Books that influenced me…Part 2

When I was in elementary I remember when the library
received a copy of “Letters to Judy Blume”. I first noticed this book because
some older girls were reading it and giggling about the contents. That only furthered
my curiosity. Despite always being able to read whatever books I liked, I was
explicitly told not to bring this book home. I grew up in a Catholic household
and the topic of sexuality and sexual orientation just wasn’t being discussed
at that time. Although I had an openly gay uncle who was one of those most
influential, colorful, and vibrant people that I had ever known; I suppose it
was everyone else that seemed to have an issue. I never really thought much
about sex or any of the other sub-topics that come with the subject. At least
not until I was told I couldn’t read “Letters to Judy Blume”. I had a friend
check it out of the library for me and I hid the book in a jacket so I could
read it with a flashlight at night. I kept the book for three weeks…why? Well,
the things that were being discussed were so intriguing and eye opening that I
wanted to take my time and read letters from kids who were just like me and
some were experiencing the same things I was at home. One day my secret was
found out and my mother was not happy. I had been hiding the book underneath my
pillows with the thought that it would never be found. When I came home from school
on that spring morning I was met with a serious look of disapproval. My mother
questioned me repeatedly, “Why would you bring this filth home?”; “Why are you
so curious about sex?”…..I felt so guilty for bringing the book home but I was
angry that she just wouldn’t tell me these things. I had the basic conversation
about getting my menstrual cycle at some point but it was never as in-depth as “Letters
to Judy Blume”. Although I did defy the rules just to read a book, it didn’t
open a lot of conversation in my household. This book inspired me to speak
openly with my friends about STD’s, sexuality, etc. It gave me a more open mind
about growth and development as a got older. I always thought the book gave a
voice to these kids, allowing them to receive answers from an adult that wouldn’t
judge them but instead give them the facts.

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