Friday, December 14, 2007

While I'm filling the well, take a drink! In 7 different GLBTQ Teen Lit flavors...

For Winter Break, I've decided to take a break. Why?

To pause and reflect on what I've achieved in just over 3 months of blogging. "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" is averaging over 1,100 new visitors a month. People from all over the world are coming to this blogsite (33 countries and counting!)

To plan where I want "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" to go in 2008!

To catch up on some serious reading, and catch up with myself.

There's a great metaphor called filling the well - the idea being that if you've spent all this time dipping into and taking from the creative well, you also need to take the time (and do fun, artistic and inspiring things) to fill it again.

...Count on my being back with 5 posts a week starting Monday January 7, 2008!

So, while I'm filling the well, enjoy a long drink of all the cool stuff that's already here on "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" Here are 7 different brews to quench your thirst!

1. Find and Read a GLBTQ Teen Book. Heck, read Two!

There are 168 books with GLBTQ Teen Characters or Themes listed here on this blogsite. So far 54 of those books have posts up (14 of them with reader reviews!)

2. Learn Some Amazing Things about GLBTQ History and Herstory - and enjoy some great poems, too - There are 15 fabulous and Bitchin' Queer Quotes and Poems to explore on:

Native American Lesbian Marriage Ceremonies, Serpent Mound, and the KOSKALAKA's special powers

"Woman Chief of the Crows," A Famous Lesbian American Indian

Gay Lovers and Adventurers who traveled the world by balloon!

The First Gay Spy

The First Gay Science Fiction Story Ever

An Ancient Gay Love Story Discovered!

A Bisexual Pharaoh Who Ruled 4,300 Years Ago!

Celtic Men and the Origins of the word "Horny!"

"Bulldike," Celtic Lesbian Warriors and Queen Boudica's War

"Winkte" is the Sioux word for a Gay Man

Samurai Love

The Mystical Homoerotic Poetry of Rumi (birthday countdown 3, birthday countdown 2 and birthday countdown 1)

The Amazing Lesbian Poem "Athens"


3. Get inside my mind a bit, with my personal take on things close to my heart, from GLBTQ Teens to Kid Lit. There are 12 mini-essays (Lee's Musings) to peruse:

Three Great Gifts for the Holidays that are FREE!

On Thanksgiving and Families - The Ones You Get and The Ones You Create


On Veterans Day, Gay Soldiers, and the Myth of Gay Sissyhood

It's a Small Queer World After All

On Halloween: Masks and the Space to be Ourselves


Why I write: Pyramids, Stories, Magic and learning how to SPELL

On Where to Buy It/Get It

On Self-Publishing and Graphic Novels

On Banned Books Week and GLBTQ Teen Novels

Parsing the "Q"

The Gay Best Friend: On Secondary Characters

On Labels

4. Check out my essay on Coming Out and all the resource Links under "Coming Out? Check out:" to the right. From inspiration to hope, from "how-to" to scholarship opportunities, there's a world of resources to help you!

5. Check out the blogs of my amazingly talented friends and fellow writers, Links also to the right.

6. Explore "More On Authors" to read about

Alex Sanchez: Notes From a Reading

and

Perry Moore in People magazine - Gay, Proud and a "Hero!"


6. Join In! It's a DIALOG, not a monologue. Add your take to one of the essays. Share a cool related fact in a post on Bitchin' Queer Quotes and Poems. Add a review to a book you've read. This is what the "comments" section of every single post is for! This is my blogsite, but the intent is for it to be a gathering place for OUR community - and for that I hope to have you continue to participate!

7. Celebrate! Take a moment to celebrate how far we've all come... and vision how far we'll go in the next year!

I wish you and yours wonderful happy and healthy holidays - and here's to a fantastic NEW YEAR!

Namaste,

Lee

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Busted


By Phil Bildner

Four intertwined novellas about Teens in one high school, with lots of drama - much of it gay.

There are brainy stoners, guys having sex (with each other) on the "Zero Tolerance" Senior Class Ski Trip, and a Bully whose gay victim turns vigilante... and they all get BUSTED!

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List


By Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Naomi and Ely are freshmen in college. They both like boys. They're life-long best friends, and to make sure that never changes, they've compiled a "No Kiss List" to make sure they don't mess things up by liking the same boy.

Then Ely kisses Naomi's ex-boyfriend. And while Bruce wasn't technically ON the list, when he decides he wants to be with Ely, too - it's explosive!

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Native American Lesbian Marriage Ceremonies, Serpent Mound, and the KOSKALAKA's special powers

There was SO much more on Native American Lesbian sexuality that I found fascinating, I had to do another post on this!

The dyke (we might also call her a "ceremonial lesbian") was likely to have been a medicine woman in a special sense. She probably was a participant in the Spirit (intelligence, force field) of an Entity or Deity who was particularly close to earth during the Goddess period (though that Deity is still present in the lives of some American Indian women who practice Her ceremonies and participate actively and knowingly in Her reality.)

Signs of this Deity remain scattered all over the continent: Snake Mound in Ohio is probably one.

(It's also called Serpent Mound, and it's the biggest ancient Native American Ceremonial Structure, and the largest effigy mound in the world!)



Here's another view, from a map published in 1890:



And get this: The oval-to-head area of the serpent is aligned to the summer solstice sunset and the snake’s coils align with the winter solstice sunrise, the autumnal and spring equinox sunrises, and the summer solstice sunrise!

Take a close look at the map - see the circle by the Serpent's mouth? No one knows what that is or was - some historians think it might have been a platform for ceremonies to take place.


A dyke's initiation takes the same course as a male's: She is required to pass grueling physical tests, to lose her mundane persona, and to transform her soul and mind into other forms.

The Lakota have a word for some of these women, koskalaka, which is translated as "young man" or "woman who doesn't want to marry," in our terms, "dyke." These women are said to be the daughters (the followers/practitioners) of a Spirit/Divinity who links two women together making them one in Her power.

They do a dance in which a rope is twined between them and coiled to form a "rope baby."

The exact purpose or result of this dance is not mentioned, but its significance is clear. In a culture that values children and women because they bear them, two women who don't want to marry (a man) become united by the power of the Diety and their union is validated by the creation of a rope baby. That is, the rope baby signifies the potency of their union in terms that are comprehensible to their society, which therefore legitimizes it.

It is clear that the koskalaka are perceived as powerful... When this power is used to determine other's actions, it at least borders on black magic or sorcery.


I can imagine such a Lesbian Marriage Ceremony, on a raised platform in front of the gaping jaws of the Serpent Mound. Two koskalaka, proud, beautiful, in love, dancing with their rope and twining and twisting it to form the image of a child. Their chanting tribe surrounding them, the air swirling with embers of fire, the pounding of drums, and magic!


The quotes are from pgs. 114-115 of Paula Gunn Allen's essay "Lesbians in American Indian Cultures" in "Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past" edited by Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr.

Information on the Serpent Mound came from this wikipedia entry.

I also found an interesting article about Native American Lesbians now on Curve magazine's website.

