Friday, December 16, 2011

Giving Back, The Holiday Spirit, and Taking Time Off To Fill The Well

Sometimes the best presents are the ones you give.

Recently here in Los Angeles, the Kid Lit Drink Night Holiday Party was a big success. (Check out the great post about it - and photos from the evening - at my friend and fellow Kid Lit Drink Night organizer Rita Crayon Huang's blog.)

Over 120 revelers gathered to drink and network and eat cookies - there were agents, and writers, and illustrators, and librarians, and so many friends - ones we knew and ones we were just meeting!  And everyone who came brought some books to donate to needy kids.  Some people brought two books.  Some brought BAGS of books.  And ultimately we had a lot of wonderful books to donate!

Look at all the books donated!

The empty bookshelf at the LAUSD continuation high school main office, which is about to be filled with the three overflowing bags of YA titles we donated!  The teachers in 29 classrooms all over Los Angeles will get to choose books from the ones donated for their own classroom shelf of books.


Ms. Ward, the Principal of Knox Elementary School, was so grateful for the donation of FIVE full boxes of picture books, chapter books, and middle grade titles!  They have a library but no librarian, and now they have lots of new books for their students!


It really felt great making this happen, and my thanks to my fellow Kid Lit Drink Night organizers Rita Crayon Huang, Sara Wilson Etienne, Greg Pincus, Jill Corcoran and Jennifer Bosworth for making it such a success.

Also, Thank You to everyone who attended and brought books to donate - you also brought your holiday spirit, and it was wonderful to behold.


And in that Holiday Spirit, I'm going to be taking my annual two week break from blogging.  I'll be back fresh and renewed on Monday January 2nd, 2012.

If you're not sure what you're going to do for two whole weeks of no new blog posts here, I thought I'd take the liberty of sharing some great posts from 2011 that deserve another look.  Here they are, for your reprised enjoyment.

1.  LEARN SOMETHING NEW ABOUT YOURSELF AND OTHERS:  Check out the entire Gender 101 video series - there are 18 videos so far, and to watch them in order, you can find them listed on the right hand side of this blog.  And once you've watched them, consider how you feel about these parents raising their child without letting others know their child's gender.

2. OPEN YOUR HEART:  Watch this amazing video about Gay Marriage, and an actual gay wedding that happened on TV! And check out the true story of how a teenage skinhead and the homeless gay teen he beat nearly to death met decades later... and became friends who travel together to speak out about ending homophobia and anti-gay violence, about forgiveness, and hope.

3.  THINK:  Consider what our culture tells us about "Headless Fatties."  The humiliation of men wearing pink.  And what bathroom signs reveal about how our culture views gender. And see blatant homophobia for what it is, on TV shows like American Idol, and in the choices parents make about their children's Halloween costumes.

4. REALIZE THERE IS STILL MUCH WORK TO DO: From Transgender people being sterilized to how opponents of gay equality lie, and lie some more.

5. BE INSPIRED, AND REDEDICATE YOURSELF TO DOING THAT WORK:  See what a 14 year old is doing to get queer books into school all across the country, and eventually, internationally.  See the impact of a single teacher to change her students' views about prejudice forever.  Check out the stand a school picture photographer made, refusing to make bullies pretty on the outside, since they're not on the insideRead the blog of three queer teen athletes who are out to change the perception of gays in sports. Find out how to start a Gay-Straight Alliance in YOUR school.

6.  LAUGH:  Fighting prejudice with comedy is an art.  Check out what St. Peter says to an anti-gay marriage activist at the gates of Heaven. And George Takei's hysterical (and generous) response to Tennessee's proposed "Don't Say Gay" law.

7.  GET YOUR PRIDE ON:  With T-shirts, and a Katy Perry "Firework" video that makes me so happy.  And did you know that the more gay friendly a community is, the better it is for straight teens too? And watch some of my favorite "It Gets Better" Videos:  Kevin, a gay teen in Montana. Zach, a gay teen in Iowa, and if it's not too forward of me to suggest it, I'd be delighted if you'd take a look at my It Gets Better video, too.

8.  READ:  There are so many wonderful books posted and reviewed here!  The entire left hand column of this blog... So browse, and choose, and dive into some wonderful lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, questioning, queer and gender-non-conforming fiction and nonfiction!  I am beyond blown away by these books existing in our world of today, and think of how much it would have meant to me to find just one of them when I was a teen.  So read them.  You never know where a book might take you...

And if you don't want to miss great posts like these as we move forward into 2012, please consider signing up for my newsletter - it's one email every two weeks, with one line summaries and fast links to the latest posts, info on my school visits, and some inspiration that's currently resonating for me.

The inspiration resonating for me right now is from "The Artists Way," by Julia Cameron. 

"As artists, we must learn to be self-nourishing. We must become alert enough to consciously replenish our creative resources as we draw on them... I call this process filling the well."

I think those are wise words.  And after 50 weeks of daily posts Monday through Friday, I realize that I need these two weeks to fill my well.  And then I'll be back in the new year, artistic reservoirs full!

Until then, allow me to wish you and yours a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season.

Namaste,
Lee

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"The Power Within" - An Anti-Bullying Comic Book that's Free for your GSA, school or youth services group!


One of the coolest things I found out about at BentCon 2011 was this comic book, "The Power Within" about Shannon, a guy going into 8th grade who has an imaginary superhero alter-ego to deal with being bullied.  But when things escalate Shannon can't retreat into his imagination, and he has to find the power within himself to triumph.



