Book review: “Fab & Proud: An Anthology of LGBT Stories”

I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ve been told it is excellent representation!

Considering that my previous interval for blog posts was a literal year and some change, I think it’s not bad that I have another blog post to put up this Pride Month. Yay, I guess?

Like I said in my previous blog post, I’ve only planned on reading LGBTQ-themed books this month, starting with Precious Hearts Romances’ Pride Lit line. I’ve already reviewed Leonna’s “Mahal Kita, Pero–“, and now I’m posting my review of the line’s short story collection, “Fab & Proud: An Anthology of LGBT Stories”. Will I like this more than I did “Mahal Kita, Pero–“? Or would I have to deal with the same problems in this collection?

“Fab & Proud: An Anthology of LGBT Stories” features six stories taking on different LGBT experience. The six stories in the anthology are “Just Remember This” by Luna King, “Shookt Feelings” by Leonna, “The End” by Bridgette, “Ang Masakit at Masalimuot na Kuwento ng mga Pag-Ibig ni Lola  Flora” by Jom Madregalejo Sanchez, “Like I Can” by Leonna, and “Transitioning” by Lush Ericson.

“Just Remember This” tells the story of a gay couple whose relationship encounters a snag when one of them is caught in bed with a girl. “Shookt Feelings”, meanwhile, tells the story of a girl who is slowly realizing that she may be in love with her lesbian co-worker. “The End” tells the story of three male friends who find out they have feelings for each other. “Ang Masakit at Masalimuot na Kuwento ng mga Pag-Ibig ni Lola  Flora” is about the life of an old gay man called Lola Flora, while “Like I Can” is about the relationship between a bisexual man and a gay man. Finally, “Transitioning” is about a straight man who comes home from years spent working in Canada to find that his best friend, who was assigned male at birth, has transitioned to a female.

Going through all six stories, the representation we get is — patchy. “Just Remember This” has parts where it gets a little too heteronormative, with one half of the couple having to be more feminine because of course.  The same goes for “Shookt Feelings”, where of course the out lesbian is masculine. And “Like I Can” ticks every bisexual stereotype you hate — from being indecisive to being promiscuous.

It gets slightly better with “The End” and “Transitioning”, as the characters get to become just a little bit more than the stereotypical way queer people have been represented in Precious Hearts Romances other books — I am looking at you, Lesbi In Love.

However, all of that is thrown out the window by “Ang Masakit at Masalimuot na Kuwento ng mga Pag-Ibig ni Lola  Flora”. It’s actually the best written and best edited story of the bunch. However, I had gone into this thinking that this was an anthology of romance stories, along with all the tropes that go along with that. So imagine my utmost surprise when I read this short story and  found out it’s about an old gay man who has been exploitedabandoned, and who then DIES IN POVERTY RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET.

That this happens in the middle of the collection really soured the entire reading experience for me, and the fact that it was followed by “Like I Can” didn’t help. It almost made me not appreciate the way Lush Ericson tried to represent the trans community as best as he/she can in his short story.* I even considered looking up Jom Madregalejo Sanchez because it would have been further insult upon injury if this guy was actually straight. And I was definitely looking at the book with a harsher eye after the story.

In the end, I really didn’t find this collection all that fabulous. Did you guys seriously think that in the year of our Lord, 20-gay-teen, parading a gay character who, I repeat, is exploitedabandoned, and who then DIES IN POVERTY RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET was the way to get that sweet, sweet pink peso? Girl, bye.

*Caveat: I am a cisgender man, so while I may find the transgender representation in “Transitioning” okay, it is entirely possible that an actual transgender person thinks otherwise.

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