Monday, December 10, 2007

"Woman Chief of the Crows," A Famous Lesbian American Indian


Okay, I knew I wanted Today's Bitchin' Queer Quote to be about Women American Indians - and how they were Spiritual and Queer and Powerful - and in reading a couple of amazing books and essays on the topic, I'm amazed at how, prior to western colonization, there was SO much variety in Native American cultures in terms of gender identity and expression, and in the kind of relationships women had with other women. (And, for that matter, men had with other men - but that's a topic for another day!)

Women were

goddesses,
spirit-women,
mothers,
sisters,
grandmothers,
aunties,
shamans,
healers,
prophets, and
daughters.

and lovers!


The story I'll share today is from the early 1800s. Edward Denig, a white frontiersman who lived with the Crows, knew Woman Chief for 12 years, and wrote about her in 1855.

Born among the Gros Ventre Indians, she was captured at the age of 10 by a raiding party of Crows and adopted by a Crow warrior. She grew to be "a fearless horseback rider and skilled rifle shooter."

When she was still a young woman she "was equal if not superior to any of the men in hunting both on horseback and foot...[She] would spend most of her time in killing deer and bighorn, which she butchered and carried home on her back when hunting on foot. At other times she joined in the surround on horse, could kill four or five buffalo at a race, cut up the animals without assistance, and bring the meat and hides home."


As a successful hunter, she shared her meat freely with others. But it was as a warrior that her fame was made.

She became famous for standing off an attack from Blackfoot Indians, in which she killed three warriors while remaining unharmed herself: "This daring act stamped her character as a brave. It was sung by the rest of the camp, and in time was made known to the whole nation."
A year later she organized her first raid and easily attracted a group of warriors to follow her. She stole seventy horses from a Blackfoot camp, and in the ensuing skirmish killed and scalped two enemies. In every engagement with enemy tribes, including raids on enemy camps, she distinguished herself by her bravery. Crows began to believe she had "a charmed life which, with her daring feats, elevated her to a point of honor and respect not often reached by male warriors." The Crows were proud of her, composing special songs to commemorate her gallantry. When the tribal council was held and all the chiefs assembled, she took her place among them, as the third-highest ranked person in the tribe.

She dressed like other women, and was "taller and stronger than most women - her pursuits no doubt tending to develop strength of nerve and muscle."

She also took a wife!

She went through the usual procedure of giving horses to the parents of her intended spouse. A few years later, she took three more wives. This plurality of women added also to her prestige as chief.

Denig called his friend a "singular and resolute woman... She had fame, standing, honor, riches, and as much influence over the band as anyone except two or three leading chiefs... For 20 years she conducted herself well in all things."

In 1854 Woman Chief led a Crow peacekeeping mission to her native Gros Ventre tribe. Resentful because of her previous raids against them, some Gros Ventres trapped her and killed her.

Stories passed down have made her a hero "in the classic Plains mode. Even her death, at enemy hands, was typical of the pattern for the honored male warrior."


An excellent background on the context of the different roles women took on in Native American Cultures is the essay "Lesbians in American Indian Cultures," by Paula Gunn Allen, in "Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past" Edited by Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr. The first quote above is from page 113.

The true story of "Woman Chief of the Crows" came from pgs. 244-246 of "The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Cultures" by Walter L. Williams, much of which was taken from Edwin Thompson Denig's "Five Tribes of the Upper Missouri," ed. John Ewers, pg. 195-200

The image above is from the website on Jim Beckwourth, an African American Explorer whose autobiography told of his time with the Crow and his infatuation with the woman war chief, who he said was first called "Pine Leaf." Interestingly, there's no mention of Pine Leaf's marriage to women in the tribe on this or many of the other sites I browsed.

But there is here at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?"

Friday, December 7, 2007

Trying Hard To Hear You


By Sandra Scoppettone

It's the 1970s. A bunch of Teens are in a theater program. But the real drama unfolds when two guys in the group are revealed to be gay.

16 year old Camilla narrates about the summer when she and her friends try to deal with it... and it ends badly.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Three Great Gifts that are FREE for a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, and a Fabulous and Queer New Year!

It's already the second day of Hanukkah, and with Thanksgiving's Tofurkey just a memory, I realize that 'Tis the Holiday Season.

And if your December is starting out like mine, the amount of STUFF we're bombarded with, all urging us to buy Buy BUY! so we can get, Get, GET! is overwhelming.

When I was 16, the only money I had to buy gifts for anyone was money I got from my parents, which made me feel really powerless during the holidays, and also put all the focus on what I'd GET.

So, in the spirit of EMPOWERING you...

I propose, instead, let's think about GIVING, which in an amazing way ends up being a gift for us, too. (I once spent an entire semester in a college course on the question "If it feels good when you're helping someone else, is there really such a thing as altruism (where you're giving and it doesn't benefit you at all)?"

The answer, for me, ended up being... Who cares? Maybe we're wired to feel good when giving, and like tax breaks for donating to charity, it's a system that's set up to encourage doing good.

Either way, here are my suggestions of three things to GIVE, perfect for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, any Pagan Winter ceremonies you might want to fete, and, of course, New Years! And they're all FREE!


SOMETHING FOR THE EARTH

Catalogs

Okay, in the last 7 days, we've gotten almost 100 catalogs in the mail (no joke) for stuff that really, truly, I have no interest in even flipping through. From Fur-appliqued Christmas Tree Ornaments to Wine and Processed-Cheese-Spread Baskets, from expensive folding Victorian-style chairs to eight inch diameter fabric flower brooches, (and these were just the images on four covers!) there's arguably something for everyone...

except I don't want it.

Now, I'm not going all scrooge-y on you, and I do order stuff online and from catalogs, but the excess is... well, excessive.

We recycle the catalogs, but I'd rather not get them in the first place. But I also don't have the time to start calling each company to try to get off their mailing lists. So, check this out:

Catalog Choice lets you enter in the name and customer ID# from the catalog you've got that you don't want to get any more, and you'll stop getting them in the mail!

Ahh, something for the Earth, just like that. And it didn't cost a thing. (And hey, if you're living at home with your parents and not really getting your own 100 catalogs a week that you don't want, doing the catalog thing for THEM - check first on the ones they don't want anymore - would probably be a fantastic gift!)


SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE

Volunteering is a way to pull out of our own heads and help someone else. It also feels great. There are shelters, food pantries, GLBTQ community centers and organizations with volunteer needs, older people who need a hand, frazzled parents who need someone to play with the baby, friends who need help with a project, cookies to bake, cards to make, dogs to walk, packages to help carry, tourists who need their photo taken, holiday songs to sing...(and really, no one cares if they're sung off-key, it's the joy in doing it that matters!)

the list of ways to volunteer, small and large, goes on and on.

Challenge yourself to do one thing for someone else this week- even if it's something small, like giving someone an I.O.U. note for shoveling their front walk after the next snowstorm - and then doing it when it snows.

You can even ask someone you'd like to help, what you can do...

Giving someone an hour of your time to help them doesn't cost a penny - and it's a way to really FEEL the spirit of the holidays come alive.


SOMETHING FOR YOU

Now I'm not talking about the diamond industry's promotional campaign that your left hand ring finger is for your wedding/engagement diamond, and that your right hand ring finger is for the diamond YOU buy for yourself. (yeah, really - that's what they're pitching.)