It's by Charles "Zan" Christensen and Mark Brill, with additional contributions by Donna Barr, Matthew Clark, Phil Jimenez, Andy Mangels, Carla Speed McNeil, Dan Parent, Greg Rucka, Stephen Sadowski and Gail Simone.


For more information on the comic book and to order your copies of "The Power Within," check out thepowerwithin.org

Add your review of "The Power Within" in comments!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday Comedy (or is it Politics?): Stephen Colbert slams Rick Perry's Anti-Gay Campaign Ad


In which Rick Perry says that gays are treated better than people like him, who are proud to celebrate Christmas but are denied their rights, and Stephen Colbert calls it like it is.



Merry Christmas! (And happy all the other holidays, too!)

Lee

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nancy Paulsen, the #NY12SCBWI Team Blog Pre-Conference Interview

Nancy Paulsen

Nancy Paulsen is President and Publisher of her own imprint, Nancy Paulsen Books, at the Penguin Young Readers Group.  Her list launched in Fall 2011 and some of her first books included "Strega Nona’s Gift" by Tomie dePaola, "You Are a Lion and Other Fun Yoga Poses" by Taeeun Yoo, "Love, Mouserella," by David Ezra Stein,



"Looking at Lincoln" by Maira Kalman,


"Beneath a Meth Moon" by Jacqueline Woodson,


and "Prairie Evers" by Ellen Airgood


Before helming her own imprint she was the Publisher and President of G. P. Putnam's Sons Children's Books and Puffin Books.

Nancy will be speaking the Saturday morning of the conference, January 28, 2012, as part of "Children's Books: Today and Tomorrow: Four Expert Impressions."

You can join me in following Nancy on twitter at @nancyrosep, and I hope you enjoy our interview:


Lee: Hi Nancy, thanks so much for taking the time. President and Publisher of your own imprint sounds like a dream job. In determining what books you acquire, are you concerned with balancing the number of picture books versus novels, or is your list driven by what you fall in love with?

Nancy: Hi Lee - Yes, this is a dream job. I am so happy to be focusing on finding, editing and publishing books I love, rather than managing a staff of editors. My list is small and selective. I publish 15 books a year and aim for it to be half picture books and half fiction. Right now I have more picture books signed up so I am looking for fiction. But I do sign up what I love so if I see a marvelous picture book, I will go for it!


Lee: Justin Chanda said at the 2010 SCBWI Summer conference to a huge reaction, ‘If you all go home and write to the trends, then the vampires win.” How do trends influence you as a publisher?

Nancy: I am fortunate that I work for a company with a lot of imprints and plenty of them are on-point with trends (and hopefully leading some of them!) I am looking for the kind of books that I hope will backlist.   I want picture books that are eye-opening and beautiful; novels with memorable characters who have hope in their lives.


Lee: Vampires, we hear, are on the wane… Trends or no trends, would you publish an amazing vampire book right now? (And no, I don't have one for you, I'm just asking.)

Nancy: I never say never… but man, it would have to be SO original and good…


Lee: Is there something you are looking for?

Nancy: I would love to find some wonderful middle-grade novels.  I love writing that is lyrical and powerful (ala Jacqueline Woodson).  Writers whose stories are full of heart.  I would love to see more culturally diverse stories; and I am a fan of good historical fiction.


Lee: The authors and illustrators you’re working with (among them Tomie dePaola, David Ezra Stein, and Jacqueline Woodson) have quite a range of tones and voices.  Do you have a working definition of voice you can share with us?

Nancy: All of the writers I publish work hard at their craft.  They all have unique voices and are willing to go through as many drafts as needed to bring their work to the best place.  All of them are amazing storytellers – and their stories are not written to order. They come from some miraculous place inside them, so they feel authentic.  The emotions are palpable; the dialogue is natural.  You get pulled into their stories immediately.  If only there was a formula for this!  But I think the best thing a new writer can do is read a lot to see what distinguishes great writing; and stay curious and open to the wonder of daily life.


Lee: I love that, "curious and open to the wonder of daily life."  Great advice.  What do you read for fun?  Or can you still read for fun?

Nancy: I have a stack of books I hope to read over the holidays including two adult books -- "The Grief of Others" by Leah Hager Cohen and "Blue Monday" by Nicci French (which is set in London and I am a big Anglophile!)  I always love to read Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" over the holidays.


Lee: For attendees, the SCBWI Winter conference is full of amazing networking, crucial information from experts, craft, business, inspiration, community, and opportunities to move our careers forward. What’s exciting for you about coming to the conference?

Nancy: I particularly love looking at the portfolios of new artists. Last year I saw You Byen’s work and I have her signed up for her first picture book – DREAM FRIENDS, which will come out Spring 2013.  Our art director, Cecilia Yung, also mentored Eliza Wheeler, and we now have her signed up for her first picture book.


Lee: Exciting! It's great to hear those SCBWI success stories. Words of wisdom for attendees?

Nancy: Listen to the advice of the editors.  Keep moving forward.  If you are not getting a positive response on one story, write another.  And read, read, read.


Lee: Can you share with us the best advice you ever received regarding your career in children's publishing?

Nancy: I think it is to remember that there will always be a need for great stories. No matter how they are delivered, people will want to read books that make them think and make them feel. So I think my job as an editor is to stay focused on that. There are great writers out there and there are avid readers and we want to connect the two.

Thank you so much, Nancy.  I can't wait for your Saturday presentation!

You can still register to see Nancy yourself and experience the entire Lucky 13th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, January 27-29, 2012.

Hope to see you there.

