Monday, April 24, 2017

Alters - A Comic Book Series With A Trans Superhero

Alters by Writer: Paul Jenkins, and Artist: Leila Leiz. The creative team also includes Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain, Letterer: Ryane Hill, Regular Cover Artist: Brian Stelfreeze

A world where a war between heroes and villains is being fought to a stalemate, with humanity becoming the collateral damage part of the equation...The heroes know they are losing the war. And in the middle of this world-changing conflict, a new threat seems to be emerging: the Alters. They are mutants, possibly – or perhaps they are some kind of ultimate end to our genetic road map. Whatever the case, Alters seem to be emerging all around the country... and they are met with fear, distrust, and prejudice. They manifest new, dangerous powers that emerge without warning.

As the world struggles to accept the emergence of these Alters, a young woman begins her transition from male to female only to find herself also transitioning into a powerful Alter. Faced with persecution by the multi-powered fascist known only as Matter Man, she will face the world as Chalice--a hero for a new age. But as Chalice navigates the path to becoming her true self, she must juggle the complications of her civilian life and the responsibilities of her newfound power.

The promo copy includes this line, "From a diverse team of creators composed of differing genders, gender identities, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations comes a groundbreaking first-ever superhero series with a central transgender protagonist created by a mainstream writer."

There are five comic books so far (#1-5), and the first five books are also collected in a single volume. Here are the covers of 2-5:

The publisher says Alters is best suited for ages 15+, though Jessica, who suggested the series to me, gauged it as PG-13. Thanks for the recommendation, Jessica!

Add your review of any or all issues of "Alters" in comments!

Friday, April 21, 2017

I'll be moderating a graphic novels panel at the LA Times Festival of Books this weekend!

I'm so looking forward to this!

I'll be moderating the Young Adult Graphic Novels: Drawing You In panel on the YA stage, Saturday at noon.

The panelists are author Cecil Castellucci (speaking about her "Soupy Leaves Home"),

Author/Illustrator Faith Erin Hicks (speaking about the second book of her The Nameless City triology, "The Stone Heart")

Author/Illustrator Matt Phelan (speaking about his "Snow White: A Graphic Novel.")

Here's the announcement from the festival website:

If you're there, say "Hi!"

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Breakthrough U - Puppets and LGBTQ-Inclusive Videos

What a cool tool to spark conversations.

Like this Breakthrough U. video, Intersectionality 101:

And check out this one on Gender Norms (covering non-consensual photo sharing, sexual scoring, and how to transform it)!

And this one on Culture Change (touching on Gender fluid identity, homophobic language, and bathroom use.)

Find out more about Breakthrough U. here

Monday, April 17, 2017

Survivor Contestant Zeke Writes About Being Outed As Trans

While I've long since stopped watching Survivor, I thought this piece by Zeke Smith, about his experience on the show, and his being outed as trans by a desperate gay contestant, was important.

This line in particular really shouted out at me:

"Many gay people consider coming out a moment of liberation, because sharing their sexual orientation with the world causes them to be seen more authentically. Often, the opposite is true for trans people. When we share our gender history, many see us less authentically — doubting, probing or denying our identities."

And when he describes the moment he was outed, it's a moment of violence, of cruelty, of inciting "bigotry toward a marginalized minority."

And then Zeke wrote this:

But in calling me deceptive, Varner invoked one of the most odious stereotypes of transgender people, a stereotype that is often used as an excuse for violence and even murder. In proclaiming “Zeke is not the guy you think he is” and that “there is deception on levels y’all don’t understand,” Varner is saying that I’m not really a man and that simply living as my authentic self is a nefarious trick. In reality, by being Zeke the dude, I am being my most honest self — as is every other transgender person going about their daily lives.

It's a powerful moment of a transgender man sharing his story in his own words... and well worth reading.

Here's the link to Zeke's column in the Hollywood Reporter.

And my thanks to Zeke for sharing his story. Hopefully it will help all of us who aren't Trans be better Allies to individual Trans people and the Trans community!

Friday, April 14, 2017

"The root of oppression is the loss of memory." - Paula Gunn Allen

I've been thinking a lot about this quote from the wonderful Lesbian Native American poet Paula Gunn Allen.

And I think we're seeing this in action today, from Trump spokesman Sean Spicer's inane comment about how "Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons" (excuse me? What about the millions of Jews and others who died in Nazi gas chambers -- including members of my family?) to this week's reports of 100 gay men being rounded up and sent to "camps" in the Chechen Republic of Russia where they are being tortured and beaten (Sounds like concentration camps to me), to this crazy uptick in bomb threats to Jewish community centers here in the U.S. (more than 100 in the first two months of 2017.)

We need to remember the past to not allow it to repeat.

And we need to call falsehoods as such.

OUT magazine has six things we can all do to help stop what's happening in Chechnya.

Raise your voice with mine: We remember. And we will not accept our world going backwards to the horrors of the Holocaust.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Lotterys Plus One - Middle Grade fiction where 9 year old Sumac has four parents (two gay dads and two lesbian moms) and a problem grandfather

The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue, illustrated by Caroline Hadilaksono

Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed "good girl" of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather; the long dormant "Grumps," who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn't been part of any of their lives.

Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household... He's worse than just tough to get along with -- Grumps has got to go.

But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs?

