Monday, April 30, 2012

Fantastic Video for Same-Love Marriage Equality

Enjoy this,

Love. Is. Powerful.


Thanks to my husband for sharing this with me. I love you.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Call Me Maybe - A Music Video by Carly Rae Jepsen That Will Make You Smile



ps - My thanks to Johnny for giving me the heads-up about this! Awesome!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Innovations in Teaching Teachers How To Stop Bullying

Theory and research is crucial, but the question remains... how can teachers practice their skills of interacting with students and making things better and not worse when bullying, drama and bias come up in school?

One innovative answer is Encompass' program, where they use theater and improvisation (with teacher and high-school age actors) to let teachers experiment with different strategies.  The student actors even do a Q&A with the teacher session attendees to give them the improvised in-character scoop on what's going on internally from the different teen perspectives: bullies, victims, bystanders and UPstanders.

Check out this five minute podcast report about Encompass' efforts to stop anti-gay bullying with Improv:

Encompass is a remarkable organization - they also do theatrical-based student presentations -  and I'm really excited to have teamed up with them to present my Empowering Diversity program last week to teachers in the Orange County BTSA (Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment) program!

My thanks and appreciation to Lori Nelson, Encompass' Executive Director, for the opportunity, and for all she and her team do to make our world, and students' lives, better.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gender 101 Episode #27: Emmi's Gender Non-Conforming Heroes

Benji (a.k.a. Lucy) continues the conversation about Gender with Emmi...

You can find out more about Julia Serano at

Thanks Lucy and Emmi!


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wandering Son, Book 2 - Manga with Transgender 6th Graders

Wandering Son, book two by Shimura Takako, translated by Matt Thorn

Shuichi and Yoshino are now in sixth grade. Shuichi (the young boy who wants to be a girl) spends a precious gift of cash from his grandmother on a special present for himself, a purchase that triggers a chain of events in which his sister Maho learns his secret, and Shuichi inadvertently steals the heart of a boy Maho in interested in.

The woman who showed so much interest in Yoshino (when she was wearing a boy’s school uniform) in Volume One reappears with her boyfriend, and, after discovering the important secret they have in common, becomes a mentor and friend to the two children. And the kids go on a class trip that is a rite of passage Shuichi would rather pass up. Shuichi is called a “faggot” by another boy, and the dramatic nature in which Saori comes to Shuichi’s defense leads the two to discover a shared fondness for Anne of Green Gables. But despite his propensity to cry (a propensity noted repeatedly by his more outgoing sister), Shuichi finds strength and courage he didn’t know he had.

Add your review of Wandering Son, Book Two in comments!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Gay and Mormon: Brigham Young University's "It Gets Better" Video

This is very powerful.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, know that there's someone to talk to at The Trevor Project lifeline, 1-866-488-7386.

You can see more of my favorite "It Gets Better" videos here.  And if you haven't seen it yet, here's a link to my own "we need to make it better" video.


Friday, April 20, 2012

National Day of Silence is TODAY! (Friday April 20, 2012)

The Day of Silence is GLSEN's annual day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.

These students explain it so well:

This year's slogan for today, asking each of us, "WHAT WILL YOU DO TO END THE SILENCE" is brilliant.

Silence can be very loud.

Let's dedicate ourselves so every day of the year we speak up, and stand up, and join together to make things better for gay, lesbian, bi, trans, questioning, queer and allied youth and teens!

Check out lots more Day of Silence poems, videos and resources at GLSEN's official Day of Silence website.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wandering Son, book 1 - Manga about Transgender 5th graders

Wandering Son, book one, by Shimura Takako, translated by Matt Thorn

Fifth graders Shuichi and Yoshino connect during the first days of school, discovering that they share a love of many different things... including the secret that each wants to be the gender that the other was born.  (Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy.)

Secrets don't stay secret, and there's even a production of  The Rose of Versailles as the farewell ceremony for the sixth graders — with boys playing the roles of women, and girls playing the roles of men.

This manga has won a lot of accolades, including being a 2012 Eisner Award Nominee: Best U.S. Edition of International Material – Asia, One of ALA/YALSA's Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2012 and Named to the ALA GLBT Round Table's 2012 Rainbow List of recommended books for young readers.

