Monday, April 24, 2017

Alters - A Comic Book Series With A Trans Superhero

Alters by Writer: Paul Jenkins, and Artist: Leila Leiz. The creative team also includes Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain, Letterer: Ryane Hill, Regular Cover Artist: Brian Stelfreeze

A world where a war between heroes and villains is being fought to a stalemate, with humanity becoming the collateral damage part of the equation...The heroes know they are losing the war. And in the middle of this world-changing conflict, a new threat seems to be emerging: the Alters. They are mutants, possibly – or perhaps they are some kind of ultimate end to our genetic road map. Whatever the case, Alters seem to be emerging all around the country... and they are met with fear, distrust, and prejudice. They manifest new, dangerous powers that emerge without warning.

As the world struggles to accept the emergence of these Alters, a young woman begins her transition from male to female only to find herself also transitioning into a powerful Alter. Faced with persecution by the multi-powered fascist known only as Matter Man, she will face the world as Chalice--a hero for a new age. But as Chalice navigates the path to becoming her true self, she must juggle the complications of her civilian life and the responsibilities of her newfound power.

The promo copy includes this line, "From a diverse team of creators composed of differing genders, gender identities, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations comes a groundbreaking first-ever superhero series with a central transgender protagonist created by a mainstream writer."

There are five comic books so far (#1-5), and the first five books are also collected in a single volume. Here are the covers of 2-5:

The publisher says Alters is best suited for ages 15+, though Jessica, who suggested the series to me, gauged it as PG-13. Thanks for the recommendation, Jessica!

Add your review of any or all issues of "Alters" in comments!

Friday, April 21, 2017

I'll be moderating a graphic novels panel at the LA Times Festival of Books this weekend!

I'm so looking forward to this!

I'll be moderating the Young Adult Graphic Novels: Drawing You In panel on the YA stage, Saturday at noon.

The panelists are author Cecil Castellucci (speaking about her "Soupy Leaves Home"),

Author/Illustrator Faith Erin Hicks (speaking about the second book of her The Nameless City triology, "The Stone Heart")

Author/Illustrator Matt Phelan (speaking about his "Snow White: A Graphic Novel.")

Here's the announcement from the festival website:

If you're there, say "Hi!"

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Breakthrough U - Puppets and LGBTQ-Inclusive Videos

What a cool tool to spark conversations.

Like this Breakthrough U. video, Intersectionality 101:

And check out this one on Gender Norms (covering non-consensual photo sharing, sexual scoring, and how to transform it)!

And this one on Culture Change (touching on Gender fluid identity, homophobic language, and bathroom use.)

Find out more about Breakthrough U. here

Monday, April 17, 2017

Survivor Contestant Zeke Writes About Being Outed As Trans

While I've long since stopped watching Survivor, I thought this piece by Zeke Smith, about his experience on the show, and his being outed as trans by a desperate gay contestant, was important.

This line in particular really shouted out at me:

"Many gay people consider coming out a moment of liberation, because sharing their sexual orientation with the world causes them to be seen more authentically. Often, the opposite is true for trans people. When we share our gender history, many see us less authentically — doubting, probing or denying our identities."

And when he describes the moment he was outed, it's a moment of violence, of cruelty, of inciting "bigotry toward a marginalized minority."

And then Zeke wrote this:

But in calling me deceptive, Varner invoked one of the most odious stereotypes of transgender people, a stereotype that is often used as an excuse for violence and even murder. In proclaiming “Zeke is not the guy you think he is” and that “there is deception on levels y’all don’t understand,” Varner is saying that I’m not really a man and that simply living as my authentic self is a nefarious trick. In reality, by being Zeke the dude, I am being my most honest self — as is every other transgender person going about their daily lives.

It's a powerful moment of a transgender man sharing his story in his own words... and well worth reading.

Here's the link to Zeke's column in the Hollywood Reporter.

And my thanks to Zeke for sharing his story. Hopefully it will help all of us who aren't Trans be better Allies to individual Trans people and the Trans community!

