Monday, September 30, 2013

Jennifer Sky: "My Life As A Warrior Princess"

In this opinion piece from the New York Times, My Life As A Warrior Princess, Jennifer Sky shares about her experience - from age 14 to 17 - as a fashion model, and then, her time as an actress on the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess.

It's a great discussion prompt about the images we're all fed about who teen girls should aspire to be - and what kind of people they can grow to become.

Well worth checking out.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Jodi Good's "Definitely Different" Music Video

I like this celebration of being different. Definitely Different!

Here are the lyrics:

"Definitely Different" - by Jodi Good

I am the queen of confession
and compulsive obsessions
I always follow impulses
I never follow directions

I always end up undressing
every time I wear dresses
and my heart tanks so full
and the fuel is expensive
so I trade all I have to feel full and defenseless

I drop tears like the fall drops leaves
I'm an old open book
with no tricks up my sleeve

given you reason to doubt
but instead you believe
and I'll beg you to stay
then force you to leave

chorus: And I'm deinitely different
but you love me just the same
with you I am a free bird
with others I'm contained

I hate everything 5 star
and theres stickers on my car
I may not have a real job
but believe I work damn hard

I call myself a free spirit
people don't wanna heart it
can't categorize who I am
so they fear it.

chorus: And I'm deinitely different
but you love me just the same
with you I am a free bird
with others I'm contained

I always end up undressing
every time I wear dresses
and my heart tanks so full
and the fuel is expensive
and I'll beg you to stay
and then force you to leave
give you reason to doubt
but instead you believe

chorus: And I'm deinitely different
but you love me just the same
with you I am a free bird
with others I'm contained

Thanks Jodi!


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Run, Clarissa, Run - A Transgender Teen Struggles To Be Themselves In A Small Town

Run, Clarissa, Run by Rachel Eliason

Life in a small town can be tough when you're a little different, but for a fifteen year old transgender kid it can truly be hell. Clark is harassed daily at school for his effeminate behavior and appearance. He has no friends and a brother that is as likely to be on the teasing as to prevent it. When Clark is offered a job babysitting for the Pirella family, it seems like a godsend. The money is good. He bonds with the girls almost instantly. The father, Tony, works in computer security. Tony and Clark strike up a friendship based on a mutual love of computers and hacking. As Tony becomes aware of Clark's transsexuality and his growing feminine alter ego, Clarissa, things become incredibly complicated. Will Tony be Clarissa's salvation, or her undoing?

This book is published by the author. Add your review of "Run, Clarissa, Run" in comments!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Bad Kitty Christmas - And the "Concerned Grandparent" Who Wants To Burn It (Because it includes, among MANY other family configurations, a two mom family)

A Bad Kitty Christmas by Nick Bruel

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the city, not a creature was stirring... Except for Bad Kitty.

The Angel was Ambushed.
The Books were all Bumped.
The Cards were all Crushed.
The Drums were all Dumped.

When a greedy Bad Kitty doesn't get all the presents she wants for Christmas, she takes off on a wild caper across town and through three complete alphabets. Along the way she makes a new friend, and when and old "friend" finds her, together they learn the true meaning of Christmas. Or not.

I'm featuring "A Bad Kitty Christmas" for two reasons.  One, it's a picture book I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid, because it includes a two-mom family.  And two, it's the kind of book that, because it includes a two-mom family, is getting some people upset.

Like the "Concerned Grandparent" who wrote the author to complain and say that because of the reference to Niece Nan with her Offspring Oscar and her Partner Pam,

"I will be purchasing and burning that book and any other that I come across with such a reference in it if I can not get the school to remove the book from their library.
Shame on you for writing this in your book for little kids to read and forcing us to explain this matter to them."