Add your review of Wandering Son, book 1, in comments!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gender 101, Episode 26: Meet Emmi

Our Gender-Queer friend Lucy (a.k.a. Benji) introduces us to another wonderful Gender Queer community member, Emmi!

I'm delighted to meet Emmi, and look forward to the discussions ahead.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Writing Contest For Teens About Bullying

New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof wants to raise the conversation on bullying by hearing from the REAL experts - teens.

If you're between 14 and 19, you can enter a 500 word-or-less essay "about bullying or how to address it."  The deadline for entries is April 30, 2012.

Winning entries may be published in the New York Times as part of Krisof's column, and on Teen Ink.

You can find the contest details here.


ps - Thanks to Curtis Kiefer and Robin Fosdick at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library for letting me know about this so I could share it with all of you!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A new word for "gay?" - Food for Thought (and discussion)

"...I thought of a new word for 'gay.' I thought instead of 'gay,' I could change it to 'great.' That's so much easier to say. You could just go, 'Look, there's something I want to tell you: I'm great. I've been a great for a long time. I thought it might weird you out if I told you how great I was. ... I've known I'm great since I was 12.'"

-newly out and gay comedian Todd Glass, in an article in the Philadelphia City Paper

Loved this and had to share it!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Chaos - A Dystopian Teen Sci Fi/Fantasy "Chock-Full of Queer Characters"

The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson

Scotch is sixteen, of mixed-race heritage (White Jamaican and Black American), and has just moved to Toronto, Canada. 

When Toronto and the world around her erupts in chaos (a volcano rises out of Lake Ontario, jelly beans grow teeth...) she goes in search of her brother, Rich, who disappeared when she dared him to touch a giant bubble.

Calling it "chock-full of queer characters," Outer Alliance contributor Rose Fox raved about The Chaos' "amazing wheelchair-wielding Sri Lankan angry punk dyke musician who is worth the price of admission all by herself."

From the publisher's synopsis:

"A blend of fantasy and Caribbean folklore, at its heart this tale is about identity and self acceptance; because only by acknowledging her imperfections can Scotch hope to save her brother."

Add your review of "The Chaos" in comments!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Gender 101, Episode 25: How Gender Non-Conforming Are YOU?

Continuing the discussion about gender with Nenu Cruz...

It's a great question, and something we should all think about!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Gay Community Stands Up With The African American Community And Demands Justice For Trayvon Martin

I've been thinking for weeks how to talk about Trayvon Martin's killing here. 

I talk all the time about the connection between racism and homophobia (and all kinds of bias and prejudice.)  But how could I contribute in a positive way, rather than just add my anger and frustration to the noise?

Well, finally, I have something to share.  Something we can all do to be UPstanders for Trayvon, his family, and the Black community.

In a joint open letter, 23 National GLBTQ organizations in the USA took a stand to say:

The tragic killing of Trayvon Martin is a national call to action. Our hearts go out to Trayvon’s family and friends for the loss they have experienced. We stand in solidarity with them as they demand answers and justice. We represent organizations with diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender constituencies.

Many in our community have been targets of bigotry and bias. We have a great deal of experience grappling with the role bias plays in violent crimes against our communities. We well know the stories of young people targeted for violence just because of who they are: Rashawn Brazell, Lawrence King, Ali Forney, Deoni Jones, Brandon White, Matthew Shepard, Angie Zapata, Sean Kennedy and countless others.

Trayvon’s killing is a wakeup call to the enduring cancer of racism and racial profiling. The pain his family continues to endure transcends communities and unites us all. Every person, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, must be able to walk the streets without fear for their safety.

Trayvon’s killing is tragic and the stark reality that racial bias played a role in his death has alarmed our nation. Questions must be asked. Answers must be sought. And justice must be served. We join our voices to the chorus of so many others to demand that local and federal authorities find those answers. We stand in solidarity with Trayvon’s family and friends as they seek justice for his killing. In the timeless words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

And today, I'm signing, too!

Lee Wind

You can leave a comment, adding your name below!

Monday, April 9, 2012

UPstander: A High School Junior sues his school for the right to wear his "Jesus Was Not A Homophobe" T-shirt

Check out this story:

Maverick, an openly gay 16 year old Junior at Waynesville High School in Ohio wants to wear this shirt to his school for their April 20th Day of Silence - a student-driven event to raise awareness about bullying.

