Based on long-running advice column for The Hairpin, Lindsay King-Miller’s book Ask a Queer Chick: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life for Girls Who Dig Girls features new content designed to help LGBT women (and their straight friends) navigate the world of girls who like girls. King-Miller carefully crafts an interesting, informative narrative that is not only helpful for LGBT women, but for women in general.
King-Miller’s prose is fairly simplistic, which makes the book a quick and easy read. Her writing is suitable for avid readers as well as those who are accustomed to shorter blog posts or tweets. She clearly understands her younger audience, and does her best to match her prose to them. At times, her writing veers into being too casual, particularly during the “Haters Gonna Hate: Dealing with Discrimination” section. However, although her tone is casual, King-Miller has a delightful sense of humor that will certainly appeal to her readers. For instance, in the “On Dating” section, King-Miller perfectly describes the tedious debacle that is a blind date:
“Even in today’s world of OkCupid and Tinder and Dattch and bisexual speed dating, there’s a very good chance that at some point in your romantic career, you will find yourself staring across the table at a moderately priced Thai place into the eyes of your sister’s roommate’s friend from work, and you will realize that the inevitable has happened: You have been set up.”
High Voltage: What inspired you to write Ask a Queer Chick?
Lindsay King-Miller: I just felt like I had so much to say. I kept getting questions that centered around the same topics, but instead of feeling like I was running out of things to say on those topics, I felt like I had more and more to say. It was building up to more than I can fit into the space I have on my column. I have always wanted to write a book, that’s always been a dream of mine. After I had been writing the column for a couple of years, I started to think that I have so much to say on so many of these themes that maybe I should try writing that book.
HV: How was writing a book different from writing a column? Which do you find more challenging?
LKM: The book was more challenging. The column is so easy from a format perspective, because it’s just a question and answer, you don’t really have to think about structure very much, it’s already provided for you. Whereas for the book, the writing itself was similar, I was just thinking in terms of what kinds of advice I would have liked to receive as a younger queer person, and what kind of things I would tell someone who came to me with questions. I had to spend a lot more time thinking about outlining and how to group topics together, and what makes sense in terms of the overall flow. When you’re only writing a 2,000 word column, it’s not something you have to think about too much.
HV: Do you have any other columnists that you like to read?
LKM: I religiously read Dear Prudence by Mallory Ortberg. She’s fairly new to the column. She’s doing an amazing job. She’s funny, witty and warm, but she has a nice mixture of warm compassion and get-it-together. She has a little bit of tough love in there, which I appreciate. I also read Savage Love by Dan Savage. You have to read Savage Love. It’s the defining gay advice column. I love his sense of humor and I love the advice he gives. He’s a little heavier on the tough love, more than I am, but I really appreciate his tone and advice. I’m also obsessed with Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed, as I think that everybody is or should be. Cheryl Strayed is such a phenomenal writer. She has so much compassion and warmth, and she has such beautiful writing. I think in some ways she defines the genre.
HV: Since you are a bit of an expert on LGBTQ women, do you recommend any other LGBT books/authors?
LKM: (laughs) I love Michelle Tea’s writing. She’s in a slightly different generation of queer women than mine. She has written so thoughtfully and beautifully about her own experiences. She has provided a voice that younger queer women can relate to and look up to in terms of how they can create their own lives and identities in a world where there isn’t much of a template for LGBT identities. In that same vein I really love — and he’s not a woman but he writes about queer issues — S. Bear Bergman. He writes powerfully about queer families, chosen families and queer identities. As I am coming to a new point in my life where my partner and I just had a baby (she’s so cute!) and as we enter that phase in our lives, I’m thinking a lot about what it means to build family in a queer way. Just how we share the same family structure as straight people but maybe make changes so that it works better for us. I think Bergman writes really compellingly. I was reading his most recent book with my baby in my lap, reading these stories about same sex marriage and queer parenting and tearing up. It’s so lovely and it spoke to me so personally.
HV: Great recommendations… You have mentioned that you have two spoiled cats. Which cat do you feel is more spoiled?
LKM: I would say they are spoiled rotten in different ways. We have one cat who I think of as the countess of our household. She’s old and set in her ways. She’s very demanding. And we have a younger cat who’s more boisterous and he gets into trouble. It’s not that he’s spoiled because he demands things, he’s spoiled because has no idea that there are rules. He thinks that everything belongs to him.
HV: Too cute! Do you have a favorite column that you have written?
LKM: One column that I always come back to, that just sticks out in my memory because it was an unusual question that I had never considered before, is I had someone ask me if it is safe to wear fingernail polish if you fingerbang someone? I was like, I’ve never thought about that. I don’t know. I had no idea. Are the chemicals in nail polish harmful? I spent a lot of time looking for scientific studies on the topic but I didn’t find anything very useful, so I wasn’t able to give her a great answer. It was such an interesting question. Why is nobody talking about this? We need to know. The scientific community needs to get on this: is it okay for lesbians to wear nail polish? (laughs) The answer I arrived at myself is that it’s fine, because primarily what can be harmful about nail polish is the fumes when it’s wet, and when it’s dry it’s not really an issue. Obviously you are not going to be having sex when your nails are wet because that would be crazy. So probably it’s fine. That is my official Ask a Queer Chick stance on this.
HV: It’s shocking that there isn’t more information about that yet! (laughs) Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
LKM: In short, I am very proud of this book and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to have published it. I think the current generation of LGBTQ people are coming into this world where things are so different than they were even for people who are 10-15 years older than us. We are having to redefine our relationships with our identities, families and our partners. We have to figure out from scratch what this means for us. I don’t claim at all that my book is the definitive answer to all this, but I hope to offer at least one perspective that may be helpful.