Namaste,
Lee



Monday, December 12, 2011

Announcing the Spring 2012 Grant Program for Lee Wind’s Speaker Visits



Budgets are tight.

But the need is dramatic.

And the impact of my programs is powerful.

"I just went out to my friends and told them I'm not going to use the word 'faggot' or 'bitch' anymore."
- Palisades Charter High School Student

"I will remember the part when you said that people need to know more than one thing about a person to then know all about them.  Your presentation will help me throughout my life."
- Brentwood 6th Grade Student

"It was amazing to have you come to Pali and speak to our students.  I think you made a huge contribution to uplifting our campus culture.
- Jill Barker, Palisades Charter High School Counselor

Most Valuable thing I learned from the workshop:
"You're not a stereotype. You are you!"
- High School attendee at my Models of Pride 19 Smashing Stereotypes Workshop

"Thanks for doing this for our school."
- Corvallis High School Student



I’m delighted to announce ten grants of $500.00 each to help bring me out to your school or library for a full day of either

SAFE SPACE: Ending Anti-Gay bullying in our Culture… and in YOUR School Assemblies

or

SMASHING STEREOTYPES In-Class Workshops

With one of these grants, it will cost only $500.00 for me to come to your school or library this Spring 2012 and help energize your community to end Anti-Gay - and all - bullying and smash the stereotypes that hold us back… as a culture and as individuals.



How to apply:
Have your GSA Advisor, school counselor, parent, librarian, or other adult point person contact me via email: iamleewind (at) gmail (dot) com.
Tell me (in their words or yours, in a couple of sentences) about your school, and why you feel my speaker visit would help make a difference in your community.
We’ll need to schedule the visit between January 16 and May 31, 2012.
If you’re not driving distance from Los Angeles, you’ll have to cover my travel and hotel, but that’s billed at cost.

And that’s it.
The first ten schools who need the financial help, apply for it, and schedule me, get these grants!

So see if you can make it happen for your school.


I’d love to come help you make things better, starting right now!

Namaste,
Lee

ps - To see more of what I do in my speaker visits, here's a link to two different nine minute videos showing highlights of both my SAFE SPACE assemblies and my SMASHING STEREOTYPES workshops!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The "Publishing Queer" Panel at BentCon 2011

ComicCon in San Diego sounds incredible, and they always have some great programming that focuses on GLBTQ Comics and Graphic Novels.

For the second year, BentCon (held this past weekend) was a Comics Convention that's ALL about queer comics, and they reprised one of the most amazing panels from this year's ComicCon,

Publishing Queer: Marketing and Creating Queer Comic Books And Graphic Novels

I had the remarkable experience of not only attending but getting to record (as a last minute thing, and on my cell phone video camera!) this panel on December 4 in Los Angeles.  With the permission of all the amazing participants, I'm sharing their discussion here.

This is a still image of the panel (the videos are below.)

The panelists were, from left to right, Tony Valenzuela (lambdaliterary.org), Robert Fraser (classcomics.com), Alex Woolfson (Yaoi911.com), Steve MacIsaac (SteveMacIsaac.com), Charles "Zan" Christensen (prismcomics.org and northwestpress.com) and the panel moderator, Justin Hall (allthumbspress.com).  
 
There were so many great things discussed, and tons of quotable moments - here are just a few:
“Self publishing is so easy and cheap now, it’s the easiest and cheapest it’s ever been, and it became that way just as the infrastructure that will allow you to do that successfully collapsed.”

-  Steve MacIsaac
“The ‘freemium model’ where you’re giving content away for free, with then perhaps offering something extra for money.”

- Alex Woolfson
The panel included an excellent discussion on the future of independent bookstores, Canadian/U.S.A. border shenanigans, the importance of a niche and a following, and lots of great advice for how to make it work as writers, artists, self-publishers and business people.

One of the questions in the Q&A that sparked the best discussion was What’s the best way to start publishing your own stuff?  Every panelist had lots of suggestions, from big-picture considerations to specific tips, strategies and tools - like how to make your comic books print all the way to the edge of the page!

And I think Justin summed up the feel of the discussion, and BentCon as a whole, when he said:

“One of the wonderful things about the comic book community is that it’s extremely small and kind of insular but it’s really supportive...”

And Zan followed up with

“We’re not competing with each other, and that’s the wonderful thing about it.  We know that when one of us succeeds, it peaks interest and people start to say ‘well what else is there?’”

I could see that spirit from the panel. You can see it, too.  Here is the full panel discussion, in six parts:

Part One



Part Two



Part Three



Part Four



Part Five



Part Six, conclusion






There you go, Great Panel.  Wonderful Information.  

My thanks to Tony, Robert, Alex, Steve, Zan and Justin.

I’m so glad I got to attend, and I’m thrilled I get to share it now with all of you!

Namaste,
Lee



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Renfred's Masquerade: A Gay Teen Fantasy Romance




By Hayden Thorne

It's a world of magic.

Impossible dreams.

Masquerades.

And unrequited love.

Torn from his family and thrust into that world, 16 year old Nicola, a boy with a disability who thought he had to stop dreaming, has to solve the mystery of another teen's disappearance before time runs out. 


Add your review of Renfred's Masquerade in comments!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gender 101, Episode #18: Being Trans Enough

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



Thanks, Lucy.


This will be the last Gender 101 episode for 2011.  Look for the videos to start up again in Spring 2012!

Namaste,
Lee

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A New Approach To Win Gay Marriage

This is so beautiful.

And powerful.


Watch it.