A close up of the T-shirt. I've gotta get one of these for my June Pride Month T-shirt Project!

The school principal evidently told Maverick that he'd be suspended if he wears the shirt to school, saying that, among other things, the shirt is "sexual in nature."

Maverick, with the help of Lambda Legal, is suing his school district for the right to wear the shirt.

And I'm cheering him on! 


Friday, April 6, 2012

SCBWI Los Angeles Writer's Days: A Two Day Conference Coming Up On April 21 and 22, 2012

One of the coolest things about my being co-Regional Advisor for the Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators is putting together (along with my amazing co-RA Sarah Laurenson) our region's 2012 writer's days conference!

Our theme:

Books and Beyond:  How To Make a Living (and a Life!) As A Writer
Our faculty are amazing, including award winning, innovative, and prolific authors Terri Farley, Dawne Knobbe, Lee Wardlaw, and Sara Wilson Etienne, literary agent Michael Bourret, Editor Stacey Barney, and expert sessions on contracts (with Bonnie Berry LaMon, Esq.), taxes (with Monica Haven, EA, JD, LLM), and school visits (with Author and school visit expert Alexis O'Neill!)  Each day will be filled with business, craft, inspiration and community!

To celebrate (and get everyone else as excited as we are), I put together this video of our faculty's 10 Hot Tips!

There's still time to register!  For more information, go here.

Thanks, and hope to see you there,

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tessa Masterson Will Go To Prom - A Guest Review by Librarian Sarah Trowbridge

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin

Tessa and Lucas have been best friends ever since ... well, pretty much always. They've been inseparable since childhood, and know everything about each other. Or do they? Now it's senior year; she's a runner, he's a star pitcher with an athletic scholarship in the bag, and they both work for Tessa's parents at their mom-and-pop grocery store, one of the last surviving locally owned businesses in their small Midwestern town. Everything is going great, until Lucas gets it in his head that he and Tessa are destined to become more than just friends. When he stages a grand romantic (and very public) gesture to ask her to the prom, his plan backfires in a big way. Tessa breaks the news that she would rather take a girl to the prom, and the whole town goes wild. For some reason, what people really can't live with is the fact that Tessa plans to wear a custom-fitted tuxedo to the event. Rather than have the prom tradition “desecrated” in this way, the school plans to cancel it -- a prospect which leads just about everybody at school to turn against Tessa in fury. How dare she be so selfish as to steal their prom from them?

Alternating chapters by the two co-authors tell the story from Tessa's and Lucas' points of view. Both characters relate the unfolding drama in the town, but each one also takes the reader along on a personal journey, as both Lucas and Tessa come to grips with what it really means to be true to yourself and to your friends. You will get to know and love Tessa and Lucas, cheering them on all the way through to the sparkling, cinematic ending.

Sarah Trowbridge is a public librarian in the Southeastern United States. She's an ally to the queer community, and reads this blog regularly. She blogs at Addicted To Story.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gender 101, Episode 24: Nenu's Gender Non-Conforming Heroes

Our Gender Queer friend Lucy, a.k.a. Benji, continues our conversation about Gender with Nenu Cruz, exploring Nenu's gender non-conforming heroes.

You can find out more about Frida Kahlo here.

And how awesome is it for Nenu to be able to refer to Nenu's grandmother as "bad ass?"


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Queer Characters in Dystopian YA

A couple of weeks ago, Paolo Bacigalupi (who won the Printz Award for his novel, Ship Breaker), wrote an article at Kirkus Reviews, The Invisible Dystopia, about why there weren't more GLBTQ characters in Teen Dystopian novels.

His basic point is why include GLBTQ characters in fictional dystopias when no one seems to notice that for queer teens, our society of today is already dystopian!

Juliarios over at outeralliance did a great post, Outer Alliance Spotlight #96: Dystopian YA Stories about the strong community response to Paolo's article.

She noted how rather than being a flash-point of out of control emotions, Paolo's article sparked a conversation - where bloggers, authors and readers of queer YA shared what was disappointing to them in Paolo's perspective. They shared about what sorts of things are important to them in dystopian YA stories, and included recommendations for a number of good dystopian teen novels with QUILTBAG (Queer and Questioning, Unidentified, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay and Gender Queer) content.

