Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week Celebrates The Freedom To Read! September 21-27, 2014

You can find out more about Banned Books Week at the American Library Association's Website.

As explained in the American Library Association's list of the most challenged and banned books of 2013-2014,

This freedom, not only to choose what we read, but
also to select from a full array of possibilities, is firmly
rooted in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,
which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of
the press. Although we enjoy an increasing quantity and
availability of information and reading material, we must
remain vigilant to ensure that access to this material is
preserved; would-be censors who continue to threaten
the freedom to read come from all quarters and all
political persuasions. Even if well intentioned, censors
try to limit the freedom of others to choose what they
read, see, or hear.

So read a banned book. And talk about it.

And let's keep fighting for - and celebrating - our right to read!


Friday, September 19, 2014

My mother is dead. And I’m gay. But those aren’t causal.

1938 - 2014

My mom in 1974, when I was seven. Our relationship was great until I realized – around age 12 – that I couldn’t be honest with her about the feelings I felt for other guys (and that I didn’t feel for girls.)

When I finally came out to my parents at age 25, my mom acted like it was the big act-one finale of some grand opera – oh, the tragedy of her life, two gay sons (yup, my older brother is gay, too.) My truth meant, to her, a life of despair – no grandchildren, no joy, no hope.

Her reaction was incredibly hard to experience.

I’m 47 today, and when my mom died last week, after a three-and-a-half year battle with ovarian cancer, she had my brother, myself and our dad at her side, and so much had changed. The truth of my mom’s life had transformed, and somewhere in these last 22 years we went from living in a tragedy to living a joyous, if sometimes bittersweet, comedy.

My mom this past summer, age 76.

My mom still had two gay sons, but she also had a son-in-law (my husband) and a granddaughter (our amazing daughter.) The six of us had spent two separate vacations this summer together, cramming in the great memories – my mom and daughter making matzah-ball soup for an early holiday meal, my parents meeting the rest of us for lunch after we had walked the gay pride parade in Tel Aviv with some of our gay and allied Israeli family, and all of us slathering on the salty mud by the shore of the Dead Sea in Israel.

We’d had such tough times, but my mom and I had finally arrived at a really good place. (Even though there were always little things, like my mom never really visiting this blog, which hurt my feelings. But as I was pulling together materials for her obituary, it hit me that I never really visited her artist website, either. None of us are perfect, and we’re all just doing the best we can.)

And while it’s tempting to be angry about all the time we didn’t get now that we finally arrived at this good place – the fifteen, or twenty, more years I wish we had with my mother – I find myself focusing on how grateful I am.

I’m so grateful we were able to heal from our hurt on all sides, and move on to the comedy, and the joy.

I’m so grateful I was able to be there for her final days, that there was nothing left unsaid between us. That I was able to tell my mom that I love her, and have always loved her, and that after all this time I know – even though I didn’t always feel it – I know she loved me always, too.

I’m so grateful for the 47 years she was my mom.

I’m so grateful for the 11 years she was a grandmother to my daughter.

I’m so grateful that change is possible.

And while I’m so sad, that gives me great hope.

My mom, surrounded by her husband, two gay sons, son-in-law and granddaughter… all of us covered in mud!

So this post is for everyone who’s struggling with their relationship with a parent (or with a child.) And, of course, this post is for her.

I love you, Mom.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gender 101, Episode #22 Redux: Community Insurance

I'm very excited to continue the conversation about Gender with Frankie Palacios.

In this episode, Frankie shares about their fundraising efforts for their partner's top surgery… and the concept of "community insurance."

VERY cool.

You can see the original posting here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Elephant of Surprise: Book 4 in the Russel Middlebrook Series

The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger

Geography Club’s Russel Middlebrook and his friends Min and Gunnar are back, and they’re laughing about something they call the Elephant of Surprise—the tendency for life to never turn out the way you expect. Sure enough, Russel soon happens upon a hot, but mysterious guy named Wade—even as he’s also drawn back to an old flame named Kevin. Meanwhile, Min learns her girlfriend Leah is keeping secrets, and Gunnar just wants to be left alone to pursue his latest obsession, documenting his entire life online.

But the elephant is definitely on the move in all three of their lives. Just who is Wade and what are he and his friends planning? What is Leah hiding? And why is Gunnar taking naked pictures of Kevin in the shower?

The Elephant of Surprise, the latest entry in Brent Hartinger’s groundbreaking gay teen Russel Middlebrook Series, is a story of humor, romance, and danger. Before it’s over, Russel and his friends will learn that the Elephant of Surprise really does appear when you least expect him—and that when he stomps on you, it really, really hurts.