Friday, April 14, 2017

"The root of oppression is the loss of memory." - Paula Gunn Allen

I've been thinking a lot about this quote from the wonderful Lesbian Native American poet Paula Gunn Allen.

And I think we're seeing this in action today, from Trump spokesman Sean Spicer's inane comment about how "Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons" (excuse me? What about the millions of Jews and others who died in Nazi gas chambers -- including members of my family?) to this week's reports of 100 gay men being rounded up and sent to "camps" in the Chechen Republic of Russia where they are being tortured and beaten (Sounds like concentration camps to me), to this crazy uptick in bomb threats to Jewish community centers here in the U.S. (more than 100 in the first two months of 2017.)

We need to remember the past to not allow it to repeat.

And we need to call falsehoods as such.

OUT magazine has six things we can all do to help stop what's happening in Chechnya.

Raise your voice with mine: We remember. And we will not accept our world going backwards to the horrors of the Holocaust.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Lotterys Plus One - Middle Grade fiction where 9 year old Sumac has four parents (two gay dads and two lesbian moms) and a problem grandfather

The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue, illustrated by Caroline Hadilaksono

Sumac Lottery is nine years old and the self-proclaimed "good girl" of her (VERY) large, (EXTREMELY) unruly family. And what a family the Lotterys are: four parents, children both adopted and biological, and a menagerie of pets, all living and learning together in a sprawling house called Camelottery. Then one day, the news breaks that one of their grandfathers is suffering from dementia and will be coming to live with them. And not just any grandfather; the long dormant "Grumps," who fell out with his son so long ago that he hasn't been part of any of their lives.

Suddenly, everything changes. Sumac has to give up her room to make the newcomer feel at home. She tries to be nice, but prickly Grumps clearly disapproves of how the Lotterys live: whole grains, strange vegetables, rescue pets, a multicultural household... He's worse than just tough to get along with -- Grumps has got to go.

But can Sumac help him find a home where he belongs?

While that sounds fun, I actually prefer the more open-about-the-queer-content synopsis on the back of the ARC,

Once upon a time, a man from Delhi and a man from Yukon fell in love, and so did a woman from Jamaica and a Mohawk woman. The two couples became best friends and had a baby together. When they won the lottery, they gave up their jobs and found a big old house where their family could learn and grow... and grow some more.

Now Sumac Lottery (age nine) is the fifth of seven kids, all named after trees. With their four parents and five pets they fit perfectly in the Toronto home they call Camelottery.

But the one thing in life that never changes... is that sooner or later things change.

All together it sounds great. Add your review of "The Lotterys Plus One" in comments!

Friday, April 7, 2017

The scoop on the US Census Not identifying LGBTQ people

This article by Dawn Ennis at lgbtq nation lays out the facts really clearly:

The 2020 US Census wasn't going to measure us, even before Trump took office. It has never measured LGBTQ people.

What has changed is the Trump administration's position towards including LGBTQ people in the the annual American Community Survey, the preliminary step towards being included in the every-ten-year census.

As demographer Gary Gates explained,

"Despite advice from the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development suggesting a strong federal need for better data on the LGBT population, the Bureau now argues that such need does not exist... Their change of heart from at least considering LGBT inclusion in the ACS to now ruling it out offers evidence that the Census Bureau isn’t telling the whole story and may have let politics interfere with decisions about content.”

It's a more nuanced truth than what was reported, about we LGBTQ people being "erased" from the census - as we were never counted in the first place.

But it's still not good news.

At least now we have the scoop.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Remembering Gilbert Baker, who created the Gay Pride Rainbow Flag

The Gay Pride Rainbow Flag flying in the interior of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where it is part of their collection.