What I AM talking about is giving yourself the gift of...

YOU.

Take the time this week to do something for YOU. Again, this doesn't need to cost a cent! Make the time to:

go for winter walk
take yourself ice skating
do a yoga class
dance by yourself to five of your favorite songs
make a list of 50 things you love
read a book with a GLBTQ Teen character

Yeah. Read one of the books on this blogsite - a book that's going to make you feel like the world's at your feet - that the possiblities are endless, and there's a place for you at the amazing buffet of life... Because there is!

Look at the books listed here. Click through. Choose one. Go to the library. Grab it at a bookstore. Borrow one from a friend.

And read....

Most of all, BE the person you ARE - that's the greatest gift you can ever give yourself.

So try out these gift ideas. Take the challenge to do something for the earth, something for someone else, and something for yourself!

All three gifts are free, but (to riff on a credit card ad) they'll make this holiday season PRICELESS!

Happy Holidays!

Namaste,

Lee

ps- If you have any great suggestions or examples of these kinds of gifts, sharing those ideas with others is a gift in itself! Share your gift in "comments!"

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Touching Snow


By M. Sindy Felin

13 year old Karina is a first generation American, living with her Haitian family in suburban New York.

Her stepfather is physically abusive, but they can't tell anyone because of the family and friends living with them who are illegal immigrants.

When social services do get involved, Karina meets Rachael, a wealthy white girl. They both like girls, and pretty soon, each other. Their growing relationship helps Karina find some of the strength she'll need to save her family.

There's three things to love about this book before you've even read beyond the first sentence:

#1 That first sentence is:

"The best way to avoid being picked on by high school bullies is to kill someone."

#2 It's the author's DEBUT novel. Go Sindy!

#3 It's a finalist for the 2007 National book Award!

Wow!

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You


By Peter Cameron

James is 18. He's been accepted to Brown (but is more tempted to buy a house in Kansas and live alone in obscurity.) Meanwhile he's working in his mother's art gallery in Manhattan.

It's a summer of Angst, Museums, Therapy, Confusion, Sarcasm, a Crush on the man who runs the gallery, and growing up.

You gotta love the title, and "Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You" has gotten great reviews. You can even read the first chapter on Peter's website!

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Monday, December 3, 2007

Adventurers, Balloonists, and Lovers! Croce-Spinelli and Sivel




Imagine it's the 1870s. A time of adventurers, exploring the world.


Croce-Spinelli and Sivel were two balloonists who died together 26,000 feet over India in 1875.



The huge marble monument over the tomb they share in Pere Lachaise Cemetary portrays the men lying together, side-by-side, hand-in-hand, presumably naked but covered by a sculpted sheet from the waist down. There are flowers in their hands. The tomb, one of the most talked-about monuments in Pere Lachaise, has been called a "tribute to their comradeship in life and death."


The quote is from pg. 197 of "The Gay Book of Lists" by Leigh W. Rutledge, fourth printing.
Also, the top images of the balloonists are NOT renderings of the lovers I spoke about, and they pre-date their ill-fated last adventure, but I thought the art was evocative...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Power, The Straight White Man, and the SECRET Code behind Homophobia

Sandra Scoppettone's comment on yesterday's post of her book, "Happy Endings Are All Alike," raised a pretty great question:

She said...

Thanks for the nice attention. I think it was the first book about lesbians. A few years before that, I wrote Trying Hard To Hear You, which was about gay boys. The one about the girls was reviewed less and sold less. Hmmm? What do you suppose the reason was for that?

What sticks with me about her question is

"reviewed less."


Now these books came out a while ago, but more attention to a book about gay teenage boys than about lesbian teenage girls doesn't surprise me...

It brings me, in fact, to the fascinating issue of our Western culture's horrified fascination with gay men's homosexuality - it's soooo threatening to many straight people - and our same culture's blasé take on and dis-interest in lesbian women's homosexuality (lesbians don't seem threatening at all, in fact they're seen as objects of sexual titillation for straight men!)

Huh?

Why? It's so odd - but I think the roots of it go down into our culture's misogynistic perspective, seeing everything as a reflection of The Straight White Man's interests and lives. Gay men (especially ones who don't act feminine, but share masculine traits with them) are threatening to The Straight White Man because - well... um... it's not that they're afraid they're really going to be jumped on in the gym showers!

Maybe it's because for many straight men, their own self-image is so tied up with being "The Man." They exist and thrive on the power dynamic of dominant over submissive, of male over female, where someone else's lack of power seems to inflate their own power (like bullies!) Anyone that doesn't fit neatly into this power dynamic threatens them and their power directly, purely because they don't fit where they "should"!

Perhaps this is the code that unlocks so many mysteries of our culture:

It's why there's a huge fear (and odd culture of jokes about) prison rape - as terrible as any rape is, I think the fear and discussion of this is really an expression of straight men's fear of losing power, of surrendering - for then they fear they will have lost themselves.

It's why we're always reading in the news about older rich men marrying younger pretty women.

It's why there's all this fear and discussion of "gay marriage" destroying and de-valuing straight people's marriages.

It's why so many straight people think in queer relationships there's always the roles of a "man" and a "woman." The idea that two men could have equal power in a relationship is baffling...

It's why there are so many countries that have laws against gay male sex but not against lesbian sex (Our own United States of America only just got rid of our last laws in 2003! Check out this wikipedia article.)

In fact, from another wikipedia article, there's this statistic:

Today, consensual homosexual acts between adults are illegal in about 70 out of the 195 countries of the world;[3] in 40 of these, only male-male sex is outlawed.[4]

It's why women of power (like Senator Hilary Clinton) are so hated and are de-sexed (by accusing them of being lesbians) to make them seem less powerful.

It's why in some cultures men tell themselves they're not really "gay" if they are the "top" (the ostensibly dominant partner in the sexual interaction.) They've made the label of 'homosexual' only apply if they're submissive to another man! In fact, there are whole new categories of sexuality that have been coined to avoid using the terms "gay" or "homosexual" to apply to these men, such as "M-S-M" (Men who have Sex with Men.)

It's why "fairy" and "sissy" and other submissive, power-less put-downs were synonyms for being gay when I was growing up. And maybe it's why we have the slang today, of when something's bad, or someone's a loser, people sling around "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" as a put-down. It's a put-down of that person's power.

It's why gender variant and trans-gender people are so marginalized in our culture, and are so scary and unknown to straight people that even many 'leaders' in our GLBTQ community are willing to let the "T" drop for now in the civil rights struggle for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act! (for an overview of the issue of transgender inclusion in the ENDA, check this out.)

Now where does this leave the fetish-ization of the female S&M Mistress? (think black leather, thigh-high boots, and a whip...) I think it fits, because this powerful woman is seen as existing solely to focus on the pleasure of the straight man she's dominating. He's sort of humoring her to let her have this space where she gets to "pretend" to be in charge... But the power dynamic is kept intact, with The Straight White Man feeling ultimately in charge.

By recognizing this power dynamic that underlies some straight people's fear of GLBTQ people, perhaps we can better understand the obstacles to our attaining equality, and see the wisdom in building bridges and alliances with our natural allies - feminists and other minorities, groups and enlightened individuals (even some straight white men), who all struggle as we do against the world view of the Straight White Man on top, in power, with everyone else submissive and below him.