Nick's response, which he shared on facebook (as he did the complaint letter) was great, and included this:

"When I first began writing “A Bad Kitty Christmas” a few years ago I recognized that there would be people - such as yourself - who would be offended. I recognized that. So I debated with myself. I debated about whose interests would best be served. Do I edit myself to appease people who could be so outraged that they might even do something as drastic as to BURN a book? Or do I write a book that could potentially speak to that kid out there who actually has two Mommies. That kid won, because -- like it or not, Concerned Grandparent -- believe it or not, Concerned Grandparent – that kid exists. In fact, there are a lot of those kids. And those kids deserve to see their world represented in a mainstream book as much as any other kid out there."

Thank you, Nick, for writing this book.

This is a great reminder of why Banned Books Week is so important. We need to talk about the urge to destroy and hide and ban and even burn books with ideas and voices and characters we don't agree with.

If we feel confident in the strength of our beliefs, shouldn't we be able to accept others having the right to their beliefs?

Let's celebrate the right to read!

Add your review of "A Bad Kitty Christmas" in comments.

p.s. - My thanks to Dana Elmendorf for the heads-up about this book including a two mom family!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

KC, at Bat - A Gay Teen Gets His Turn At Bat... For Love

KC, at Bat by Tom Mendicino

Charlie Beresford would rather be doing anything this summer than hauling furniture for a moving company. Come September, he’ll be leaving for college, away from the awkwardness of Augustinian Academy, away from his father’s constant hints about prospective girlfriends.

Then Kevin Conroy—the Mighty KC—joins the moving crew. A star baseball player bound for the big leagues, Charlie is shocked when cool, confident KC suggests hanging out, especially when KC asks him to stay over—and the happiness their connection brings Charlie.

But the summer is changing Charlie—putting muscles on his skinny frame, compelling him to face hard truths, showing him how it feels not just to lose your heart but to break someone else’s. 

Add your review of "KC, at Bat" in comments!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Banned Books Week! The Ender's Game Boycott, Orson Scott Card, And The Question: Should Art Transcend The Artist? - A GSA Mondays Post

It's Banned Books Week, when we stop to acknowledge the importance of NOT banning books. It's all about supporting intellectual freedom and I'm all on board,

And yet...

What happens when the author of a book is a jerk? What if their politics make you cringe? What if they actively advocate against you?

I'm not talking about pulling their book from shelves, but do you buy that book? Do you support them in that way?

Back in 1985, Orson Scott Card published the novel Ender's Game. The author has said some pretty terrible things about LGBT people, including that gay marriage "marks the end of democracy in America."
 and that
"I will act to destroy that [pro-gay marriage] government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.”

And now, Card's book is a movie.  A big tent-pole Hollywood movie. And there are calls for a boycott.

Two op-ed pieces in the advocate are worth checking out. One, by Diane Anderson-Minshall Why I'm Going To See Ender's Game, and the other, by Rebecca Holliman, Why I Plan To Skip Ender's Game.

The film's director Gavin Hood (an outspoken supporter of marriage equality) is quoted in the Why I'm Going To See it op-ed as saying,

“I fully understand the position of those seeking a boycott. I really do...What concerns me is that it’s dreadfully ironic that Orson wrote a book about compassion and empathy, and yet he himself is struggling to see that his position in real life is really at odds with his art. And, frankly that’s not unusual. Great art usually rides above the weaknesses and failings of its creators."
Geeks Out, a group of queer fanboys and fangirls, is holding firm to its call to boycott the film, saying to Card directly,

"The Bill of Rights protects your freedom of speech but it does not protect your right to a blockbuster opening weekend."
I don't want Ender's Game pulled from libraries, but do I want it to do well in theaters?

What about the cast and crew who aren't homophobes - in fact, many of them are vocal allies. What's fair?

If the movie is a giant hit, does that benefit Card? Absolutely.  But is it just - is it justice - to penalize a work of art for the faults of its creator?

And is a movie, given its collaborative realities, subject to a different answer than a book, which arguably is more of a single creator's vision?

Interesting, this isn't the first time Card’s openly homophobic views have impacted his career.