Now check out the op ed over at advocate.com about why this two minute video is being seen as something that's changing hearts and minds, and going viral, internationally. Seems there's this thought that we gay people want to get married so we can cash in on all the great rights and bonuses of marriage. Like it's a "special right" we greedy gay people want to get our hands on. And the more we talk about equal rights, the more some people think we want to get in on this great thing straight people have going on... for those rights.

But as this two minute video from Australia's Get Up! shows, we want to get married for the same reasons straight people want to get married.
Because we're in love.

Love is love.

And to my husband - I love you. Thanks for sharing this with me - dang it, you made me cry. Happy tears. And, you made me think. Another reason I love you.

And for all my readers, this is food for thought, isn't it?

In fact, it's a great opportunity to be a Keyboard Activist. Let's share this video far and wide!

Namaste,
Lee

Monday, December 5, 2011

Are You Gay Enough To Play Ball? Inclusion, Exclusion, and the idea of Gay-Only Sports

So get this.  There's a North America Gay Amateur Athlete Alliance, and they put on the Gay Softball World Series. But not everyone on the teams has to be gay.  Turns out, they have rules about how many gay players each team is allowed.

In 2008, the second place team was disqualified because it was found that they had more than two heterosexual players on their team.

The players sued, saying that they "had been discriminated against because they were bisexual, not gay."

And to make matters more unsettling, five of the team's players were brought before a committee of 25 people and made to answer questions about their sexuality. The panel found three of the men to be straight, and

"The men said they weren't given the option of stating outright that they were bisexual, even though the organization considered bisexual players to be gay for roster purposes. They and their team were disqualified. One observer at the hearing commented, "This is not a bisexual World Series. This is a gay World Series."

Well it was just announced that the organization settled with the players,

"Since the lawsuit was filed [by The National Center For Lesbian Rights], NAGAAA has added language to its rules clarifying that bisexual and transgender players are fully welcomed participants in its events. As part of the settlement, the organization said disqualifying D2 was not consistent with its goal of welcoming bisexual players."

And the team has had their second place finish re-instated, and the players can get back on the field.




This brings up so much to discuss: It's a good thing to promote a "message that openly gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals can thrive in competitive sports." But on the other hand, if straight guys are good enough allies that they're happy to play in a gay league, shouldn't that be a good thing, too?

And beyond baseball, should non-queer allies be allowed to participate in "queer" spaces? Should there be exclusionary spaces within the GLBTQ community? Does it make it seem "safer?" And as a broader question for our culture, should we have "us-only" spaces at all, or should all "us" spaces be "us and allies?"

It's almost as if we imagined that Gay-Straight Alliances were Gay Student Alliances instead.

What would happen if we didn't include our allies?

And how are bisexuals treated, both outside and inside the queer community?

Let me know what you think.

Namaste,
Lee


ps: Thanks to my awesome husband for sharing this with me, so I could share it with all of you!

pps:  You can find out more in this article in the Bay Area Reporter.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Good News From Major League Baseball (And The National Football League)





This is very good news.


Article XV, Section A of MLB’s expiring Basic Agreement, in effect from 2006-2011, states: “The provisions of this Agreement shall be applied to all Players covered by this Agreement without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

In the new agreement, the words “sexual orientation” were added to Article XV. Michael Weiner, the union’s executive director, said that the decision was not motivated by requests from his membership, but by “the lawyers on both sides just recognizing that it should be there.”


On the we-still-have-a-long-way-to-go side, there's the rookie relief pitcher hazing-by-wearing-pink going on in Major League Baseball, and some players on the Mets saying privately in the aftermath of the legalization of gay marriage in New York that they would be uncomfortable with an out gay player on their team.

“Most of us are still Neanderthals,” one Met explained.


And on the other, we're-making-progress side, other Mets players said they would be comfortable with an out gay player on their team.  A number of the teams have created "It Gets Better" videos and are recognizing their GLBTQ fans. Add to that the whole league has now added sexual orientation to their non-discrimination clause and it really is a huge step forward. The article also says that

The National Football League also included “sexual orientation” in its CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement] this year.

So while Billy Bean, featured in the article's photo, came out as gay after he retired from baseball, and we still don't have an out gay player - this is one more important step towards queer equality and making our world a better place.

And that gives me hope that one day - hopefully soon - we'll get there. These sports will include gender identity protection as well, and we'll have our queer Jackie Robinson moment.

And I'll be there, cheering them on.

Namaste,
Lee

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives To Suicide For Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws



By Kate Bornstein

"Celebrated transsexual trailblazer Kate Bornstein has, with more humor and spunk than any other, ushered us into a world of limitless possibility through a daring re-envisionment of the gender system as we know it.

Here, Kate bravely and wittily shares personal and unorthodox methods of survival for navigating an often cruel world.  A one-of-a-kind guide to staying alive outside the box, Hello, Cruel World is a much-needed unconventional approach to teenage suicide prevention for marginalized youth who want to stay on the edge, but alive.

Hello, Cruel World features a catalog of 101 Alternatives To Suicide that range from the playful (Moisturize), to the irreverent (Disbelieve the Binary), to the highly controversial (Get Laid.  Please.)  Designed to encourage readers to give themselves permission to unleash their hearts' harmless desires, this book has only one directive: "Don't be mean."  It is this guiding principle that brings its reader on a self-validating journey, which forges wholly new paths toward a resounding decision to choose life.

Tenderly intimate and unapologetically edgy, Kate is the radical role model, the affectionate best friend, and the guiding mentor all in one kind and spirited package."


