Friday, August 30, 2013

President Obama's Speech on the 50th Anniversary of the March On Washington

Watch this! (From Wednesday of this week...)

Moments that leapt out at me include at 8:36 in...

"Because they marched, America became more free and more fair, not just for African-Americans but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, for Catholics, Jews and Muslims, for gays, for Americans with disabilities.

America changed for you and for me. 

And the entire world drew strength from that example."

and at 12 minutes in...

"The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice but it doesn't bend on its own."

and this part at 22 minutes in...

The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history, that we are masters of our fate.

But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together. We'll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago.

And I believe that spirit is there, that true force inside each of us. I see it when a white mother recognizes her own daughter in the face of a poor black child. I see it when the black youth thinks of his own grandfather in the dignified steps of an elderly white man. It's there when the native born recognizing that striving spirit of a new immigrant, when the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who were discriminated against and understands it as their own. That's where courage comes from, when we turn not from each other or on each other but towards one another, and we find that we do not walk alone. That's where courage comes from.

Here's a full transcript of President Obama's speech from the Federal News Service (as reported by the Washington Post.)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: To the King family, who have sacrificed and inspired so much, to President Clinton, President Carter, Vice President Biden, Jill, fellow Americans, five decades ago today, Americans came to this honored place to lay claim to a promise made at our founding.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In 1963, almost 200 years after those words were set to paper, a full century after a great war was fought and emancipation proclaimed, that promise, those truths remained unmet. And so they came by the thousands, from every corner of our country -- men and women, young and old, blacks who longed for freedom and whites who could no longer accept freedom for themselves while witnessing the subjugation of others. Across the land, congregations sent them off with food and with prayer. In the middle of the night, entire blocks of Harlem came out to wish them well.

With the few dollars they scrimped from their labor, some bought tickets and boarded buses, even if they couldn't always sit where they wanted to sit. Those with less money hitchhiked, or walked. They were seamstresses, and steelworkers, and students, and teachers, maids and pullman porters. They shared simple meals and bunked together on floors.

And then, on a hot summer day, they assembled here, in our nation's capital, under the shadow of the great emancipator, to offer testimony of injustice, to petition their government for redress and to awaken America's long-slumbering conscience.

We rightly and best remember Dr. King's soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions, how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time.

But we would do well to recall that day itself also belonged to those ordinary people whose names never appeared in the history books, never got on TV.

Many had gone to segregated schools and sat at segregated lunch counters, had lived in towns where they couldn't vote, in cities where their votes didn't matter. There were couples in love who couldn't marry, soldiers who fought for freedom abroad that they found denied to them at home. They had seen loved ones beaten and children fire- hosed. And they had every reason to lash out in anger or resign themselves to a bitter fate.

And yet they chose a different path. In the face of hatred, they prayed for their tormentors. In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in with the moral force of nonviolence. Willingly, they went to jail to protest unjust laws, their cells swelling with the sound of freedom songs. A lifetime of indignities had taught them that no man can take away the dignity and grace that God grants us. They had learned through hard experience what Frederick Douglas once taught: that freedom is not given; it must be won through struggle and discipline, persistence and faith.

That was the spirit they brought here that day.

That was the spirit young people like John Lewis brought that day. That was the spirit that they carried with them like a torch back to their cities and their neighborhoods, that steady flame of conscience and courage that would sustain them through the campaigns to come, through boycotts and voter registration drives and smaller marches, far from the spotlight, through the loss of four little girls in Birmingham, the carnage of Edmund Pettus Bridge and the agony of Dallas, California, Memphis. Through setbacks and heartbreaks and gnawing doubt, that flame of justice flickered and never died.

And because they kept marching, America changed. Because they marched, the civil rights law was passed. Because they marched, the voting rights law was signed. Because they marched, doors of opportunity and education swung open so their daughters and sons could finally imagine a life for themselves beyond washing somebody else's laundry or shining somebody else's shoes. (Applause.) Because they marched, city councils changed and state legislatures changed and Congress changed and, yes, eventually the White House changed. (Cheers, applause.)

Because they marched, America became more free and more fair, not just for African-Americans but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans, for Catholics, Jews and Muslims, for gays, for Americans with disabilities.

America changed for you and for me.

And the entire world drew strength from that example, whether it be young people who watched from the other side of an Iron Curtain and would eventually tear down that wall, or the young people inside South Africa who would eventually end the scourge of apartheid. (Applause.) Those are the victories they won, with iron wills and hope in their hearts. That is the transformation that they wrought with each step of their well-worn shoes. That's the depth that I and millions of Americans owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries -- folks who could have run a company, maybe, if they had ever had a chance; those white students who put themselves in harm's way even though they didn't have to -- (applause) -- those Japanese- Americans who recalled their own interment, those Jewish Americans who had survived the Holocaust, people who could have given up and given in but kept on keeping on, knowing that weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning -- (cheers, applause) -- on the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all, in ways that our children now take for granted as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together, and fight alongside one another and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth.

