Friday, April 30, 2010

Black & Gay: Confronting Homophobia in Black Churches and in the African American Community: GLBTQ & Straight, we're "All God's Children"

Watch this 26 minute documentary. It's worth every minute.

All God's Children from Garrett Lenoir on Vimeo.

For a downloadable discussion guide, check out the Woman Vision website!

My thanks to everyone involved in the film, to the generosity of Woman Vision: Social Change Through Media for having the film available for websites like mine to share, and to Denise for bringing it to my attention.

This film really could change things.

Watch. Share. Discuss.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

King Of The Screwups - A Teen Novel With A Gay Uncle

By K.L. Going

Liam's the son of a millionaire, and a teenage chick magnet. But everything he does seems to piss his father off more. He screws up one time too many and gets kicked out, and goes to live with his dad's brother Pete, a gay, glam rocker DJ who lives in a trailer in upstate New York.

Liam tries to make himself over as a nerd to win his father's approval, but "Aunt" Pete (and the guys in his band) show Liam there's another way to go...

Thanks to Lucifer (who called it "an amazing story") for the recommendation. Add your review of "King of the Screwups" in comments!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Meet The Hot New Guy! Kevin Keller, Archie Comic's new teen at Riverdale High... and he's GAY!

I read Archie comic books when I was growing up, and when I close my eyes and imagine the impact this would have had on closeted, sure-I-was-the-only-guy-who-was-attracted-to-other-guys-in-the-world me, it's actually really cool.

The land of Betty crazy for Archie, and Archie crazy for Veronica has a new "hunky" teenager join them at school. And now Veronica is crazy for Kevin, but Kevin isn't much interested in Veronica, or any other girl for that matter...

So what is Veronica No. 202 “Isn’t it Bromantic?," Kevin's debut, about?

“Mayhem and hilarity ensue as Kevin desperately attempts to let Veronica down easy and her flirtations only become increasingly persistent.”
(That's according to an Archie Comics Statement)

But evidently the hilarity is not at the expense of the gay character:

“Teenagers have a lot of pressure, so it’s important for Archie and the rest of the gang to be accepting.”

- Jon Goldwater, co-CEO of Archie Comics

We'll have to wait until September 1st to read the issue ourselves, but as for me, I've already put mine on hold.

Thanks, Archie! And welcome, Kevin.

You're gonna change lives. And not just in Riverdale.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rage, A Love Story - A Lesbian Teen Book

By Julie Anne Peters

Johanna's 17. And a lesbian. She falls for Reeve, whose mother is a junkie and who has been abused by the mother's boyfriend.

Reeve hurts Johanna's twin brother, and then starts to beat Johanna - who at first thinks taking the abuse silently proves her love.

Things spiral out of control, and ultimately Johanna has to find the strength to get help and break the cycle of abuse.

My thanks to Emma for the recommendation. Add your review of "Rage, A Love Story" in comments.

Monday, April 26, 2010

GSA Mondays: "Yes I'm Gay, But..." A Homophobia SMACK-DOWN!

Watch this with your GSA or as part of this virtual GSA - it's genius:

Now I want one of these stereotype-destroying videos for lesbians, for bisexuals, for transgendered people, for drag queens, for gender non-conformists, for questioning folks, for Blacks and Asians, for Latinos and Atheists and Fat people... heck, I want one of these for EVERYONE!

Diversity ROCKS - because it's REAL.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Registration for SCBWI's 2010 Summer Conference is now open! The Top 5 Reasons You Should Register (If you're into writing or illustrating Kid Lit!)

One of the fantastic things to come from my blogging is that last year I was asked to be part of SCBWI Team Blog - the group of bloggers professionally blogging the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators two annual conferences.

I love the SCBWI summer conference for a thousand reasons, but here are my top 5:

1. Community - oh, to spend four days surrounded by other adults who are as passionate about creating books for kids and teens as I am!

