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.


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



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.


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.


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!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

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

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, 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.


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?


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?


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!


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.


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!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Holiday Party edition of our Kid Lit Drink Night - Los Angeles (and photos from our Halloween Costume Bash!)

Join other writers, illustrators, agents, editors, bloggers, librarians, educators, and people who just love children's and teen literature at a Kid Lit Community Holiday Party!

Cash Bar 
(pay as you order),
(bring and share),
Books for needy kids 
(donate unwrapped books, picture-books through YA, and feel all holiday-festive!)

Sat. December 3, 2011 

from 5p.m. - 8p.m. 

at The Wellesbourne  
10929 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064
(Across the street from the Landmark Theater and the Westside Pavilion Mall)

Your Picture Books through Middle Grade Novels will be donated to Knox Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles. They're a new school, and even though they don't have a librarian, their Principal, Ms. Ward, is a huge advocate of reading and has teachers take their students to the library to check out the books. They're incredible excited at the prospect of more and new books for their kids! New and gently used books are fine, ARCs are fine, and donating more than one book is better than fine!

Your Young Adult books will be donated to needy youth as well, and we'll announce the details of that as soon as we can.


I got confirmation from Janet Seary, the principal of Central High School/Tri-C, that they would love to accept our YA book donations. They are a continuation school serving at risk youth, and they have 29 classrooms all across the LA school district. There is no main library for these 600-800 students, but each classroom tries to have some books for their teens. The teachers will choose which ones they want for their classrooms from the donations brought.

I'm very excited that we now have two very worthy schools to accept all the books that get donated during our holiday party!

And there's also a YA On the same day, you can also attend Carol M. Tanzman's book launch party for Dancergirl,  a young adult thriller published by Harlequin Teen. Carol's book launch is happening from 4 to 6 PM this Saturday at the Curve Line Space Gallery/Frame Store at 1577 Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock. Lots of people are planning to attend both. We actually extended the time of the Holiday Party so everyone could!

This event will feature live performances, Brooklyn Treats by Eagle Rock Bakery, book sales by Skylight Books, and, of course, Carol and her new book, Dancergirl!

It's going to be an amazing time.  Just check out how much fun we had at the Halloween Costume event!

This is my writing group: Sara Wilson Etienne (as Harriet The Spy), Rita Crayon Huang (as Bunnicula) and myself (as the artwork from "The Dot")

Check out more of the amazing costumes from the party:

Kid Lit people are the best.  Thanks to Rita Crayon Huang for the great photographs.  Kid Lit Drink Night - Los Angeles is always so much fun, and we hope you join us for our (and your) Holiday party!

You can RSVP (and see who else is planning on attending) at the party facebook page here, or in comments on this blog.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Awake - A GLBTQ Teen Anthology

Edited by Tracey Pennington, with a forward by Kathe Koja

Awake features four novellas by some wonderful authors...

Worth Waiting For, by Nancy Garden
When a young lesbian, Marina, falls in love and joins a gay-straight alliance, she learns just how her beloved, very religious mom feels about gay people, and is faced with an agonizing decision.

A Line in the Sand, by Robin Reardon
What could have been just another summer vacation on Hilton Head Island for 15-year-old, out-and-proud Dustin Hamilton takes turn after turn as his infatuation for the exotic Randy Aziz spins him in different directions. Dustin's clear but unspoken challenge to Randy, “Come out of the closet for me, just for a week,” receives first a tentative and then a joyful “Yes!” from Randy. The boys spend days, and a very special evening, on the beach together, learning that their lives are similar in some surprising ways. But coming out takes Randy in a direction neither boy predicted. It's a summer the boys—and their families—will never forget.

Shattered Diamonds, by Jordan Taylor
Told from the point of view of the bully who has made the effort to view the video journal entries of the boy he and his friends have unmercifully harassed. The story painfully inches toward the bully’s epiphany: “The truth—that tiny, precise spark which occasionally crosses my path—is that I do not know how to face his mother and say, ‘I killed your son.’”

