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PRIDE MONTH: Heartstopper and the realization that LGBTQIA+ can be happy

By: Vanessa Quadros

Growing up in Brazil, I always felt that I couldn't fit in. Either because of my weight or because of my sexual orientation, I always thought that no character or show ever represented me, and felt constantly invisibilized. As part of the B in the LGBTQIA+ community, coming out was hard as it was lonely because people inside the community couldn't quite figure out who I was and how I functioned, and people outside the community thought I was just going through a temporary phase: a rebellious teenage crush (or crushes, in my case). So my only coping mechanism was art in its various formats: music, TV shows, and books. 

But then, as an unexpected adult reading a juvenile novel, I caught myself daydreaming about the perfect representation of myself ever: NICK NELSON. 

You might be wondering who Nick Nelson is and why am I talking about him on pride month. We often see on TV relationships between same-gender people being portrayed as just as beautiful as they are dramatic. LGBTQIA+ never get their perfect happy ending -  we don't get happily ever afters. And then, a young woman called Alice Oseman decided to go against all odds and gave us what we needed so much: hope and happiness. Autumn leaves fall from every single page of her bestseller comic book series called Heartstopper

Alice Oseman

Alice Oseman is an English author of young adult fiction. Her first novel Solitaire was published in 2014  She is also the author of the books Radio Silence, I Was Born for This, and Loveless, as well as the webcomic Heartstopper, which has been published as a graphic novel and adapted into a TV series, also written by Oseman. All her books talk about community struggles, as she touches on sensible points with mastery. She makes her art a safe space to be comfortable in your own skin. She is part of the LGBTQIA+ community herself, identifying as aromantic asexual. She uses the pronouns She/Her/They/Them.

Going back to the graphic novel, Nick Nelson is one of the most popular boys in school, a rugby lad, that "looks straight" and even dated girls in the past. But he - almost instantly - fell in love with one of his classmates and closest friends, an openly gay boy called Charlie Spring. But, he doesn't understand. Is he gay? He constantly asks himself where he fits in. And that's Nick Nelson's magic: the realization he can and does like both genders. And that's okay. With a supportive mother and Charlie's help, he realizes that he is bisexual and goes through what every teenager goes through, but this time, with a healthy support system to help him go through the motions smoothly. 

Heartstopper is one of the best comic books I ever read, and it's not even because it's LGBTQIA+ related, but also because it made me feel safe. It's warm, cute, and filled with hope, joy, understanding, and acceptance. It's a book made for those who always wanted to believe in a future for themselves and for the LGBTQIA+ community.

And if you are not a reader, you can watch the TV show on Netflix which can be as amazing as the graphic novel experience. 

Being #proud of yourself is amazing. But being proud also means running towards happiness. We deserve to be happy, we deserve love and we deserve a hopeful future.

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