2. Craft - A chance to learn from some masters of the craft, this year's summer conference will include keynotes from M.T. Anderson, Jon Scieszka, Marion Dane Bauer, Gail Carson Levine, and so many more!!! There are workshops galore, and even premium workshops where you can focus in four sessions on one topic with an expert and get deeper - like the workshop on YA voice with Krista Marino, or workshopping your picture book with the author and editor Diane Muldrow, or writing and illustrating your graphic novel with Mac McCool. Check out the full conference schedule here!

3. Business - It's an opportunity to get the "real" perspective on the business side of writing and illustrating for kids. What are agents looking for? What do editors think is the pulse of the market? What do they need for their lists? How can you write a killer query? What's the best way to move your career forward? More than 25 of the industry's leading Editors, Agents, Art Directors and Publishers will be there to share their expertise!

4. Opportunity For Professional Feedback - The summer conference gives attendees a chance to submit either the first few pages (10 or 15, depending on genre) of their manuscript or their illustrator's portfolio for a professional critique - by either a published author or illustrator, an agent or an editor. Now, sometimes lightening strikes, and someone is "discovered" and eventually published through these one-on-one critiques, and that's a great thing to hope for... but really, the chance to sit down for a half hour with a professional and talk about you and your work and your journey to publication and beyond... that's an amazing opportunity! (Who knows who you might get?)

5. Fun. - There's a gala party on Saturday night - with costumes! (Theme: Heart and Soul.) There are friends from writing groups and your region and from previous conferences to re-connect with. There are lunches, and hanging out by the pool, there are drinks in the hotel lobby late into the night, showcases, jokes, raffles, and even organized socials (I'm especially excited about co-hosting the Friday Lunchtime LGBTQ Chat By The Pool!)

So there are 5 great reasons I'm going to be at the SCBWI 2010 Summer Conference in LA.

Register, and I'll see you there!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Love You Two - A Teen Book with a Bisexual Uncle

By Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli

Pina is third-generation Italian-Australian. She's 16. And she thinks her family's pretty normal. Until she discovers an email that reveals her parents have an open relationship - and her mother is sleeping with another man!

The punches keep coming and Pina flees to her beloved uncle's home in the big city of Melbourne. But when her uncle's ex-boyfriend shows up, Pina learns that he's bisexual - and the homophobia of their hometown was why he left years ago.

Everything Pina thought she knew has unraveled.

Can she - and her family - find a way forward?

I heard about this book from Sheela Lambert's in-depth review here. Add your review of "Love You Two" in comments!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson - A Gay Teen Book

By John Green and David Levithan

Written by two incredible authors, this is the story of two Teens, both with the same name.

One Will Grayson is gay. A loner. Hoping to connect with Isaac, a gay teen he met online.

The other Will Grayson is straight, with a gay football star best friend named Tiny. The second Will likes this girl, who seems perfect... but that's kind of the problem.

And then one night in Chicago, the two Will Graysons meet. And like in all great stories, everything changes.

Oh, and did I mention Tiny's set on creating an autobiographical musical?

And just in case you didn't know what a Rock Star of video blogging John Green is, check out his video announcing the release of "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" - he even reads the book's opening pages!

Thanks to Teen Librarian Nicole for her review which gave me the heads-up about this book! Add your review of "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" in comments!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Best Response to Hate is... Gunn High School Sings Away A Hate Group

Check out what happened when Fred Phelp's Westboro Baptist Church, Family and Hate Group visited the Gunn High School - and see the non-violent demonstration the student body and the Gunn High School Gay Straight Alliance created:

These students found that the best response to hate is Love. And singing. And standing together.

Right on, Gunn High School. Right on!

My thanks to Tim who found this video and sent me here, to the Not In Our Town website.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bullying: Wanna Help Stop It? Join Me and the facebook group 'Young Adult Authors Against Bullying'

Cyber bullies at a high school in California that drove one Teen to leave the school.

Bullies at a school in Massachusetts who made life so intolerable for one Teen that she killed herself.