And I have to share a bit from a great review of this book by Jack Radish:

"Bornstein’s book is the thing that could help all those people sitting in front of their computer screen looking at “It Gets Better” videos and getting hope answer the question, “how can I make it better now???” You would think that all the people orchestrating [the "It Gets Better"] project would want those people to get those answers. But what happens when those answers are weird, dangerous and freaky? What happens when the answer is not that life gets better for depressed queer people when they neatly assimilate into mainstream culture? What happens when the answer is that queer people and trans people and other people who are different can make their lives better by embracing the things that make them freaks and weirdos and outlaws and deviants and say “f[-] you” to mainstream culture that tries to stop us from doing that?" 

Add your review of "Hello Cruel World" in comments!  

And if you are in crisis and need to talk to someone, The Trevor Project's lifeline has people 24/7 on their phone lines.  Call them at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gender 101: Episode 17: The No Pronoun Preference

In this episode my gender queer friend Lucy explains how even well-intentioned questions about preferred gender pronouns from queer people and our allies can misfire - and then explains how to successfully navigate the conversation.



I really am learning so much!  Thanks, Lucy.

Namaste,
Lee

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Speaker Visit Trip To Corvallis, Oregon



I'm still flying high from my amazing experience going to Corvallis, Oregon to give my SAFE SPACE presentations and meet with teens at both the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library and Corvallis High School.

It all started with Robin Fosdick, the amazing youth services and reference librarian at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, who reads this blog every day (Hi, Robin!)  It was her determination and belief in me and what I have to share that made the trip a reality.

And it was an amazing reality, especially as it was my first 'business' trip where I was presenting outside metro Los Angeles (where I've been able to drive to schools!)  The response was overwhelmingly positive, and moving, and I got to talk about what we can do to end anti-gay (and all) bullying in our culture and in Corvallis to over 300 teens, librarians, teachers, administrators, and adults.

I kept a brief photo log of the two days, and with your indulgence, I'd like to share it here!

The first day started really early.  Still dark at the airport.

Flying high.  Literally.

A display in the airport lets me know I'm in the right state!

Arriving at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library!



Flyers for my talk are inside the library, too!



After a great pizza dinner with Robin and Curtis, the library's youth services Division Manager, I met with two different groups of teens at the library.  And then, I gave my SAFE SPACE presentation:

Talking about the 'ick' factor, and how if we called being gay 'homoLOVEual' instead of 'homoSEXual' it would change the whole conversation about our equality.

Language is powerful...

and it's one of the elements we need to recognize and change.
Lots of people hung out and spoke with me afterwards, and the room was buzzing.  A number of the teens who I'd met earlier in the smaller gatherings stayed for the presentation, and a few told me they'd see me the next day at the High School.  I grabbed a quick bite and then headed to the hotel to rest up.

The next day was another early start, and Robin and Curtis took me to the High School.  I set up in the school's Black Box Theater, and got to meet Julie Williams, one of the amazing faculty sponsors of Corvallis High's GSA. Then, one after the other, I did three different hour and a half presentations.

In the middle, I got to have lunch with some students from the Gay-Straight Alliance, and that was really great.


Presenting in the Black Box Theater

It's pretty interactive - here I had the kids up on their feet!
Corvallis High are "The Spartans!"  This is me and Julie Williams, Corvallis High's faculty sponsor for their GSA




Check out the amazing Gay History Month display in the High School's main entrance

Robin loved it as much as I did!

I'm official

With Robin at Corvallis High School, the day of Assemblies complete!


Moments that have stayed with me:

The teen who saw my presentation at the library, and sat through it again at the High School. It was clearly delicious for them to have it witnessed by their fellow students.  And they had this joyous look on their face while I spoke.

The teen in the GSA who told me a guy said to them after my first assembly, 'I'm homophobic and that was hard to sit through.' And they replied, 'Why are you homophobic?' And the guy said, 'That's how I was raised, my Dad is homophobic.'  And it occurred to me - and I shared with the GSA - that it wasn't necessarily a bad outcome for my talk. For someone entrenched and comfortable with the idea that they don't like gay people to leave my presentation and feel uncomfortable. That means they're thinking about what I shared, and that's a good thing.

The teen who came out as queer and is struggling with their parent's disapproval, who was so grateful for my being there.

The teen who said they want to be more involved.

The mother and teen at the library together, asking questions and listening so passionately.

The students from nearby Philomath, telling me about their school's efforts to block a Gay-Straight Alliance there.

The Corvallis High GSA student who came up to me at the end of our lunch and said,

"Thanks for doing this for our school."

The generosity of spirit of Curtis, and the powerful joy and passion for teen lit and helping teens that emanates from Robin every moment!

And I'll take this opportunity to once again express my enormous appreciation to Robin and Curtis, who made me feel like a rock star, brought me to Corvallis to add my voice to the many many wonderful people working to make things better for GLBTQ teens and all teens there, and who made my entire trip come off so well!

I also want to thank Julie Williams, Millie Kimes, Judy Welever (Corvallis High's wonderful librarian), Christine Hackenbruck (my tech support!), Dena Minato, Mary Skillings, Trudi Caster, Cathy Wright and all the other counselors and teachers at Corvallis High who brought their students to my presentations!  My appreciation as well to all the other Corvallis librarians I met, and to Bryan Bliss for inviting me to speak to his group of teen writers at the library.

Oh, and I even got a gift from the Corvallis High School Gay-Straight Alliance - one of their 2011-2012 t-shirts!

Rocking my Corvallis High School GSA Pride!


Overall, it was a wonderful experience, for me and - from the feedback I received - for the community, too.

I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to help make things better.

Thanks, Corvallis!  I hope to come back soon.

