Friday, November 29, 2013

Ash Beckham on Coming Out of The Closet... For ALL of us, for ALL our Closets

This is brilliant.


Thanks, Ash!

My thanks as well to Adam Mordecai at Upworthy for sharing this video.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Thanksgiving Resolution

I know it's early in the season for resolutions, but this one seems particularly appropriate on this holiday when we celebrate being in the USA -- a land we took from the native people who lived here before us.

Watch this video:

It's inspired me:

I'm going to stop using the term "illegal alien" and start using "undocumented immigrant" instead.

"Undocumented Immigrant" highlights our shared humanity. And really, unless you're a Native American, you (like me) are an immigrant to this country.

And I doubt all our ancestor's "documents" meant that much to the native people who watched Columbus arrive, or to the tribes betrayed by President Andrew Jackson and forced to march in the Trail of Tears West of the Mississippi river. (80,000 marched. 10,000 died.) And then we put that guy on the twenty dollar bill.

The history of how this country came to be is fraught with injustice and undocumented immigration. I think it's responsible to acknowledge that fact, and also to acknowledge how thankful I am to live in this country, and to be an American. Recognizing my privilege, I want to be an ally and stand up for those who aren't lucky enough to have the correct documents.


p.s. - My thanks to Chris for sharing this video with me, and for the idea of changing the language we use to speak of people like Jose Antonio Vargas.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Face Your Fears" - A Song By the Lesbian Couple and Duo Bria and Chrissy

I liked this a lot. You can listen here, or below,

"Face Your Fears" Lyrics

Verse- Life can be rough life can be short so fill this life time only with good times
you're no different you're not strange you are beautiful this way
time to clear your mind let go and join our kind
no more fear no more shame no more pain
Pre- Strength sweeps over
Chorus- Time to live, time to fly,
Time to face your fears.
Time to spark, time to shine,
Time to out your fears tonight.

Verse- Here we are times have changed people you know have something to say.
We're no different accept one way, we are brave enough to be okay.
Time to love your self you're sexier that way. No more hate no more shame it's your fate.

Pre- Strength sweeps over
Bridge- I'm finally singing proud so proud so proud. Feeling invincible, you feel it all around? you too?

Find out more about Bria and Chrissy here.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Ordinary Boy - Tom Has a Plan To Come Out During His First Year Of College

An Ordinary Boy by Brian Centrone

Tom Grove’s family is rich, his grandparents are famous, and he’s beautiful. He can have anything he wants, but all Tom really wants is to be an ordinary boy. Like his best friend, Marissa, Tom wants to fit in, make friends and date sexy boys. It would also help if he could be free of his father’s weighty expectations, his mother’s insane demands, and his older brother’s snide remarks.

When Tom begins his first year of college, he believes he’s going to come out and start a new life. But Tom’s plan to come out of the closet and meet hot college boys isn’t exactly foolproof. His new roommate is a straight jock, the gay club at school is made up of outcasts, and the lines between going out to dinner and a date are blurry at best. If that wasn’t a challenge enough, Tom has to learn how to navigate drunken college parties, the campus social hierarchy, and the attentions of the wrong sort of boys. What begins as a journey to independence turns into a series of mishaps, love, heartache, soul searching, awkward situations and the realization that life is less like an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog and more like the everyday low prices of Wal-Mart.

And to make matters worse, he still has to make it through freshman year.

You can read an excerpt at the publisher's site here.  And add your review of "An Ordinary Boy" in comments!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Straight But Not Narrow - Building, Nurturing, and Strengthening Allies to the LGBTQ community

As the SBNN crew puts it,

There have been a number of great campaigns and charities that have recently emerged to show support to LGBTQ young adults. However, we noticed one significant niche missing in the efforts... the message to STRAIGHT young adults. We are working to build a team of straight allies for the LGBTQ community, and strengthen those allies who already exist.

Check out their website and movement here.


Friday, November 22, 2013

FreakBoy - A Transgender & Gender-Fluid Novel In Verse (And A Video Interview With The Author, Kristin Elizabeth Clark!)