Over and over we hear these stories of intolerance, of meanness, of the power dynamic of putting someone else down so the bullies can feel bigger, or better.

We see the pattern of using someone's gender non-conformity (girls who are too masculine, or boys who are too feminine) or someone's real or perceived sexual orientation as ammunition in an onslaught designed to strengthen an unjust status quo.

Enough is enough.

So authors Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall started a facebook group, Young Adult Authors Against Bullying, to help turn the tide. In Carrie's words:

We were tired - tired of hearing about tragedies because of bullying, tired of seeing bullies on television, in schools, in the grocery stores. So often people who are bullied feel like they are worthless, alone, couldn’t possibly make it through. Even when bullying doesn’t involve an emotional element, the bully’s words echo, and worm their way into people’s hearts, eroding their self worth.

As an author who writes for kids, I wanted to find a way to use words for good, to make a tiny dent in all that bad by creating a place where people who were bullied can read about others who made it through.

Authors seemed like the perfect people to do that. And since Megan Kelley Hall and I started the group we’ve read tons of stories that are so poignant and heart-wrenching of adult authors and teens who have dealt with this.

For a lot of them, telling their stories has been incredibly hard, but also powerful because they know that they are showing others that they aren’t alone. One person said that they were ashamed that they had been bullied, that they had hidden it, but seeing how many other people out there had been bullied as well made them stronger.

And really, that's so important. Finding the power in words. In stories. Together.

In the real world, speak up if you see someone else being bullied.

And online, Join the facebook group.

And stand with Megan, and Carrie, and Me, and thousands of others... and together, we'll create a movement, an uprising, a revolution - to stop bullying.

Because enough is enough.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Two Great Things To Celebrate The Finale Of Library Appreciation Week: Operation Teen Book Drop and Emily Lloyd's "Shelf Check" Comic Blog

Librarians ROCK! That's established.

And Libraries are critical. We agree.

But for a library to really function, it needs to have some books, right?

Well there are quite a few libraries without the resources and materials to give their kids that very basic thing - some good books to read. So, for the third year in a row, like the superheroes they are, the writers and readers and members of the children's literature community (the "kidlitosphere") - led by the incredible Readergirlz, the awesome GuysLitWire gang, the Young Adult Library Services Association of the ALA, and this year, the Native American Children's Book Club, If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything - have jumped in to help with



This week, 10,000 new books, donated by publishers, will be "dropped" to libraries to support teens on Native Reservations and Tribal Lands.

More than 100 YA authors are going to leave new YA books in public places, with a bookplate from Operation TBD.

And individuals (like you and me) are buying books, one at a time, at the wishlists at Powell's bookstore to stock the libraries of two specific schools, Ojo Encino Day School (located twenty-five miles west of Cuba, New Mexico on the Navajo Nation) and Alchesay High School (located in Whiteriver, Arizona in the heart of the White Mountain Apache Reservation.)

Book by book, lives will start to change for the better.

I couldn't be prouder of our kidlit community.

Wanna feel great about it, too? Go to the wishlists (here's how) and buy one of these libraries a book. Go on - you'll feel awesome about it, and about yourself, too.

Now that you feel all altruistic, here's something more to celebrate:

Emily Lloyd is a poet and blogger who runs an insightful, funny and thought-provoking comic strip with a lesbian librarian main character on her blog, Shelf Check. She was kind enough to let me share one of her comics here with you.


Shelf Check 386

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tomorrow is the National DAY OF SILENCE: April 16, 2010

Lance Bass explains:

Thanks, Lance.

As for me, it's hard to know what to say about the National Day of Silence. Generally, I don't feel that silenced minorities should be silent in order to point out that they're being silenced in general. But as an opportunity for people to take note and for allies to stand up and be silent in concert with their peers who are being bullied or harassed for their perceived sexual orientation, and in the spirit of the non-violent civil disobedience of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, I can see the value in the National Day of Silence.

As for that Silence, I think there are a lot of other things you can do when you're not talking.