As quoted in the Skipping Ender's Game op-ed,

"Card was initially hired by D.C. Comics to write the digital-first Adventures of Superman comic. Media backlash at the company's choice to hire an outspokenly homophobic writer eventually motivated collaborating artist Chris Sprouse to back out of the project and forced D.C. Comics to feature a story by Jeff Lemire and artist Chris Samnee instead of Card's."

This does come back around to freedom of speech.  As Rebecca Holliman said,

If you are going to say hateful and inflammatory things about a subgroup of the population, then you must be willing to accept the consequences.

And I would add to that, especially if you are a public figure.

What's your take? Should a work of art stand on its own, or should we hold artists accountable for what they say outside of their art by the decision of whether or not we're going to support their art?

And as a writer, I have to acknowledge that this has interesting implications for artists in general. It could squelch true honest creative expression if we're all so careful of what we say because we're worried we'll alienate some people.

Every year when I participate at a Banned Books Week Event at my kids' school, I try to decide what I should read a few lines from. This year, I wonder if I should read from "Ender's Game." Because as much as I dislike the author's position on my rights as a human being, I don't want his book silenced.

Then again, there are a lot of good books that face challenges whose authors I know support me and the LGBTQ community.  Maybe I'll read from Todd Parr's THE FAMILY BOOK instead.

How about you - Will you go see Ender's Game?


Friday, September 20, 2013

New Functionality: Follow This Blog By E-Mail

If you look in the left hand column, in addition to a place to sign up for my (aiming for every two-weeks) newsletters, you'll see a new sign-in box where you can enter your email address if you're 13 years old or older.

This is for those of you who have requested an easy way to get a convenient e-mail when I post something new. (You'll be getting five emails a week, so I appreciate the love!)

Check it out, and thanks for reading!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Revenge Game - Teens of Privilege, Secrets, and Betrayals (With Gay Main Characters!)

The Revenge Game by Cole Bosher

Revenge is a game best played blind.

Wes, Brandon, Corey, and Greg have everything: Money, privilege, and unlimited opportunity. Their town, Somerset Hills, New Jersey is one of the wealthiest in the state and all of their friends are just like them. As they prepare to graduate from high school and head off to Cape Cod for a much needed break, their lives are turned upside down.

Corey has a penchant for dating the wrong guy, but this time someone else knows his dirty little secret. Wes thinks his life is perfect until he experiences the ultimate betrayal by a shocking source. Brandon learns a devastating secret, but will he use it to his benefit? Meanwhile, Greg continues to run from his past, but will it be exposed before he can cover his tracks?

One by one, the secrets they've been keeping from each other come back to haunt them. No one is safe, but can they trust each other to uncover their unknown assailant? From blackmail, leaked sex tapes, and mysterious packages, can the guys keep it together before their world explodes?

But things only get worse when one of them goes missing and everything risks being exposed once and for all...

This is the first book in a planned series.  Add your review of "The Revenge Game" in comments!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Totally Biased: The God Debate

I thought this video was funny and thought-provoking. Enjoy,

The players: John Fugelsang and Jamie Kilstein, and their debate is hosted by W. Kamau Bell.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homo - A Small Town Gay Teen, Used To Flying Under The Radar, Gets Outed

Homo by Michael Harris

I don’t see why I have to become this new person just because I like guys. Most of who I am has nothing to do with who I hump.

Will's never been obvious about being gay. Not like Daniel, who takes the heat -- and the beatings -- at Spencer High. But then Will's best friend outs him on Facebook, and his small-town life starts to spin out of control. If he's not like everyone else, and he's not like Daniel, then who is he?

Add your review of "Homo" in comments!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Awesome gay marriage proposal - as a mini (musical!) documentary

Watch this.

It's a fun song, and the dancers had great energy, but what got me was the support these two men have - parents, friends, family, young and old, people of all colors, heck, even the Home Depot store in their community supports their love.

The emotion of the guys, Spencer and Dustin... the proposal... the response...

And this all happened in what's supposed to be a really "homophobic" part of the USA.  Utah.

Just goes to show - amazing people, and amazing love - happens everywhere.


Friday, September 13, 2013

I'm On The Radio! "KID LIT with Lisa Loeb" Debuts

It's official!

