine. Is Audrey, Lord
and Leader Kinney. My God and my understanding of God
are centered on who I am as a person and

what I need to continue my connection to the divine,
Maxine explained, she took a long breath. It's everyone's job
to come up with a theodiocey, one that has room
for every inch of who they are and the person
they evolve into.

Speaker 1 (43:31):
Yeah, so yes, that is Maxine, not Harlow. But that
was when they were talking about like belief systems.

Speaker 2 (43:38):
Right, because she always has a Mester's and divinities and
so Harlow's world is about goddesses and auras, while Juliet
came from a pretty Catholic background, but she also believed
in God and really had a hard time and separating that.
And I feel like that so many people in religion

because I know, like especially in the South, there's definitely
a lot of like of the gay community who profoundly
love their Christian community or their church community or their
worship community, and like they have a connection to it
on a different level. But like when of course, like
when you're being told this is against something, you are

against our beliefs, you know, they have a hard time,
but they still don't believe that's what God is to
them or who God really is. And I think that's
a breakdown of like trying to figure out for yourself
right what your beliefs are.

Speaker 1 (44:33):
The spirituality is yes, and Juliette did have her it
despite her upbringing her doubts. Here's a quote. I was
suspicious of the Bible. It had never been particularly forthcoming
when it came to stories about women. Mary Magdalene wasn't
really a hooker, and you didn't force Adam to eat

that apple. What did painting women as untrustworthy or horrorsh
have to do with God's love? Anyway? Stories weren't even
about women directly. There were stories about men in which
women had side roles as the mother, or the second wife,
or the daughter for sale. The fact that I grew
up in a religious household and had never heard of
Sophia further proved to me that the people interpreting the

Bible or misogynist I didn't care about anything a wise
woman had to say. Christianity wasn't budging an inch on
this quest of mine. So this is as we said.
The new task that Harlowe gave to Juliette was tracking
down women from these scraps of papers. Sophia was one

of those women, and she honestly, great curious researcher just
kind of started looking into the history of the name
and found out it meant like wisdom and found this
biblical story that she had never heard, and honestly I
had heard so right.

Speaker 2 (45:52):
There's so many things like when I tell you researching
like actual theology, and then talking about like the sea
scrolls and all the you know, all of the things
and what came later, and then about the apocrypha, so
I don't know, like all that and the additional books
that were left out. You start questioning why things were
left out and who was being left out and why

the amount of information being taken away, and you're like,
who we decided this, Oh, a bunch of men. Okay,
that's interesting, and then you try to figure out finding
those pieces and going back to it because they try
to destroy so many things.

Speaker 1 (46:28):
Because they didn't like people. Yep, they liked power, but
not the people. And going back to that, that's pretty related.
I did see a lot of themes of like gatekeeping
in this of gatekeeping of feminism or being queer or
whatever based in terminology, like as we've said earlier, what

you know, what you've read, what you all of that stuff.
And as part of this, she does get that list,
and she, as you mentioned, she starts learning more about
Puerto Rico that she had never learned in her American schooling,
and she learns about colonization. And here's a quote about that,
maybe America just swallowed all of us, including our histories,

and spat out whatever it wanted us to remember in
the form of something flashy, cinematic and full of catchy songs,
and the rest of us without that firsthand knowledge of
civil unrest and political acts of disobedience just inhaled what
they gave us. So yeah, like going back to what
you were saying with religion, it's a very similar. This
is what we'll put in here for you to learn.

Speaker 2 (47:35):
But otherwise, right when you start looking at the history
of Puerto Rico and what they're trying to do, and
then you start looking at the history of Hawaii and
what they've done, and like you kind of really question likeage.

Speaker 1 (47:47):
Oh oh yeah, okay, hard transition dating theme of dating
in this here's a quote. I couldn't even with dudes lately.
All they did was talk smack about how good they
laid down the pipe. Anytime I ignored them. I was
both a bitch and all of a sudden, too ugly
or too fat to get it anyway. Neighborhood dudes sure

knew how to slime and shame a girl. And one
swift move reason number five hundred and fifty one, Raging
Flower was so necessary. Reading helped me gather myself, reminded
me that I had a right to be mad. It
felt like my body was both overexposed and an unsolved mystery.
So this is after her encounter with the harassing dude
in the beginning, But I just thought that was a

great quote about Yeah, you're super hot until you don't
want to have sex with them, and then you're like
the ugliest ever exists, right every time?