You can:





And then as soon as the day is over, go TALK. Talk to the librarian. Talk to that friendly teacher. Talk to other students who were silent or who wondered why YOU were silent.

Try to create allies on this journey of ours, because the more people that ultimately stand up and speak out for equality for all of us - gay and straight, black and white, and everything in-between, the more we'll achieve that equality.

So okay, we can be silent for one day. And then, for the other 364 days of the year, let's raise our voices together.

As Bob Marley sang, "Get Up. Stand Up. Stand Up For Your Rights!" (Click here to sing along!)

His rights. Your rights. Our rights.

Join me, and Lance. Together, we'll move our world forward.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Scars - A Lesbian Teen Novel

By Cheryl Rainfield

Kendra never feels safe.

She can remember being abused, but not who did it. She knows they're after her, following her, and the only way she can cope is to cut herself.

But there's a path to the future. Her art. A therapist. A mentor. And this girl Meghan - who is Kendra's friend - and maybe, just maybe, might become something more...

Add your review of "Scars" in comments!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

So the High School And Parents Staged a FAKE Prom to keep Constance McMillen and Her Girlfriend from the REAL Prom!

So on Prom night, Constance went with her girlfriend to the "official" prom that they'd been invited to after all the drama... and guess what? There were only 5 other students there.

Mysteriously, everyone else was at ANOTHER prom. A Private Prom, to which Constance had NOT been invited. A prom that was a secret until the next day, when the Facebook photos broke, and well... you can't expect a whole school of juniors and seniors to keep quiet about their Prom, can you?

This was after the court ruled that they didn't need to force the school to have an inclusive prom because hey, Constance had been invited to a prom.

Yeah, she'd been invited to a decoy prom.

This just stinks.

Beyond swearing, there are 3 things each one of us can do:

1. Express your outrage. My friend Stephen wrote a letter to the Superintendent of Constance's district, and it's powerful. Stephen was kind enough to let me share it here:

Dear Superintendent McNeece,

I was saddened to read today that Constance McMillen was duped into attending a ‘fake’ prom, and was not told about or invited to a private prom attended by her classmates; a decision supported by school officials and parents.

As an educator, I just don’t understand how school officials could allow this to happen. You and I became educators because we care about children and because we have taken on a selfless act of providing a service for the benefit of students. We do this because we truly care about the health and well-being of our students.

When I read stories about bullying, harassment and discrimination I never expect it to come from the adults in the environment. What’s worse, it’s coming from adults who are supposed to be the most qualified, educated, knowledgeable and ‘open minded’ about the students they serve. Is it really an issue to you that a student is gay or lesbian? Is it really an issue to you that a gay or lesbian student wants to bring a same sex date to a prom? Is it really an issue to you that your students don’t all represent your core values? Isn’t education supposed to be the ‘great equalizer’ in our society? Regardless of your protected class status, which includes one’s sexual orientation, we are often told that if you work hard in school you will be judged on your merits and not the color of your skin or religion. Shouldn’t we also include the person that you choose to love?

I’m trying really hard to understand your decision making and why you as the Superintendent, the person who ranks the highest in your educational community; why you would allow this to happen. Where is your heart? Where is the little voice inside of you that tells you right from wrong? Where is that deepest part of you called a soul that has the capacity to show compassion for another human being, because that is what this is really about; not who Constance brings to a prom but your ability to look beyond your own personal biases and prejudices and say to yourself, ‘this young person is just as deserving and entitled as all other students and deserves the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of her own happiness.'

Had you allowed her to attend the prom with her female date and in a tuxedo, the duration of that event would have lasted about 3 hours, yet you chose to deny this student a basic human right, and now this drama has dragged out for several weeks and it makes you, the Superintendent, look bigoted, silly and completely foolish.

So the question is this: Are you an educator who cares about students…ALL your students, or are you there to pander to the biases and prejudices of your community?

