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


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!



Thursday, December 13, 2007


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

prophets, and

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!



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!)


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.


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...


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!



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!


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...