To dismiss the magnitude of this progress, to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed -- that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years. (Applause.) Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr., they did not die in vain. (Applause.) Their victory was great.

But we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete. The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn't bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency. Whether it's by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all in the criminal justice system and not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails -- (applause) -- it requires vigilance.

(Cheers, applause.)

And we'll suffer the occasional setback. But we will win these fights. This country has changed too much. (Applause.) People of good will, regardless of party, are too plentiful for those with ill will to change history's currents. (Applause.)

In some ways, though, the securing of civil rights, voting rights, the eradication of legalized discrimination -- the very significance of these victories may have obscured a second goal of the march, for the men and women who gathered 50 years ago were not there in search of some abstract idea. They were there seeking jobs as well as justice -- (applause) -- not just the absence of oppression but the presence of economic opportunity. For what does it profit a man, Dr. King would ask, to sit at an integrated lunch counter if he can't afford the meal?

This idea that -- that one's liberty is linked to one's livelihood, that the pursuit of happiness requires the dignity of work, the skills to find work, decent pay, some measure of material security -- this idea was not new.

Lincoln himself understood the Declaration of Independence in such terms, as a promise that in due time, the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men and that all should have an equal chance.

Dr. King explained that the goals of African-Americans were identical to working people of all races: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures -- conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community.

What King was describing has been the dream of every American. It's what's lured for centuries new arrivals to our shores. And it's along this second dimension of economic opportunity, the chance through honest toil to advance one's station in life, that the goals of 50 years ago have fallen most short.

Yes, there have been examples of success within black America that would have been unimaginable a half-century ago. But as has already been noted, black unemployment has remained almost twice as high as white employment (sic), Latino unemployment close behind. The gap in wealth between races has not lessened, it's grown.

As President Clinton indicated, the position of all working Americans, regardless of color, has eroded, making the dream Dr. King described even more elusive.

For over a decade, working Americans of all races have seen their wages and incomes stagnate. Even as corporate profits soar, even as the pay of a fortunate few explodes, inequality has steadily risen over the decades. Upward mobility has become harder. In too many communities across this country in cities and suburbs and rural hamlets, the shadow of poverty casts a pall over our youth, their lives a fortress of substandard schools and diminished prospects, inadequate health care and perennial violence.

And so as we mark this anniversary, we must remind ourselves that the measure of progress for those who marched 50 years ago was not merely how many blacks had joined the ranks of millionaires; it was whether this country would admit all people who were willing to work hard, regardless of race, into the ranks of a middle-class life. (Applause.) The test was not and never has been whether the doors of opportunity are cracked a bit wider for a few. It was whether our economic system provides a fair shot for the many, for the black custodian and the white steelworker, the immigrant dishwasher and the Native American veteran. To win that battle, to answer that call -- this remains our great unfinished business.

We shouldn't fool ourselves. The task will not be easy. Since 1963 the economy's changed.

The twin forces of technology and global competition have subtracted those jobs that once provided a foothold into the middle class, reduced the bargaining power of American workers.

And our politics has suffered. Entrenched interests -- those who benefit from an unjust status quo resisted any government efforts to give working families a fair deal, marshaling an army of lobbyists and opinion makers to argue that minimum wage increases or stronger labor laws or taxes on the wealthy who could afford it just to fund crumbling schools -- that all these things violated sound economic principles.

We'd be told that growing inequality was the price for a growing economy, a measure of the free market -- that greed was good and compassion ineffective, and those without jobs or health care had only themselves to blame.

And then there were those elected officials who found it useful to practice the old politics of division, doing their best to convince middle-class Americans of a great untruth, that government was somehow itself to blame for their growing economic insecurity -- that distant bureaucrats were taking their hard-earned dollars to benefit the welfare cheat or the illegal immigrant.

And then, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that during the course of 50 years, there were times when some of us, claiming to push for change, lost our way. The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots.

Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse- making for criminal behavior. Racial politics could cut both ways as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination. And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support, as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself. All of that history is how progress stalled. That's how hope was diverted. It's how our country remained divided.

But the good news is, just as was true in 1963, we now have a choice. We can continue down our current path in which the gears of this great democracy grind to a halt and our children accept a life of lower expectations, where politics is a zero-sum game, where a few do very well while struggling families of every race fight over a shrinking economic pie. That's one path. Or we can have the courage to change.

The March on Washington teaches us that we are not trapped by the mistakes of history, that we are masters of our fate.

But it also teaches us that the promise of this nation will only be kept when we work together. We'll have to reignite the embers of empathy and fellow feeling, the coalition of conscience that found expression in this place 50 years ago.

And I believe that spirit is there, that true force inside each of us. I see it when a white mother recognizes her own daughter in the face of a poor black child. I see it when the black youth thinks of his own grandfather in the dignified steps of an elderly white man. It's there when the native born recognizing that striving spirit of a new immigrant, when the interracial couple connects the pain of a gay couple who were discriminated against and understands it as their own. That's where courage comes from, when we turn not from each other or on each other but towards one another, and we find that we do not walk alone. That's where courage comes from. (Applause.)