Add your review of "The Elephant of Surprise" in comments.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Shadowplay - LGBTQ Teen Fantasy with Phantom Wings, A Clockwork Hand, and the Delicate Unfurling of New Love

Shadowplay: Micah Grey, Book Two by Laura Lam

The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.

He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates.

People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus–the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting…

A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.

Look for short stories and novelas by the author set in the same world as these books, as mentioned on the author's blog here. And add your review of "Shadowplay" in comments!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pantomime - Fantasy, Gender and Bisexuality as a Teen Runs Away To The Circus

Pantomime: Micah Grey, Book One: by Laura Lam

R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimeras is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.

Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.

This book was named one of the 2014 Rainbow List's Top Ten LGBTQ Kid and Teen Books that were published in 2013. Add your review of "Pantomime" in comments!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lesbian Crushes At School - A Memoir In Diary Form

Lesbian Crushes At School: A Diary by Natasha Holme

In 1983 thirteen-year-old Natasha is in love with her French teacher, Miss Williams. When Natasha is cruelly banished from Miss Williams's class forever, the love develops into obsession ... stalking ... unhealthy behaviour ... and painfully misguided cries for attention.

This uncomfortable yet light-hearted memoir in diary form is primarily a record of obsession.

Natasha is a love-sick lesbian teenager in an all-girls school in the eighties, juggling her Latin homework, Bible study, a crush on Elaine Paige, and her suppressed sexuality. How can she make sense of it all?

But more importantly ... tormented by unrequited love ... how can Natasha make Miss Williams love her back?

This is the prequel to the author's also self-published "Lesbian Crushes and Bulimia: A Diary On How I Acquired My Eating Disorder." Add your review of "Lesbian Crushes at School: A Diary" in comments!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Gender 101, Episode #20 Redux: Gender Queer People Of Color

In this episode, Frankie Palacios talks with Lucy about being a Gender Queer Person of Color, and they discuss the 2012 Queer People of Color Conference at Cal State Northridge.

Thanks, Frankie and Lucy!

(The 2014 Queer People of Color Conference was in San Diego.)

Here's a comment from the original post:

Kelly Robinson said...
Always such useful posts. I almost always end up sending a link to someone! Thanks!
February 29, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Monday, September 1, 2014

Back To School - Show Your Pride, And Show Your Support!

It's a new school year, and now is a great moment for each of us to ask ourselves:

How am I standing up in support of LGBTQ Kids and Teens?

Whether we ourselves are LGBTQAI, Questioning or Ally, how do others in the rainbow of our community know that we are a safe person?

Do we stop others from putting down Queer people?
Like calling someone on it if they say 'that's so gay' in a negative way?

Do we speak up and include LGBTQAI subjects, news, culture, history and books when we can?

Is there a GSA at our school?
If not, can we be part of creating one?
If yes, how can we get involved?

Do we have Safe Space identifiers for the spaces we control?
For teachers and librarians, this can be a Safe Space Sticker or other materials from GLSEN or HRC displayed in your classroom, or on your car.
For youth (and adults, too), this can be as simple - and powerful - as wearing a rainbow bracelet.

Here's my new rainbow bracelet, made for me by my awesome daughter...

Here's to a great 2014-2015 school year ahead: and let's all of us show our Pride and Support!

Friday, August 29, 2014

End of the Innocence: Tales From Foster High - A Gay Teen In High School Series

End of the Innocence: Tales From Foster High by John Goode

Kyle Stilleno is the invisible student, toiling through high school in the middle of Nowhere, Texas. Brad Greymark is the baseball star of Foster High. When they bond over their mutual damage during a night of history tutoring, Kyle thinks maybe his life has changed for good. But the promise of fairy-tale love is a lie when you’re gay and falling for the most popular boy in school.

There's also an audio version of this title. Add your review of this or any of the "Tales From Foster High" books by John Goode in comments!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gender 101, episode #19 Redux: Meet Frankie

My Gender Queer friend Benji continues the conversation about gender by introducing us to Frankie Palacios.

They discuss identity, how gender is culturally defined - particularly in Latino/Latina culture, and the term "Macho Femme." It's a great introduction to another Gender Queer and very cool person, and I'm so delighted to meet Frankie. I think you will be, too.