Speaker 2 (48:42):
Every time? Didn't want you anyway?

Speaker 1 (48:44):
And then why are you talking to me? I didn't
want this?

Speaker 2 (48:46):
Why are we here? I definitely didn't talk to you.
I didn't definitely didn't come to you.

Speaker 1 (48:51):
So go away.

Speaker 2 (48:53):
Yeah, and it goes on. Her heart felt far away
from mine, like they were beating in different time zones
or different dimensions love. I should have asked her for
her to fight for us and to shed some tears
over a summer apart. If I was going to spill
my truth to my family, then so should she. But
I didn't have those words, didn't even know I wanted
those things until after she was gone. All I wanted

was her in my arms all night. But the clanking
of dishes, the smell of Stelle coffee, and the absolute
hetero vibe of Westchester kept me so aware of how
unattainable that was. Where could our type of love grow? Anyway?

Speaker 1 (49:28):
Yeah? So that was with Laney, her EXXS. So she
like loves and made this like mix CD for She
kept going a mixtape, but I think it was.

Speaker 2 (49:39):
A city.

Speaker 1 (49:42):
It was.

Speaker 2 (49:42):
It was a CD, but like you call it a mixtape,
like not the old throwbag, especially from our generation She's
worn nineteen eighty three. Yes, yes, we called it a mixtape.
I was confused. Okay, sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

Speaker 1 (49:56):
But this was another area where Julia didn't feel like
she could speak up or she was questioning. Am I
being too much? Am I asking too much? Am I
being too needy? All of those things? Which reading it
and I'm someone who has those questions as well. I
was like, no, this is she would not respond to
your text. You can't respond to a text, a phone call, okay,

but if you got.

Speaker 2 (50:19):
Mad at her, it's like, just call me. One of
mergency was like, no, that's rude.

Speaker 1 (50:25):
That's rude.

Speaker 2 (50:26):
Not good, she's toxice needed to go, and she did.

Speaker 1 (50:32):
And good for Juliet for being like, you know what,
I hope you have a happy life. I hope you
have a night like mine that I just had. But
we're good.

Speaker 2 (50:39):
Discover yourself.

Speaker 1 (50:41):
Yes, there are also U conversations around polly dating and
what that looks like. There's the big breakup that happens
that we a lot of us I feel related to,
and how miserable you feel and can't take a shower
and you don't want to eat. All that stuff. Also

family huge seem in this. I did want to shout
out all the nerd references, and now that I know,
Rivera writes re marvel of like, yep, I love it.
But I do think one of the biggest themes that
kind of weaves through all of this is seeking advice
from other women. And one of the things that stood

out to me is when Juliette gets her period and
like stains the sheets at Harlow's house, she has like
the memory of her mom helping her with her period.
And then what Harlow does is essentially like get in
the bathtub and relax, and here's some organic tampons and
here's some but you know not but I'm not saying

but it was like a difference. It was a stark difference.

Speaker 2 (52:00):
I didn't be of an incident in which I was
in Brooklyn and we were hanging out with a lot
of hippie ish people. They were they they went ups
for diving to get a chunk of their food because
they're like, you know, whole Foods throws out so many
things and it's so wasteful and all these things. And
I'm like, yeah, yeah, cool, cool, cool. They had the

you know sign over the toilet if it's yellow leaded mellow,
you know, like they literally that stuff. I was like, Wow,
people actually write this, okay. And I was like, I
need I needed a tampon. And she brought me an
organic tampon and this is the first time I'd seen
one without an applicator, and I was like, oh no,
what do I do with this? I was very very confused,

and I kind of just sat there and stared at
it for a second. I'm like and this was right.
I was at the beginning of college, so around the
same timeframe as as Julia would be going through her thing,
and I'm like, I don't I don't know what okay,
And I tried to use it. I was not good
with it because it was not something like you have
to get used to, like how comfortable you are with
your body, like all these things, and like plastic applicators,