In my opinion, you should step down from your job. You are not deserving of calling yourself an educator or a leader. An educator embraces and cares for all students and a leader, a TRUE leader, does what is right by students and teaches a bigoted community of parents that schools in their community are open to all students, regardless of their protected class status, and embraces all ideas, regardless of how controversial they may appear to be. All you have done is toed the line and reinforced a status quo in your community that is both negative and cruel.

In the end, you have deeply hurt a student that did not deserve this manner of cruelty. Forever, she will remember her last year of high school as a horrible reminder of the bigotry that exists at her school and in her community. And you, what did you learn from all this?


Stephen B. Jimenez

You can send your letters here:

School Board Members

Eddie Hood,

Jack Nichols,

Harold Martin,

Clara Brown, cbrown@network-one.come

Tony Wallace,


Mr. McNeece,


Trae Wiygul,

2. Express your support and encouragement for Constance. Maybe even send her a card. What would you say to her? Here's the address:

Chris Hampton, Public Education Associate
c/o Constance McMillen
ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and AIDS Project
125 Broad St., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004

3. Write your Congressperson and let them know how important it is for our government to protect GLBTQ students like Candace by passing The Student Non-Discrimination Act.

Here's the text of the HRC letter (and you can click on this link to get to the HRC site where you can sign a petition and send the letter electronically):

I'm writing to let you know that I strongly support the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 4530) that has been introduced in the House and is expected to be introduced in the Senate soon.

Public school students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) are subject to pervasive discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence.

These students, like all other students, deserve an educational environment free of discrimination and harassment.

But while federal statutory protections expressly address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex and disability, LGBT students are not expressly protected by federal civil rights laws.

That is unacceptable.

This law would prohibit any school program or activity receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating against any public school student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity contributes to high rates of absenteeism, dropout, adverse health consequences, and academic underachievement among LGBT youth. When left unchecked, such discrimination can lead, and has led to, life-threatening violence and suicide.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important issue.

Thanks to Daniel for the original link, to Stephen for letting me share his brilliant and passionate letter, and to all of you for caring so much!


ps: the original disco ball photo was from here and I added the "fake prom" text to it.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why Saving the Los Angeles Public Library Matters to LGBT Writers & Readers: A Guest Post By Henry Gambill

Henry's presence in the library and his words really explain why I love public libraries so much... and why they are so worth fighting for! Here's Henry's guest post, for which I'm truly grateful:

“The Los Angeles Public Library provides free and easy access to information, ideas, books and technology that enrich, educate and empower every individual in our city's diverse communities.”

As a Young Adult Librarian, I love this mission statement. It’s got “free and easy” in there, which I think all of us can agree is a good thing. It says that our library is not just a book warehouse, but that we offer technology and support to percolate ideas (hey we have DVDs and music, too). And then we get to the last, most important, part: we collect and make available materials for EVERYONE.

Once in a while, even in a great metropolitan city like Los Angeles, a patron approaches one of our reference desks holding a book/DVD/Compact Disk/Graphic Novel as if it were Exhibit A in a trial. They protest that the item is offensive or inappropriate or trash (or all three) and insist that it be taken off the shelves. We respond by sharing our mission statement, which sometimes works. If not, the patron fills out a form challenging the particular item’s inclusion in the library collection, and we send the form up the chain of command. In turn, someone in library management composes a thoughtful response that highlights our mission statement, usually points out the item’s artistic and cultural value and/or general popularity and respectfully declines to yank the item from the shelves.

Many of you reading this are nodding in assent and thinking, “But of course. This is America. We value free expression and all that.” But every year across the country—in our cities, small towns and schools—library materials are, in fact, successfully challenged and pulled from the shelves (or banished to hard-to-find areas in the library). Typically, the authors of these offending materials are high-profile suspects (troublemakers going by the names of Rowling, Vonnegut, Blume and Walker, to name but a few), but also a legion of unsung heroes who write about issues of sexuality and sexual identity.

