Friday, June 28, 2013

Forward Pass - A YA Novel About A Closeted Lesbian Teen Soccer Player

Forward Pass by Lorna Schultz Nicholson

Podium Sports Academy’s star goalkeeper wants nothing more than to play on Canada’s National Team. Parmita works hard at school and on the pitch, so if it seems like she’s avoiding boys, she hopes everyone will think it’s because she wants to be the best, and not because she’s secretly attracted to girls.

The team’s new assistant coach may actually have the pull to get Parmita a National Team tryout, but Parmita is uncomfortable with her coach’s constant flirting and accidentally-on-purpose touching. After the coach guesses her secret about her sexuality and corners her in the locker room, Parmita has to decide how far she’ll go to get a tryout.

Part of the author's Podium Sports Academy Series, add your review of "Forward Pass" in comments!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Drama - A Graphic Novel of Middle School Drama On and Off Stage... And Gay Characters, too!

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie loves theater.  And while she would totally try out for her middle school's production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can't really sing.  Instead she's the set designer for the drama department's stage crew, and this year she's determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget.  But how can she, when she doesn't know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together?  Not to mention the drama that occurs once the actors are chosen.  And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

With both gay and hetero middle school crushes, coming out moments and characters pursuing their passions in the world of theater, I loved this graphic novel.   Add your review of "Drama" in comments!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Girl Friends: The Manga Story of a Friendship that Blossoms into True Love

Girl Friends by Milk Morinaga

In Girl Friends, studious and shy Mariko spends her lunch breaks reading by herself and her afternoons with school work until carefree and whimsical Akko reaches out and befriends her. Suddenly, Mariko’s life thrums with laughing, shopping, talking, and connecting with her new best friend. Over time, the girls learn each others’ secrets and Mariko’s feelings deepen until she wonders, and then hopes, if the connection they share can be more than friendship.

This manga is adorable and emotionally compelling. Mariko’s story is alive with those magical discoveries that bloom at the beginning of a relationship. She almost can’t believe how much her new friend likes and cares about her, and she grows up slowly before the readers’ eyes. Akko and Mariko are consistently supportive of each other, encouraging each other to stand up for themselves and live life to the fullest.

In gentle ways, this manga addresses serious issues. Both Akko and Mariko face pressure to date boys even though they have little interest in doing so. In addition, both young women struggle with body image and decide to go on a diet together. It is sad to watch two healthy teenagers worry about their weight. In addition, Mariko faces realistic fears about growing apart from her friends, and she is at first confused and troubled by her growing romantic attraction to Akko. Her journey through friendship into love is real, moving, and inspiring!

Girl Friends is complete in two expanded volumes.  The story includes underage drinking, sensuality, and some nude shots of ladies taking baths. I would have felt comfortable reading this manga at the age of sixteen.

Review by Aaron Walsh.  Add your review of "Girl Friends" in comments!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Thirteen Therapists - a rich gay teen has everything but a boyfriend and a loving mother

Thirteen Therapists by Russell J. Sanders

Aaron Hardaway is the son of one of Chicago's richest families. He'll graduate from an exclusive Chicago prep-school. He cruises in a Benz SLK300, a grad present from his father. Aaron Hardaway has it all.

But a boyfriend. And a loving mother. Sylvia Karnes Hardaway, evil Queen of Chicago society, long ago thrust her son into therapy hell. Twelve shrinks later, Thirteen enters Aaron's life. Thirteen's mantra is eyes wide open.

Thirteen will transform Aaron's life. So will bad boy Derrick. Aaron hooks up with Derrick, and things will never be the same.

Maybe he should have kept his eyes wide open.

Add your review of "Thirteen Therapists" in comments!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Julio's Day - A Gay Life (Graphic Novel)

Julio's Day by Gilbert Hernandez

It begins in the year 1900, with the scream of a newborn. It ends, 100 pages later, in the year 2000, with the death rattle of a 100-year-old man. The infant and the old man are both Julio, and Gilbert Hernandez’s Julio’s Day (originally serialized in Love and Rockets Vol. II but never completed until now) is Hernadez's latest graphic novel, a masterpiece of elliptical, emotional storytelling that traces one life — indeed, one century in a human life — through a series of carefully crafted, consistently surprising and enthralling vignettes.