While that sounds fun, I actually prefer the more open-about-the-queer-content synopsis on the back of the ARC,

Once upon a time, a man from Delhi and a man from Yukon fell in love, and so did a woman from Jamaica and a Mohawk woman. The two couples became best friends and had a baby together. When they won the lottery, they gave up their jobs and found a big old house where their family could learn and grow... and grow some more.

Now Sumac Lottery (age nine) is the fifth of seven kids, all named after trees. With their four parents and five pets they fit perfectly in the Toronto home they call Camelottery.

But the one thing in life that never changes... is that sooner or later things change.

All together it sounds great. Add your review of "The Lotterys Plus One" in comments!

Friday, April 7, 2017

The scoop on the US Census Not identifying LGBTQ people

This article by Dawn Ennis at lgbtq nation lays out the facts really clearly:

The 2020 US Census wasn't going to measure us, even before Trump took office. It has never measured LGBTQ people.

What has changed is the Trump administration's position towards including LGBTQ people in the the annual American Community Survey, the preliminary step towards being included in the every-ten-year census.

As demographer Gary Gates explained,

"Despite advice from the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development suggesting a strong federal need for better data on the LGBT population, the Bureau now argues that such need does not exist... Their change of heart from at least considering LGBT inclusion in the ACS to now ruling it out offers evidence that the Census Bureau isn’t telling the whole story and may have let politics interfere with decisions about content.”

It's a more nuanced truth than what was reported, about we LGBTQ people being "erased" from the census - as we were never counted in the first place.

But it's still not good news.

At least now we have the scoop.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Remembering Gilbert Baker, who created the Gay Pride Rainbow Flag

The Gay Pride Rainbow Flag flying in the interior of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where it is part of their collection.

"...a flag is different than any other form of art. It’s not a painting, it’s not just cloth, it is not a just logo—it functions in so many different ways. I thought that we needed that kind of symbol, that we needed as a people something that everyone instantly understands. [The Rainbow Flag] doesn’t say the word “Gay,” and it doesn’t say “the United States” on the American flag but everyone knows visually what they mean. And that influence really came to me when I decided that we should have a flag, that a flag fit us as a symbol, that we are a people, a tribe if you will. And flags are about proclaiming power…" - Gilbert Baker, in an interview with MOMA

Gilbert died on March 31, 2017. But he left behind a symbol of LGBTQ community, and power, and pride. What a legacy!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The 8 LGBTQ Children's/Young Adult Finalists For the Lambda Literary Awards Are Announced

And the 2017 finalists (for significant LGBTQ character/theme books published in 2016) are:

Beast, Brie Spangler, Alfred A. Knopf

Girl Mans Up, M.E. Girard, Harper Teen

Gravity, Juliann Rich, Bold Stroke Books

Highly Illogical Behavior, John Corey Whaley, Dial Books

Not Your Sidekick, C.B. Lee, Duet

Our Chemical Hearts, Krystal Sutherland, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Symptoms of Being Human, Jeff Garvin, Balzer + Bray

The Midnight Star, Marie Lu, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

It's a great reading list! Congratulations and good luck to all!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Honestly Ben - The Teen Guy Rafe Fell In Love With In "Openly Straight" Gets His Story... And Maybe His Romance, Too.

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

Ben Carver is back to normal. He’s working steadily in his classes at the Natick School. He just got elected captain of the baseball team. He’s even won a full scholarship to college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg the past semester is in the past.

Except...There’s Hannah, the gorgeous girl from the neighboring school, who attracts him and distracts him. There’s his mother, whose quiet unhappiness Ben is noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there’s Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else . . . and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.

Add your review of "Honestly Ben." the companion novel to "Openly Straight" in comments!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Openly, Honestly - A Free Short Story That Bridges Two Gay YA Novels (And Follows The Romance Between Rafe and Ben)

Openly, Honestly by Bill Konigsberg

Rafe Goldberg was planning to spend winter break at home in Colorado openly mourning what he almost had with Ben. He wasn’t expecting his best friend, Claire Olivia, to kidnap him. And he definitely wasn’t expecting what she has planned to cheer him up...

Ben Carver was honestly planning to spend winter break at home in New Hampshire not thinking about Rafe. But he wasn’t expecting to run into his ex-girlfriend, who’s still interested in him. And he wasn’t expecting to find himself still attracted to her...

Add your review of the free short story "Openly, Honestly" in comments!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Our Chemical Hearts - Teen Guy Henry's First Love for Grace, A Disabled Gender Non-Conforming Teen Girl

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him -- at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.
Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl; she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl.

Add your review of "Our Chemical Hearts" in comments!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Not Your Sidekick - A Bisexual (And Lesbian And Trans) Superhero Story!

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

Add your review of "Not Your Sidekick" in comments!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Highly Illogical Behavior - A Gay Teen Agoraphobe. The Girl Who's Going To "Fix" Him (His Agoraphobia, not his Gayness). And Her Boyfriend, Who's A Love Interest To Them Both...

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn't left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she's being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?

Solomon is the answer.

Determined to "fix" Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, sitting through Star Trek marathons with him and introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they'd be, and when their walls fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.

What's queer about it is that Solomon is gay. And, as he spends time with Lisa and Clark, he starts to fall for Clark. And then Lisa is afraid she's going to lose Clark to Solomon!

Add your review of Highly Illogical Behavior in comments!