Friday, February 27, 2009

Gamer suspended from XBOX Live because she identified as a lesbian in her profile!!!


I'm MAD!

Get This:

Teresa says that she was harassed by other players and later suspended from XBOX Live because she identified herself as a lesbian in her profile. When she appealed to Microsoft, she says they told her that other gamers found her sexual orientation "offensive."
The Full article, by Meg Marco, over at "The Consumerist," is here.

Microsoft "explained" a parallel issue where they forced a guy to change his gamertag from "TheGAYERgamer." (full article here):

Microsoft, when contacted, referred us to Xbox Live team member Stephen Toulouse's personal site which explains the Live terms of use in detail. Toulouse writes that the gamertag is in violation of implied "sexual innuendo", one of the many forms of disallowed "content of a sexual nature." Toulouse expands:

We recieved a complaint on the Gamertag and determined that it did indeed contain sexual innuendo. Now granted, there could be an argument that the text is not pejorative to homosexuality and should therefore be allowed. But there is no context to explain that. Gamertags are visible to everyone and it would be hard for me to defend to a parent of a young child who saw it that the name did not contain content of a sexual nature.
What's even crazier in this case is that it wasn't anything Teresa did or said in the game, as a player, it was her mention of being a lesbian in her profile! And, excuse me, but when the HECK did mentioning you're a lesbian or a gay man mean you were talking sex? Do we need a different expression than "sexual orientation?" Something that illustrates that being gay is not purely about SEX? (And helps straight people remember that?) Maybe "gender-affection-direction?" (or is that too rhyme-y?)

Either way, I think Microsoft is WRONG on this.

Are any of the over 750,000 XBox Live subscribers allowed to say if they're Black in their profile?

How about if they're Asian?

Or if they're Christian?

Come on!

...And, one more thing: I wonder about the parents whose children are so young they can't handle the fact that lesbians and gay men exist in the world... and are letting those same kids play XBOX Live.

I mean, was it playing Team Deathmatch in Destruction Mode in the Hell's Kitchen map on MECH ASSAULT, when suddenly some child stopped playing, put down their Pulse Laser, their Medium Laser, their Particle Projection Cannon, their Machine Gun, their Autocannon, their Gauss Rifle, their Crossbow, Hammer, and Javelin LRM missiles, and, of course, their Lava Gun, went to the user profile of another player, saw she was a lesbian, and decided that trying to rack up the most kills wasn't fun any more because now they knew there were people like that (like us) in the world? Someone who could fall in love with someone of the same gender! Oh, the cruel truth of it!


Microsoft needs to do some work on their virtual world. 'Cause we're out here in the REAL world. And this stinks.

What do YOU think?

My thanks to loyal blog reader (and eagle eye) KELnino for the heads-up on this!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

BONUS POST: Adam Lambert gets my GAY vote! But will he be the first OUT, PROUD, and GAY "AMERICAN IDOL?"

So did anyone else notice that Adam left out the lyric "I can't get no girl reaction" from his version of "Satisfaction" on last night's show? It's not exactly coming OUT in one of those video packages before he sings, when "American Idol" lets us know some more about this contestant, but Adam does share what isn't his "preference," kissing-wise, in the intro to this song:

and the song's pretty great, too! (Despite the audio quality issues.)

Adam, you've got my vote! You're talented. You've got style.

And if you come OUT PROUDLY, I'll vote twice. I'll get my friends to vote for you. We'll start a movement.

Heck, we'll start a revolution.

So come on, Adam! Come OUT!

And make history!

Dubai's International Festival of Literature Opens Today, But It Is Far From OPEN!

So I've been pretty frustrated over the past two weeks at the news that a new International Festival of Literature in Dubai refused to accept Geraldine Bedell's "The Gulf Between Us" because it included a gay character in a gay relationship in it.

What's been bugging me is how there were still 66 "star" authors scheduled to attend, and I was so angry that no one was standing up and saying it was wrong.

So Thank you, Margaret Atwood!

Atwood drops Dubai festival

Canadian author Margaret Atwood has pulled out of the Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature after the Dubai-based fair's decision to pull a book that refers to a gay relationship.