There is hope and joy, there is bullying and grief, there is war (so much war — this is after all the 20th century), there is love, there is heartbreak.

You can see a 9 page excerpt here.  Add your review of "Julio's Day" in comments!

Friday, June 21, 2013

We The Animals - A Gay Coming Of Age Story

We The Animals by Justin Torres

Three brothers tear their way through childhood – smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn – he's Puerto Rican, she's white – and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times.

Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. The youngest brother narrates, and we're wrenched from the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he's institutionalized by his family for being gay, and then witness as he's ultimately propelled at escape velocity towards his future.

Add your review of "We The Animals" in comments!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Real Teen Voices Series: Vicious, Rage and Pressure

Vicious: True Stories by Teens About Bullying

Rage: True Stories by Teens About Anger


Pressure: True Stories by Teens About Stress

The Real Teen Voices series offers a window into the lives of inner-city teens. In these books — Vicious, Pressure, and Rage — teen writers open up to tell personal stories that tackle difficult, real-life issues related to bullying, stress, and anger. The essays were written by teens in an intensive writing program at Youth Communication, a nonprofit organization in New York City that helps marginalized youth develop their full potential through reading and writing.

The essays in Vicious: True Stories by Teens About Bullying address every type of bullying: physical, verbal, relational, and cyber. These writers experience cruelty and hurt—Kiara and her friends are terrorized by a cyberbully, Jeremiyah is attacked for being gay, and Elie fights back so hard against bullying he becomes a bully himself—but their essays reveal resilience. Also included, a therapist offers tips on what adults can do to help stop bullying.

Vicious includes:

“Gay on the Block” by Jeremiyah Spears
Harassed for being gay, Jeremiyah finds ways to maintain his self-worth

“A Place to Belong” by Lavell Pride
Lavell finds a supportive LGBTQ program that gives her the strength and courage to be herself

The teen writers in Rage: True Stories by Teens About Anger have plenty of reasons to be angry: parental abuse, street violence, peer pressure, and more. Their stories express rage honestly, but also show examples of anger management for teens. Read stories like “Ready to Fight” from Joseph, who was physically and sexually abused, but whose rage subsides when he finds a foster mom who respects him, and Shateek, who learns to channel his anger into success on the wrestling mat. He writes, “When my grandmother died and I was taken from my family, I felt like I was the only person in the world; I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I got in to a lot of trouble in school because I wasn’t able to control my anger . . . Wrestling taught me how to control my anger on and off the mat, and I was happy I could fight without getting in trouble for it.”

Rage includes:

“Taming My Anger” by Tray T.
Being gay in foster care has taken Tray’s struggles to a whole new level, but with the help of staff members at his group home, Tray finds less destructive ways to deal with his emotions.

In Pressure: True Stories by Teens About Stress, stress hits teens from all angles—at school, at home, and in their relationships. The essayists describe how stress has affected them and how they persevere through it, for example, Ashunte writes poetry to cope with the mental strain of being abused, and Ngan-Fong teaches herself to enjoy the moment, instead of pushing herself so hard to succeed that she never feels happy. The book includes tips and techniques for stress relief.

Pressure includes:

“Tears of a Clown” by Eugene Han
Eugene’s carefree persona masks the pain of a childhood burdened by adult responsibilities, including an incarcerated mother and coming to terms with his sexuality.

Add your review of "Vicious," "Rage" or "Pressure" in comments!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Meeting You: Manga Stories of Gay Passion

Meeting You by Mio Tennohiji

Meeting You contains three short stories of intense attraction between men. In the title story, sweet and naïve Touru falls for Himeshiro, a promiscuous jerk with secret insecurities.

Next comes How to Find a Gentle Kiss where old friends Senken and Sakuma rediscover each other after years of separation and explode in passion in an empty office board room.

In Mornings at the Bus Stop, Sunpei cherishes the moments he shares chatting with Kaoru before work while the two of them are waiting for the bus, and he dreams of the day they can grow into more than casual friends.

These stories revolve around carnal attraction and emotional infatuation. Some scenes reinforce unhealthy relationship dynamics by romanticizing submission and over-dependence. For example, when talking about his crush, one character literally says, “I don’t mind being his dog.” Such sentiments make me sad, as does the fact that in the stories, there is no consequence for men who exert extreme pressure on partners for sex. In addition, I always have a problem with stories that espouse the myth that cruel men will change if you love them. People can change if they choose to, but latching onto a bad boy with hopes that someday he’ll treat you right is a recipe for heartbreak and even violence.