And with that courage, we can stand together for good jobs and just wages. With that courage, we can stand together for the right to health care in the richest nation on earth for every person. (Applause.) With that courage, we can stand together for the right of every child, from the corners of Anacostia to the hills of Appalachia, to get an education that stirs the mind and captures the spirit and prepares them for the world that awaits them. (Applause.) With that courage, we can feed the hungry and house the homeless and transform bleak wastelands of poverty into fields of commerce and promise.

America, I know the road will be long, but I know we can get there. Yes, we will stumble, but I know we'll get back up. That's how a movement happens. That's how history bends. That's how, when somebody is faint of heart, somebody else brings them along and says, come on, we're marching. (Cheers, applause.)

There's a reason why so many who marched that day and in the days to come were young, for the young are unconstrained by habits of fear, unconstrained by the conventions of what is. They dared to dream different and to imagine something better. And I am convinced that same imagination, the same hunger of purpose serves in this generation.

We might not face the same dangers as 1963, but the fierce urgency of now remains. We may never duplicate the swelling crowds and dazzling processions of that day so long ago, no one can match King's brilliance, but the same flames that lit the heart of all who are willing to take a first step for justice, I know that flame remains. (Applause.)

That tireless teacher who gets to class early and stays late and dips into her own pocket to buy supplies because she believes that every child is her charge -- she's marching. (Applause.) That successful businessman who doesn't have to, but pays his workers a fair wage and then offers a shot to a man, maybe an ex-con, who's down on his luck -- he's marching.

(Cheers, applause.) The mother who pours her love into her daughter so that she grows up with the confidence to walk through the same doors as anybody's son -- she's marching. (Cheers, applause.) The father who realizes the most important job he'll ever have is raising his boy right, even if he didn't have a father, especially if he didn't have a father at home -- he's marching. (Applause.) The battle-scarred veterans who devote themselves not only to helping their fellow warriors stand again and walk again and run again, but to keep serving their country when they come home -- they are marching. (Applause.) Everyone who realizes what those glorious patriots knew on that day, that change does not come from Washington but to Washington, that change has always been built on our willingness, we, the people, to take on the mantle of citizenship -- you are marching. (Applause.)

And that's the lesson of our past, that's the promise of tomorrow, that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it. And when millions of Americans of every race and every region, every faith and every station can join together in a spirit of brotherhood, then those mountains will be made low, and those rough places will be made plain, and those crooked places, they straighten out towards grace, and we will vindicate the faith of those who sacrificed so much and live up to the true meaning of our creed as one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. (Cheers, applause.)

What are the moments that resonated for you?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Artifice - A Gay Sci Fi Thriller Graphic Novel

Artifice by Alex Woolfson, art by Winona Nelson
Deacon is a prototype android soldier so advanced he is referred to as an "artificial person."  On his first extended mission, Deacon was ordered by his corporate masters to eliminate a team of scientists who knew too much - and he has failed spectacularly.

Not only did he let one of his targets live - 19 year-old human outcast Jeff Linnell - he attacked the team sent to retrieve him.  Now the Corporation wants answers and they bring in the brilliant robopsychologist Dr. Clarice Maven to get them, giving her the power to make sure Deacon never fails the Corporation ever again.

Deacon seems desperate to conceal the shocking events that took place on Da Vinci 4, but what chance does he have fighting an adversary who can control his every move?

While I don't, as a policy, review titles on this blog, I will occasionally recommend a book, and that's what I'm doing here.

I really loved ARTIFICE - it's the kind of story that would have meant everything to me as a teen reader, and even as an adult, this gay-positive sci fi graphic novel made me so happy.  I actually intended to just read the first page or so (since I didn't have a lot of time) and ended up reading it through to the end, everything else pushed aside.  Just like the best sci-fi and fantasy books did for me when I was a teen, reading with a flashlight under the covers until 3 or 4 in the morning, when my Dad would get up and I'd have to fast-pretend to be asleep!

The book is published by Alex's own AMW Comics, and was funded by an explosively successful Kickstarter project.  In 2011, Alex began releasing pages of ARTIFICE every week for free on his website - and in under a year the webcomic had over 5,000 unique visitors a day.

The story includes violence and some scenes of intimacy, but nothing that wouldn't be considered PG-13  if our culture were less homophobic.  Having said that, it's a smart adventure story drawn like a great sci-fi movie, and it was a lot of fun.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Normal? - A Novel in the Style of a Memoir about a Gay Teen Adopted Into a LGBTQ Family

 Normal? by Stephen J. Mulrooney
Gene, a gay teen, is adopted into an extended family that includes everything from a few drag queens to a well respected rabbi. If Gene’s life is anything but normal, he isn’t aware of it. He enjoys all the advantages of being an only child at the heart of a family of unrelated adults bonded together by mutual love and respect.