"...a flag is different than any other form of art. It’s not a painting, it’s not just cloth, it is not a just logo—it functions in so many different ways. I thought that we needed that kind of symbol, that we needed as a people something that everyone instantly understands. [The Rainbow Flag] doesn’t say the word “Gay,” and it doesn’t say “the United States” on the American flag but everyone knows visually what they mean. And that influence really came to me when I decided that we should have a flag, that a flag fit us as a symbol, that we are a people, a tribe if you will. And flags are about proclaiming power…" - Gilbert Baker, in an interview with MOMA

Gilbert died on March 31, 2017. But he left behind a symbol of LGBTQ community, and power, and pride. What a legacy!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The 8 LGBTQ Children's/Young Adult Finalists For the Lambda Literary Awards Are Announced

And the 2017 finalists (for significant LGBTQ character/theme books published in 2016) are:

Beast, Brie Spangler, Alfred A. Knopf

Girl Mans Up, M.E. Girard, Harper Teen

Gravity, Juliann Rich, Bold Stroke Books

Highly Illogical Behavior, John Corey Whaley, Dial Books

Not Your Sidekick, C.B. Lee, Duet

Our Chemical Hearts, Krystal Sutherland, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

Symptoms of Being Human, Jeff Garvin, Balzer + Bray

The Midnight Star, Marie Lu, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers

It's a great reading list! Congratulations and good luck to all!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Honestly Ben - The Teen Guy Rafe Fell In Love With In "Openly Straight" Gets His Story... And Maybe His Romance, Too.

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

Ben Carver is back to normal. He’s working steadily in his classes at the Natick School. He just got elected captain of the baseball team. He’s even won a full scholarship to college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg the past semester is in the past.

Except...There’s Hannah, the gorgeous girl from the neighboring school, who attracts him and distracts him. There’s his mother, whose quiet unhappiness Ben is noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there’s Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else . . . and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.

Add your review of "Honestly Ben." the companion novel to "Openly Straight" in comments!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Openly, Honestly - A Free Short Story That Bridges Two Gay YA Novels (And Follows The Romance Between Rafe and Ben)

Openly, Honestly by Bill Konigsberg

Rafe Goldberg was planning to spend winter break at home in Colorado openly mourning what he almost had with Ben. He wasn’t expecting his best friend, Claire Olivia, to kidnap him. And he definitely wasn’t expecting what she has planned to cheer him up...

Ben Carver was honestly planning to spend winter break at home in New Hampshire not thinking about Rafe. But he wasn’t expecting to run into his ex-girlfriend, who’s still interested in him. And he wasn’t expecting to find himself still attracted to her...

Add your review of the free short story "Openly, Honestly" in comments!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Our Chemical Hearts - Teen Guy Henry's First Love for Grace, A Disabled Gender Non-Conforming Teen Girl

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him -- at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.
Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl; she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl.

Add your review of "Our Chemical Hearts" in comments!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Not Your Sidekick - A Bisexual (And Lesbian And Trans) Superhero Story!

Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

Add your review of "Not Your Sidekick" in comments!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Highly Illogical Behavior - A Gay Teen Agoraphobe. The Girl Who's Going To "Fix" Him (His Agoraphobia, not his Gayness). And Her Boyfriend, Who's A Love Interest To Them Both...

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn't left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she's being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?

Solomon is the answer.

Determined to "fix" Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, sitting through Star Trek marathons with him and introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they'd be, and when their walls fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.

What's queer about it is that Solomon is gay. And, as he spends time with Lisa and Clark, he starts to fall for Clark. And then Lisa is afraid she's going to lose Clark to Solomon!

Add your review of Highly Illogical Behavior in comments!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Gravity - Women's Ski Jumping. The Olympics. And 17-Year-Old Ellie, Who's Falling For The Girl Who Is Her Biggest Competition

Gravity by Juliann Rich

A shot at Olympic gold in ski jumping. It's a dream that has been the exclusive property of male athletes. Until now.

For seventeen-year-old Ellie Engebretsen, the 2011 decision to include women's ski jumping in the Olympics is a game changer. She'd love to bring home the gold for her father, a former Olympic competitor whose dreams were blown along with his knees on an ill-timed landing. But can she defy the pull of gravity that draws her to Kate Moreau, her biggest competition and the girl of her dreams?

How can Ellie soar through the air when all she feels like doing is falling hard?

Add your review of "Gravity" in comments!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Beast - A High School Re-Imagining of Beauty and The Beast. And Beauty is Trans.

Beast by Brie Spangler

Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn't look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg--and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy--until he meets Jamie. She's funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She's also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality.