Despite these concerns, there are some moving and romantic moments in this manga, For example, there is a poignant scene about the importance of being honest and expressing oneself in a relationship. These moments humanize the characters and add some depth to an otherwise purely erotic collection.

Meeting You is complete in one book.  There is a great deal of explicit sexual content, so I would like to have been at least eighteen-years-old before reading it.

Review by Aaron Walsh.  Add your review of "Meeting You" in comments!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

They Call Me A Hero - A Young Gay Man's Memoir

They Call Me A Hero: A Memoir of My Youth by Daniel Hernandez

When Daniel Hernandez Jr. was twenty-years-old he was working as an intern for U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. On January 8, 2011, during a “Congress on Your Corner” event, Giffords was shot. Daniel Hernandez’s quick thinking helped to save Giffords’s life until the paramedics arrived and took her to the hospital. Hernandez’s bravery and heroism has been noted by many, including President Barack Obama.

But while that may have been his most well-known moment in the spotlight, Daniel Hernandez is a remarkable individual who has already accomplished much in his young life and is working to achieve much more. This memoir explores Daniel’s life, his character, and the traits that a young person needs to rise above adversity and become a hero like Daniel.

Daniel says, “Although I humbly deny the title of Hero I am honored to be able to share my story with people in the hope that it will inspire them to overcome whatever obstacles they may have in their life and devote themselves to the service of human kind.”

Add your review of "They Call Me A Hero" in comments!

Monday, June 17, 2013

His Dark Materials Series - Fantasy Adventure With Dæmons, Armored Talking Bears and Gay Angels

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights (a.k.a. The Golden Compass)

Lyra Belacqua is content to run wild among the scholars of Jodan College, with her daemon familiar always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, draws her to the heart of a terrible struggle—a struggle born of Gobblers and stolen children, witch clans and armored bears. And as she hurtles toward danger in the cold far North, Lyra never suspects the shocking truth: she alone is destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle.

The Subtle Knife

Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted underworld—Cittàgazze, where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. But she is not without allies: 12-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another’s, has also stumbled into this strange new realm.

On a perilous journey from world to world, Lyra and Will discover an object of devastating power. And with every step, they move closer to an even greater threat—and the shattering truth of their own destiny.

The Amber Spyglass

In the astonishing finale to the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra and Will are in unspeakable danger. With help from Iorek Byrnison the armored bear and two tiny Gallivespian spies, they must journey to a dank and gray-lit world where no living soul has ever gone. All the while, Dr. Mary Malone builds a magnificent Amber Spyglass. An assassin hunts her down, and Lord Asriel, with a troop of shining angels, fights his mighty rebellion, in a battle of strange allies—and shocking sacrifice.

As war rages and Dust drains from the sky, the fate of the living—and the dead—finally comes to depend on two children and the simple truth of one simple story.

My thanks to Jeff for the heads-up about the gay content in books 2 and 3.  Add your review of any or all of the "His Dark Materials" books in comments!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Kim Ho’s 'The Language of Love' - an incredible 9 minute short film about a teen's first love

Watch this

(though be aware the F-word is used once.)

Kim Ho - who's 17 - wrote and starred in it - wow!  You can find out more here.

I'm so grateful to have seen this short movie, and to get to share it with you all.


ps - Thanks to my husband for sharing it with me.   Je t'aime.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Impossibly Glamorous: A Memoir of "How A Misfit From Kansas Became An Asian Sensation"

Impossibly Glamorous: How A Misfit From Kansas Became An Asian Sensation by Charles Ayres

Love the book's tagline: “You can be flat on your ass, but still be a winner.”

Charles Ayres heard plenty of Wizard of Oz jokes growing up in Kansas. After finding himself on some seedy dance floors of Kansas City, his quest for love and glamour − and his penchant for all things Japanese − carried Charles from Dorothy’s homeland to New York to Tokyo.

Impossibly Glamorous follows his exploits with Goth raver lesbians, hot men, and not-so-hot men, culminating in a long term love affair with Japan. His journey from ugly baby to Asian media personality touches on tough issues such as coming out gay in Kansas, domestic violence, substance abuse, and how to bounce back from any kind of adversity with only a faux fur coat and a cavalier skip.