It’s funny that we never hear about people storming into a bookstore and demanding that the owners pull books from their shelves. As members of a consumer society we seem to innately appreciate that bookstore owners only stock their shelves with materials that sell and we have no right, or little recourse, to tell these owners that they can’t make money off titles that we find distasteful. The bottom line is bookstores will offer Rowling, Vonnegut, Blume, Walker and others as long as people buy them, and they usually won’t offer them if they don’t.

Which brings me to my main point: the difference between libraries and bookstores and why it’s crucial to do everything we can do preserve the Los Angeles Public Library (and other libraries across the country) in what is now our darkest hour. As a Young Adult Librarian, I am charged with building and maintaining a collection of print and audiovisual materials to meet the needs of diverse patrons from grades 6-12. At my high point, my branch manager (at the time) awarded me $12,000/yr to accomplish this, but my current budget (due to harsh economic times) has been reduced to $8,000/yr. Be that as it may, I keep firm sight of our mission statement, and I stock the shelves with books to enrich, educate and empower all the teens from all walks of life who have access to our library. So I’ve got books for jocks, skateboarders, cheerleaders, actors and actresses, awkward kids, misunderstood kids, abused kids, computer geeks, rappers, rockers, black kids, white kids, Asian kids, Hispanic kids, Jewish kids, Catholic kids, Muslim kids and, yes, LGBT kids, to name but a few.

Just like a bookstore, I routinely do inventory, except that librarians call the exercise “weeding.” We’re supposed to go through the collection, scan the barcodes and check each item’s “CIRC” (circulation), which is the amount of times the thing has actually been checked out with a library card and brought home. In my branch, a smash-hit like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, will CIRC 25-45 times per year. A respectable CIRC for everyone else is 8-12. A real dud is 0-4, and these books are usually weeded from the shelves.

However, a seasoned librarian knows that CIRC is deceiving. Why is it that certain books are dog-eared and falling apart, yet have a 0-4 CIRC? Hmmm…many of these titles have LGBT themes. So I should do the proper thing and weed these titles out because they have lousy CIRC, right? If I’m a bookstore owner, I’m yanking them because the bottom line is sales. No sales, no bookstore.

But that’s the great thing. The library isn’t a business—it’s a service. I know these books are being read. I know that kids are discretely devouring them in the library because they probably are too embarrassed to check them out or risk being questioned by their parents at home. I know that LGBT teens are probably in the midst of the most vulnerable period in their lives, and they need resources and support to help them navigate their way through an already inherently challenging adolescence.

I also know that if these young adults can’t find these books in their local library, they probably are not going to find them anywhere else. So, these “certain” books remain on my shelves—CIRC or no CIRC. And when they finally fall apart (read to death, I like to say) I replace them with new copies and then I replace them again. So if anyone reading this on Lee’s site is glad I’m doing this, then please take action and help me and others fight Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposed budget cuts to the Los Angeles Public Library—cuts that will so devastate our great library that we will be rendered virtually inoperable. Please go to to learn more and find ways to help. Join our Facebook page. Sign up for our Twitter feed. Print our petitions and get them signed. Most importantly, call, write and email your local city councilman or councilwoman and tell them how important libraries are to our young people (And tell them I sent you).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Steven Reigns Shares A Poem From His New Book, "Inheritance." Our GLBTQ Teen Poetry Celebration Finale!

Steven is a poet and a friend. I'm so excited that he's letting me share this poem with you!

6 T H D A T E

We sat on his couch, facing each other,

backs against armrests,

feet intertwined.

He told me he wanted to teach me Spanish pronunciations,

asked me to repeat after him.

I attempted to mimic his words like a parrot to its owner,

struggled with the rolling “R’s”.

The foreign words spilled clumsily from my mouth.

He suggested he name off animals

and I was to guess which one.

He changed the lesson plan.

My feathers ruffled as I assumed

it was because I wasn’t good.

He gave words for



dogs, and


I was surprisingly good at assessing

and assuming translations.

But those weren’t the words

I wanted to know from him.