FreakBoy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?

I find out more in my video interview with Kristin about writing the book here:

Add your review of "FreakBoy" in comments!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Top 7 Lessons I Learned About Blogging Children's and Teen Literature From #KidLitCon13

Cute cat reading photo from here.

1. What's up with the cat above? And the numbered list? Turns out animal photos and top this-many-number lists are gold in terms of getting traffic to your blog/website. This was one of the asides from Cynthia Leitich Smith's amazing Keynote. As she put it, "Posts topped with animal photos get the most click-throughs." (We'll see how this post does!)

2. "This is your audience. This is your blog. Your audience probably likes you." - Jen Robinson, on how you can reach out to your blog audience to be supportive, during her and Sarah Stevenson's "Blogger Burnout: Suggestions For Getting Your Groove Back" session.

3. "Every kid is a different target audience." A brilliant comment by Charlotte Taylor that is still resonating with me.

4. It would be a great project to explore Girly covers hiding books boys might like, and Boyish covers hiding books girls might like. (This came out of the "Blogging the Middle Grade Books" panel discussion.)

5. 'You don't always know what the connections you make are doing. If I've met an author (and liked them) I'm more likely to put their book face out on the shelf.' - A librarian attendee.

6. If you want to see more diversity in children's literature, and the book you're reviewing isn't inclusive of diverse characters, you can point that out in your review. Sheila Ruth did just that in a recent review at Wands and Worlds, saying, "Unfortunately, I didn't really see much diversity in this future." And if a book you're covering does include diverse characters, share that!

7. In my session, "Diversity In Kid Lit: Nurture More, Blog More, Get More," I was listing the main categories of things we bloggers of children's and teen literature do:

We aggregate content (like lists, links, and featuring what others have put out there)
We create content (like reviews, articles and interviews) and
We communicate (start discussions, comment threads, guest posts, twitter, facebook, etc...)

and then one attendee raised her hand. I called on her, and she said I'd missed the most important thing of all that we book bloggers do:

We Read.

And she was right.

KidLitCon is the annual gathering of bloggers, librarians, authors and illustrators who share a passion for children's and teen literature. It was held in Austin, Texas Nov 8 and 9, 2013, and it was my honor to present and attend. 

My thanks to the organizing committee members: Pam Coughlan, Tanita Davis, Kimberly Francisco, Kelly Jensen, Jackie Parker, Jen Robinson, Leila Roy and Sarah Stevenson!

You can find out more about the kidlitosphere and all our events at Kidlitosphere Central.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

If You Could Be Mine - A Teen Lesbian In Iran Grapples With Gender And Love

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

In Iran, it’s a crime punishable by death to be gay. Sex reassignment surgery is covered by the government health program, though, and regarded by many as a way to fix a “mistake.” Sahar, seventeen, has been in love with her best friend, a girl named Nasrin, since they were six. Sahar even lets herself dream that one day they might marry. But when Nasrin’s parents announce her arranged marriage will take place in a matter of months, Sahar must decide just what lengths she’ll go to for true love.

Here's an interview with Sara about her book:

Add your review of "If You Could Be Mine" in comments!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Old Arbutus Tree - A Gay Teen Is Wrongly Accused Of An Assault In A Small Town

The Old Arbutus Tree by Leigh Matthews

Stuck in a small town in Alberta, Rose misses her father and watches in horror as a local widower wins over both her mother and sister. She finds solace in a fellow nerd, Jason, but when her sister, Sara, is violently assaulted Rose must decide whether to stick to the town's story or find the strength to help a friend.

When power, privilege and access conspire against justice, Rose and Jason are forced to see how desire is policed by our peers, our town, and the wider judicial and medical establishments. Can they help each other recognise real love, in whatever form it comes, and give themselves permission to accept it?

This book was published by the author. Add your review of "The Old Arbutus Tree" in comments!