even with those, I had to be like they have
to be silky and smooth. I couldn't even use the
paper ones at that point. This is a lot of detail,
but I just remember that moment of like, yeah, but
I could only keep it in for a little bit
because I did not put it in far enough tampon
users you know, you know what I'm talking about, and
so I was like, yep, nope, that was a good
tried though. I just remember those moments of doing that

as well as I loved No offense to anybody in Portland,
we love you. I'm sure it's not like this at all,
But her talking about how the UH transit smelled was
so different, because like everybody was all about like the
no deodorant and like white people having dreads and not

knowing how to really care for it, like all these
things and then all that smell and She's like, yeah,
the Bronx subway system was much better, like coming from
one smell to a different smell. And I was like yeah,
because when I went to this house with all of
the people that, I'm like, I've never hung out with
people like this, which I feel like I'm missing out,
and I was really glad to meet them. They were
very kind and sweet people, but like that was a

whole new experience. I was like, this is a different smell.
This is this body odor fresh, no baden, no body
odor is different, isn't new? And like I was like, Okay,
this is a whole different world, like her code jumping
into that world. It made me quite like I was like,
you know, I get it, and like that kind of
experience for her to be like, all right, what is happening?

I just want you to leave me alone, quit telling
me to love my period, and to like embrace this,
Like what is this? I guess I'm at least at
the same time, like she was like, but wow, the
way that you were like telling me thank you for
bleeding on my mattress, that's a new level, right.

Speaker 1 (54:53):
Juliet was like I could just you have to like
tile and all. Harla was like, you don't need that.

Speaker 2 (55:00):
What we'll do, We're gonna fix it with the breeding
and for what it was worth in the book Julia,
for her it worked. She had like I will say,
so something to like in a nice bath and being
catered for, Like that's lovely.

Speaker 1 (55:14):
Yeah, I don't want to again. It was just the
difference between like, oh, kind of telling the.

Speaker 2 (55:20):
Crash course when you're from one world to another and
trying to like I eventually was able to use the
ones with that the applicators, FYI, it just took it.
Like the newness of it.

Speaker 1 (55:30):
Yeah, it was like a whole thing.

Speaker 2 (55:33):
And that's kind of this thing was like for her
to get these newness and then like just jumping into
a different type like different way of doing things right, right.

Speaker 1 (55:43):
But I did enjoy, like going back to the theme
of like all these women she does have, as you mentioned,
memories of her mom often or her aunts often, her cousin,
having like these women in her life that you were
giving her advice, whether it's the best advice or not
in this case, but you know, having that and then

the research she was doing reflected that as well, like
she was looking at these women, she was through that
research learning about herself and in some way getting almost
advice or like having her world open up and having
questions that she hadn't previously asked. And one, as we've mentioned,

I would say one of the biggest points of this
was her cousin Ava, who just had been doing this research,
was immediately like, you should be wary of this person Harlow, like,
let me give you these books and come to Miami.
And then when when Juliette did, it was this huge

like asking questions and not being judged for it and
just sharing this information and having this beautiful experience where
where Juliette wasn't so much in her head anymore, she
was just like I can just be curious and she's
not gonna judge me, and I can learn these new
things and it was great.

Speaker 2 (57:10):
And again I think that's something important to be about
that different communities look different and that's okay, Like you
do learn so much from that from different areas, and
whether it relates to you one way or doesn't relate
to you that way, it doesn't mean it's wrong. And
I think that's a bigger point in the book as well,
Like just because she felt like a stranger in one

specific community and then she felt more home in another
doesn't have anything to do with whether it was right
or wrong, Like that's something that's being done right or
being done wrong. Like it's this level of understanding who
you are and your identity, and like understanding that culture
does make a difference and makes a play into what
you need to hear, what you need to see, and
how you need to feel like a part of something.

Like that's that bigger conversation. Just because you're one thing
doesn't mean that you fit into all these things. And
I'm like, in general, just because she was gay doesn't
mean she fit into like all the communities, and it
shouldn't have to be that way, Like we are individual people.
That's the level of intersectionality, that there are civil layers
to who you are as a person, and I think
that's something they remember. But also that she found everything beneficial.