Pervert, by Brian Katcher
The unnamed protagonist secretly dresses in his mother’s and his sister’s clothes and suffers the shame that attends any realization that one’s physical gender is just simply “wrong.” But the boy’s sister comes to the rescue and actually accepts him to the point of dressing him up herself. His sister concludes: “Sometimes holding something inside can just eat you up. Sometimes a secret isn’t so hard to deal with if you share it with someone.”

And here's something else really great about this anthology:  all net proceeds will benefit The Trevor Project, the 24 hour lifeline for GLBTQ & Allied youth in crisis at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386.)

Add your review of "Awake" in comments!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Transgender People Undergoing Forced Sterilization in... Sweden? (And France, the Netherlands, Australia, and some U.S. States)!!!

It's shocking how gender non-conformity is so threatening.

I had no idea this was going on.  Check out this article at Huffington Post Gay Voices, about transgender actress Aleksa Lundberg and how she's fighting the laws that force transgender people like her to never be biological parents.


Evidently, Italy and Germany just overturned similar laws.

There's lots of work still to do, and lots injustice still to fight.


p.s. - My thanks to Karol for sharing this with me, so I could share it with all of you.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Letters! (Some of my favorite things...)

"Thank You" letters from sixth graders

I recently got this batch of letters from students who participated in my Smashing Stereotypes Workshops. They're sixth graders at an independent school in Los Angeles, and clearly they were given the assignment "write a thank you letter to our speaker."  No matter the motivation for writing me, reading their thoughts about what they learned, and how the workshop effected them, is pretty awesome.

Here are ten of my favorites:

"Dear Mr. Wind,
Thank you so much for coming to talk to us.  Your "Smashing Stereotypes" workshop was amazing.  It was inspiring.  I've had people tease me about going to a private school and for being too white because my whole building is Latino.  I am Latino.  But now I feel like I have the power to stand up to them.  Thank you so much! Namaste,"

"Dear Mr. Wind,
Thank you so much for sharing "Smashing Stereotypes" with us.  I really appreciated the time and hard work you put into making the presentation.  I enjoyed the part where we put the stereotypes on the sticky notes and them crumpled them to show we were "smashing" them.  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. Namaste,"

"Dear Mr. Wind,
Thank you so much for coming to our school to explain stereotypes to us.  To me this is a very important concept that isn't recognized in our messed up world.  One of my stereotyped traits is that I am Persian.  In addition to that, I am a Jew.  I am very proud of my heritage but once someone asked me if I was a terrorist and I felt horrible after that.  Since then, I have always been against racial profiling and have tried to help as best I can because of my past experiences.  What really stood out to me were the examples of gay men or kids who actually killed themselves or were killed.  I really think that it was amazing and must be stopped.  I also liked how you gave us an activity that was really important.  I think I took away many things form [sic] your lesson, however, I thought that one stereotype that you may consider putting in your presentation is the one about Muslims being terrorists.  Thank you so much once again for coming. Sincerely,"

"Dear Mr. Wind,
Thank you so much for coming in.  I really enjoyed your talk because I have been the butt of some racist jokes before.  You are a great speaker and really touched on many different aspects of stereotypes.  You did a great job and it was one of the highlights of my week.  Thanks."

"Dear, Mr. Wind
You have taught me soo much and now I know how tough it can be to be bullied.  Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedual [sic.]"

"Dear Mr. Wind,
Thank you so much for coming to 6th grade to talk to us about "Smashing Stereotypes." I think that it  was very important for our class to hear about the children who committed suicide and others who were killed.  It helped us understand that bullying is completely wrong and that people shouldn't be teased for being who they are. What really stood out to me is that you didn't just focus on the negative things; you also focused on positive things.  I learned that just everyone should just accept who people are and that everyone is a bit different from another.  Everyone has a stereotype like if you are blonde you are dumb, or if you are Latino you are a laborer, or if you are Jewish you have an accent.  Your presentation taught me a bit more how stereotypes have been proved completely wrong.  I was inspired by your presentation and it helped me and my classmates smash stereotypes.  Yours Truly,"

"Dear Mr. Wind,
Thank you so much, for coming to our class to talk to us about stereotypes.  Like you, I'm glad we talked about it this year and no later.  I loved how you made us stomp on the stereotypes, and I especially enjoyed the video you showed us.  It's a very good thing you're doing, teaching kids that there is always hope.  Namaste,  THANK YOU!"