The core of Gene’s family is Mother, a larger than life female impersonator who is actually his biological uncle Ben. Mother’s partner, Tom, whom Gene calls Dad rather than Uncle Tom for obvious reasons, is a Wall Street executive. Gene’s Uncle Josh, the rabbi, is Mother’s life-long best friend and first unrequited love interest. Gene’s aunts, Allie and Sue, whose lives are anything but a drag, are famous, if not infamous, drag queens from Mother’s band of performers. And that’s just the beginning of Gene’s family.

A sudden move to the suburbs and the unexpected addition of three new family members, Chip and Dale, an unusual set of twins, and Robbie, an attractive farm boy, soon add colors that Gene has never imagined, to his already colorful world.

Add your review of "Normal?" in comments!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children - A Transgender Novel

Beautiful Music For Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Gabe Williams is a guy with big summer plans. He’s got a job as a radio DJ, following in the footsteps of his mentor, and he wants to move far away after graduation. He’s also hoping his best friend Paige will fall in love with him—she’s smart, she’s hot, and she tolerates his music habit. He couldn’t ask for more. His only problem? The rest of the world has known him as Elizabeth for the last eighteen years.

My birth name is Elizabeth, but I'm a guy. Gabe. My parents think I've gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I'm right. I've been a boy my whole life.

When you think about it, I'm like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side--not heard as often, but just as good.

It's time to let my B side play.

A Top Ten Pick for the 2013 ALA Rainbow List, you can add your review of "Beautiful Music For Ugly Children" in comments!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Russia's Attack On LGBTQ Rights and the Olympics, Part Two: What Can We Do? (GSA Mondays Are Back!)

Welcome back to a new school year, and our first GSA Mondays Post!

The situation in Russia is getting pretty bad for LGBTQ people, and our Allies.  The Olympics are only six months away.  Tourists are already being arrested.  What can we do?

Speak UP!
Some Athletes are.

US middle distance runner Nick Symmonds dedicated his 800-meter silver medal at the world athletics championships in August to his gay and lesbian friends back home, becoming the first athlete to openly criticize Russia's controversial anti-gay law on the country's soil.

I like how Nick said,
"I do have respect for this nation. I disagree with their rules."

Two Athletes from Sweden, competing in Russia at the same World Athletic Championships two weeks ago, painted their nails in rainbow colors as a "silent protest" to Russia's anti-LGBTQ laws.

From a Huffington Post Article, Emma Green Tregaro, of Sweden, competes in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

From this HuffPost article, Moa Hjelmer shows off her rainbow nails

Emma Green Tregaro shared a photo of her colorful nails on Instagram on that Wednesday with the hashtag "pride."

But the pressure is on, and "...Tregaro was encouraged to change the colour of her nails because she was in breach of the Olympic rules and she could face disqualification."  The Swedish Olympic committee "has ruled that political protests against Russia’s anti-gay legislation will not be tolerated at the Sochi Olympics next year."

The next day, as NPR reported, Tregaro competed with all her nails painted red.

Getting the word out increases the international pressure on Russia, and gets people everywhere talking about LGBTQ rights.

There are petitions to sign onto, like

The petition to Visa (a major sponsor of the games.)

The All-out Campaign's petition to President Putin and Russia's leaders, that reads:

To President Putin, Russian politicians and all world leaders:

We stand with citizens across Russia who are calling on their government to stop the crackdown against lesbian, gay, bi and trans people that is fuelling anti-gay violence.

We urge leaders around the world and within Russia to work to eliminate all anti-gay laws and protect all citizens from violence and discrimination in Russia.
And the petition to the International Olympic Committee to move the Olympics out of Russia entirely.


Adults are boycotting Russian vodka, but what about those of us who don't drink?  What about teenagers?  What are our options?  What can your GSA do?

Should we not watch the Olympics?

Michelangelo Signoreli's article "Boycott the Olympics? Russian Vodka? NBC? Maybe -- Here Are 5 Other Ripe Targets" gives some interesting facts:

Procter & Gamble is the biggest advertiser on Russian T.V.

Hotel Chains - many of them U.S. companies - are investing and further expanding into Russia. Including Holiday Inn Express, Intercontinental, Hyatt, Marriott, Radisson, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton and Sheraton...  As Michelangelo asks,

"Do these companies really want to be associated with a government that may snatch babies from their mothers' arms or, under the "gay propaganda" ban, will jail anyone, including gay foreigners staying at these hotels, for waving a rainbow flag?"

As Michelangelo says,

These are just a few of what are surely many more American interests, including many companies that enjoy high ratings on HRC's CEI [Corporate Equality Index] and consider themselves pro-gay. As Russia moves in a very dark direction, a line must be drawn in the sand. American companies and politicians who court LGBT people are going to have stand against this brutal regime in no uncertain terms. And it must be expressed in actions, not just words.

Celebrate Queer Russia

Celebrating LGBTQ Russians is a direction to go as well.  If we make a big deal out of the LGBTQ Russians in history and culture, then Russia can't pretend like they don't have lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people there.  And maybe that will help on the road to getting Russia's Queer community out of the drink and back on the road to equality.

We can read and share this excellent Advocate article on the gay Russian writer Mikhail Kuzmin.