As Jamie's humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn't know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn't listening. Something that shouldn't change a thing. She is who she's always been--an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

Add your review of "Beast" in comments!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Girl Mans Up - A Gender Non-Conforming Teen Girl Tries To Figure Life Out

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she's always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she's trying to be a boy--that she should quit trying to be something she's not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty.

But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth--that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she'll have to man up.

This novel was a William C. Morris Award Finalist: Best Young Adult Debut of the Year. Add your review of "Girl Mans Up" in comments.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Inspiration from the First Annual Lambda Lit Fest in Los Angeles

Panels, Workshops, Readings... there was so much to dive into at the inaugural Lambda Lit Fest Los Angeles.

Here are some moments that are still resonating for me:

"Write something that forces people to imagine something radically different." -Justin Torres

"I was a trans kid in an Amish town. Rebellion has been my means of survival." -Our Lady J

"Reporting is a verb... part of my job is to be a witness." -Melissa Chadburn

"As an artist, the first thing you need to believe is that you deserve a place at the table." -Michael Nava

Not assimilating into whiteness but dissolving it into a community where everyone can see each other -Ryka Aoki

"If you're queer and you're writing, eventually you're going to run into the person who tells you your book saved their life." -Ryka Aoki

"Most of us didn't wake up on Nov 9 realizing we are under attack because we've been under attack" -Claudia Rodriguez

"America loves the heroic individual but change doesn't happen that way. Things only change by coalition." -Sarah Schulman

"We need to start talking about art as a regular practice in everyone's life." -D'lo

"Being a human requires looking out for other humans -Zackary Drucker

"Don't let them colonize your imagination. And write!" -Lucy Jane Bledsoe

"Our job right now is to be as queer as possible, so they know we're not going anywhere!" -Alec Mapa

"This is the moment to be alive and do the work." -Luis Alfaro

And maybe most of all, being in community with over 300 other writers who are also creating Queer-themed work! 

It was truly an honor to be part of the Lambda Lit Fest Los Angeles Steering Committee, and I'm grateful to all who participated. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sulu is gay and it's no big deal... and that's a big deal!

This moment in Star Trek: Beyond made me absurdly happy. (Screen shots from watching the movie on a recent plane flight.)

Sulu (played by John Cho), hugging his daughter, his proud/happy husband looking on

Captain James T. Kirk, happy for them, looking on

Sulu, holding daughter, with husband's arm around him

Happy two dad family walking away

Hey, and a cute extra!

It's a powerful statement about LGBTQ people being part of the future.

And it's a tribute to George Takei, the original Sulu, now an out gay man himself, who married his husband Brad Altman in 2008.

And it's pretty awesome.

Thanks to everyone who made this happen, including the writing team, the director, the producers, and John Chu, the actor playing Sulu.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Infinite In Between - There's a Gay Love Story In This Tale of Five Teens Going Through Four Years of High School

Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler

It was the day before the first day of high school. They wrote those letters to their future selves, hid them in a secret place, and vowed to unearth them at graduation.

As if any of them had a clue what the next four years had in store.

Gregor is quietly, desperately in love with Whitney until a tragedy transforms his world. Zoe is running from everything: her celebrity mom, a public scandal, a long-held family secret and, ultimately, herself. Jake knows what it means that he has a crush on his best friend, Ted; it’s everything else that’s so confusing. Beautiful Whitney seems to have it together, but looks can be deceiving. And then there’s Mia. She watches them all, but doesn’t say a word until it’s almost too late.

Five teens. Fours years. An unforgettable journey.

Add your review of "Infinite In Between" in comments!

Monday, March 6, 2017

UN Free & Equal's New Animated Short Video, "The Lesson"

The video aims to raise awareness of the scale and impact of anti-LGBTIQ bullying and calls on parents, teachers, schools and governments to play their part in stamping it out. Created with children's author Daniel Errico and animation house Kavaleer Productions, the video tells the bittersweet story of a boy whose friendship with a girl becomes problematic when his mother sees her kiss another girl.