She learned so much about herself in those levels, and
I think that's something that's really really well presented.

Speaker 1 (58:22):
Yes, in this book. I do too, because also going
back to the confrontation she has at the end with Harlow,
where she sort of accepts what's happened. She kind of
she finds her voice, and she says something along the
lines of like, you know, your book was so important

to me, but this was about me, Like I found
my voice. That was just one tiny part of it.
And now I've found other people and now I'm going
to write this story and I'm going to be a voice.
And like, right, I think that was really well said.

Speaker 2 (59:00):
Yeah, and it's wonderful because it opened a door, like
it literally opened her world to something and it was
a portal, but it wasn't the end all, like it's
it will be significant for her always, but it's not
the impact and the Bible for her or like the
instruction book book for her that as it was at
the beginning, like she's developing herself and creating her own Yeah.

Speaker 1 (59:24):
Yeah, and like having that realization and be like okay,
that was like one part and now yeah, it's all
of this. And speaking of I did think there was
a powerful theme of transformation and rebirth in this. When
she goes Ava takes Juliette to a queer party for

people of color, she gets a haircut and it's just
like a really empowering experience for her because I guess
and I'm paraphrasing here, but she was like a queer haircut.
She felt like it was like a queer haircut, and
she really liked it, and everybody was complimentary of it,

like everybody was like, Wow, this looks amazing. And also
transformation just on personal levels, like her family kind of
like the people who weren't accepting her mother mainly kind
of making this pledge to learn because they were like,
we love you whatever happens, but we want to learn.

And Juliette working to learn throughout all of this, and
they have this conversation, her and her mom have this
conversation about like, what are you gonna do now after
the internship and her mom brings up this conversation they
had a while back, and here's a quote from that.
You said reading would make me brilliant, but writing would

make me infinite, which is a great quote. And here
is another quote. All the women in my life were
telling me the same thing. My story, my truth, my life,
my voice. All of that had to be protected and
put into the world by me. No one else, no
one could take that from me. I had to let
go of my fear. I didn't know what I was

afraid of. I wondered if I'd ever speak my truth
as she did she did, and that it was also
very radical power of self love at the end of
like nope, I'm worthy of telling my story and of
being angry and of having this voice. It was really Yeah,

I really loved it. It's great.

Speaker 2 (01:01:37):
It was very good, And like I said, I think
it hit on so many different levels with her story,
whether it's just about finding our identity going out in
the world from her like small corner to like what
the bigger world looks like seeing family connecting and then
connecting on a different level that you didn't realize that
you could have with your family and people around you.

But yeah, like having that level and yourself once again,
like she is finding new levels of herself. I love
that it grew from like Okay, I'm a feminist, Okay,
I'm a lesbian, Okay, I'm an intersectional like lesbian, Okay,
I'm a writer, intersexual lesbian, like all these levels where
she really get to like explore herself, explore her loves,

explore her identities. Yeah, I think it's also beautiful that
she does talk about different levels of love. She talks
about loving Harlowe, she talks about loving Kira, she talks
about loving Laney, she talks about loving her mom. Like
these different levels of love that she felt and not
want to deny any of those, but at the same
time like trying to deal with what that looks like
for her and what those relationships were for her, and

appreciating that type of love, Like I really genuinely love
all of that level that she had to those relationships.

Speaker 1 (01:02:48):
Yeah, I do too, because it takes a lot of
work to recognize what a love did and then kind
of compartmentalize like, Okay, it was this important to me,
but I can, I can move on from it, but
also remember it. So Yeah, definitely check it out if
you haven't already. As always, if you have any suggestions

for this segment, please let us know. You can email
us at Stephania Momsteff at iHeartMedia dot com. You can
find us on Twitter at mom Stuff podcast, or on
Instagram and TikTok at stuff I Never Told you girls
on YouTube. We have a t public store and we
have a book you can get wherever you get your books.
Thanks as always to our super producer Christina or executive
brucer Maya and our contributor Joey. Thank you and thanks
to you for listening. Stuff I Never Told You is

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