And maybe even more importantly, by understanding this secret code exists, we can fight back by refusing to have our power put-down. And we can claim power for ourselves, in our own lives, each and every day.

We can recognize that coming out is an act of claiming our POWER.

We can recognize that POWER is also INFORMATION!

Back to Sandra's comment, the book about lesbian teenagers

"sold less"


Could this be a direct result of the lack of awareness of the book among people who might want to read it?

Which, in a lovely circular way, brings me back to this blog, and the reason I'm doing this:

To EMPOWER YOU to know about these amazing books that are out there - so you can get them into your hands and read them!

Know that YOU have the POWER!


Namaste,

Lee

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Endings Are All Alike


By Sandra Scoppettone

Two Teenage Girls in love. In a small Town. In the 1970s.

And yeah, that's a KNIFE in the silhouetted figure's hand.

Yikes!

Sandra's the author of a gazillion crime stories, and "Happy Endings Are All Alike" is a Young Adult book that was published back in 1978, so it's one of the first Lesbian Teen Novels.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Manny Files, The


By Christian Burch

Okay, you've watched "Auntie Mame" (The Rosalind Russell version, please...)

You've booked your tickets to see "Mary Poppins" on Broadway...

Now you can read about eight year old Keats and his three sisters - and their Gay Male Nanny... Their Manny, and how he helps them learn to be interesting...

And interestingly enough, Christian was a male nanny, or manny, who used his real life experiences as inspiration...

Another interesting note is that Christian does not use the word "gay" in this entire book. He comments about that here:

Also, I didn't use the word gay or talk about it because I didn't want it to be a "gay" book. I wanted it to be a "real life" book where gay people are just people in your lives, not there to teach the gay lesson, just to exist as straight people do in literature.

And like many of the novels where the main characters have GLBTQ Parents or Caretakers, "The Manny Files" revolves around a pre-Teen (in this case, eight year old Keats.)

Be interesting, and add your review of this book in "comments!"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bermudez Triangle, The


By Maureen Johnson

The Bermudez Triangle is three best girlfriends in High School; Nina, Melanie (a.k.a. Mel), and Avery.

The summer before their senior year, Nina goes off to a college-prep program and meets Steve. When Nina comes back, she's stunned to discover that Mel and Avery found love that summer, too - with each other!

In the words of Maureen's website:

What exactly do you do when your two best friends in the entire world start dating?


"The Bermudez Triangle" is such a fun summer beach read that they even published a versino where the cover is "splash-proof!" (no, really. check it out.)















Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Monday, November 26, 2007

The First Known Gay Spy!

Dah-Dah-Dahhhh!

Okay, I'm really into "firsts" and Today's Bitchin' Queer Quote is about the first known gay spy...

Raymond Lecomte (1857-1921). As the first secretary of the French legation in Berlin, Lecomte infiltrated the homosexual clique surrounding the German Prince Philipp von Eulenburg.

It was called the "Round Table!"

His [Lecomte's] discovery that Germany was bluffing in the Morocco crisis of 1906 led to a French diplomatic victory at the Algeciras Conference. This in turn led to Eulenburg's exposure as a homosexual and his subsequent ruin. Lecomte's activities are the first known instance of a homosexual's using his sexual contacts for espionage.


Dah-Dah-Dahhhh!!

Now that's a BITCHIN' Queer Quote! It's from pg. 21 of "The First Gay Pope and other records" by Lynne Yamaguchi Fletcher.

You can also check out the New York Times article reprint from June 14, 1907 here.
In it there are some additional juicy details about who was part of the German's Prince's "Round Table," including a General and two highly placed Cavalry Officers!

Dah-Dah-Dahhhh!!!

For more fascinating history swirling around this Gay scandal, check out the wikipedia article on the Harden-Eulenburg Affair. It includes tidbits like this one, about

the night Kaiser Wilhelm II was vacationing at an aristocrat's estate in the Black Forest when, after dinner, his chief of the Military Secretariat, Dietrich Graf von Hulsen-Haseler, was performing a dance in a tutu when his heart failed.

I swear I'm not making this stuff up!

okay, one last one for the Secretary of the German Military dying in a tutu...

Dah-Dah-Dahhhh!!!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Eight Seconds


By Jean Ferris

Cowboys. Bull Riding. Rodeo Camp the Summer before Senior Year of High School.

When John meets Kit, he thinks he's made a friend who's the ideal cowboy - and he wants to be just like him.

Then he finds out Kit's Gay.

And that begins the wild ride of John's heart. Just how much like Kit is he?

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Thursday, November 22, 2007

On Thanksgiving And Families - The Ones You Get and The Ones You Create

Okay, this post has a soundtrack...


We Are Family (sung by Sister Sledge)


Grab or click it if you have it on your playlist or on an old CD (or heck, if you're a vinyl warrior, that's cool too.)

Or hey, go to itunes music store or one of the other online music stores and just play the free 30 second sample (a couple of times...) or buy it and download it right now!

Take a second, and put the track on...


And get in the Giving Thanks (Thanks-Giving!) mood...



We Are Family...


Okay, so you're born into one family - for good and bad, warts, sparkles, and all. It makes me think of the pre-school rhyme


"You get what you get and you don't get upset."


Actually, you DO get upset - getting upset - getting angry! - is a natural part of growing up! And what do you do? You find yourself making - CREATING - other families. And you'll continue to do that throughout your life, no matter the ups and downs of your relationship with the family you're born into.



Maybe it's Junior High when you start to make friends that's really YOU choosing and not just who lives near you or whose parents like your parents - you're starting to feel a bit more independent, and that's the start of another family - or sets of families - throughout your life - your FAMILY OF FRIENDS, of choice.


All the people around us they say,

can they be that close?

Just let me state for the record

Were giving love like a family does!

Some of us have high school friends -connections that can last through our lives, or run their course - and that's a family (even with it's own reunions!)

There are college friends who become a family, with reunions and alumni associations and everything... (ahhh, if only there had been a gay fraternity at my college that I could have joined!) Check out this great article on gay.com news, about the 20th anniversary year of a GAY FRATERNITY!!!
Delta Lambda Phi is the Gay Fraternity they talk about - they have a website, too, here.

Then there are the friends you make your first job...


This joyful gathering around you of kindred spirits continues throughout life.

There's a family of people from your hobbies and passions (I've seen knitters talk like long-lost siblings, and anyone who's ever worked on a theater show knows how the actors and crew become a sort of family as long as the production runs!) and the people you find in your careers (When I run into fellow Kid Lit writers and bloggers, I feel a kinship - a sense of family, a shared purpose...)

There's also a family of people you're part of just by being who you are (other two-Dad families with kids make me so happy inside, even when I don't know them at all...) And a sense of community (and extended family) from living in a certain area for long enough that the people at the grocery store know you by name and always say "Hi!"

Another kind of family is when you gather with others who share your take on the world - for me this was coming out and finding a sense of TRIBE with other Gay Men - and as I've grown up, finding a kinship with others in the broader GLBTQ community.