Add your review of "Impossibly Glamorous" in comments!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Same Cell Organism: Heartwarming Gay and Trans Manga Love Stories

Same Cell Organism by Sumomo Yumeka

Same Cell Organism is an inspiring collection of queer love stories. In the title story, deep-thinking and angsty Nakagama falls in love with his enthusiastic and open-hearted classmate, Yokota. The two learn in time that despite their differences on the surface, at their cores, they are the same. As they graduate high school and enter the real world together, they pray that they may grow together and that their love can last another day.

In another story, Kana and Yuji discover that they share a secret place in their school’s attic. Over time, they build a connection that transcends the rigid boundaries and expectations they are forced to endure every day. In yet another story, Sakaki wishes to be a princess and fall in love with a beautiful man, but the world labels Sakaki as a boy and calls her dreams impossible. Yuki, a mysterious angel boy, leaves heaven to be by Sakaki’s side as her prince and soul mate.

These gripping stories have many important things to say about love. Characters deal with realistic fears and issues, wondering whether love can last forever or how to deal with changing relationships as one builds a new family with someone else. But the various couples face these challenges together and give each other hope. They learn that it takes faith to make a relationship last, and that true love is worth the risk of loss.

Same Cell Organism is complete in one volume.  There is some sexual content shared between characters deeply in love. In my opinion, these scenes are drawn subtly and tastefully, and they add meaning and depth to the stories. I would have felt comfortable reading this manga when I was sixteen years old.

Review by Aaron Walsh.  Add your review of "Same Cell Organism" in comments!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gordon The Giraffe - a Picture Book With a Gay Main Character, Bullying, and a Happy Ending

Gordon The Giraffe by Bruce Brown, illustrated by A. Shelton

Gordon lives with his mother in the hidden kingdom of Ugladunga.

Every day, the adult giraffes gather on the other side of the waterfall, but the kid giraffes meet to play the game Mulunga Doo in pairs: one boy and one girl.

When Gorden is asked to play the game by Gary, they have a wonderful time - until the other young giraffes laugh at them and ask Gordon if he is a girl.

Hurt, Gordon flees to his mother who tells him that he must follow his heart.

The next day, the boy giraffes plan a mean trick to keep Gordon in line, but their plan backfires and only Gordon can save the day...

It's beautifully illustrated, and a story that would have moved me as a child.  I wish I would have had this picture book read to me when I was a kid!

This story was published by the author, who has been writing graphic novels for nearly nine years and whose work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, The Independant, and Rue Morgue magazine.

The artist is anonymous, and the name used is of a friend of the illustrator "who passed from AIDS." This project is a tribute to that friend.

Add your review of "Gordon The Giraffe" in comments!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fun New Music: Mal Blum

Mal Blum

Mal Blum is a Bi and Queer Indie/Folk singer-songwriter

Check out this song, "Waiting In Line"

Here are the lyrics:

Waiting In Line

I went to a gay bar
and I looked at all the paintings
if you see somebody
studying paintings in a gay bar, that's me

and all the boys were laughing
and all the girls were dancing
and I thought for a moment,
I saw someone in between

so, do you want to talk to me?
do you want to dance with me?
do you want to get drunk and discuss anthropology?
I don't really care that much
no, I don't care at all
I just don't want to be alone
when I hit that wall
'cause all of my life
oh, all of my life
I've been waiting waiting waiting in line

so I went to the gay bar
and I got myself a haircut
I was feeling pretty good
thinking I looked like I should
and at the door there was a fee
and once inside would you believe
no one even took a second
to take a second glance at me?

so, do you want to talk to me
do you want to dance with me
do you want to get drunk
and discuss anthropology?
I don't really care that much
no, I don't care at all
I just don't want to be alone
when I take that fall
'cause all
of my life
I've been waiting waiting waiting in line

so I went to the gay bar
only stayed an hour or two
then I mustered up the courage to come
crawling back to you
and I know that that's bad etiquette
and I know it's pretty low
but I realized that I love you
and I thought you ought to know

so, say that you'll still talk to me
say that you'll still dance with me
say you want to stay at home and discuss anthropology
'cause I don't really care that much
but I'd pretend for you
let me say again so it sinks in
how I'm sorry and I love you

and all
of my life
in fact,
all of our lives
we are waiting waiting waiting
for the right time



Friday, June 7, 2013

"I hugged a man in his underwear" - A Religious Man Attends Gay Pride To Apologize

This blog post by Nathan, telling about his experience at a Gay Pride parade where he was part of a group of religious people apologizing to the attendees for the wrongs of the church against gay people, was powerful. 