Monday, November 18, 2013

#LoveAlwaysWins - A Video Highlighting Russia's Anti-LGBTQ Laws And How That Will Impact Olympic Athletes

Watch this, discuss and share...

It's a good question:

What if living your dream meant living a lie?

Let's speak up and stand up - not just for the Olympic athletes who will be traveling to Russia for the winter games, but for all the LGBTQ people in Russia who are now living under these repressive laws.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Geography Club - The Movie! (A Special Saturday Post)

I'm pretty excited about this movie, based on the book by Brent Hartinger.

Here's the trailer:

I received a screener copy of the film from breaking glass pictures, and watched it this week. It's the kind of movie that would have rocked my world to see it as a teen, and there are some sweet, bitter, and bitter-sweet moments that are still with me.

The film is out this weekend, and you can find out more info here at the Geography Club website.

Have you seen it yet?  Add your review of the film in comments!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Publisher Jean Feiwel: Highlights Of The Pre-#NY14SCBWI Interview

The 15th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City will be February 21-23, 2014.

I was able to connect on the phone with publisher and conference faculty member Jean Feiwel to learn about her newest imprint for Macmillan Children's Division, Swoon Reads. Jean also runs three other imprints there; Henry Holt, Feiwel and Friends and Square Fish. What's unique about Swoon Reads is that it's a crowd-sourced teen romance imprint. (And in some ways, it was inspired by Susan Boyle's breakout moment on Britain's Got Talent.)

Writers submit their teen romance novels to the site, and readers visit the site to read the manuscripts. Readers rate them from One Heart (Not for me) to Five Hearts (Swoon-Worthy.)  The top-rated --Swoon-Worthiest -- manuscripts will be considered by Jean and The Swoon Reads publishing team for publication, and they envision the public staying involved and giving input throughout the publishing process -- including editorial, cover art, marketing and book tours.

At the #NY14SCBWI conference, Jean will be on the must-see panel, THE FUTURE OF AUTHORSHIP, with Paul Aiken, Jane Friedman, Abbi Glines, and Tim Travaglini.

Publisher Jean Feiwel

My full interview with Jean is posted at SCBWI: The Blog, but here are a few highlights:

On why she wanted to create a crowd-sourced teen romance imprint:

Jean: I feel that publishers had started to create so many barriers to entry for publishing. And especially for something as straight-forward as some of the category publishing that was going on in terms of romance, and science fiction/ fantasy or mystery and to watch some of the writers who were coming up strong, like Colleen Hoover and Abbi Glines, I thought – I don’t think that they necessarily would have found their way to a traditional publisher. Because, what publishers look for is more trend-based, so it was dystopic fiction or it was supernatural romance, or whatever. I think that if you’re not agented, I just think, this wasn’t going to happen. So, I thought, How do I source new talent? How do I get to people who are writing and working hard out there but aren’t going to find their way to my door?

On Swoon Reads being open to stories of women falling in love with women and men falling in love with men, not just women falling in love with men and vice-versa:

Jean: I feel that it’s a critical part of our site is to be, again, inclusive. Especially for young people at this age – we’re really concentrating on young adult romance. And I think that as kids go through the various kind of sexual explorations or changes that they go through, it’s important to be broad in what you are offering and there’s not just the traditional, again, romantic setup. We had, in our focus groups, which were small and not extensive, consistently people were interested in different pairings, of male or female and transgender. A lot of interest in that, and so that is definitely an aspect of the site.

On offering writers of YA romance a version of American Idol, The Voice, and Britain's Got Talent... and the chance to be Susan Boyle:

Jean: I always say, be careful what you wish for because it can be overwhelming and amazing. But it’s also… it can be somebody’s dream come true. And that’s really our hope: Is to make somebody’s dream come true.

To hear Jean yourself and take part in all the wonderful offerings of the SCBWI Winter Conference, register here.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Color Fields, C.A. - Gay Middle Eastern College Kids in California Search For Love

Color Fields, C.A. by Navid Sinaki

Two best friends. Two broken hearts. Opposite sides of the Golden State.