Here's what we call the golden rule

have faith in you and the things you do

and you won't go wrong

oh no this is a family joint (yea yea).

And then, to get a bit philosophical, we're all part of the FAMILY OF HUMANITY. I know, I know, we keep trying to kill each other, or cut each other off in traffic, but every time there's some disaster (9/11, Tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina, Wildfires in California) we seem to be able to forget all the negativity and pull together to help each other out. Maybe we just need to figure out how to do it without the disasters... (sort of like the plot of so many sci fi novels and movies - all the human race needs is some common alien enemy, and we'll stop fighting each other...)


So, back to the pre-school rhyme, when it comes to family,


You get what you get and you don't get upset

Cause really, when you think about it - you get all these different families throughout your life.

And someday, if you're truly blessed, you can add one more kind of family tree to your enormous forest of families: you'll find someone to love, and maybe raise a child together. And you'll be a new family. I am so blessed.

We are Family!
For these and so many other reasons, I'm truly grateful.


And you know what?


There's even one more family that comes to mind:

The family - the community - that's part of the adventure of this blogsite!


Thank YOU for being part of my journey, as a writer, a shaman, and a novice blogger...

For all these things, and for you, my community of readers, I give thanks.


We are Family!


And I hope you grab a moment Today, and make a mental list of the families in your lives, and are able to give Thanks, too.



sing with me!

here are the lyrics if you want to sing along!

We are family! (we are family) Get up everybody sing!


Happy Thanks-Giving!

Namaste,

Lee

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Funny Boy


By Shyam Selvadurai

At 7, Argun is a sissy.

As a Teen, he's sent off to a strict school to 'become a man.' In the middle of his country, Sri Lanka, being torn apart by ethnic conflict (between Tamil and Sinhalese) and suffering under the burdens of British colonial homophobia, Argun (a Tamil) falls for a fellow male student (who's Sinhalese.)

Two taboos broken, in one love. And then they're discovered...

"Funny Boy" won the Lambda Literary Award in 1996 for Gay Men's Fiction, as well as a whole bunch of other accolades. I've included it here on this blogsite (even though they weren't really marketing it as a YA novel) because it's story of a Teenage boy figuring out who he is...

There's a very poignant article by Shyam in "Time Magazine: The Asian Journey Home", The August 18-August 25, 2003 Issue, about when he and his male partner went back to Sri Lanka (from where they now live in Canada) and set up house for a few months - in a country where being gay is still a crime.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Swimming in the Monsoon Sea


By Shyam Selvadurai

Amrith is 14 and adopted. When his male cousin Niresh (from the family of his birth-mother) shows up at his home in Sri Lanka, Amrith's past, present, and future go through the same Monsoon storms that sweep across the island nation.

Amidst the summer tempests, Amrith falls in love with Niresh - and awakens to being gay.

"Swimming in the Monsoon Sea" won the 2005 Lambda Literary Award.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Monday, November 19, 2007

The First Gay Science Fiction Story EVER!

How cool is Today's Bitchin' Queer Quote...

"True History," by the Greek writer Lucian (A.D. 120-185) is the First Gay Science Fiction Story EVER!

On a voyage into the Atlantic, the narrator is suddenly enveloped by a typhoon, which sweeps him up to the moon. Earth's satellite is inhabited by men only, and is engaged in a war with the sun. After distinguishing himself in combat, the hero returns to the moon, where the king magnanimously gives him his son the prince in marriage.

WOW!

The all male society reproduces (male children only) by giving birth from the thigh or by growing a child from a plant produced by planting the left testicle in the moon's soil.
Crazy! Fascinating! It's more than 2100 years old - and I wanna read this!

I found out about this on page 95 in the amazing "The First Gay Pope and other records" by Lynne Yamaguchi Fletcher. There was a little more detail about it in the article "Lucian" by William A. Percy in the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, pg. 752.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Boy Girl Boy


By Ron Koertge

Three Teens - Elliot, Teresa, and Larry, are BFF (Best Friends Forever.) Their plan is to move to California after graduation - together.

But, uh... Larry's Gay, and, um... Teresa wants to date him or Elliot (neither of them are interested in her that way), and, yeah... Elliot feels overshadowed by Larry and Teresa, and...

Told from all three points of view, each character has to figure out their own path forward. Can any part of this three way friendship survive?

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ancient Gay LOVE Story Discovered: David and Jonathan

The cast:

The King: Saul
The King's Son - a military Hero in his own right: Jonathan
The Warrior Hero: David

excerpts from the work:

When he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his girdle."


Saul soon becomes jealous of David's military successes, and afraid of David...

After Saul tries - more than once - to pin David to the wall with his spear while David is playing the lyre, David prudently decides to flee. Saul blames Jonathan for aiding and abetting David, accusing him,
"You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness?"

Storming out of the Palace, Jonathan goes to find David, who has hidden himself behind a heap of stones in a field. Seeing Jonathan, David "fell on his face to the ground, and bowed three times; and they kissed one another, and wept with one another, until David exceeded [himself].

After swearing that "the Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendents and your descendants, forever," the two part.

After Jonathan's death, David cries out

"How are the mighty fallen in the midst of battle! Jonathan lies slain upon the high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women."

So what is this? A Lost Manuscript by Shakespeare? A Gay Teen Novel from the middle ages?

Actually, It's from the OLD TESTAMENT - The "Bible."

Really.

Saul was the King of Israel.

Jonathan, the King's son, loved David.

And David, the famous warrior, loved Jonathan. And yeah, it's the same David who slew the Giant Goliath with his slingshot, and who ended up the greatest King of Israel, and was an ancestor of Jesus.

Oh, and the phrase "passing the love of women" became code, in the middle ages and after, for love between men.

And gay artists like Donatello and Michelangelo (yup, THAT Michelangelo) made DAVID their ideal of youthful male beauty.

And yes, it's THIS David.



Pretty cool, huh?

An Ancient - a BIBLICAL - Gay LOVE story. Right there all the time...

Namaste,

Lee


For more on David and Jonathan, check out pgs. 159-161 of "The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present" by Paul Russell, and pgs. 26-39 of "Jonathan Loved David: Homosexuality in Biblical Times" by Tom Horner. Oh, and you can check out the different translations of these:

I Samuel 18:1-4
I Samuel 20:30-31
I Samuel 20:41-42
II Samuel 1:19-27

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Real Life Channel, The


By Robert A. Black

Three Teens (one of whom, Sydney, has Two Dads) are on a doomed TV show that's picked up by a new network. They think their troubles are over, that fame and fortune are coming their way...

They are wrong.

And now, mysterious things start to happen at The Real Life Channel...

Robert has a great essay on writing this book with Sydney and her Gay Dads, and on the importance of including Gay characters in YA Novels at the Young Adult (and Kids) Books Central website, as part of their recent GLBT Month 2007.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Arizona Kid, The


By Ron Koertge

Billy is 16, and spending the summer living with his Gay uncle, Wes, in Arizona.

Billy works at a race track, falls for a girl, and with some guidance from his uncle Wes, starts to figure things out about being a man and being himself.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Monday, November 12, 2007

On Veteran's Day, Gay Soldiers, and the MYTH of Gay Sissyhood

"sissy!"