Read it, and feel proud to be you.  Authentically you, no matter who you are!


My thanks to Dana for sharing this with me!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ask The Passengers - A Teen Girl's Struggles Falling In Love With Another Girl and Trying to Figure It All Out

Ask The Passengers by A.S. King

Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother's pushiness and her father's lack of interest tell her they're the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn't know the passengers inside, but they're the only people who won't judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she's falling in love with a girl.As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can't share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don't even know she's there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers' lives--and her own--for the better.

"Ask The Passengers" won the 2012 Los Angeles Times' Book Prize for best Young Adult novel. Add your review in comments!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Off Beat: A Manga in Which a Boy Genius Spies on the Dark-Eyed Boy Next Door

Off Beat by Jen Lee Quick

In Off Beat, nerdy and brilliant Tory Blake lives with his mom in New York and leads a boring every-day-high-school life until the mysterious Colin Stephens moves in across the street. Colin lives with a non-relative guardian and commutes to St. Peter’s Academy, a distant Catholic prep school.

Fascinated by his new neighbor and suspicious that Colin is hiding something, Tory begs his mom to enroll him at St. Peter’s so he can launch an investigation. As the mystery of Colin Stephens unfolds, Tory must eventually ask himself why he is so curious about this other boy, a boy who makes him blush whenever they cross paths.

This manga is a suspenseful page-turner and a compelling teen drama. All the characters are authentic, complex, and hilarious. At the heart of the story is Tory and Colin’s multi-layered and slowly-built relationship. In addition, scenes with fully-realized side characters make this manga really come to life. For example, due to stress and fatigue, Tory and his single mom live under a never-ending sense of tension that erupts in occasional fights. Despite this, they share quiet moments of tenderness, and Tory subtly expresses desire for a better relationship with his mother. In addition, Tory’s college-student neighbor routinely comes begging for food, and the two boys have a tempestuous, bickering friendship. Once in a while, however, the two young men show concern for one another, but of course they remain too prideful to overtly acknowledge that they care how the other feels. (Oh, how I detest the painful and isolating realities of masculine culture!) The nuances of Tory’s various relationships are revealed with sensitivity, depth, and realistic detail, making each scene a relevant and meaningful read.

Off Beat is composed of three volumes. This manga is delightful and I would have felt comfortable reading it at any age.

Review by Aaron Walsh.  Add your review of any or all of the volumes of "Off Beat" in comments!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Revelations Of Jude Connor - A Teen's Sexuality and Faith Collide

The Revelations of Jude Connor by Robin Reardon

Jude Connor’s rural Idaho hometown is a place of strong values and high expectations. For those who fit into the local church’s narrow confines, there’s support and fellowship. For those who don’t, there’s ostracism in this life and certain damnation in the next.

Jude wants desperately to be saved. Yet it’s not easy. There are restrictions on behavior and whispers about other congregants. And there’s Jude’s growing need to decide for himself how to live, when to question, and who to love. In the face of his temptations, Jude must confront the truth behind the church’s façade and his willingness to follow his own path — even if it leads him far from everything he’s known…

Add your review of "The Revelations of Jude Connor" in comments!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay

Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay by Paul Vitagliano

A collection of adorable childhood photographs accompanied by sweet, funny, and at times heartbreaking personal stories of those who grew up LGBTQ. Based on the popular blog of the same name (, the book is a celebration of growing up gay, childhood, and community.

Feeling different is, for many LGBTQ people, a central part of the experience of growing up. And, as the saying goes, a picture can speak a thousand words. Born This Way features 100 photographs submitted by blog readers from around the world, dating from the 1940s to today, paired with personal narratives about the images and about each contributor’s unique perspective on growing up LGBTQ.

Their warm, inclusive stories give people the courage to say, “Yes, I’m gay. And I was born this way. I’ve known it since I was very young, and this is my story.”

Add your review of "Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay" in comments!