Penguin, which had planned to launch Geraldine Bedell's "The Gulf Between Us" at the event, was informed in September it could not launch the book at the fair, which is due to open on 26th February, because it was anticipated that the book would not get past the censor.

The rest of the article is here.

Margaret's letter to the festival explaining why she will not attend is on her website, here.

I know that we in the West struggle with these issues. Should we engage as much as these restrictive societies allow us, accepting their limits on free speech, in the belief that it will help OPEN their society up eventually?

Google believes so - witness their approach in China.

But when a particular minority (like us Gays) are targeted with such intolerance - the mere MENTION of the gay characters in the book!!! - I'm glad SOMEONE had the balls to stand up and say - I'm not going to be a party to this. I'm not going to let you use my fame and prestige to pass off your "international festival of literature" as something truly international and diverse when it has no interest in being worldly or tolerant or inclusive.

As the author of the banned book wrote on her blog:
"Can you have a literary festival and ban books because they feature gay characters? Is that what being part of the contemporary literary scene means? The organisers claim to be looking for an exchange of ideas – but not, apparently, about sex or faith. That doesn't leave literature an awful lot of scope."

So hurray for Margaret Atwood. She's been lauded as a "Civil Liberties Hero Of The Week!"

And here's hoping Geraldine Bedell's book is a huge success.

And shame on Dubai's Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature.

What do you think? Engagement or Boycott? What's the right response?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Tenth Man

By Tamara Sheehan

A gay urban fantasy novel!

Saul, the last magician in Versua, is being blackmailed and has to work for the powerful businessman, Eduard Audel. While searching for an Audel family heirloom, Saul meets Audel's runaway son, Toven.

Saul and Toven team up with the mysterious "Tenth Man" to break free of Audel's power, and before they realize what's happening, Saul and Toven start to fall in love.

Add your review of "The Tenth Man" in comments!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just How GAY is Mardi Gras?




Check it out:

Krewes are "secret" Queer societies during Mardi Gras that throw gay "balls!" Krewes...

"up the pomp-and-circumstance ante with lavish formal-dress balls that simultaneously coronate their carnival royalty and parody straight society."
-From a sidebar in a recent issue of Advocate magazine.
There are 16 Gay Krewes during this 2009 Mardi Gras! Here's just a taste:

The Krewe of Amon-Ra

The Lords of Leather

Krewe of Armeinius

Mystic Krewe of Satyricon

Krewe of Mwindo

Krewe of Queenateenas

Krewe of Petronius

Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge (this one has some fun mardi gras music when you go to their site!)

And some of these lavish affairs even offer balcony seating to the public... But really, if you were already at Mardi Gras, wouldn't you want to be PART of the party, rather than just watching it unfold before you?

(sigh.) And without a ticket, don't I just feel like a pre-fairy godmother Cinderella?

To everyone at Mardi Gras, have a wonderful time!


Monday, February 23, 2009

BONUS POST: Dustin Lance Black Accepts the Oscar for Best Screenplay for "MILK"

How amazing! He speaks beautifully, to all the gay kids out there...

Thanks Dustin!


GSA Monday Topic: George Mason University elects a DRAG QUEEN as HOMECOMING QUEEN!

Watch it!

Get This!

George Mason U. elects man as homecoming queen
Friday Feb 20, 2009

FAIRFAX, Va. – George Mason University students have elected a drag queen as homecoming queen. Student Ryan Allen beat out two women for the title at the small school in suburban Washington, D.C., famous for its run to the Final Four a few years back.
Allen competed under his drag queen persona of Reann Ballslee.
Allen, who is gay and performs in drag at nightclubs, said he entered as a joke. But he considers the victory one of his happiest moments and proof the school celebrates its diverse student body.
The senior from Virginia's Goochland County won the pageant about a week ago at a sold-out homecoming basketball game against Northeastern. George Mason's basketball team pulled off a string of upsets to advance to the Final Four in 2006.

- From Yahoo News

Go, Reann!

And in the words of RuPaul:
"Gentlemen, Start Your Engines. May the best woman win!"

What do you think?

Is this a good thing?

Does it promote tolerance and understanding, or is it just going to reinforce prejudices about gay men being effeminate?

And perhaps most importantly, what should Reann wear to her coronation? (okay, just kidding on that last one - I would never presume to tell a drag queen what to wear! I'll leave that to the experts!)