"weakling!"

"faggot!"

Those are some of the words I heard growing up and the words I was taught were synonymous with being gay. It's one of the reasons I had so much trouble figuring out that I WAS gay - oh, I knew who I was attracted to and all, but because I wanted to grow up to be a man of strength and confidence, and I wanted to be held by another man of strength and confidence, the label "gay" didn't seem to fit.

In many ways, the popularity of Tom of Finland,



and the whole gym-bunny muscle-bound ripped-abs look, is a cultural response of Gay men to this myth of sissyhood.

Almost as if they're answering the schoolyard taunts: Gay men are sissies? Not if you look at my biceps!

And, I'll add - not if you look (really look) at history!

Here's a great quote about Alexander the Great:

"His primary love seems to have been reserved for his companion from boyhood, the brilliant Hephaestion. According to Plutarch, when Alexander came to the site of Ancient Troy, he laid a wreath on Achilles' tomb, and Hephaestion laid one on the tomb of Patroclus: a clear and public avowal of their relationship, given that the ancients commonly supposed Achilles and Patroclus to have been lovers."
Here's a cool image from a mosaic showing Alexander in Battle:



But despite the historical record (often hidden and "straight-i-fied") about famous warriors (like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Trajan, Frederick the Great, and Lawrence of Arabia) being Men who loved Men, American culture continues to steep us in this falsehood.

And then there's the opposite supposition about Lesbians - that their women-loving ways make them hard, masculine, unattractive. In fact, there's a misogyny at work here in the prejudice against women who have power - look at the efforts to portray Hilary Clinton, a U.S. Senator, the front-runner for the Democratic Presidential Nomination, a true Woman of Power, as a lesbian.

What about the Women of Power and Beauty in Herstory who were womyn-loving-womyn? Queen Christina of Sweden, Russia's Catherine II (1729-1796), and England's Queen Anne (1665-1714), and, of course, the AMAZONS!?! Once again, the facts are ignored, overlooked, buried.

The unstated bias is that a woman of true power couldn't be "normal." She must be trying to be the "man," in that quaint (and insulting) concept some straight people have that in a gay or lesbian relationship, the sexual roles remain classic, only with one effeminate man playing the "woman" and one butch woman playing the "man."

So, saddled as we are with these ridiculous and patently untrue stereotypes, we have the disastrous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, despite many other countries letting openly Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender soldiers serve without any loss of "unit cohesion" or "military readiness." Look at the experience of Spain, Canada, The Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Great Britain and Israel.

In fact, when you check out the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's website, they have an HONOR EVERY VETERAN campaign. In their words:

"One million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans have served in our armed forces. Yet, the Pentagon fires two people every day for being gay.

LGBT service members have served in every conflict since the American Revolution. Since World War II, however, our government has discharged more than 115,000 brave American service members who had been willing to die for our liberty, even while denied their own because of who they are."

It's amazing how homophobia can become policy, and policy can foment more homophobia.

But the opposite is true as well - policy can show equality and respect, and thus a culture of equality and respect is encouraged to grow.

So it's Veteran's Day. And like that amazing line from the movie "300"

"Freedom isn't Free."

We're a country at war - a very unpopular war - and no one here at home seems truly affected except for the military families whose lives revolve around constant crisis and sacrifice.

So it's a day to honor our Veterans, to honor our current serving members of the military and their families, and also a day to remember what this country stands for: Liberty and Justice for All. And that includes all the servicemembers who have been discharged for being who they are - and it includes all of us, too: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Queer Americans - sissies and musclemen - bulldykes and lipstick lesbians, everyone in-between genders and stereotypes, all of us!

Maybe Today is a good day to realize that if freedom isn't free, perhaps equality - true equality - is a goal everyone in our community, and all our straight-and-not-narrow allies, need to stand up for, shout about, and vote for as well!


And one last thought for this Monday, in images:

The Gay Pride Rainbow Flag is this:





and the Italian PEACE flag is this:




I like how they've been brought together.

Here's to a world at peace...

Namaste,

Lee


(Great information on Alexander the Great, Queen Christina and other Gays and Lesbians of Power came from pgs. 56-59, and pgs. 98 - 101 in "The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present" by Paul Russell.)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Perry Moore in PEOPLE Magazine - Gay, Proud, and a "Hero!"

HOLY GUACAMOLE, BATMAN!

I can barely sleep, I'm so excited about this:



Check out this week's PEOPLE Magazine (issue dated November 19, 2007), pg. 121, for who's the "SEXY MAN OF THE WEEK."

It's PERRY MOORE, author of "HERO," The Gay Teen Superhero book (that I'm loving reading.)



What blows my mind is such a mainstream (read: straight) magazine, with all these celebrity's private lives splashed across its cover and pages, (the Cover's on Owen Wilson) would have a GAY MAN as the "SEXY MAN OF THE WEEK."

And not just a mention of his being gay - and partnered for 13 years - Go Perry! But the QUESTIONS the interviewer (Thank you, Melody S. Wells!) asks him are about ROMANCE! GAY ROMANCE!

Things like asking Perry:

THE PERFECT RECIPE FOR ROMANCE


And

HOW TO KEEP LOVE ALIVE


And

MY SEDUCTION SECRET


And his answers, including

"SEA OF LOVE: I would love to see two guys meet in the surfing lineup."


Think about it.

PEOPLE Magazine. It's everywhere. WalMarts. Red States. Convenience Stores. Libraries! 3,750,000 copies of this issue that could get into the hands of GLBTQ Teens across the country... and the world!

Okay, this is HUGE!



And I love that the feature on him isn't about his being Gay as opposed to his being straight, it's about his being SEXY, and about his answers to LOVE questions - all of which are about a guy finding love with another guy!

You know, that annoying feeling I always get when the ADVOCATE (The LGBT News Magazine) features yet another Straight actor or actress who's playing a Queer role? (The current issue has Cate Blanchette on the cover, who "Tops our 2007 list of Coolest Straight People")

Well, having Perry Moore in PEOPLE answering GAY ROMANCE questions helps me feel a lot better about sharing!

Thank you and congratulations to PEOPLE Magazine, for seeing that the world is changing, that Gay Men can be SEXY to everyone, and for being part of that change.

Thank you and congratulations to Perry Moore, for being HONEST and yourself and for standing up as Gay and Sexy and the author of a Gay Teen Novel (and as a surfer, too!)

And Congratulations to all of us for being part of this shifting landscape -

Acceptance. Inclusion. Celebration!

Okay, and I haven't even gotten the chance to rave about the fact that Perry's amazing book, "HERO," about a gay Teen with superhero powers, is plugged in the feature on him, right up top (next to the surfboard!)

Teen books with Gay characters - in PEOPLE! That's AMAZING!

Okay, I'm going to go do a little happy dance, now.

YAY!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Namaste,

Lee

Friday, November 9, 2007

Rules For Hearts, The


By Sara Ryan

It's the summer before college, and Battle (who just broke up with Nicola, the "Nic" from Sara's book "Empress of the World") joins her newly found runaway older brother in a Portland co-op full of artsy, broke, theatrical and sexy gals and guys who are on their way to becoming Adults.