Left to Right:  Curtis Kiefer, Me, and Robin Fosdick

Namaste,
Lee

p.s.:

My inspiration bonus from the trip:  Turns out the high schools in Corvallis and neighboring Oregon have a school rock that students are allowed to graffiti.  Here's Corvallis High's Rock.  And yup, now that I know that, it's something I've added to my current work-in-progress.

pps:  Here's a link to a whole bunch of great resources I shared in my talks.

Monday, November 28, 2011

GSA Monday: Tough Questions About The Lawrence King Murder Trial




Here's what you need to know to get caught up:

In February of 2008, 15 year old Larry (Lawrence) King was an 8th grader who had come out as gay earlier that year.

He told a classmate that he had a crush on him.

That classmate brought a gun to their Oxnard, California middle school the next day and shot Larry in the head.

Larry died later that week.

The trial of Larry's killer recently ended in a mistrial, because the jury couldn't agree on the degree of guilt. And now just this past week, it was announced that to avoid a second trial, a plea bargain has been struck, where Larry's killer will be in jail for 21 years.

And I think this raises a lot of hard questions:

1.  The defense didn't dispute that their at-the-time-14-year-old client was the shooter, but said that he reached an "emotional breaking point after King made repeated, unwanted sexual advances."  He was "sexually harassed" by King.  Is this blaming the victim?

2.  Does it make sense to try a 14-year-old as an adult?  Or is killing someone on purpose an adult crime no matter how old you are?

3.  Hate crimes laws increases penalties, so the jury couldn't agree on calling this a hate crime.  Lawyers had been discussing re-trying the case without the hate crime charges, thinking it would be easier to get a conviction.  What does this case say about hate crime laws?

4. What's the worst thing that could have happened to the boy Larry liked after Larry expressed interest in him? Maybe that other kids would have thought he was gay, too. He could have just said, no thanks, I'm not interested. But what does it say about our culture when the response of a boy to another boy's expressing interest in him is murder?

5.  Does it make a difference knowing that the guy who killed Larry had suffered abuse (emotional, physical, and sexual) at home?

6. Is the plea bargain deal the right decision for everyone involved? 

7.  What would be justice in this case?

Lisa Bloom, a lawyer and legal analyst is quoted in the Advocate's "System Failure" article on the mistrial by Neal Broverman (print issue, November 2011, pg. 13) as saying:

"This case was a heartbreaking intersection of our policy failures, ...our lack of effort to keep guns out of the hands of angry teenagers, our failure to intervene to protect abused kids, our refusal to adequately teach tolerance and respect for LGBT kids in schools, our culture's relentless message to boys that violence is a satisfying resolution to their problems, and our willingness to then put all the blame on a child by trying him as an adult."


Hard questions. But they're easier to tackle in a safe environment, and hopefully you can discuss them with your GSA. Or, leave a comment here in our virtual Gay-Straight Alliance.

Namaste,
Lee

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Short Comedy Video Treat

This is awesome.

(and for context, Maggie Gallagher is a very publicly outspoken opponent of marriage equality.)




My thanks to Fred for sharing this with me, so I could share it with all of you.

Namaste,
Lee

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving - "A Note To My Kid" - Giving Thanks for our GLBTQ Loved Ones!




A Note To My Kid is a wonderful new blog.  In it, parents, family and friends who love the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and gender-non-conforming people in their lives write open letters to them.

Just reading the first one brought tears to my eyes, when Elaine, mother of Taylor (a gay drag performer) in Canada wrote:

What a path we have travelled since that night when you told me you were gay and I answered: "No you aren't you just think you are because you have been hanging out with those guys for too long". What I knew about homosexuality back then would have filled one line of an address book.

But I determined I would learn so I could convince you that you really were not gay and so I could change you.

As Dr. Phil would say how's that working? Well, you know and I know, that didn't work and I soon discovered that the person who had to change was not you but me.


And this one, from Claire in Arizona.  She's the mother of Kevin, a young gay man:

I did not know my son was gay until his freshman year of college. I must admit to a feeling of loss when I first knew. Loss of a wedding to attend, loss of a daughter in law who may just love my antiques etc. But as time as progressed I have learned that I did not lose anything....I gained a son who was honest with me, and if things change... I may yet have a wedding to attend and maybe even his partner will like my antiques:-). I just had to re-learn.... and Kevin helped me with that. I am lucky. My son had little trouble accepting who he is and being so self-assured has helped others and myself accept it. I love him a great deal, as does his Father, and his entire extended family. He is very special man, and we are lucky to know him and have him in our lives. This world could use many more just like him!!

And this piece, "Things I Know" by a Seattle mother of Miles, who is transgender FTM:

I know this is a process of stages. Grief is the first, acceptance the middle, celebration is the last.

** I am now celebrating the wonderful joyful man that you have become. **
And this one, a Scottish godmother's note to Chris, who is not accepted by his parents:

My darling now you must be who you were meant to be, embrace this love and be happy.  Know when to cut people out of your life who are not good for you no matter how hard.  You need to feel true love and that is on offer now, and if you ever need me my darling, I am on call 24 hrs a day.  
I love you.

Notes from lesbian stepmothers to their straight daughters, mothers learning of their children's struggles and asserting that "God makes all of us and he doesn’t make mistakes." mothers learning about love from their queer children:

"You have taught me love isnt defined by others. Love is limitless. Just like you.

I love you."