More photos of Reanne's win for you to enjoy:

Ryan Allan, a.k.a. Reanne Ballslee, thanks the crowd!
Photo from the great towleroad website!

Reanne Ballslee
Photo from her myspace page

Have fun talking about this one!


Friday, February 20, 2009

The Wrong Reaction To A Tragedy: Lawrence King's Family Sues The School, The Shelter, and a Gay Organization... For helping Larry be OUT!

Get This:

Parents suing over killing of gay teen in classroom

The Associated Press

VENTURA - The family of a gay teenager who was shot to death in class filed a wrongful-death lawsuit that accuses the school district, a shelter and a homosexual rights organization of failing to protect him.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, was filed Wednesday in Ventura County Superior Court.

Larry King, 15, of Oxnard, was killed in February 2008. His classmate at E.O. Green Junior High, Brandon McInerney, was charged as an adult and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and a hate crime.

If convicted, McInerney could face 51 years to life in prison.

McInerney, now 15, allegedly shot King twice in the head in English class. Prosecutors said there had been rising tension between the two after the eighth-grader told McInerney he loved him.

The 18-page lawsuit filed by King's parents and brother names nearly two dozen defendants. It claims that everyone from King's teacher to his social worker failed to urge the effeminate teen to tone down flamboyant behavior. The suit also claims they failed to heed McInerney's alleged threat to kill King a day before the shooting.

In addition to his teacher and principal, the suit names McInerney and his parents; the nonprofit Casa Pacifica, a shelter for troubled children where King had been living; counselors; a county social worker, and the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance.

The school and shelter knew that King's behavior was "sexually assertive" and threatening but failed to take action, the suit contends.

The shelter gave him "cross-dressing clothes and makeup and women's boots," and the Rainbow Alliance encouraged King to make sexual advances on McInerney, the suit claims.

Alliance Executive Director Jay Smith denied the allegation.

"No facilitator or mental health therapist would say anything even remotely like that," Smith said. "This whole thing is just frivolous."

Casa Pacifica did nothing to contribute to the boy's death, administrator Steve Elson said.

The Hueneme School District earlier denied responsibility for King's death.

McInerney's mother, Kendra McInerney, said that she had not seen the suit.

Now, no question - the school did not protect Larry. Another kid brought a gun into the school and shot him during class.

But after his own family couldn't be there for him and Lawrence King had to move to a shelter, the family is blaming the school and the shelter and the gay organization that helped Larry - not for allowing the other kid to bring a gun to school - not for allowing an atmosphere of homophobia - but for LETTING LARRY BE SO EFFEMINATE.

His own family is blaming the murder of their son - NOT on the kid who shot him - NOT on the culture of homophobia and intolerance - but ON their son. They're saying that if Larry hadn't been so swishy, so in your face about being gay, so up front about being attracted to another boy, this wouldn't have happened.

This is how to compound a tragedy.

Blame the victim.

And I think it compounds it even more to treat his murderer, a 14 year old boy, as an adult.

There are so many ways we can collectively and individually learn from this horrible event.

Larry's murder is a failure of our culture to accept that others can be different.

Larry's murder is a failure of understanding that if a guy hits on you and you're not interested, just say no thanks - and recognize it as a compliment.

Larry's murder is a failure of recognizing that being embarrassed because someone might think you're gay, too, is not the worst thing in the world, but murdering a fellow student and possibly going to jail for maybe the rest of your life might be!

Larry's murder should get us talking about gun control.

Larry's murder should get us figuring out how to make schools a safe place.

Larry's murder should have us teaching and learning about tolerance and acceptance.

But let's not blame Larry for having the courage to be himself. That was one thing that went right in his all-too short life.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

On Writing: Take Your Character To Therapy!

Freud next to his analytic couch

As a supplement to this schmooze blog on Character, I want to share here one of my favorite techniques for working on the Characters in my books.

It's a psychiatric questionnaire that was adapted in a SCBWI Bulletin a few years ago, that I've added some questions to as well.

I find it's a great tool for figuring out the backstory and WHY my characters would act certain ways. For main characters it's been indispensable. And it's been really useful for creating minor characters, too. I really like not figuring out the character name until after I know quite a bit about them - that's why the name and what they look like section is at the bottom.