Free & Equal is a project of the United Nations Human Rights Office. The campaign raises awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and promotes greater respect for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people everywhere. Find out more here.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Is your LGBTQ kidlit book on the ALA's Rainbow Book List Committee's Radar?

There's a form to let them know about it.

And it doesn't have to be just your book - is there a book by someone else that's been or being published in 2017 that you want to make sure gets the chance to be included on the American Library Association's Rainbow List? Let the committee know!

And we'll all benefit, by having more great LGBTQ kid lit books to recommend and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Weird Girl and What's His Name

Weird Girl and What's His Name by Meagan Brothers

In the podunk town of Hawthorne, North Carolina, seventeen-year-old geeks Lula and Rory share everything sci-fi and fantasy fandom, Friday night binge-watching of old "X-Files" episodes, and that feeling that they don t quite fit in. Lula knows she and Rory have no secrets from each other; after all, he came out to her years ago, and she's shared with him her sacred texts: the acting books her mother left behind after she walked out of Lula's life. But then Lula discovers that Rory, her Rory, who maybe she's secretly had feelings for has not only tried out for the Hawthorne football team without telling her, but has also been having an affair with his middle-aged divorcee boss. With their friendship disrupted, Lula begins to question her identity and her own sexual orientation, and she runs away in the middle of the night on a journey to find her mother, who she hopes will have all the answers.

This novel won the IndieFab Young Adult Fiction Book of the Year 2015 and made the Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books 2015 list. Add your review of "Weird Girl and What's His Name" in comments!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Grace and History: Moonlight is The First LGBTQ Film To Win The Best Picture Oscar

The Oscar awards show last night was loooong, and when La La Land was announced as the winner of Best Picture (3 hours and 38 minutes into the broadcast), I thought the whole thing was over.

It wasn't.

After three speeches, Jordan Horowitz (Producer of La La Land) approached the microphone and said, ""I'm sorry. No. There's a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture."

Then he held up the card for the cameras:

In what was truly a moment of grace, Jordan raised the Oscar statuette he had been mistakenly handed, and said,

"I'm going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight."

And then the actual winners for Best Picture, the Moonlight team, took the stage, stunned, not sure if they could believe it...

Barry Jenkins (Director and Co-Writer of Moonlight) said:

"There was a time when I thought this movie was impossible."

It's an historic moment - Moonlight is the first LGBTQ film to win the Oscar for best picture.

And when, earlier in the evening, Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney dedicated his win

"to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender-conforming who don't see themselves" in film.

Grace, and history. Here's the trailer for Moonlight:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Bayard Rustin's words inspire me

With everything going on in the US right now, including the bomb threats at Jewish community centers, the anti-immigrant raids, and now this week's attack on Transgender student rights, these words from the out Gay African American Civil Rights leader are a call to action:

"If we want to do away with the injustice to gays it will not be done because we get rid of the injustice to gays. It will be done because we are forwarding the effort for the elimination of injustice to all." -Bayard Rustin, in a 1986 interview.
Bayard  Rustin in 1965

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Otto Digmore Difference - A New Adult Gay Ex-Boyfriends and now 'just friends?' Road Trip

The Otto Digmore Difference by Brent Hartinger

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success.

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time.

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie.

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he might still have romantic feelings for his best friend.

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams?

In an interview about the book, Brent says, "I confess that when I first introduced Otto in 2005 (in The Order of the Poison Oak, the first Geography Club sequel), I was annoyed by the response in some quarters of the literary world. I heard more than once that I shouldn’t be equating being gay with being disabled, because you don’t “choose” to be disabled. Like you choose to be gay?

But the world has changed a lot since then,. The last few years, the topic of “diversity” has finally broken through. It finally seemed like the time to give Otto his own book."

Add your review of "The Otto Digmore Difference" in comments!

Friday, February 17, 2017

An Actual "Fake News" Headline...

Glad we could clear that up. You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ian McKellen Performs Shakespeare's Words On Immigration

This is brilliant! (and under six minutes to watch, and hey, it's Ian McKellen!)

And, even though William Shakespeare wrote it more than 400 years ago, it feels so timely...

