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Book Review: The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes

The Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School book cover

Yami is not your typical Catholic school student. She is Mexican-American, has two immigrant parents (one of whom was deported to Mexico), and is gay. 

After her brother, Cesar, kept getting harassed and bullied at their previous public school, Yami and Cesar’s mother, Maria, transferred them to Slayton, a preppy Catholic school. Slayton is primarily white, heterosexual, and has horrific uniforms. 

The true reason Yami wants to transfer schools is that she got unfairly outed by her ex-best friend at her previous school. She was determined to be straight at this new school. No one would ever know about her being gay; she would keep it together and have a “normal” high school experience. But all of that changes when she meets Bo…the only other seemingly queer person at Slayton. With her rainbow shoes, khakis, and outspoken opinions, Bo is the new apple of Yami’s eye. 

But as Yami and Bo’s friendship develops, it becomes more and more difficult for Yami to hide her feelings. Will Yami be able to keep a platonic friendship with her new crush? Will her family ever find out about her sexuality? Can she protect her brother Cesar along the way? Find out in Sonora Reyes’s The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School.

This book hit all the feels for so many reasons. I resonated a lot with Yami’s journey when it came to her sexuality. Like Yami, I have two immigrant parents and had difficulty navigating my sexuality in a culture where it’s not accepted.

When I was 23 years old, I figured out I was bisexual and had a challenging time coming to terms with it. I felt like I didn’t know who I was and was terrified of telling anyone. There was absolutely no way I would have ever even discovered my sexuality when I was in high school or college because of what people might think. I went to a primarily white and affluent private high school 10 years ago and being in the LGBTQ+ community was not as widely accepted back then as it is now. 

I was the classic secretly-closeted homophobe who was terrified of anything gay-related because it hit too close to home. I didn’t want to accept that part of myself. I was scared of being different. It was even more difficult because being gay in Iran is quite literally an arrestable offense. There are no open discussions about being gay in the Middle Eastern community. My parents are accepting people and I’m privileged to live in the United States where it’s not entirely illegal to be in the LGBTQ+ community, but you never know what will happen when you come out. Your brain goes to the worst-case scenario. 

Yami was terrified to tell her Mom about being gay. She thought her Mom would, without a doubt, kick her out of the house. She spends hours working, on top of high school, in order to save up enough money for an apartment. What happens when she finally tells her? Well. I don’t want to give it away. You’ll have to read the book to find out. What I can tell you is what happened to me!

When I told my parents, I was distraught. They are both extremely accepting people but I couldn’t help but fear their possible reaction to their fully-grown only child telling them they were queer. Was it even worth it? It’s not like I lived at home anymore. I didn’t want to stress them out…

But at the end of the day, I love my parents and wanted to be my most authentic self with them. And that meant telling them who I was. Although it started out as a difficult conversation with a lot of questions, my parents were extremely accepting of who I am.

I acknowledge that it is a privilege to have an accepting family and that I didn’t have as much to lose since I wasn’t living at home. Every single queer person’s journey is different; you have to do what is right for you. People should not feel shame if they have to be closeted because of their fear of people’s reactions. Your fears are valid. Your feelings are valid. You are valid.

I’m grateful that both Yami and I had the courage to be our true selves, even if it was terrifying in the process. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, it’s never too late to find out who you are.

Yasi Agah is a born and raised Californian living out her dreams in New York City. She loves to read, write, listen to podcasts, and teach yoga. Becoming by Michelle Obama makes her cry every time she reads it.

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