Explore the poetry of Russian lesbian Sophia Yakovlevna Parnok and bi Russian Marina Tsvetaeva, who at one point were in love with each other,

Watch a film directed by gay Russian Sergei Eisenstein.

And maybe even play some Tchaikovsky.  After all, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is the gay Russian who composed the 1812 Overture.  The Nutcracker.  And Swan Lake.

These are just some ideas.  Raise awareness about what's going on. Speak Up. Boycott. And Celebrate Queer Russia.  

Talk about it with your friends, discuss in your GSAs and share the ideas and suggestions you come up with in comments!


Friday, August 23, 2013

Russia's Attack On LGBTQ Rights and the Olympics, Part One: What's Going On?

This photo from Australian news: "Gay rights activists hold a banner reading "Homophobia - the religion of bullies"in Moscow's Red Square" in July 2013.  The caption further reads, "Police detained several activists." (AP Photo/Evgeny Feldman)


We here in the U.S.A. have a complicated relationship with Russia - our ally during World War II, our nemesis during the Cold War, and a country we're quite engaged with right now.  They're an economic engine.  A market for American things.  A player on the world stage...

So much so, that the upcoming Winter Olympics will be held there starting February 7, 2014.  In Sochi, on the banks of the Black Sea.

But political tides in Russia are shifting, and human rights, especially for LGBTQ people, are going under.  Russia recently passed an "anti-gay propaganda law" that

"passed overwhelmingly in parliament [The vote was of 436 in favor, 0 against] and signed off by Putin, bans the public discussion of gay rights and relationships anywhere children might hear it. Those found in breach of it can be fined and, if they are foreign, deported.

Critics say the law is so vaguely defined that it can be used to prosecute someone just for wearing a rainbow T-shirt or holding hands with someone of the same sex in public. Amnesty International has condemned it as an "affront to freedom of expression and an attack on minority rights."
The New York Times explains that these anti-gay laws

...also contradict the charter of the International Olympic Committee, which calls sport a “human right” and states that “every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind.” With laws like these on the books, gay athletes, gay fans and others who speak their minds could put themselves in legal jeopardy by attending the 2014 Winter Olympics, which are in Sochi, Russia, in February.

In Michelangelo Signorile's recent interview with Moscow journalist Masha Gessen, a lesbian and a mother, she told him about "reports that Vladimir Putin may push for a law in the fall to remove adoptive and biological children from the homes of gay parents."

Why is Russia suddenly so anti-gay?

In this CNN article, Professor Dan Healey of Oxford University cites the anti-gay groundwork done by the anti-gay laws of Stalin and the Gulags of that era.  He suggests that "Official homophobia is being used by the Putin leadership as a way of distracting public attention away from the fact that the economy is actually slowing down drastically."

To learn more about what's going on, here are four musts to check out:

Harvey Fierstein's excellent op-ed piece in the New York Times

This New York Times Editorial, "Mr. Putin's War On Gays"

This excellent interview Michelangelo Signorile did with Harvey Fierstein on his radio show


This interview Dan Savage did about the Russian Vodka Boycott

Will Russia arrest gay, lesbian, bi and trans athletes and fans?  They're saying that their anti-LGBT law applies "equally to all persons, irrespective of their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, and cannot be regarded as discrimination based on sexual orientation."  So, no one should be worried.  Unless, of course, they're openly supportive of LGBTQ people.

As Sunnivie Brydum pointed out in an article in the Advocate yesterday,

"But whether LGBT athletes and spectators would be permitted to participate in the 2014 Winter Games was never in question. Rather, what remains unconfirmed is whether athletes and spectators who express support for LGBT communities by holding hands, kissing, or wearing or waving a rainbow flag could be in violation of the broadly defined law."

The first step is to get informed.

On Monday, we'll talk about what we can do.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Forgery Of The Month Club - A Memoir full of LGBTQ Family Members

Forgery of the Month Club by Keith L.T. Alexander

Keith is an African-American Jewish boy growing up in 1960s Chicago in a white community.  Along with his sister, Lin, he spends much of his time under the watch of their mother’s closest friends: a band of carefree homosexuals who wished to disassociate themselves from the pains of society. Keith’s “aunts” and “uncles” as he affectionately called them cared for him like family and filled a void in Keith’s underdeveloped support system while his mother was out stealing and his father was not around.

Recommended for "mature teen readers" and up.  Add your review of "Forgery of the Month Club" in comments!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Laurent Linn Gives Us The Scoop on Patricia Polacco's 25th Anniversary Edition of "The Keeping Quilt"

The Keeping Quilt, 25th Anniversary Edition by Patricia Polacco

“We will make a quilt to help us always remember home,” Anna’s mother said. “It will be like having the family in backhome Russia dance around us at night.”

And so it was. From a basket of old clothes, Anna’s babushka, Uncle Vladimir’s shirt, Aunt Havalah’s nightdress, and an apron of Aunt Natasha’s become The Keeping Quilt, passed along from mother to daughter for almost a century. For four generations the quilt is a Sabbath tablecloth, a wedding canopy, and a blanket that welcomes babies warmly into the world.