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Other Boy - Shane is 12, and is a regular boy... who has to find the courage to ignore the transphobic hate directed at him and just be himself

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his friends and teammates, even Josh. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.

Add your review of "The Other Boy" in comments!

Friday, February 10, 2017

If you're at #NY17SCBWI, Join me (and conference faculty guests) for the LGBTQ + Allies Q&A

Saturday February 11, from 8:30pm - 9:30pm (and probably for another half-hour after that), in the Chrysler Room in the Grand Central Hyatt.

Can't wait!

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lily and Dunkin - Two 8th Grade Outsiders Learn To "Let The World See You"

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you're in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he's called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

Add your review of "Lily and Dunkin" in comments!

Monday, February 6, 2017

In Challenge, Opportunity: News About My Book, THE QUEER HISTORY PROJECT: NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY?

It needs a new, brave publishing home.

A nonfiction book for kids about men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries in history was bound to be controversial. Not so much the primary sources, or the facts (all of which have been published for adults before), but the daring to share it with kids.

Daring to share Abraham Lincoln’s letters that reveal his love for Joshua Fry Speed, and the conflict both men felt about the women they would ultimately marry. Including the 1842 letter where Abraham wrote Joshua, “I now have no doubt that it is the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to dream dreams of Elysium [heaven] far exceeding all that anything earthly can realize. Far short of your dreams as you may be, no woman could do more to realize them that that same black-eyed Fanny.”

Daring to share the late 1500s/early 1600s love sonnets William Shakespeare wrote to another man, the mysterious Mr. W. H. Including Sonnet 144, where the Bard wrote, “Two loves I have of comfort and despair, Which like two spirits do suggest me still; The better angel is a man right fair, The worser spirit a woman color’d ill.”

Daring to share the 1911 love contract between Mohandas Gandhi and the man he loved, Hermann Kallenbach, where they pledged “more love and yet more love… such love as, they hope, the world has not seen” between them.

Daring to share the circa 1899 poem Jane Addams wrote about the “delivering love” of Mary Rozet Smith.

Daring to share the letters Eleanor Roosevelt wrote Lorena Hickok, including the 1933 letter where she wrote about wearing Lorena’s diamond and sapphire ring to remind herself, “she does love me, or I wouldn’t be wearing it.”

And daring to share so much more…

To put this book out in the world (and into schools, and libraries, and bookstores, and kids’ hands) requires a publisher that’s going to be behind both it and me 100%.

It has become clear that THE QUEER HISTORY PROJECT: NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY? didn’t have that support at Simon & Schuster, so I’ve taken it back.

Now, my book needs to find a new, brave, and excited-to-share-this-project-with-the-world publishing home.

So these true—and surprising—stories can reach young LGBTQ and Allied readers (and the adults who didn’t get to read this when they were kids!)

So it can change our view of history, our vision of ourselves, and our dreams of what’s possible.

So it can change lives.

Thanks for being with me on the journey.

The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay?
Primary source materials reveal the true—and surprising—stories of men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. (Ages 11 and up.)

Representation: Danielle Smith, Lupine Grove Creative

Nine of the featured men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries in history. How many can you name? How many of their surprising – and true – stories do you know?

Friday, February 3, 2017

2 Million Page Views!

A fun milestone to celebrate - in the past week, I'm Here. I'm Queer. What The Hell Do I Read? shot past the 2 million page views mark, and as I write this clocks in at 2,007,765!

Thank you for being part of this blog.

Thank you for being part of this movement towards more diversity in children's literature.

Thank you for being part of caring about LGBTQ young people and teens.

Thank you for being part of my community.

I'm very grateful.

The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The First Annual Lambda LitFest Los Angeles - A Queer Festival of Writing And Reading!

Where are you going to be Saturday March 11, 2017? If it's Los Angeles, or even the Lambda Literary Facebook page for the live video feed, count yourself fortunate.