Here are three comments from the original post, many of which reference the series' return:

ivanova said...
Awesome! I'm really excited we have another "semester" of Gender 101 and I hope Frankie will return.
February 22, 2012 at 6:19 AM

Lisa Jenn Bigelow said...
Oh yay, I was hoping there would be more of these! Awesome.
February 22, 2012 at 6:48 AM

Joanna said...
I love this series and was waiting for its return. Thanks Lee, Benjie and Frankie.
February 22, 2012 at 10:58 AM

Monday, August 25, 2014

Great Resource: Campus Pride Releases Their 2014 List of the "Top 50 LGBT-Friendly Colleges & Universities"

Looking ahead at college?

For LGBTQ and Allied high school students, this list by Campus Pride is a very useful tool to add to the mix. It not only lists the "Top 50," but has scores for more than 375 additional colleges and universities.

Check it out!


Friday, August 22, 2014

If There's A Heaven Above: A 1980s Goth Teen Tries To Find The Guy Of His Dreams

If There's A Heaven Above by Andrew Demcak
It's the early 1980's and Matt is on the cusp of adulthood in the flickering shadows of Los Angeles' Gothic music scene. He dives into a pulsating world of death-rock music, sexy musicians, and strung-out groupies in leather bondage pants and vampire makeup. Through the faded glamour and glittering whirlpool of alcohol and drugs, Matt moves from one good time to the next, searching for something more.

Then he meets Patch: shirtless, tribal-tattooed, wearing cut-off jean shorts still damp from an afternoon at the beach. Patch is a punk-rock Adonis who wears his dark hair spiked up and whose blue eyes are bloodshot from too much late-night fun. Patch doesn’t say much when they first meet, but his body speaks to Matt’s on a cellular level, pure chemistry. To Matt, Patch's tattoos tell him they are part of an invisible tribe, the night people.

But one night is all Matt gets with Patch before he disappears into the neon-washed streets. Matt sets out to find him again, sure Patch is "the One." Along for the ride are his friends Annie and Suzy, one straight, one gay. Wearing too much Aqua-Net and torn fishnets, the girls cruise L.A. in a white Mustang whose seat belts are perfect beer bottle openers. The ultimate Goths, they adore Siouxsie and the Banshees, paint their eyes with kohl, and vow to help Matt in his quest to hook up with Patch.

Will Matt be able to find Patch in L.A.'s drug-soaked clubs? Will one night be all he gets with the man of his dreams? If there's a heaven above, will Matt ever find it?

This book was one of 51 nominees for the American Library Association's 2014 Rainbow List. Add your review of "If There's A Heaven Above" in comments!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gender 101, episode #18 Redux: Being Trans Enough

Continuing my discussions with my gender queer friend Lucy, we explore Lucy's experiences with being seen in different circumstances as being either too trans or not trans enough. Here's the link, with the video below:

Thanks, Lucy.

Here are the comments from the original post, some of which reference a planned break in the roll-out of the Gender 101 series:

ivanova said...
I'm going to miss these Gender 101 videos and look forward to seeing them again in the spring. I have heard some things recently that echo what Lucy was saying about being considered not trans enough or too trans, such as some people in the trans community criticizing "no hos" or saying that genderqueer people are just posing. I like what Lee says about keeping your eyes on your own mat. There are a lot of people "on our team" who don't have a handy label to describe them, like partners of trans people. Queer people don't all have to like each other or hold hands and sing kumbayah, but I feel like allowing differences to divide us is just knuckling under to forces of oppression, if that doesn't sound too dramatic.
December 7, 2011 at 8:54 AM

erica lorraine scheidt said...
Lee, I've really liked this series too.

I'm going to resend you an email, will you look out for it from elscheidt at gmail?

Thanks -- see you soon.

And Lucy? You rock.
December 7, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Kelly Robinson said...
I'm a new reader/subscriber, but I've loved what I've seen of this series. I know there will be plenty of good content to take its place, though!
December 7, 2011 at 3:40 PM

KristinClarkVenuti said...
I've enjoyed this series and look forward to future content! Episode #18 really hit home in terms of expressing the unique challenges of gender fluidity. Love the yoga analogy and the gentle reminder that everyone needs to keep their eyes on their own mat. Bravo!
December 8, 2011 at 8:14 AM

Hannah said...
I've found this vlog post very in formative. As a trans woman, I often feel that I am not trans enough. Not because I haven't transitioned, I have, but because I don't fit the unwritten criteria of other trans people. Additionally I find SOFFA groups or people often dominate trans support groups and often challenge particular trans voices.
December 8, 2011 at 1:57 PM