"Dear Mr. Wind,
Thank you for coming to present your workshop.  Your presentation was very well put together and really stood out to me.  I really liked how you showed us all of these pictures and now I have a completely different outlook on gay and lesbian people.  I took away with me that everyone is different in a good way.  Thank you again sooooooooooo much.  Namaste,"

"Dear Mr. Wind,
Thank you so much for coming to [our school] and presenting your amazing workshop.  Smashing Stereotypes made me really think about all the crazy stenotypes [sic] that go on in this world.  I really appreciate the program you run and how you stand for people who are being treated badly.  You made me, personally, really want to make a stand for stereotypes and "smash" them to.  I loved how you told us to write down stereotypes and then step on them and smash them at the end.  You made me think a lot about everything and every story you told.  Tango makes three really stood out to me.  It's crazy how it is the most DANGOUOUS [sic] book in the WORLD!  I loved the presentation and what you stand for.  Thank you so much for coming.  It made an impact on [our] school.  Namaste,"

"Dear Mr. Wind,
First of all, thank you so much for coming in to speak with us.  I [heart] every thing you stand 4.  I made me start thinkin' real hard, why is there sooo much HATE in this world?  I thought and I thought, but, I couldn't come to a logical conclusion.  However, what I did come to a logical conclusion about was that if we all try hard we can bring LOVE into this world.  Your whole presentation reminded me of a famous M.L.K. Jr. quote "Hate cannot drive out hate, only [heart] can do that."  What you do is so kind, and when you talked you had so much passion.  THANK YOU FOR TEACHING ME THAT EVERY STORY DESERVES A HAPPILY EVER AFTER!  Namaste,"

I love doing these workshops, engaging with students and empowering them to change our world for the better.  And I loved getting these letters in the mail.
Thanks for letting me share.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Conan O'Brien Officiates A Gay Wedding On His TV Show

This was awesome to watch.

Thanks Conan, and Scott and David, for sharing this moment with over three quarters of a million viewers.  And with us.


Oh, the world is changing for the better.


And thanks to my husband for sharing it with me.  I'd marry you again, cameras or no cameras. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

The ACLU walks you through HOW TO START A Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Club at YOUR School!

I really liked this video, and hope you find it useful:

Good Luck with your GSA!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

85A - A gay punk-rock 1980s novel

By Kyle Thomas Smith

It’s a subzero Chicago morning on January 23, 1989, and Seamus is at his fighting best. Braving the bitter cold at the 85A bus stop, Seamus rails against his repressive environment in anticipation of his “the-minute-I-turn-18” move to London.

Liberated by failure when kicked out of school for yet another late appearance, Seamus makes a break for London via an Amtrak to the mean streets of Late Eighties Manhattan.

Add your review of 85A in comments!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gender 101, episode #16: The Alien Abduction Question

Okay, my conversation with our gender-queer friend Lucy really is about Masculinity, Femininity and Androgyny. About how we identify, on the outside and on the inside. And even about the gender-loaded terms "handsome" and "beautiful."

But the Alien question is in there.

Thanks, Lucy!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Quarterback's Secret - Pride Pack #3

By Ruth Sims (writing as R.J. Hamilton)

Set in the mid-1990s, The Pride Pack is a group of teenagers who band together to help each other out in a time before teens were equipped with cell phones, when homework was done in a notebook rather than on a laptop, and when gay-straight alliances were nothing but a pipe dream.

Athletics remain largely homophobic environments. How will his teammates react if 16-year-old baseball pitching star Ben Reis admits he is gay? And so he mostly lies about his sexuality even when he is with the Pride Pack at the local gay and lesbian community center. All that may change however as the result of his falling through a sinkhole into an unknown cavern and learning The Quarterback’s Secret ...

This is book three in the Pride Pack series, with the first two, Who Framed Lorenzo Garcia? and The Case Of The Missing Mother being re-issued by Cheyenne Publishing with new covers:

And this is really cool - the author is donating her royalties from all three titles in this series to The Trevor Project. 

Add your review of "The Quarterback's Secret" in comments!