Also, I want to mention that often my characters won't tell the truth when asked these questions- so I'll write down both what the character would say, and then in parentheses, I'll add what they actually know the truth to be... Why? It's more fun to write it that way, plus it gives me a better take on the character's voice.

So, try it out. Take this Character Therapy Questionnaire for a test spin. And see if it works for you, too.

1 Do you see the world the same way your friends and family do? Do you feel your parents/friends/community understand you?

2. If you could change one thing about yourself or your life, what would it be? What would happen if you did?

3. What’s your home like? Who lives with you? What rules (explicit or unspoken) must you follow?

4. Describe your hometown. How has growing up there shaped you?

5. Who is your best friend? Do you have a significant other? What traits attract you to these people?

6. Do you have any enemies? Why is there friction in these relationships?

7. Who do you admire? Why?

8. What do you fear most?

9. What is your proudest achievement?

10. What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? Did it pay off?

11. Do you tend to worry? What do you worry about?

12. Are you shy or outgoing? A leader or a follower?

13. Do you take things seriously or are you a class clown?

14. Do you have a favorite place? Why is it special?

15. Have you ever been singled out for something? How do you feel about it?

16. What’s the most important thing you’ve ever learned? How did you learn it?

17. Are you truthful? If you have ever misled someone – why did you do it? Are you likely to do it again?

18. Do you have a secret? Who might be hurt if your secret were discovered?

Full Name:



Personal Grooming:






By the time I've figured out everything else, answering "Character Arc" is much easier. And once I've figured THAT out, I look to my outline to figure out where those character arc moments might happen... And suddenly, the plot fleshes itself out...

Okay, off to work on my characters!



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ultimate X-Men Issue 65: Magnetic North, Part 5

by Brian K. Vaughan, pencils by Stuart Immonen, inks by Wade Von Grawbadger

It's Marvel's re-conceptualized X-Men, and this issue includes a pivotal coming out scene!

Northstar and Colossus become a GAY superhero couple in this series of comic books, and amid all the fire and ice and metal skeletons and X-wings and the battle between Magneto and Professor Xavier and the X-Men, to see this ROCKED my world.

I love Gay Superheroes!

To catch up on the Ultimate X-Men's world, check this out.

And for an issue-by-issue run-down of what happens when, go here!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


By Tonya Cherie Hegamin

O (for Opal) and M (for Marianne) are childhood best friends growing up in rural Pennsylvania. In fact, they're more than best friends...

But when they get to high school, Marianne gives up Opal for drugs and being popular. Opal wants to save her, but is too late...

There's a ghost of a runaway slave and the girls' parents who can't figure love out either.

Can Opal figure out what love is? And can she find the hope and strength she'll need to get that love for herself someday?

Add your review of M+O 4EVR in comments!

Monday, February 16, 2009

GSA Monday Topic: Advice for a "girly" 11 year old boy

Adam, while rather BUFF, has a pretty limp wrist
in this depiction of the creation of man by God,
on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by the artist Michelangelo.

Okay, so here's the situation.

There's this boy in 6th grade with very effeminate mannerisms. He's not TRYING to be girly, it's just who he is. He got beaten up twice and his parents moved him to a different school. Things got better, but he made no friends at the second school.

The family moved again, and for the entire summer before he started in 7th grade at this third school, they tried to help him notice (and stop) his
"stereotypical behaviors that might make another child think he was gay: prancing, pirouetting, dancing around with scarfs and boas, limp-wristedness, an affected manner of dramatically running his fingers through his hair."

(That's a quote from his mother.)

The summer experiment in getting him to act more like a "boy" didn't work - the parents now feel it was a ridiculous idea - , and the second day at his new school an older boy saw this kid walking in the hall and said to his friend, "Is that kid gay or what?"

The kid doesn't think he's gay (boys aren't very nice to him so he can't imagine ever being interested in a same-gender relationship.)

What would you suggest? What can this boy do? How can he make friends? Should the parents do anything to help? What about the school?

How can we help this kid?

I'd love to have you share your thoughts (and what you come up with in your GSA discussions) here in "comments!"