Her roommate Meryl is alluring, her brother is frustrating, and there's a lot for Battle to discover about who she is and who her brother might be.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Thursday, November 8, 2007

It's A Small QUEER World After All...

Well, I'm all excited about how the GLBTQ community, though the magic of the internet, has gone GLOBAL! And yeah, even lil' ol' me and this barely two month-old blogsite!

I confess... I finally have a way to know (don't worry- not who) but where geographically speaking, people are when they visit this blogsite.

And it's been a great reminder to me that my mission is not just to empower and inform American Teens and others about great GLBTQ YA Novels (and cool bits of our queer history and my ramblings - er... musings, like this one) but to empower and inform Teens and others interested who inhabit the greater English-speaking world.

Heady stuff, huh?

Well here's a sampling, from just the last two days, of where people who are part of this growing community are from:

Hyderabad, India

Sydney, Australia

New Zealand

Stuttgart, Germany

Luton, England

Edmonton, Canada

Manila, Phillippines

Amsterdam, Netherlands

and over 15 States in the U.S.A.!


So the list of books on this blogsite will eventually include books from Canada, books from Australia and New Zealand, books from the United Kingdom, and books from the rest of the English speaking world!

Until I accomplish the goal of "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" being a truly GLOBAL resource, here are some great lists compiled by others, to get your reading going!

Author Justine Larbalestier has compiled a list of Oz (Australian) GLBT YA blooks.

Librarian Elisabeth has a list of Canadian YA novels with GLBT Characters or Themes.


And, in a very exciting development, a British internet news site, ukgaynews.org.uk,
did a small article Tuesday November 6, 2007, on my Monday post, Bisexual Pharoah Rules 4,300 Years Ago!:

Following Sunday's "unmasking" of King Tutankhamun live on worldwide television from the Valley of the Kings, across the Nile from Luxor in Egypt, it was inevitable that there would be some discussion on which ancient Egyptian kings were gay. Sure enough, Lee Wind's "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read" blog obliged. And it is not the 19-years-old Tutankhamun ...

All this GOING GLOBAL stuff totally makes me want to sing, (And you can sing along too, you know you want to...)

"It's a small Queer world after all,
It's a small Queer world after all,
It's a small Queer world after all,
it's a small...Queer...world!"

Namaste,

Lee

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Empress of the World


By Sara Ryan

Nicola, who goes by "Nic," spends the summer off at a program for gifted Teens. She thinks she's going to figure out her future - will she really choose to be an archaeologist? But what she actual is faced with figuring out is even more important: who she might be falling for, and what that means about who she is.

"Empress of the World" was a 2002 Oregon Book Award winner, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.

The tag-line for the book,
"Girls find kissing easier than talking,"

from the New York Public Library, is pretty amazing. And I love how Sara, on her website, comments:
"Words to live by, folks."

There's a "companion" book Sara published this year (2007) called "The Rules For Hearts."

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Behind You


by Jacqueline Woodson

After he's killed, 15-year-old Jeremiah watches over those he left behind - his white girlfriend Ellie, his friends (including queer boy Carlton), and his parents as they all try to figure out how to move on with their lives.

It's the sequel to Jacqueline's book "If You Come Softly," a modern-day interracial Romeo and Juliet.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bisexual Pharaoh Rules 4,300 years ago!

Think Ancient Egypt. King Tut, right?



Now go back in time, more than a thousand years before King Tut’s reign, and there was a Pharaoh, Pepy II:


“In what is surely history’s first homosexual short story, King Pepy II Neferkare (Phiops II; 2355-2261) makes nocturnal visits to have sex with his general Sisinne.”


That quote is from The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, Article by Wayne R. Dynes, pg. 351-351


While there’s not a lot of detail in the scraps of history I’ve been able to find, the tidbits are fascinating and intriguing. Think about it - how sexy, a King and his General in a passionate relationship!

What worlds existed, what cultures, and what amazing power there is in a love - a gay love - whose echoes can be heard 4,300 years later!

They built a pyramid to bury Pepi II



But his black granite sarcophagus was empty.

I wonder if there's another tomb somewhere, still undiscovered, where Pepi II and his general-lover Sisinne are together again...

Then again, if it was found Today, they'd probably call it something like "the Tomb of Two Brothers" rather than Two Lovers.


In fact, there is an actual "Tomb of Two Brothers," (here's an image from it:)



though it's often referred to as the "Tomb of the Hairdressers," a bit of a slam against gays and hairstylists, but at least most people aren't buying the official 'they were brothers' line for Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, the chief manicurists for the Pharaoh, who shared a tomb and are found in images throughout it together and often in "intimate embraces." By the way, the guess is that this "Tomb of the Hairdressers" pre-dates Pepy II by something like 100 years!


Where did I find out about all this?

Pepi II and Sisinne's relationship is also mentioned as “The first documented gay couple” in “The First Gay Pope and other records” by Lynne Yamaguchi Fletcher, pg. 12.

The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality's article lists these sources:
Terence J. Deakin, “Evidence for Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt,” International Journal of Greek Love, 1:1 (1961), 31-38, Lise Manniche, Sexual Life in Ancient Egypt, London: Kegan Paul International, 1987.

Friday, November 2, 2007

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

By Jacqueline Woodson

Melanin is the stuff that determines the pigment of your skin.

And in this novel, Melanin is a 13 year old boy with dark skin who lives with his Mother in Brooklyn, New York.

Then his Mother brings home a woman, her lover. A white woman.

Melanin hates her. And he's freaked out that his mother's a "dyke."

It's the start of the summer that changes him, and his life, forever.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Postcards From No Man's Land


By Aidan Chambers

This book tells two stories:

The coming of age of 17 year old Jacob, who goes from England to Holland to honor his Grandfather, who was a soldier in WWII. Jacob visits Anne Frank's house, he gets mugged, and as he gets his bearings in this new culture, he tries to figure out who he is and whom he might love.

Interwoven with this story is the romance of Jacob's grandfather, an injured British soldier who falls in love with the Dutch woman hiding him from the Nazis.

This book won the Carnegie Medal (1999) and, when it was published in the U.S., the Michael Printz Award (2003)

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On Halloween: Masks and the Space To Be Ourselves

Halloween!



A time for masks and costumes, one of the few times of the year when society flips its everyone-must-look-alike-and-please-like-an-Abercrombie&Fitch-or-Victoria's Secret-model, and the more outlandish and stand-out-of-the-crowd you appear, the better.

The holiday of being DIFFERENT. And hey, you even got CANDY for it when you were little.

The big Halloween parades and events in the gay neighborhoods have become so popular that San Francisco CANCELLED theirs this year (after years of problems.) West Hollywood's is insanely crowded, with thousands of straight lookie-loos driving in to gawk and maybe to feel like the noose of conformity around their own necks doesn't need to be quite so tight.

Yesterday's New York Times had an interesting article about the future (or not) of gayborhoods - neighborhoods like the Castro, West Hollywood, Chelsea. In it, they quote Gary J. Gates, a demographer and senior research fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles:

“Twenty years ago, if you were gay and lived in rural Kansas, you went to San Francisco or New York,” he said. “Now you can just go to Kansas City.”


That's fascinating. It's saying that there's room to be Gay closer to home.

