Drawn to Comics: “My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness” Is an Incredible Examinations of Mental Illness, Sexuality and Shame

Damn. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book this good. Like, it’s been an Honor GirlSuperMutant Magic Academy long time. But here I am, having just read Nagata Kabi’s revelatory comic memoir My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness. I had been hearing amazingly wonderful things about this book ever since it first came out in English; I’ve seen so many friends recommend it I’ve lost count. It’s not often that a book like this is published, a book that’s both a creative masterpiece and really has a beautiful and important message well told. My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness is a true story, an autobiographical one. It’s about queer identity and finding happiness and purpose in life and living for yourself not for others and yes, loneliness. It’s a coming of age story, but for twenty-somethings dealing with struggles of identity, sexuality and mental health.

The book opens with Kabi’s first time having sex. She’s a 28 year old, semi-employed manga artist with a depression, anxiety, self-harm scars, a bald spot and overbearing parents. She’s also never had sex, never been in in a relationship and never been kissed. She’s using a lesbian escort agency, and in a Love Hotel. She’s nervous and anxious and full of feelings and disassociating more than a little. From there, it goes back about a decade, explaining how Kabi got into this situation, it talks about her struggles to keep even part-time jobs, her overwhelming desire to please her parents, and her lack of ability to take care of herself. We follow her on her journey through professional and personal struggles. We see her neglect herself completely and harm herself and lose all faith in herself. We also see her gain the strength, knowledge and self-love to start to work on some of her issues.

I’m in awe of how raw and open and honest this comic is. Kabi is so straightforward about all her struggles, all her thoughts and feelings and all her reasons for the choices she made or didn’t make that it’s like you’re reading her mind. She’s opened up her heart and her brain right here on the page and when the words aren’t enough to tell you what she means, she’s drawn expressive and easy to follow illustrations to tell you everything her words cannot. The illustrations are just as filled with anxiety and nervousness and trepidation and a desire for love. They make the story incredibly easy to follow along with and relate to, even for first time Manga readers who aren’t used to the right-to-left reading style and visual cues. If you’re looking for an entry point into the medium, this is it.

This is oftentimes a difficult book to read. The subjects discussed and the frankness with which they’re discussed can bring up very difficult personal memories and challenge the way you think as a reader. Kabi goes into depth with her own experiences with eating disorders, self harm, suicidal thoughts, crippling depression and sexual and emotional repression. For readers that may also be dealing with these things, this book might be hard to get through, but it’s also an extremely helpful book. A lot of the things in this book are things I can relate to extremely deeply and I’m so thankful that Nagata Kabi wrote and illustrated and published this book. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is the kind of book that will change your year. It’s the kind of book that will inspire you to get help or try something new or get into comics. It’s the best book I’ve read all year.

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Welcome to Drawn to Comics! From diary comics to superheroes, from webcomics to graphic novels – this is where we’ll be taking a look at comics by, featuring and for queer ladies. So whether you love to look at detailed personal accounts of other people’s lives, explore new and creative worlds, or you just love to see hot ladies in spandex, we’ve got something for you.

If you have a comic that you’d like to see me review, you can email me at mey [at] autostraddle [dot] com.


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Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 525 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. Starting to read it! While I can’t relate to her struggles with her orientation, the rest totally hits home. The anxiety, crippling depression, sexual repression, inability to get out there in the world and establish herself, and eating disorders I totally relate to. That she chronicles her struggle with binge eating disorder was what surprised me. I’m a binger as well, and I rarely see this ED discussed anywhere. I can always count on Mey to recommend something good!

  2. I’ve never read something so raw and real. She didn’t sugar-coat anything, everything was lay out for everyone to see.. and coming from a conservative society like Japan, it took a great deal of courage to be so open..
    Everyone should really give it a read, highly recommend it!!

  3. I’ve never read anything so raw and real. She didn’t sugar-coat anything, everything was lay out for everyone to see.. and coming from a conservative society like Japan, it took a great deal of courage to be so open..
    Everyone should really give it a read, highly recommend it!!

  4. Read this read this read this!! I first read a scanlation online, and I’m so glad that there’s an official translated version that I can buy now. I hope that the author is doing well now as well, with the success of this book.

  5. I personally can’t wait for more of her work to be liscenced. It’s beautifully written, so honest. And as someone who also sees comics as a healing therapy for the author and audience, I’m so happy that this work exists. If anyone knows of more like it, (not counting AS backlog recs since those are avail onsite) feel free to mention! Pumped to see this here! 💕💕💕

  6. This is one of my favorite mangas, comics, and hell, autobiographies I have ever read. It is shockingly honest and I am so glad I read it. I have been struggling with my own mental illness, and finding media that I can relate to has been pretty much impossible – except for this. I’m so glad it was licensed and Kabi is reaching a larger audience!

  7. Thanks for recommending it! I loved it for many many reasons and have already lent it out to a fellow queer friend. One of the things she says about self harm is one of the ways I try to explain it to people so it was really interesting to hear the same kind of language from someone halfway across the world going through the same experiences I have gone through. I wish my ability to read kanji was better so I could attempt this in the original Japanese.

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