I wanted to ask about



the meaning of our feet touching,

and most of all, I wanted

to know our future.

Steven's New Book of Poems:

Thanks for joining me for 7 days of amazing GLBTQ poetry by and for teens - it's been a great way to kick off National Poetry Month, and I hope it has inspired you, too.

So what are you waiting for? Go write (and read) some more great poetry!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Queer Teen Poetry: RuPaul goes Poetic for National Poetry Month (Words To Live By From A Drag Diva)

"What other people think of me is none of my business."

- RuPaul

It may not rhyme, but those 11 words are pretty profound.

When I heard RuPaul say this for the first time on her TV show (RuPaul's Drag Race) I ran to write it down. And now she has a new book out, "Workin' It! RuPaul's Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style" in which SHE wrote it down for us.

And the empowering spirit behind those words? THAT'S poetic.

Thanks, Ru!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gloria Anzaldúa's "La Prieta" - A Bisexual Poem that blew me away!

“I am a wind-swayed bridge, a crossroads inhabited by whirlwinds … You say my name is ambivalence? Think of me as Shiva, a many-armed and legged body with one foot on brown soil, one on white, one in straight society, one in the gay world, the man’s world, the women’s, one limb in the literary world, another in the working class, the socialist, and the occult worlds. A sort of spider woman hanging by one thin strand of web.
Who, me confused? Ambivalent? Not so. Only your labels split me.”

- Gloria Anzaldúa, from ‘La Prieta’

I found this amazing poem here, and it surfaced from a review of the teen book "Love You Two" which has a bisexual adult character that the main character struggles to accept. I'll blog about the book soon, but I was so happy that the review included that the bisexual uncle had an excerpt of Gloria Anzaldúa's poem on a plaque in his hallway that read:

Who me, confused? Ambivalent? Only your labels split me.

Words to live by. There's a danger in labels. That we see everything in binary: yes or no. zero or one. black or white.

The world, and each of us, is much more complicated, and colorful, and... beautiful.

Good stuff to think about.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lesbian Teen Poetry: Sarah Laurenson's "First Love" and "How Bare My Soul" - Poetry Across Time

When I told Sarah Laurenson that I was doing a tribute to GLBTQ poetry for and by Teens to celebrate National Poetry Month, she did something incredible: She gave me the choice of a poem she wrote back when she was a teen, and a poem she'd recently written as an adult looking back on being a teenager.

I loved both poems, and perhaps as much, I loved the windows through time that comparing the two poems offered. She's very graciously allowed me to share them both with you!

Sarah Laurenson, Adult

Here's her poem "First Love," written when she was an adult looking back on being a Teenager:

First Love

Lying in your arms,
I feel safe,
Loved, adored.

I snuggle closer.
You talk
Of your future.

Husband, kids.
White picket fence.

I’m so confused.

Do I have to be a man
To be with the woman I love?

Sarah Laurenson, Teen

And now here's her poem "How Bare My Soul," written when Sarah was a Teen:


How bare my soul,
Like trees in winter.
Stripped of outer feeling
By the cold of her passing.
Left barren and defenseless,
I draw into myself
And hibernate.

A breath of spring
Touches me gently.
New emotions, like leaves,
Sprout and take hold of my heart.
Guiding it gently outward,
To find this source of warmth,
My eyes see you.

In addition to being an amazing poet, Sarah has a great blog, and is also a huge volunteer for the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators as our SoCal webmaster and Los Angeles Assistant Regional Advisor.

Thanks, Sarah!

Monday, April 5, 2010

(Be) Longing: A Poem Written By Charlie, A Boy In Middle School


When I was 8 years old
I wanted to be one of the guys
More than anything
I wanted to belong in their world

Voices deep like grown men’s
A foreign language unknown to me
The sound of boards hitting concrete
made my skin tingle like a sunburn

Just a bunch of guys being physical
Light-headed from too much sun
Out of control and trying to impress
Their bodies a mystery to an 8 year-old

Butterflies dancing in my stomach
and something else
But I was too young to understand
what that feeling meant.