LitFest Saturday is a full day of discussions, readings, entertainment, and community. The day features four powerful panels:

The Morning Plenary on barriers, opportunities, and being a queer writer in the 21st century with panelists Luis Alfaro, Zachary Drucker, Sarah Schulman, Justin Torres and Rebecca Walker, moderated by Cheryl Klein.

Quintessentially Queer LA, with panelists Ryka Aoki, Bernard Cooper, D’Lo, Wendy C. Ortiz, Claudia Rodríguez and Terry Wolverton, moderated by Alex Espinoza.

Queer Characters in Novels, Screenplays & Everything in Between with panelists Lucy Bledsoe, MariNaomi, Michael Nava, Our Lady J and Peter Paige, moderated by Noel Alumit.

Queer Truth: Nonfiction & Journalism in a Post-Truth World with panelists Tre’vell Anderson, Diane Anderson-Minshall, Melissa Chadburn, Alberto B. Mendoza and Robin Podolsky, moderated by Susie Bright.

That evening there's Lambda LitFest presents UnCabaret, hosted by Beth Lapides and featuring Julie Goldman, Marga Gomez, Ian Harvie, Alec Mapa and Justin Sayre. (Sorry, this one won't be live-streamed - you have to be there in person!)

But, as the infomercials used to say, That's not all!

Lambda LitFest is actually a full week (March 6-12, 2017) of programs and readings, with more than 24 community-curated events all across the city. From Giving Tongue: A Celebration of Lesbian/Queer Poets to Celebrating our Heroes: Betty Berzon, Jeanne Córdova, Paul Monette, Mark Thompson there's so much to enrich and inspire!

There's even a Lambda LitFest Closing Party -- with dancing and crafts!

It's going to be so much fun.

Check out the schedule of events (LitFest Saturday and the whole week's worth of readings, workshops, discussions, and entertainment), speaker bios, and all the rest here.

I'm honored to be part of the #LambdaLitFest steering committee, and I hope you'll mark your calendars, check it out, and be part of the first annual Lambda LitFest Los Angeles!


Monday, January 30, 2017

The Revised Charlotte's Web, Trump Edition

Chapter 1

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" asked Fern as they sat for breakfast.

"To kill the runt of the litter." Mother answered. "Some pigs were born last night."

"Good." Said Fern. "No one different can amount to much, anyway. Can I have some more bacon?"

The End

With apologies to E.B. White, but really, what's going on in the USA politically is so contrary to the values we want our children to have, to the values our best children's books hold, to the best in each of us. 

If we don't speak up, if we allow this prejudice and fear and hatred of others to take root, it's not much of a stretch to think that children's books will soon echo that prejudice and fear and hatred of others. We cannot let that happen. 

The above is not the version of Charlotte's Web I want to see happen. I want Fern to have compassion, and empathy, and kindness.  I want children (and heck, adults) to have those qualities, too. I want Wilbur to not just live, but thrive, and be valued. I want friendship between those who are different (like Wilbur and Charlotte) to not just be possible, but to matter. 

And I want this for our world, too.

In times of darkness, light matters more than ever. The light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you,

Friday, January 27, 2017

The ALA's 2017 Rainbow List Is Out!

Created by the Rainbow Book List Committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association, the 2017 Rainbow List presents the committee's choices of Best Books published between July 2015 and December 2016 with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning content, which are aimed at youth, birth through age 18.

Great for readers. Great for librarians and bookstore owners. Great for parents and all caring adults, it's a wonderful resource (and awesome for all to be able to say these books are recommended by the ALA!)

There are five picture books, five middle grade novels, one middle grade nonfiction, thirty-two YA fiction, five YA nonfiction, and five graphic novels on the list. They've also chosen their top ten titles, which it's interesting to note are different from The Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award winners. A good reminder that selecting "best" books is a very subjective enterprise.

The 2017 Rainbow List top ten books are (in no particular order)

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship by Jessica Walton
The Root by Na'amen Gobert TilahunI’m a Girl by Yasmeen Ismail
And I Darken by Kiersten White
How Many Letters Are In Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy
This Song Is (Not) For You by Laura Nowlin
Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireWe Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

The 2017 Rainbow List presents 53 books altogether - and it's one heck of a reading list!