Maybe even AT home. Extrapolating to the future, will there be a time when being GLBTQ doesn't mean you have to leave your hometown to find the space to be yourself?

Used to be the earliest you could could find the space to come out was College. Then High School. Now, in California, there are even Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs in Middle Schools!

There are so many more places and spaces where GLBTQ youth are finding the room to be themselves - to take off the masks of conformity - to be DIFFERENT and to be okay and proud of that difference.

It's funny how a cheap mask that hides your face can free you from inhibitions (for good and bad.) Kind of like the anonymity of the internet (again for good and bad.)

What would happen if we all took off the masks we wear the rest of the year?

When you hear "Trick or Treat!" tonight, take a second to think about the masks you might still be wearing when you're not dressed up for Halloween.

The Trick is how can we respond to the pressure to conform 364 days a year?

As you're passing out candy, or gorging on it, consider how each of us can participate in making the spaces we are in, no matter where we are, more embracing of Differences.

And remember that the biggest Treat of all is accepting ourselves for who we are under our masks: Different... and perfect that way!

Happy Halloween! (And yes, the pumpkin above is made out of carrot sticks!)

Namaste,

Lee

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

House You Pass On The Way, The


By Jacqueline Woodson

Evangeline is 13, and everyone calls her 'Staggerlee.' She's an outsider, and not just because her mother is white. She kissed a girl back in 6th grade, and since the post-kiss rejection, has kept it a secret.

Her female cousin Trout visits for the summer and with this new friend, Staggerlee tries to figure it all out.

On her website, Jacqueline shares that one of the reasons she wrote "The House You Pass On The Way" was:

"I wanted to write about friendship and I wanted to write about what it means to love someone—how painful and confusing that can be."

How wonderful to have a book that deals with racism and homophobia, and a young Teenage girl trying to work out who she is - like we all have to if we are going to grow up.

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Monday, October 29, 2007

Celtic Men and the origins of the word "Horny"

It's Monday, so of course it's time for another Bitchin' Queer Quote!

Here's the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus talking about the homosexuality of Celtic men, 80 years before the rebellion of Queen Boudica (see last week's Bitchin' Queer Quote for more on that!)

Although they have good-looking women, they pay very little attention to them, but are really crazy about having sex with men. They are accustomed to sleep on the ground on animal skins and roll around with male bedmates on both sides. Heedless of their own dignity, they abandon without a qualm the bloom of their bodies to others. And the most incredible thing is that they don't think this is shameful. But when they proposition someone, they consider it dishonorable if he doesn't accept the offer!

And the main god the Celtic men identified with?

He "...was an amiable-looking bearded man with antlers. He was the Horned One: "The horned god was especially linked with male sexuality and often appears [...] erect [...] Moreover, when erect, he is sometimes portrayed in the company of men, not women."
Horny was his name, giving us our slang word for sexual desire, horniness.


Gotta love those ancient Celts, AND Judy Grahn's "Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds" (pg. 138) for making sure we still have this incredible piece of our history!

Namaste,

Lee

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Year They Burned The Books

By Nancy Garden

Jaime's high school starts distributing condoms. She's the editor of the school newspaper, and when she writes an editorial in favor of the new policy, it's incendiary!

A growing free-speech battle takes over the town.

School library books are burned.

That and her own confusion over her attraction to Tessa make Jamie's Year They Burned the Books violent, controversial, and life-changing.

"The Year They Burned the Books" was a 1999 Lambda Literary Award Finalist, and is particularly fascinating because the author, Nancy Garden, has actually had HER books burned - in real life! (That book was "Annie On My Mind.")

Add your review of this book in "comments!"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

WHY DO I WRITE? Pyramids, Stories, Magic... and learning how to SPELL

WHY DO I WRITE?

Even when sometimes it can feel like I'm standing at the top of a huge waterfall,
about to take a fateful leap into space...




#1
I want to tell people a great story

#2
I want to change a single life (maybe in a way I wish mine might have been changed when I was a Teen. If I could have read a single sci fi or fantasy book with a well-adjusted gay main character where it wasn't a tortured coming out story but just a great adventure, with Gladiators, and Monsters and Underwater Cities... and a gay love story as part of it - it would have changed my life completely. To see a reflection of myself in a book I loved - to feel included in those fantasies as a gay young man - would have made me see a place for myself in the real world as a gay young man maybe seven years sooner than I did.)

#3
I want to change the world for the better (there's a famous Talmudic line that goes "He who saves a single life, saves the entire world," and I like extrapolating it to my writing and the books I hope to put out into the world! One question that always motivates me: If I could have saved 7 years by reading one book that didn't exist, how many years could I save for others by writing that book Today?

Eve, one of the inimitable Disco Mermaids, has a lovely post on the Disco Mermaid Blog on Leaving Your Mark, that talks beautifully about her reasons for writing. I love what she wrote, and in concert with that I'll add to my list:

#4
I want to leave a Legacy of stories that will live on long after me, that will continue to entertain, to change lives one at a time, and to change the world... My Pyramids, in the way the books I loved reading when I was a Teen (even though they didn't have any gay characters that weren't villains) were landmarks in my life.

Okay, if you think my aims are lofty now, just wait till I share with you the following from "The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers (2nd Edition)" By Christopher Vogler. (pgs. 298-299.)

"... writing is magic. Even the simplest act of writing is almost supernatural, on the borderline with telepathy. Just think: We can make a few abstract marks on a piece of paper in a certain order and someone a world away and a thousand years from now can know our deepest thoughts. The boundaries of space and time and even the limitations of death can be transcended.

"Many cultures believed the letters of their alphabets were far more than just symbols for communication, recording transactions, or recalling history. They believed letters were powerful magical symbols that could be used to cast spells and predict the future. The Norse runes and the Hebrew alphabet are simple letters for spelling words, but also deep symbols of cosmic significance."


Get ready for it - this is great...

"This magical sense is preserved in our word for teaching children how to manipulate letters to make words: spelling."


I love this part!

"When you "spell" a word correctly, you are in effect casting a spell, charging these abstract, arbitrary symbols with meaning and power. We say "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me," but this is manifestly untrue. We know that words have power to hurt or heal. The simple words of a letter, telegram, or phone call can strike you like a hammer blow. They're just words - marks on paper or vibrations of air - but mere words such as "Guilty," "Ready, aim, fire!" "I do," or "We'd like to buy your screenplay" can bind us, condemn us, or bring us joy. They can hurt or heal us with their magic power. The healing power of words is their most magical aspect. Writers, like the shamans or medicine men and women of ancient cultures, have the potential to be healers."
Writers as Shaman - I like that.

So,
#5
I write as a Shaman of the 21st Century.

I am a magician. Spinning a story, sweating it out to weave a spell of words by spelling words...

There's something literally literary about that. (Alliterations included.)

Oh,
#6
To have fun.

And, of course,
#7
I write because... I have to.
I'm compelled to share my take on things, my voice, my stories. I can't be shut up.

I'll stop at 7, because that's a magic number...
And that's my partial list of why I write. (I reserve the right to add to this list as needed...)

And now, enough writing about writing. I need to go work on my spell-book!

Namaste,

Lee