Reading these notes is like a bath in unconditional love, and I'm thankful to have found it.  So go lose yourself reading the notes at "A Note To My Kid."  And maybe write a note to someone you love in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Namaste,
Lee

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A great new review site for Transgender Teen Book reviews - Jack Radish on PrettyQueer.com




The more people talking about queer teen books, the better.  And Jack's reviews of Transgender teen fiction and nonfiction, a new series over at prettyqueer.com, are awesome.

Jack's studying to be a teen services librarian, reads this blog, and I'm thrilled he got in touch to let me know what he's up to online.

Check out his reviews so far:

Hello Cruel World by Kate Bornstein

I am J by Cris Beam

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Luna by Julie Anne Peters

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

I've gone ahead and bookmarked Jack's reviews, and hope you check them out, too.

Namaste,
Lee

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bullied - a short story collection about gay teens and bullying




By Jeff Erno

This collection has seven short stories about gay teens and bullying.

"In Invisible, the bullying victim's voice is heard. Chase Devereaux is fifteen, and he's terrified when he has to give a speech in his oral communications class. To make matters worse, though, he has a really hard day when he falls victim to an episode of merciless bullying in gym class.Worst of all, his humiliation is witnessed by the boy of Chase's dreams.

Chuckie is told in the voice of the bully. David is a high school jock, one of the popular kids, and he's annoyed by the pathetic weakness and vulnerability of his classmate Charles. It seems natural to David to flex his superior muscle in front of the little wimp and remind him who's boss. When David discovers that Charles shares a connection with a mutual friend, David begins to see things in a whole new light.
Bryan Daniels is the narrator of Blending In, the story of a gay teen who stands idly by while one of his openly gay classmates is repeatedly bullied. Bryan feels sorry for Chris, but on some level he thinks perhaps Chris' openness and flamboyance make him an obvious target. Perhaps Chris is really asking for it and is just getting what he deserves. Bryan doesn't want to get involved. It's too risky, because if he speaks up in defense of Chris, he may be the next victim.
Saved: Jonathan goes to a Christian parochial school, and his best friend is Curtis. The boys have been best buds since the seventh grade. Jonathan tells their story in Saved. As he begins high school, Jon aspires to fit in with the guys on his soccer team. When he witnesses his teammates tormenting his best friend Curtis, he knows there really isn't much he can do. In truth, Jon has outgrown Curtis, and he wonders why they ever were close friends to begin with. Curtis just needs to man-up and stop being such a wimp. It's not up to Jonathan to protect or defend him. After all, he's not his brother's keeper.
In Shame,Terri Tyler is a single mother of two teenagers. Her son Cameron has always been her pride and joy. Cam is artistic and sensitive, and his sense of refinement has always been something she's regarded as special. She also prides herself on her open-mindedness. She has gay friends and acquaintances, and is not the least bit prejudiced, or so she tells herself. When Terri discovers that her son Cam is being bullied at school, she becomes very concerned. Of course she is worried about Cam's safety and well being, but more importantly, she fears that maybe Cam's uniqueness is something more profound than merely a matter of refinement.
Different is the story of three gay teens: Caiden, Rick, and Tina. Each of them has battled their own demons and has learned to cope with the reality of being different from their peers. One of them, however, is far more vulnerable than the other two. Caiden lacks social skills, and he feels completely ostracized, which only seems to fuel the bullying that plagues him on a daily basis. When he reaches a breaking point, the other two have an opportunity to step forward and save him, but their efforts may prove to be too little and too late.
Kirby is not only gay but he's also overweight. It's not easy for a teen to cope with being fat, let alone also being homosexual. Kirby's okay though. He's learned how to put on a happy face and ignore the constant name-calling and teasing. The one thing that makes his life bearable is his best friend Tony, and Kirby leans on him for support during his darkest hours. Tony, however, doesn't seem to have the character to be the friend Kirby needs, and the results are devastating. Can Kirby find the strength within himself to rise above the bullying, or will he remain a perpetual victim?"
Add your review of "Bullied" in comments!

Monday, November 21, 2011

You Can Change The World For The Better - Check out what 14 year old Amelia is doing!




So Amelia's 14, and out as a lesbian at her middle school. She not only founded her school's GSA, and is a student Ambassador for GLSEN, but she's started an organization, THE MAKE IT SAFE project, that sends GLBTQ Teen books to schools around the country (and eventually around the world!) She's taking donations and for every $100 she raises is sending out a group of about 10 GLBTQ books that she and her friends really loved.

How amazing is that?

Oh, here's a quote from Amelia in a Bay Windows article:
"When I figured out that a lot of schools didn’t have any resources about what it means to be LGBT or how to come out," explained Amelia, "I decided that I wanted to help send those books to schools."

"My goal is to provide awareness for people and also to provide the reading material that will make them safe," she added.

Which books did she choose?  Six fiction and four nonfiction books: 

Annie On My Mind, by Nancy Garden;  

Empress of the World, by Sara Ryan;  

Luna, by Julie Anne Peters;  

Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan;  

Rubyfruit Jungle, by Rita Mae Brown;  

It Gets Better, ed. by Dan Savage and Terry Miller;  

GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens, by Kelly Huegel;  

Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens, by Kathy Belge; and  

Like Me, by Chely Wright.


And I love how it's not just about sending the books to the schools, but about making sure students have access to them.

Great job, Amelia! You're changing our world for the better!

And for everyone else reading... Inspiring, isn't it?

Namaste,
Lee

My thanks to Erica for letting me know about this, so I could share it with all of you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Headless Fatties"

I came upon this quite brilliant essay on Charlotte Cooper's website, about how the media often portrays fat people by cropping their heads out of the picture and how that practice is dehumanizing.