Nika and Vivi were always outcasts in Rancho Cucamonga, a suburban epicenter of swimming pools and strip malls where being gay and/or a minority made you a freak. Away at different colleges, Nika and Vivi send e-mails to close the distance with an ounce of whimsy and wit.

Here, four years of heartbreak and broken wishbones; the pressures of first-generation college kids; the bruises of alcoholism and abuse. Four years of slow-dancing alone, compulsive daydreams, and the occasional shared porn link.

From Nika's trip to Paris for a boy he hasn't met, to Vivi's failed relationship with a childhood friend turned druggie, the two find themselves returning to California where the cinematic blurs with the anticlimactic.

This book was published by the author. Add your review of "Color Fields, C.A." in comments!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Double Play - A Middle School Book With Lesbian Parents and Baseball

Double Play by Sara Cassidy

Allie loves baseball. It's the one thing that has been consistent in her lately complicated life. Allie's father left recently, and now Allie has a new family -- her mother's new girlfriend, Phyllis, and son Miles have moved in. It's taking some adjustment, mostly because Miles seems determined to get under her skin. Things start looking up when Allie gets invited to join the boy's baseball team as their new pitcher. But then Miles announces he's quitting the boy's team and tries out for Allie's old team -- a girl's team

Allie is sure he's doing it just to annoy her, but Miles insists that he just likes the girl's style of play better. As Allie struggles to find her place on the boy's team, she starts to see that Miles is just trying to fit in as well, and that it may be even harder for him than it has been for her.

Add your review of "Double Play" in comments!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Over The Rainbow - A Modern (And Even Gayer) Re-Imagining of "The Wizard Of Oz"

Over The Rainbow by Brian Rowe

Zippy Green never meant to fall in love with a girl, but when she does, her ultra-conservative father tries to send her to anti-gay camp. At the Kansas City airport, however, she hides inside a giant suitcase and sneaks onto an airplane headed not to the camp, but to Seattle, where her online love Mira lives. Halfway through the flight, the plane barrels out of control and crashes into the ground, knocking her unconscious.

When Zippy awakens, she finds that most of the passengers have vanished. She doesn't know what's happened, but she's determined to find out. She begins a quest on foot toward Seattle, and along the way, she meets a teenager with a concussion, a homeless man with a heart condition, a child without a shred of bravery, and a terrier named Judy. Together the group discovers that more than two-thirds of the world's population have mysteriously disappeared. But that's only the beginning...

All Zippy wants is to find her Mira, but before she can she has to contend with two outside forces. The first is her homophobic father, who does everything in his power to keep her from the girl she loves. And the second is extinct creatures of all shapes and sizes, including living, breathing dinosaurs, which have replaced the missing population.

This book was published by the author.  Add your review of "Over The Rainbow" in comments!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nominate Your Icons for LGBTQ History Month 2014 - A GSA Mondays Post

This is a cool opportunity - and a great project for your GSA...

Who do YOU think should be an "Icon" for LGBTQ History Month next year?

Equality Forum (who organizes this lgbtq history month celebration) is taking nominations until December 6, 2013.

The parameters?
The 31 LGBT Icons, living or dead, are selected for their achievements in their field of endeavor; for their status as a national hero; or for their significant contribution to LGBT civil rights.

Check out the list of 248 LGBTQ icons so far (they started this celebratory list in 2006) and figure out who you want to see featured next year!


Friday, November 8, 2013

House Of Hades - A Character Comes Out As Gay In Rick Riordan's New York Times Best-Selling Middle Grade Fantasy Series!

House of Hades by Rick Riordan

It's the continuing middle grade story of demi-gods (half-gods, half-human) in our world, and in this book,

Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

And on page 292 - a character comes out as gay! (And the reaction they get is pretty awesome.)

My thanks to Yapha, That One Geek Girl, Jacob, and all the other faithful blog readers who let me know with so much enthusiasm and excitement about the gay character coming out in this best-selling series!