In strongly moving pictures that are as heartwarming as they are real, Patricia Polacco tells the story of her own family and the quilt’s further story that remains a symbol of their enduring love and faith. This anniversary edition includes fifteen pages of original material describing the quilt’s journey and its home at the Mazza Museum in Findley, Ohio.

As part of the quilt's -- and her family's -- history, Patricia has two children who marry under a canopy formed by the quilt. One, a son who marries a woman. And the other, a daughter who marries a woman. It's a moment of inclusion that's woven in beautifully, and makes this absolutely a picture book I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid.

My thanks to Patricia for creating (and updating) and sharing this book with the world, and to Laurent Linn, Art Director at Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers and Paula Wiseman Books, for letting me know about it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Life After Now - A 16 Year Old Girl, Before And After Her HIV Diagnosis

My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi

The only child of her two loving dads, sixteen-year-old Lucy is a happy A-student on her way to Broadway stardom. But in a matter of days, she loses both her boyfriend and the role of Juliet to her arch-rival. And then, just when she thinks things can't possibly get any worse, her absentee birth mother reemerges in her life unannounced and with a hidden agenda. Desperate to escape her problems, if only for one night, Lucy makes the fateful decision to go home with a man she just met.

One month later, Lucy learns that she is HIV-positive and she suddenly finds herself floating through a life that seems pointless. How can she face her dads? What is she going to tell Evan, her sweet new boyfriend? Will anyone ever be able to love her again? It's not until she meets Roxie, a nineteen-year-old HIV/AIDS support group leader, that Lucy begins to realize that while her life may never be perfect again, it's not over just yet.

Add your review of "My Life After Now" in comments!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Another F-Word - A Young Man Comes of Age and Comes Out

Another F-Word by Lissa Brown

Growing up in the 1990s in the rural Bible Belt, Rory Calhoun Wilson is the antithesis of his 1950s cowboy namesake. He loathes sports, NASCAR and everything else his father adores, putting the two on a collision course fueled by Darrell Wilson’s contempt for his son’s emerging homosexuality.

How can Rory triumph over being labeled and bullied to become an out and empowered young man?

This book was published by the author.  You can add your review of "Another F-Word" in comments!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Jack Adraka is a 16 Year Old Openly Gay Scientist


Go, Jack, Go!

If you can't see the video above, check it out on youtube here.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hungry Ghost: Tales of the Pack Book Two - More College-Age Lesbian Werewolves

Hungry Ghost by Allison Moon

Strange is the new normal for college freshman Lexie Clarion. She could be writing papers and going to frat parties like a normal girl, but Lexie is no normal girl. She spends each full moon fighting against the beast that threatens to escape her body, and the rest of the time mooning over her alpha ex-girlfriend.

When Lexie discovers the eviscerated body of a fellow student, she knows the violent full-blood Rare wolves are back on the prowl. But with no proof, no plan, and no allies, Lexie and the Pack have to decide how to fight back. And they have to do so fast, before all the women of Milton become prey.

Allison was a Lambda Literary Emerging LGBT Writers Fellow and self-published this book with a successful campaign on Kickstarter.  Add your review of "Hungry Ghost" in comments.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

California's Governor Brown Signs the Transgender Student Success Bill

Good news!

On Monday of this week... well, let's let Ashton Lee, a 16-year-old transgender boy from Manteca, California, tell you in his own words:

"Breathless. I am breathless. Governor Brown just signed AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, into law. Now, as school starts up again, I know that I can fully participate and just be myself."

The law " the first of its kind in the country, and requires that California public schools respect students’ gender identity and makes sure that students can fully participate in all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities that match their gender identity."

Read more about Ashton and this new law here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rose And Spindle - Gay Historical Fantasy Romance

"Rose and Spindle" by Hayden Thorne

Boy meets boy. Boy hates boy. Each swears never to have anything to do with the other, forever after.

Unfortunately for Prince Hamlin and Prince Edouard, history has a bad habit of repeating itself, and worse, each time the two boys run across each other, things get a touch muddier as well. Destiny and free will go head-to-head, the princes’ dilemma echoing the more baffling curse that’s been placed on Edouard’s young cousin, Princess Roderika. Doomed to prick her finger on a spindle on her fifteenth birthday and fall asleep for a hundred years as a result, Roderika’s rapidly dwindling time becomes an inescapable tapestry into which Hamlin and Edouard’s own fates are woven.

With the help of a magician princess and a crotchety talking raven, Hamlin and Edouard not only have to outgrow prejudices, but also find the courage and the will to define their destinies, even if it were to take them a hundred years.

Add your review of "Rose and Spindle" in comments!

Monday, August 12, 2013

What Makes A Baby - A Picture Book For Every Kind of Family and Every Kind of Kid

"What Makes A Baby" by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth

Most books about where babies come from leave many of us out. They tell a nice story (mommy + daddy + intercourse = you!) but the truth is that more and more of us are acknowledging the help we get to bring children into our lives. That help might be a doctor, fertility clinic, adoption or foster agency; it might be a turkey baster and a friend; it might be a sperm donor or a surrogate. What Makes a Baby helps parents tell children a story about where they came from that isn’t just true for them, but true for everyone.

