Bi Book Club: This Is Why They Hate Us

By Luis Gallegos

February 29, 2024



The exploration of bisexuality, the central theme in the journey of self-discovery of a Mexican-American boy who grew up in East Los Angeles, is something that can resonate deeply with many young Latinos. The cultural nuances portrayed in This Is Why They Hate Us (2022), while acknowledging that my own experience differs from Chicano identity, made me understand how complex it is to navigate a cultural and religious heritage similar to my own.

The first published YA novel (YA novel) by writer Aaron H. Aceves, This Is Why They Hate Us, follows the story of Enrique "Quique" Luna, a high school senior, during the summer as he sets out to overcome his feelings for his best friend Saleem Kanazi exploring other romantic perspectives.

Despite trusting only his best friend, Fabiola, and lacking any type of experience in love, Quique is determined to reach his goal. And as if that weren't already complicated, the challenge is added to by Saleem's departure from Los Angeles to meet a girl that his parents are arranging for him. But stop! Before continuing I want to give a spoiler alert.

Now, we can continue… First, I want to talk about something that took me by surprise in a positive way, and it is that Aaron wanted to prioritize Quique's bisexuality as a focal point of the story. Quique's accepting he is bi from the beginning of the novel allows for more comic situations, dialogues, and experiences that will make us remember our own. This includes his romantic activities, leaving aside the classic coming-out story (although, in fact, there is a scene about it that involves his parents and religion). The focus shifts much more to the chaotic and complex feelings for someone and delves into the intricacies of loving and sexual relationships, as well as self-awareness.

My parents aren't the most religious people I know — we're those Christians who only go to church for Christmas and Easter — but they believe in God and grew up with ultraconservative parents, which is why I haven't told them that “I’m bi".

In a sea of intriguing prospects like enigmatic jock Tyler Montana, a tall, burly, laid-back guy with perfect dimples and basketball shorts, or straight-laced senior president Ziggy Jackson, tall, biracial, with bushy eyebrows and striking green eyes, and the captivating Manny Zúñiga; Quique finds himself caught in a whirlwind of emotions.

Something that struck me and I could relate to is Quique's internal monologue because it offers a glimpse into his inner world and the challenges he faces in figuring out who he is and how he fits into the world around him. Of course, I totally identify with Quique as he deals with mixed emotions; like suddenly feeling like a different person around Manny and feeling the pressure to conform to certain expectations.

Many of us can relate to Quique's description of putting up a front when dealing with someone like Manny. We often try to act a certain way around someone we like, even fearing that a date with them might turn into an ambush, making us feel vulnerable.

I'd also like to discuss another character closely connected to Quique—his best friend, Fabiola, who is also bisexual. Fabi is the sole confidante aware of Quique's bisexuality. As a loyal friend, she not only offers unwavering support but also light-hearted banter, aiming to distract Quique from Saleem. Amid sharing their respective romantic woes, Fabi endeavors to alleviate Quique's heartache.

Finding representation in a story is difficult enough, let alone on the cover and in the title of a book. Reading a novel about a bi Latino boy written by a bi Latino man was empowering. I often saw aspects of myself reflected in the narrative, making me think, "Yes, this is exactly me."


Aaron is openly bi and skillfully infuses life and humor into the universal journey of coming of age. Drawing from his personal experiences as a primary source of inspiration, Aceves aims to narrate empowering stories that assure queer individuals that they are not alone.