In the top image, their eyes are blacked out like criminals - at the bottom, they're seen as "Headless Fatties"


As we're on the verge of celebrating Thanksgiving, which here in the USA is very much about FOOD, I thought it was a great opportunity to think, as Charlotte urges us to, about the people in those photos - we've all seen these "Headless Fatties" on the news, and in print, and on billboards.  Here's a bit of what Charlotte writes:

"As Headless Fatties, the body becomes symbolic: we are there but we have no voice, not even a mouth in a head, no brain, no thoughts or opinions. Instead we are reduced and dehumanised as symbols of cultural fear: the body, the belly, the arse, food. There's a symbolism, too, in the way that the people in these photographs have been beheaded. It's as though we have been punished for existing, our right to speak has been removed by a prurient gaze, our headless images accompany articles that assume a world without people like us would be a better world altogether.

Yet these are real people who look as though they've been photographed without their knowledge, consent, or payment of any kind, for commercial photographs that are then marketed and sold by photographers and agencies. I wonder what it must feel like to open the paper one morning, or click onto a news site, and see a headless version of yourself there, against a headline decrying people who look like you."

Go read Charlotte's "Headless Fatties" article. It's thought-provoking, and challenged me. Why hadn't I thought about this before? It's not just Fat people who should stand up against their being mocked and dehumanized. It's all of us who should.

I mean, check out this billboard image I came across:



I'm a vegetarian, but frankly, I'm offended for fat people. For the judgements our culture makes. And I'm embarrassed that I didn't really notice all this before.

Food for thought, huh?

Namaste,
Lee

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Morning Rising - A YA fantasy adventure with a lesbian love story




By Samantha Boyette

"In the ever present dusk of Inbetween, Kara Hart wakes up dirty and alone with the memory of a girl named Dylan. She remembers meeting Dylan and how her heart beat when Dylan touched her face, but nothing else. When Kara is sent to Demitar, the evil ruler of Inbetween, the truth is revealed. She is Dylan’s Guardian and neither of them are who they thought they were.

Set in a darker version our own world, Morning Rising follows Kara as she tries to save Dylan from Demitar’s clutches. She is given three days to find Dylan and get her out of Inbetween before she belongs to Demitar forever. Memories must be regained and powers restored if they have a chance of escaping. Each memory and sighting of Dylan helps Kara remember the love they once shared. If only she can help Dylan remember before it’s too late."

Self-published by the author for the nook and kindle, you can read the first two chapters of "Morning Rising" here. And add your own review in comments!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Today is the 13th Annual Transgender Day of Remembrance



You can go here to see a list of events all over the world observing this year's Transgender Day of Remembrance:

From their website:

The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.


So much still to do in making our world a better place for all of us, including the Transgender members of our community!

Namaste,
Lee

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gay slur costs Brett Ratner the Oscar producing job - and how that's a good thing




The Academy Award telecast is a big deal.  After the Superbowl, it's pretty much the second biggest televised event in the U.S.A. (last year had 37.6 million viewers).  In fact, it's watched all around the world.  This year, for the February 2012 broadcast, there was a new producer hired to take over the Oscars, Brett Ratner.

During a Q&A session prior to a screening of his film Tower Heist in Los Angeles November 4, 2012, Ratner said

"rehearsal's for fags."



The fallout for him saying that - for that flippant bit of homophobia - continued even after his apology, until only a few days later, he stepped down from the Oscars job.

What's good about this homophobic moment and it's aftermath?

Well, for one thing, it's a loud and clear statement that putting down GLBTQ people is no longer acceptable.  We'll start with that being true in the entertainment industry, and hopefully it will spread from there.

And two, it may a turning point - at least for Brett.  He's teaming up now with GLAAD, and together they're planning

"public discussions featuring leaders in the entertainment industry that will address anti-LGBT jokes and slurs in films and on television today as well as their trickle-down effect into popular culture."

So the upcoming Oscars won't be produced by Brett Ratner (and Eddie Murphy, who was to host, has also withdrawn from the show.)  And it's all because of a gay slur.

Words have power.  And I for one am glad we're starting to hold people accountable for their words of hate.

Namaste,
Lee

ps - the Oscars telecast is moving on, with Brian Grazer taking over Brett Ratner's producing role, and Billy Crystal hosting for what will be the ninth time.

***
Update 2/15/2012 

***

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Newsletter!




Have you noticed the cute new sign-up box on the top left column of this blog?

I'm launching a new twice-a-month newsletter to share an overview of my latest "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" posts, news about my speaker visits, and an inspirational gem.

The first issue goes out tomorrow, and I'd be delighted if you would sign up!  You can enter your e-mail address in the Lee Wind Newsletter subscribe box (top left) or visit the google group page to add your e-mail address here.

Current laws don't allow anyone to collect e-mail addresses for youth under 18, so if you're under 18, there's the option of subscribing via feedburner to this blog, and following me on facebook and twitter. You'll get much of the same information, just not put together in tidy two-week packages. But heck, you're teenagers, and you know that life isn't tidy. Thanks!

*** Correction, Wednesday November 20, 2011***
Turns out the law is a restriction on collecting email addresses of children under 13.  So for blog readers 13-17 years old, you CAN sign up!  (Apologies to my 11 and 12 year old readers.)  Thanks to the commenter who let me know I was mistaken, and to all of you!
***

Thanks as well to my friend and social media guru Greg Pincus, who helped me figure out the best way to do this newsletter, and to everyone who suggested - and requested - I do one.

And for all of you, thanks for reading!

Namaste,
Lee