The project I've been working on for months is ready for the airwaves, and this half-hour radio program about children's and teen literature will now begin playing on public radio stations around the USA!

Me and Lisa Loeb, in the recording studio

Here's the scoop:
KID LIT with Lisa Loeb is a half hour program for public radio celebrating the best in children’s literature.

Hosted by Grammy®-nominated singer, songwriter, and children’s book author Lisa Loeb, KID LIT is produced by Peabody award-winner Ben Manilla with contributions from Harvard educated children’s literature blogger, Lee Wind, M.Ed.

Did you catch that?  That's ME!
Okay, back to the program description:

Developed by On the Strip Radio Network, KID LIT with Lisa Loeb is a bi-monthly program for adults with kids or teens in their lives. Covering book titles across genres and age groups (from birth to 18), episodes are structured around three author/illustrator interviews (each approximately six minutes in length) that give us the story behind the story. Some interviews include author-read book excerpts and each episode’s interviews share a specific show theme, genre, age group, or book type.

In between the featured interviews, short interstitials highlight topics such as the latest technology for kids books, reader/bookseller/librarian book recommendations, best sellers lists, award winners, or publishing industry news.

Every episode also features a Diversity Spotlight and Lisa’s Pick of the Week to round out an entertaining, informative and inspiring half hour exploring the world of children’s and teen literature.

Our first episode is available right now to download or listen to at our website!

I'm excited that our host is the warm and wonderful Lisa Loeb and I'm so proud to be working with my fellow producer and writer on the show, the brilliant Ben Manilla.

And I'm honored to be the children's literature expert on the show!  Thanks to Phil Alexander and Marinthia Thomas at On the Strip Radio Network for believing in me!

In this first epsiode, THE Y.A. EXPLOSION, I interview Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon about their re-imagining of the Brigadoon story as the new fantasy/romance/adventure novel DOON, and I shine the Diversity Spotlight on Shaun Tan's remarkable (and wordless) graphic novel, THE ARRIVAL. We even go to my favorite local children's bookstore, Children's Book World in Los Angeles, to hear about some of their favorite books!

There's so much more good stuff in the show -- I can't wait for you (and everyone else) to hear it!

So check out KID LIT with Lisa Loeb, and hopefully, for those of you in the USA, it will be playing on a public radio station near you soon.

Happy to share my good news with you all,

Look! Lisa (and the rest of the KID LIT team) are already working on episode two!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In Stone: A Grotesque Faerie Tale - A Gay Teen Is Attacked, Then Recused by A Magical Creature: A Gargoyle

In Stone: A Grotesque Faerie Tale by Jeremy Jordan King

Jeremy is stuck, like most young New Yorkers, in a world between adolescence and adulthood. Just when he thought that he was an average, blend-in-with-the-crowd gay kid, he becomes the victim of a terrible act of homophobia. Thankfully, a mysterious something comes to his aid. Garth is a gargoyle, trapped in stone and cursed to live an immortal life. Human and monster must become friends and confront the mysterious and magical events of the past that have brought them together.

This is book one of the author's Immortal Testimonies series. Add your review of "In Stone: A Grotesque Faerie Tale" in comments!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"Where Are The Gay Parents In Children's Literature?" - A Resource (with Reviews) To Know About

Check out this blog series Kris Asselin and Jonathon Arnston have put together.  There are lists, and reviews, and some titles I hadn't heard about (but will be including here as well!)

Thanks, Kris and Jonathon!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Heard the Pastor’s Daughter Is Gay - A Teen Girl Struggles With Her Faith And Being Attracted To Other Girls

I Heard the Pastor’s Daughter Is Gay by Luana Reach Torres

Katie North breezes through high school as an undercover nerd helped by the fact that her best friend is the most popular girl in school. Katie has no clue that she's smokin' hot and the object of a few varsity athletes' drool. She's a pastor's daughter--Miss Goodie Two Shoes--and up until now, her number one priority has been graduating with the highest honors. But, everything changes when Katie falls in love for the first time - with a girl named Jay. Katie's world is blown wide open, and everything changes. Will she find her true self at the cost of her father's love?