Thanks, and Namaste,


Friday, February 13, 2009

Great Gay Loves: A Valentine's Week Celebration! Gladys Bentley's Same-Gender Marriage... in the 1920s!

If you're jonesing for some Friday the 13th silly spookiness, check out this first!

And if you're already grooving on tomorrow's celebration of Valentine's Day, read on...

Gladys Bentley Headlining during the Harlem Renaissance

How cool was this woman? She was 250 pounds of passion and raunchy musicality, who dressed as a man on and off stage and eventually ran her own club in Harlem. (She even sometimes performed as "Bobby Minton!")

In the early 1930s she starred at Harlem's' Ubangi Club, backed up by a stage-full (some reports say up to 250) men in drag!

She was an out lesbian, a Queer gender-non-conformist, who wowed audiences with her voice and talent, and had a string of glamorous girlfriends... She even told a gossip columnist at the time that she had taken her white female lover to New Jersey, where they had been married!

I love that Gladys was brave enough, and loved herself enough, to live her life as herself!

It's a great gift, that we should all love ourselves enough to be honest about who we are and who we love - and not just for Valentine's Day, but for every day.

So here's a shout out of love for Gladys Bentley, a hero of the Harlem Renaissance!

You can go here to listen (for free) to Gladys' recording of "Worried Blues!"

There's a great "Profile In Courage" on Gladys, in celebration of National Black History Month, here.

And more on her life, here, at

Sadly, later in her life, during the McCarthy Era witch hunts targeting Gay men and Lesbians, Gladys dressed in women's clothes once more and married a man, renouncing her previous "ways." But I like to think of the passionate trailblazer that she was in Harlem, and how brave she was then.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great Gay Loves: A Valentine's Week Celebration! Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears

Peter Pears (left) and Benjamin Britten (right)
were together for 40 years,
in a collaboration of life, love, and music

Benjamin Britten was born in England and started composing music when he was 5 years old.

At age 23, he met the Tenor Peter Pears (who was 26.) In 1945, Britten's opera Peter Grimes (starring Peter Pears) was a huge success.

Throughout their lifetimes, Benjamin and Peter collaborated on more operas, church parables, and even Seven Sonnets from Michaelangelo for tenor and piano (1940.)

Check out this recent performance by Christopher Diffey (which I found on youtube) of the third sonnet in the cycle, Sonetto XXX: Veggio co' bei vostri occhi un dolce lume:

This is what he's singing:

I see through your lovely eyes a sweet light
which through my blind ones I yet cannot see;
I carry with your feet a burden
which with my lame ones I cannot;
I fly with your wings, having none of my own;
with your spirit toward heaven I am always moving;
by your will I turn pale or blush,
cold in the sun, warm in the coldest weather.
Within your will alone is my will,
my thoughts within your bosom are born,
in your breath are my words.
I am like the moon, alone,
which our eyes cannot see in the heavens
except that it is illumined by the sun.

The piece's dedication reads:
"To Peter"

Benjamin and Peter lived together for 40 years, established the Aldeburgh Festival of the Arts, and Britten was made a life peer - "Lord Britten of Aldeburgh" in 1976 (he died the same year.) Two years later, Peter Pears was knighted, becoming "Sir Peter Pears."

What's amazing is that throughout their careers, Britten explored
"liberalism, pacifism, and tolerance while exploring gay themes, at first covertly, but with an increasing honesty over the years that influenced and encouraged many younger artists... Of all the many gay twentieth-century composers, it was Britten who most successfully integrated his gayness into his art."
- Paul Russell

Benjamin and Peter lived together, loved each other, and inspired each other to make music...

What a love!

Check out the Britten-Pears Foundation that oversees their legacies, and even gives tours of their home!

Some wonderful information (and the Paul Russel quote above) came from "The Gay 100: A Ranking of the most influential Gay men and Lesbians, past and present" by Paul Russell. (pgs. 274-277 in my older edition.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Great Gay Loves: A Valentine's Week Celebration! Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

Okay, now that I've got my silly and cynical side satisfied with yesterday's video blog, I can help us all jump into a delicious celebration of Great Gay LOVES!

Alice B. Toklas (left) and Gertrude Stein (right)
The most famous lesbian couple in the world of their time!