Thanks to the author, Charlie, for letting me share this poem that he wrote back when he was in Middle School. And Check out Charlie's blog!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Transgender Poetry 2010: Alex Davis is "Man of The Year"

I met Alex, a heterosexual transman (female to male transgender man), last year and saw him perform this.

"Man of the Year" blew me away - it's poetry, it's a song, it's an anthem.

My thanks to Alex for allowing me to share it with all of you:

Man of the Year

When the fires hit the brush
Every sound became a hush
Making my way through the eye of a crowd
Finding myself lying down staring up at the sky
Breathing in all the light

I saw faces in the glow
Good people I used to know
When you glance at me and I look away
You remind me of a hell I won’t pay anymore
So, Crown me

The Man of the Year
Man of the Year
Man of the Year
I’ve never been happy, I’ve never been happier here

See the body I call home
Hear the voice I have sown
Tired of sleeping in hotels hard with hate
At the palace now I watch as the gate swings open
To Welcome

The Man of the Year
Man of the Year
Man of the Year
I’ve never been happy, I’ve never been happier here

Walking hands on the asphalt
Bare-chested in sea salt
Maybe not the guy you’d expect to see
Just the guy that I’ve been dying to be all my life
Thank you

Man of the Year
Man of the Year
Man of the Year
I’ve never been happy, I’ve never been happier here
(happier here) (happier here)
I've never been happier here
(happier here)
I've never been happier here

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Langston Hughes kicks off our Tribute To Queer (GLBTQ) Teen Poetry! Just one offering in a whole Kidlitosphere of Poetry Celebrations!

I swear to the Lord
I still can't see
Why Democracy means
Everybody but me.

- Langston Hughes*

Langston Hughes

To Celebrate National Poetry Month here in the U.S.A., I'll be sharing 7 days of poems by and for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Teens.

And there are lots of other great celebrations of poetry across the world of Children's Literature Bloggers (the Kidlitosphere.)

Here are some I'm really excited about:

Greg Pincus of GottaBook is running his second annual "30 Poets 30 Days" Celebration, with original poems never before seen from luminaries like George Ella Lyon, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson, and Greg himself. It should be amazing.

Tricia Stohr-Hunt of The Miss Rumphius Effect will run a new season of her "Poetry Makers" feature, where she'll be interviewing 30 Children's poets (starting off with Mary Ann Hoberman, Children's Poet Laureate, U.S.A.!)

There's even a Write-An-Original-Poem-A-Day Challenge (dreamed up by Irene Latham) where a bunch of bloggers are not only going write an original poem a day for every day of April, but they'll be posting them on their blogs! Check out the poetry of Susan Taylor Brown, Mary Lee Hahn, Andromeda Jazmon, Irene Latham, Jone MacCulloch, Elizabeth Moore and April Halprin Wayland.

There's celebrations of Poems about Teaching, a Poetry book give-away, a Poetry Potluck (original poems matched with recipes), a game of Poetry Tag (refereed by Sylvia Vardell, and with players like Joyce Sidman and Lee Bennet Hopkins), and even a student poetry postcard project with an accompanying post of new student poem every day.

So enjoy, and who knows? Maybe you'll be inspired to write a poem or two - or 30 - yourself!


*This amazing poem is featured on pg. 3 of "Claudette Colvin: Twice toward Justice" by Phillip Hoose (the true story of a Black teenage girl, who nine months before Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. But instead of becoming a rallying figure, Claudette was shunned as a bad role model by many within her own community. Undaunted, a year later she again risked her life as one of four plaintiffs in the landmark busing case Browder v. Gayle.) This book won a 2010 Newbery Medal Honor as one of the 5 best children's novels of 2009, and was the winner of the National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

My thanks to Laura Evans, who's put together a whole list of great National Poetry Month events, for compiling and cheerleading the kidlitosphere to assemble all these great tributes and celebrations of poetry!