Geared to readers from pre-school to 8 years old, it teaches curious kids about conception, gestation, and birth in a way that works regardless of whether or not the kid in question was adopted, conceived using reproductive technologies, at home or in a clinic, through surrogacy, or the old fashioned way, and regardless of how many people were involved, their orientation, gender and other identity, or family composition. Just as important, the story doesn’t gender people or body parts, so most parents and families will find that it leaves room for them to educate their child without having to erase their own experience.

Definitely a picture book I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid!

Interestingly, this book was first self-published (through a hugely successful kickstarter campaign) and is now in it's second printing with Seven Stories Press.  There's a great interview with Cory and Fiona about making the book here at Pen and Oink.  

Add your review of "What Makes A Baby" in comments!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eli Lieb's "Young Love" Music Video - Gay and Awesome

Loved this one.



Find out more about Eli Lieb here at his website here.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lunatic Fringe: Tales Of The Pack Book One - College-Age Lesbian Werewolves

Lunatic Fringe by Allison Moon

Lexie Clarion’s first night at college, she falls in with a pack of radical feminist werewolf hunters.

The next morning, she falls for a mysterious woman who may be among the hunted.

As Lexie’s new lover and the Pack battle for Lexie’s allegiance, the waxing moon illuminates old hatreds, new enemies, and a secret from Lexie’s childhood that will change her life forever.

Allison was a Lambda Literary Emerging LGBT Writers Fellow and self-published this book.  Add your review of "Lunatic Fringe" in comments.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Our Intern Aaron's LGBTQ Teen Manga Review Wrap-Up

Our Amazing Intern Aaron

Read on, Manga Fans!!!

Hey there! I can’t believe my internship with the coolest blog ever has come to an end! Thank you to everyone who took the time to read what I had to say, and thank you to Lee for sharing this incredible space with me. It was a blast!

I firmly believe that stories have the power to change lives. The manga series I read are full of moments that I’ll never forget- Haruna taking Chika to her quiet place by the lake in First Love Sisters; Subaru holding Seichiro on the Rainbow Bridge in X/1999; Letty breaking the mystical bonds that chain Tsumugi to her temple prison in The Caged Miko and the Whimsical Witch; Nakagama and Yokota holding each other in their first apartment in Same Cell Organism, praying their bond will last forever… These memories are a part of me and fill me with romantic fervor as I embark on new journeys in life. They remind me that healthy relationships are rooted in respect, compassion, and mutual-sacrifice; that people need to accept themselves honestly before they can fully embrace others; and that love is beautiful and precious and worth fighting for, no matter what.

Have fun exploring love in manga, literature, and the real world. From what I can tell, that’s what life is all about.



Here are the 20 manga titles Aaron reviewed:

Tokyo Babylon - A Gay Teen Supernatural Manga

First Love Sisters - A Lesbian Teen Manga Love Story

Ranma 1/2 - An Action-Romance-Fighting Manga that Plays With Gender

Voiceful - Two Teen Girls Overcome Tragedy and Find Love... With Each Other

Silver Diamond - A Fantasy-Action Manga With A Gay Romance

Cardcaptor Sakura - A Lady Hero Manga with Lots of Rainbow Love

The Cain Saga and Godchild - Gothic Mystery Mangas with a Misery-Laden Gay Love Affair

Hero Heel - A Raw Exploration of Desperation, Objectifying Others, and Losing Oneself

Maiden Rose - An Unsettling Study of Power, War and Sexual Assault

Rin! - A Gay Romance on the High School Archery Team

X/1999 - Hope that the World is Still Worth Saving, and that (Queer) Love Will Save It

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

Same Cell Organism - Heartwarming Gay and Trans Manga Love Stories

Meeting You - Manga Stories of Gay Passion

Girl Friends - The Manga Story of a Friendship That Blossoms Into True Love

I Give To You - A Manga Wherein Two Lost Souls Learn To Love Again

The Caged Miko and the Whimsical Witch - A Manga of Magical Lesbian Romance

The Day I Became A Butterfly - Dreamy Queer Manga  Love Stories

Stop Bullying Me! - A Manga Where A Boy Falls for His Brother's (Not-So-Nice) Best Friend

Sailor Moon - A Manga Where Teenage Superheroes (Some of them Queer) Fight To Save Our World!

If you're just meeting our latest intern Aaron Walsh for the first time, you can go here to read his "Hello" post, from back in March.

Thank you for all the wonderful reviews, Aaron!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Awakening - Sci Fi that includes a Gay Character of Color!

Awakening by Karen Sandler

Once a Chadi sector GEN girl terrified of her first Assignment, Kayla is now a member of the Kinship, a secret organization of GENs, lowborns, and trueborns. Kayla travels on Kinship business with the lowborn woman, Risa, sometimes joined by Risa's wife as they collect information to further the cause of GEN emancipation.