Many of the bloggers who wrote in response to Paolo's article cited the idea that to not include GLBTQ characters in dystopian futures tells queer kids that not only is there no place for them in the future, there's no place for them in present.

Author Nora Olsen wrote a great piece about this, saying:

Imagine that this article had been about the paucity of African-American characters in dystopian YA (also a problem worthy of an article.) This article would argue that black youth are being discriminated against and shot down in real life, so they already live in a dystopia. Only by writing a story where white people are the victims of racism could you open the eyes of our true target audience, white kids, to the nature of racism. Bananas, right?

Nora also wrote:
It can also be very affirming for LGBTQ teens to see themselves in fiction, not as a “problem storyline” or example of victimization in society but as a cool character in a dystopia. You’re not really normalized until you’re the star of the show, not just the “very special episode.”

Juliarios' article is a great summary of the discussion so far - and evidently, Paolo is going to write a follow-up piece at Kirkus Reviews...

In the meantime, check out this great list of queer YA dystopian novels!  I've blogged about a few of them, like Nora Olsen's The End, the anthologies Nightsiders and Zombies vs. Unicorns, but there were a handful of titles, both new to me and soon to be released, that I can't wait to include on this blog.

But still, the list of dystopian novels for teens with queer main characters is under ten titles.

So like Juliarios, I'll give the last word to Julie Andrews (not the actress):

Look, we need more quiltbag characters in YA science fiction and fantasy PERIOD. Full stop.

So go forth and write a dystopia where heterosexuality is forbidden. But, also, or instead of, write a dystopia where the main character isn't straight. Write a dystopia where one of the love interests is bi. Write a dystopia where they mess with your gender. Write a dystopia where orientation doesn't matter and it's a dystopia for other reasons. And write a story with rocket ships piloted by lesbians. Write a fantasy full of boy dragons raising eggs together. Write all the things!!

We need it all.

Beautifully said!

***UPDATE March 4, 2012 ***

Paolo published a follow-up piece at Kirkus Reviews that's excellent.

It reads, in part:

"The more I write stories for young people, and the more young readers I meet, the more I'm struck by how much kids long to see themselves in stories. To see their identities and perspectives—their avatars—on the page. Not as issues to be addressed or as icons for social commentary, but simply as people who get to do cool things in amazing worlds."

And when you see that as a writer, you quickly realize that you don't want to be the jerk who says to a young reader, “Sorry, kid. You don't get to exist in story; you're too different.” You don't want to be part of our present dystopia that tells kids that if they just stopped being who they are they could have a story written about them, too. That's the role of the bad guy in the dystopian stories, right? Given a choice, I'd rather be the storyteller who says every kid can have a chance to star."

YES!  Thanks Paolo, for having this insight!  I can't wait to read some of your new dystopian YA adventures that include queer characters!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Celebrating National Poetry Month: Jan Steckel's new book of poetry

Jan Steckel has a new book of poetry out, The Horizontal Poet. Published by Zeitgeist Press and nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, Jan says "It has poems in it about loving women and about loving men." My thanks to Jan for letting me share this poem from the book with you!


My step-grandfather’s grandson
danced with my cousin at a Bar Mitzvah.
He held her too close and murmured
“We’re not really cousins, not by blood.”
“Let’s pretend we are,” she said,
inserting her elbow between them.

I’d been working for gay rights for years
before I worked up the nerve
to ask my grandmother to take me to the Castro.

“Where are you going?”
my step-grandfather called from the recliner.
“To Castro Street, dear.”
“What do you want to go THERE for?”
“To see fairies, dear,” trilled my grandmother,
and skipped out the door.

Her feet were so long,
she had to descend the basement stairs sideways.
Her shoulders were wide, her hips narrow.
She could pitch a baseball like a man,
had taught my father how to throw.

Her Mercedes launched like a torpedo
from the underground garage.

When we reached the Castro,
manly beauty sizzled. We held hands
to protect ourselves from glorious torsos,
spreading of feathers, the sheer display
of pierced and tattooed flesh
preening that day on the summer street.

I wondered if we looked like lesbians:
a baby dyke and her still-beautiful sugar-mama.

I pretended we were.

"Pretending" first appeared in Lavender Review.