On her first day in Paris in 1907, Alice B. Toklas, 30 years old, from San Francisco, met Gertrude Stein, who was 33.

From 1912 until the end of Gertrude Stein's life in 1946, they lived together, hosting an incredible Paris salon (gathering) of soon-to-be world-famous writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald and painters like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Georges Braque!

Gertrude Stein was also famous for her cubist writing style. She wrote books (like "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas")

And she even wrote the libretto to an opera, "Four Saints In Three Acts."

Here's Stein's "Love Song of Alice B." from "A Sonatina Followed by Another" (1921)

I caught sight of a splendid Misses. She had handkerchiefs and kisses. She had eyes and yellow shoes she had everything to choose and she chose me. In passing through France she wore a Chinese hat and so did I. In looking at the sun she read a map. And so did I. In eating fish and pork she just grew fat. And so did I. In loving a blue sea she had a pain. And so did I. In loving me she of necessity thought first. And so did I. How prettily we swim. Not in water. Not on land. But in love. How often do we need trees and hills. Not often. And how often do we need birds. Not often. And how often do we need wishes. Not often. And how often do we need glasses not often. We drink wine and we make, well we have not made it yet. How often do we need a kiss. Very often and we add when tenderness overwhelms us we speedily eat veal. And what else, ham and a little pork and raw artichokes and ripe olives and chester cheese and cakes and caramels and all the melon. We still have a great deal of it left. I wonder where it is. Conserved melon. Let me offer it to you.

With all that, maybe Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas were MOST famous for being themselves - being an OUT lesbian couple in a time when that was beyond rare.

What a great love!

I found "The Love Song of Alice B" as well as a super article on Gertrude Stein in "The Gay 100: A Ranking of the Most influential Gay Men and Lesbians, past and present" by Paul Russell (pgs. 27-30) The link is to a newer edition than mine, so the page citation may have changed, but it's a wonderful resource.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

LOVE SUCKS! Good News for Gays and Vampires... And what would a gay vampire think of the movie "TWILIGHT?"

It's the question on everyone's mind, right?

Well, in honor of Valentine's Day (that's in red to remind you of hearts) and Friday the 13th (that's in red to remind you of blood) being back-to-back in the same week, here's my Second Video Blog ever.

And hey, the scoop on "TWILIGHT" is Free! In fact, the whole thing's free!




Monday, February 9, 2009

GSA Monday Topic: What is LOVE? Candy Questions For Valentine's Day Week


Is there a difference between



Let me know what you think in comments!

And you can make your own Candy Heart questions and answers here.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Christian Bale, Tom Daschle, and Michael Phelps - When Idols Fall: Our National Pastime

With the Superbowl still fresh in our minds, you may have been fooled into thinking that football is our national pastime. Or maybe you mistakenly think baseball is THE all-American game.

Well, I'm here to tell you that it seems to me that our national pastime is actually

Schadenfreude -

a German word for "happiness at the misfortune of others."

Why are we so obsessed in our culture with finding fault in those who have some success?

I think it's because we look at Michael Phelps, who is a better swimmer and more dedicated and talented in that one area of his life than ANY ONE of us could ever hope to be, and we're, um... jealous. His Gold Medals. His endorsements. His fame.

So, when he's finally caught red-handed doing something illegal - something that MANY MANY people have done - but that fact that he was CAUGHT doing it - here's one area where we can feel superior to him.

Okay, he swims faster than I can, but the guy's a pothead, and I'm not.


Okay, he's famous, but the guy can't even figure out how to get stoned without having his photo taken! I've never gotten caught smoking pot...

Look at the news this week.

Michael Phelps, hero toppled.

Tom Daschle, politician and presidential appointee, toppled.

Christian Bale, movie star, tantrum broadcast to the whole world...

It is our national pastime - anyone doing well, doing better than "us," we go on a search and destroy mission to find their faults, expose them, publicize them, and somehow we're supposed to feel better because at least THERE, we're SUPERIOR.

It's the same mentality as bullying... the only way bullies feel good about themselves is by putting others down.

It's the same mentality behind gossiping, too.

It's why we love those "worst dressed" celebrity photo roundups.
Okay, she's Oprah, she's famous, and rich, and smart, and amazing... but look at what she's wearing!!! I'd never wear something so... wrong.