It's the fourth book in the Heroes of Olympus series, which is after the five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (so it's kind of the 9th book.) Add your review of "House of Hades" in comments!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fairyland: A Memoir Of My Father - a young girl grows up in 1970s and 80's San Francisco with an openly gay Father

Fairyland: A Memoir Of My Father by Alysia Abbott
After his wife dies in a car accident, bisexual writer and activist Steve Abbott moves with his two-year-old daughter to San Francisco. There they discover a city in the midst of revolution, bustling with gay men in search of liberation — few of whom are raising a child.

From the Towleroad review by Garth Greenwell, "Four months after her father died of AIDS-related causes in 1992, Alysia Abbott found the diaries he kept over the twenty years he raised her as a single father. She quotes from those diaries extensively in her account of their life together, along with his poems and letters and wonderful comics, and it’s Abbott’s use of her father's writing that gives much of this sometimes searing book its force, making for one of the most powerful accounts of a father-child relationship I've read."

Add your review of "Fairyland: A Memoir Of My Father" in comments!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary - A Graphic Novel About An Indian-American Teen With A Small Subplot That Has A Gay Character

Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap, illustrated by Mari Araki

Tina M., sophomore, is a wry observer of the cliques and mores of Yarborough Academy, and of the foibles of her Southern California intellectual Indian family. She's on a first-name basis with Jean-Paul Sartre, the result of an English honors class assignment to keep an "existential diary."

From Tina getting dumped by her smart-girl ally to a kiss on the mouth (Tina's mouth, but not technically her first kiss) from a cute skateboarder, this graphic novel follow's Tina's path towards 11th grade and maybe... enlightenment.

There's so little representation of 1) Americans of Indian descent in teen fiction, 2) LGBTQ teen characters who are also people of color 3) those two things in a teen graphic novel, that I'm including this book here on the blog, though you shouldn't expect it to have major LGBTQ content. Having said that, there is a gay character in this, I'm happy about it, and I'm happy to let you all know about it.

Add your review of "Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary" in comments!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Surprising Myself - Seventeen-year-old Joel can’t be gay if he’s straight

Surprising Myself by Christopher Bram

After four years of living with relatives in Switzerland, seventeen-year-old Joel Scherzenlieb finds himself in the United States for the summer, working at a Boy Scout camp. There, he meets nineteen-year-old Corey Cobbett, a fellow counselor who's the only person Joel wants to be friends with. Soon, Joel’s sarcastic, distant CIA father shows up and whisks him away to live with his mother, grandmother, and older sister on a farm in Virginia—he’s not going back to Switzerland after all. As his father pleads poverty and his dreams of going to college vanish, Joel faces his longest year yet. But everything changes when Corey returns to his life, bringing with him the discovery and excitement of reciprocal love.

Add your review of "Surprising Myself" in comments!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Q & A (Queer and Asian Pacific-Islander) Space - Coming Out Stories!

This Q&A Space website is very cool. In their own words,

Q&A Space is the first ever coming out resource website specifically for LGBT Asian Pacific Islanders with multimedia stories, coming out advice, translated resources for parents, and more.

Q&A is a play on the common phrase "question and answer" and the term "queer and Asian."

The goal of this website is not to answer every question, but to provide support, advice, and resources for those seeking it.

Take a look, read the stories. Encourage others to add their own stories!

The more people willing to come out, the safer the world will be for others!

The stories, poems and videos on their site are brave and true, and well worth reading (and sharing!)

And I was excited to see their parent resource page has information translated into Simplified Chinese (簡體中文), Traditional Chinese (繁體中文), Farsi, Hindi, Bahasa Indonesia, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Urdu and Vietnamese!


Friday, November 1, 2013

Better Nate Than Ever - A Gay (And Show-Stopping!) Middle Grade Adventure About A Small-Town Boy Who Runs Away From Home To Crash A Broadway Audition

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for seeing a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom. 

It's a middle grade book I found both laugh-out-loud funny and heart-felt.  Add your review of "Better Nate Than Ever" in comments!