Despite Kayla’s relative freedom, she is still a slave to the trueborn ruling class. She rarely sees the trueborn Devak, and any relationship between them is still strictly forbidden.

Kayla longs to be truly free, but other priorities have gotten in the way. A paradoxically deadly new virus has swept through GEN sectors—a disease only GENs catch. And GEN warrens and warehouses are being bombed, with only a scrawled clue: F.H.E. Freedom, Humanity, Equality.

Meanwhile, Devak's friend, Junjie, gets caught up with people and actions that are spiraling out of control. But he can't turn his back, not when he has such strong feelings for a mysterious boy he's only spoken to, but has never seen.

With the virus and the bombings decimating the GEN community, freedom and love are put on the back burner. Kayla and her friends must find a way to stop the killing . . . before it’s too late.

Junjie is of Chinese ancestry, and the book features multiple main characters of color.  Add your review of "Awakening" in comments!

Monday, August 5, 2013

A High School's "Cutest Couple" is Two Guys!

Here's the story:

18-year-old Chelsea posted a photo of her classmates Brad Taylor And Dylan Meehan to her Tumblr blog in early July, she did not anticipate the incredible response it would receive -- within 24 hours, the entry had been shared almost 100,000 times.

The image was taken from her high school yearbook, and she included this caption:

"Two of my best friends won Cutest Couple of our senior class. First time in my school history a same sex couple has even been able to run for this category, not to mention winning it. So proud of them, and my school."

The couple commented to the Huffington Post,

"This whole thing has been a bit surreal for us because we have been raised to believe that love is love. We never realized that our happiness and openness would inspire so many individuals. The support we have received from our family, friends, and even strangers has led us to believe that our affection for each other is normal ... When we started dating a year [ago], the thought of a photo of us traveling throughout the world would be a bit frightening, but now we are proud to be part of the LGBT community."

Cheering you guys - and your school - and your friend Chelsea!


ps - my thanks to Karol for sharing this with me so I could share it with all of you!

Friday, August 2, 2013

#LA13SCBWI - The Top Ten Things I'm Most Excited About

To celebrate the start of one of my favorite times of the year (the SCBWI Summer Conference), I thought I'd share my personal top ten things I'm most excited about...

10.  The Keynotes - I can't wait to be wowed by some major heavy-hitters!

9.  The breakout sessions - how to choose, how to choose? 

8.  The Monday intensives - I LOVE digging in deep during these.

7.  My pretty awesome Black and White Ball outfit.  No, I'm not spilling...  But I promise I'll post a pic later!

6.  The Los Angeles region meet and greet (Saturday from 12:30pm to 1:15pm, in the Bel Air room.)  We have around 300 local members attending the conference, and it's a super chance to band together and bond.  James Bond.  (No, not really, but I couldn't resist.  We do get silly sometimes!)

5.  The wonderful LGBTQ Q&A session (on Friday night, 8pm to 9pm, in the Olympic II room) that I get to host - it's such a wonderful, welcoming and friendly gathering every conference, and this time we'll be joined by the remarkable editor Emma Dryden, author Kristin Venuti and her agent Tracey Adams, bestselling author Ellen Hopkins and editor of his own imprint, Arthur A. Levine Books, Arthur Levin... all from the conference faculty!

4.  I'll be moderating the Sunday morning Agents panel on the main stage with agents Jennie Bent, Mela Bolinao, Ginger Clark, Steve Malk and Joanna Volpe.  We'll be talking about "The New World Of Children's Books" - covering industry changes, what's happening to the mid-list, backlist options, consolidation and new media opportunities.  It should be a great discussion!

3. Hanging with my Team Blog teammates:  Martha Brockenbrough, Jaime Temairik, Jolie Stekley and Suzanne Young, and all the magic this particular band of five makes happen at The Official SCBWI Conference Blog. 

2.  The unexpected moments of inspiration that always happen.  The plot breakthrough.  The character quirk.  The specific insight into how I can be a better writer.

1.  Seeing and spending time with my wonderful SCBWI conference friends (new and familiar.)   I'll be hanging out in the conference hotel lobby and at the bar poolside as much as I can.  Really, going up to your room without socializing in this remarkable island of people-who-love-things-that-are-written-and-illustrated-for-children-and-teens is like missing half of what the conference offers!  They're my community - my tribe.  And it's a joy to be with them.

It's going to be four days of non-stop craft, business, inspiration, opportunity and community... and I can't wait!

If you'll be there, make sure to say hello!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Marco Impossible - Best Friends (One Gay, One Not) On A Mission To Get The Gay Guy Together With the Guy Of His Dreams

"Marco Impossible" by Hannah Moskowitz

Thirteen-year-old best friends Stephen and Marco attempt a go-for-broke heist to break into the high school prom and get Marco onstage to confess his love for (and hopefully steal the heart of) Benji, the adorable exchange student and bass player of the prom band. Of course, things don't always go according to plan, and every heist comes with its fair share of hijinks.

Add your review of "Marco Impossible" in comments!