Add your review of "I Heard The Pastor's Daughter Is Gay" in comments!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Martin Duberman "History Lessons" Interview At Lambda Literary - A GSA Mondays Post

I was really impressed by Frank Pizzoli's interview of the LGBTQ historian Martin Duberman.

They talk about the history of the LGBTQ movement in this country (the organizations that formed after Stonewall and the lessons learned from the Women's movement and the Black Movement), radicalism versus liberalism, assimilation, the "specialness" of being queer and lots more.

Even small parts of the interview are great conversation starters for GSAs (and elsewhere!) Like this exchange:

Is the idea that queers should resemble the dominant, heterosexual culture—get married, raise kids, join the Armed forces—a lingering remnant of internalized homophobia?

Yes, I believe so. We’re accepted to the extent we manifest mainstream values. And express our gratitude for being allowed in.
Check it out. 


Friday, September 6, 2013

Parents of a Gay Man Stand Up For LGBTQ Rights While In Russia

Tourists - and impromptu activists - Richard and Rochelle Cohen

I liked this story, My Parents Who Believe Being Gay Is Okay Went To Russia And This Is What They Did.

It explains how tourists Richard and Rochelle Cohen (parents of gay pinknews founder Benjamin Cohen) held up a "Gay OK" sign in their photos in the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

I'm glad Ben's parents weren't arrested, and I'm proud of them for doing something.  For standing up.

That's how we'll change our world (and the situation in Russia.)  If enough of us stand up for what's right.

Let's all stand up!


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Culling - A Gay Dystopian Thriller: "It’s like the Hunger Games, except with gay characters." - Advocate

The Culling by Steven dos Santos

For Lucian “Lucky” Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level. Those who fail must choose an “Incentive”—a family member—to be brutally killed. If Lucky fails, he’ll have to choose death for his only living relative: Cole, his four-year-old brother.

Lucky will do everything he can to keep his brother alive, even if it means sacrificing the lives of other Recruits’ loved ones. What Lucky isn’t prepared for is his undeniable attraction to the handsome, rebellious Digory Tycho. While Lucky and Digory train together, their relationship grows. But daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is extremely dangerous. As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly...

The Advocate quote is from here.   Add your review of "The Culling" in comments!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Speak Out For Russia - Or, To Russia With Love

Consider signing this petition:

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.

Not sure what this is about? Check out my two previous posts on Russia's Attack on LGBTQ rights and the Olympics, Part One: What's Going On? and Part Two: What Can We Do?


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Finding Bluefield - Two women fall in love and raise a son

Finding Bluefield by Elan Barnehama

Spanning the years 1960-1983, Finding Bluefield chronicles the lives of two women who, by seeking love and family, find themselves navigating unknown and dangerous territory during a pivotal time in U.S. history, marked by segregation, the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King's March on Washington, the assassination of J.F. Kennedy, the first man on the moon, Woodstock, free love, and finding the courage to be different.

While it's published for adults, the latter part of the book deals a lot with how their son grows up and his experiences at school, coming from a home with two lesbian mothers.

Add your review of "Finding Bluefield" in comments!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Debunking "Before" and "After" Transformation Photos: Andrew Dixon Show Us The Fake Out Of The Diet and Fitness Industries

This is a great article on Huffington Post, "Seduced by the Illusion: The Truth About Transformation Photos" where this trainer Andrew Dixon did his own "transformational" photos, showing the "before" and "after"

And yet, as Andrew explains, these photos were only taken one hour apart!

Read all about it here

As Andrew says,

"We all spend too much time sucking in our guts, trying to look the way we think society thinks we should. Don't waste any more energy trying to compete with everyone else.

It's all smoke and mirrors."

It's a powerful male counterpart to the Dove Evolution video that shows how women's images are manipulated to skew all our senses of what's beautiful and what's possible.

Love yourself for who you are.  Right now!