Now look, I'm not perfect either. I do the same thing. I look at those internet ads to test your IQ against our previous president Bush's IQ, and I feel superior that I'm "smarter" than he is.
Sure, George W. Bush was the guy in charge for 8 years, and did all these things I think were HUGE mistakes, and I couldn't stop him from doing any of them, but gee, I know how many triangles there are in a 10 dot matrix!

In that way, it (and my having a moral compass that works) made me feel better than him.

We need to come up with some others ways of making ourselves feel good.

Let's let our heroes be human. We can celebrate their successes, and maybe we can learn that we don't have to celebrate their weaknesses, too.

We all have weaknesses.

What we need to learn is that each of us can work towards having one part of our lives where we are HEROIC, where we are the SUCCESS, too.

How can we stand up?

How can we help?

How can we live our beliefs?

How can we inspire?

How can we improve?

Every one of us has the tools, we just need to figure out how we can be our own heroes...

And that's a much better recipe to feel better about ourselves.


ps - You can still get your say in on my Michael Phelps' POT dilemma - can he still be a Hero? survey

Thursday, February 5, 2009

After Tupac and D Foster

By Jacqueline Woodson

The narrator and her best friend, Neeka, are 11, living protected lives in Queens. D is a foster kid, with a tough and mysterious past, and for two years the three girls bond in a friendship glued by the music and rap lyrics of Tupac Shakur.

At the end of the two years, D's mother surfaces and takes her away, and that's the same summer that Tupac is shot and killed. (Hence the title...)

As far as what's GLBTQ in this book, there's an older brother who is gay and flamboyant. He's in jail, and the story includes a family visit to him.

And congratulations to Jacqueline - "After Tupac and D Foster" was just named a 2009 Newbery Honor Book! (They choose 4 honor books and 1 winner - so they thought it was one of the 5 best books for children/teens published in 2008!)

Add your review of "After Tupac and D Foster" in comments.

Thanks to my loyal blog reader Wendy for the recommendation!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Tiki Girl

By Jennifer McMahon

10th Grader Maggie is recovering from, and blames herself for, a horrible car accident that killed her Mother.

Her new best friend, Dahlia, is a beautiful, quirky outsider who the other 10th grade girls hate. But that beauty and quirkiness draws Maggie closer, until Maggie realizes that she's falling in love.

Rumors about the girls start at school, and suddenly Dahlia wants to be "normal"...

What's Maggie going to do?

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Michael Phelps caught smoking POT - Can a "hero" be imperfect?

Okay, the guy's won 14 Olympic GOLD medals (so far in his career.)

He's an amazing athlete.

But he's not perfect. At 19, he was arrested for driving under the influence (of alcohol) - for which he pleaded guilty.

And this past weekend, a London tabloid ran a picture from Nov 2008 of Michael smoking a bong (a water pipe), which he admitted was a photo of him smoking pot in an apology he released to AP newswire:

I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.

And I think it's fascinating that on his swimroom profile, Michael's favorite quote is:

Actions speak louder than words.

hmmm. I'm curious.

What do you think about this?

Click Here to take the Michael Phelps' POT dilemma - Can he still be a hero? survey

Monday, February 2, 2009

GSA Monday Topic: Why are strong, aggressive, non-submissive and powerful women called "Dykes?"

J. Howard Miller's "We Can Do It"
iconic poster from WWII, of an empowered,
strong woman working in a factory.

I think it's the same reason most of the put-downs guys use against other guys involve comparing them to women. Think of guys calling each other:




Because our culture is so fixated on the power of men, and perpetuating and guarding that power, women who threaten to attain power must be put down...

But the culture's male guard can't put down a woman (the way they belittle an unempowered man) by calling her "effeminate."

If she was a "good" girl, she'd be in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, as they saying goes.

So they attack her for being a "bad" girl. For being a not REAL woman.

And so they call her a

Which leads me to realize that women - ALL women - and the GLBTQ community - are natural allies in our quest for equality and in our bucking the status quo. (Remember, we are a country that couldn't even pass an equal rights amendment to our nation's constitution to say that WOMEN should get equal pay for equal work!)

So, what's going on? How come women and Gay people aren't joining forces?

What do you think?