Monday, October 21, 2019

Highlights from Models of Pride 2019

I'm just back from Models of Pride 2019, and I'm so delighted to have once again presented a workshop in the youth track. There were more than 1,500 LGBTQ and Allied young people there, and every seat was filled in my Queer History is Everywhere session!

Some highlights for me:

1) The genuine excitement in the room - these young people wanted to be there, they wanted to learn about our LGBTQ history - and that made me excited to share with them!

2) The literal mouth-open jaw drop in surprise that I saw twice!

3) The many kind words of thanks shared with me by the young attendees after my session.

4) The happy rush of 'no way, we're getting a copy of his book?' when I shared the final crowdfunded copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" with the volunteers who read different primary source materials off the handout.

5) The gift of being sketched by a teen who didn't know me, but drew me sharing my enthusiasm and doing my best to empower these LGBTQ and Allied teens with the same information and stories and history that has empowered me!

6) Seeing the wonderful Jessica, Jake, and the Camp Brave Trails crew at the lunchtime resource fair!

7) Having my teenager attend Models of Pride, too!

Our world can be such a frustrating place, with the pace of change not fast enough, and with negative people and energy taking power and trying to undo the drive towards equality and equity and diversity and not just tolerance, or acceptance, but celebration of others...

But there are moments when I think about how far our world has come--Models of Pride is in its 27th year, and it's huge, and important, and while I didn't have it when I was a teen, I'm so glad it's here now.

And that progress gives me hope. And that's a beautiful thing.

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

Friday, October 18, 2019

White Rabbit - A YA Murder Mystery

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to "talk." Things couldn’t get worse, right?

Then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. He and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox. Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth, but April has something he needs. Her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to clear his sister’s name . . . or die trying.

Add your review of "White Rabbit" in comments!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Stone Rainbow - A YA novel where love and prejudice collide in a small town

The Stone Rainbow by Liane Shaw

A continuation of Jack's story from Caterpillars Can't Swim.

Jack Pedersen is finding life complicated ever since he came out to his mom. Even though she's been doing her best to be understanding, it's obvious to Jack that his mom still wants to cry every time she says the word gay.

Complications go into overdrive when a new student named Benjamin arrives at his high school, and Jack starts experiencing feelings he's never allowed himself before. When a near tragedy turns life upside down, Jack realizes it's time to stop hiding and to stand up--for Pride, for Benjamin, and for himself.

Add your review of "The Stone Rainbow" in comments!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Caterpillars Can't Swim - A YA Novel Where a Friendship Between a Disabled Swimmer and a Closeted Gay Teen Help Them Both Go Against Stereotypes.

Caterpillars Can't Swim by Liane Shaw

For sixteen-year-old Ryan, the water is where he finds freedom from his wheelchair. But he never imagined he would become his small town's hero by saving his schoolmate, Jack, from drowning. For Jack, disappearing into the river seemed better than living through one more day of high school, where he is dogged by rumors about being gay. When Ryan invites Jack on a trip to Comic Con with his best friend Cody, the captain of the swim team, the three boys make an unlikely combination. This trip will give them the chance to go against the stereotypes the world wants to define them by.

Add your review of "Caterpillars Can't Swim" in comments!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Chaotic Good - A Teen Girl Takes on a Secret Identity as a Boy in the World of Comic Book Stores, Cosplay, and Costumes

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Cameron's cosplay creations are finally starting to earn her attention--attention she hopes to use to get into the CalArts costume design department for college. But after she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans online.

When Cameron's family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse.

Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town--her main destination for character reference--is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother's suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she's shocked at how easily she's accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her brother Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her "secret identity" gets more and more entrenched, Cameron's portfolio falls by the wayside--and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious in this geek girl anthem from You're Welcome, Universe author Whitney Gardner, complete with fully illustrated comic pages inked by Gardner herself.

What's even more Queer about this book@ is that Boy Cameron is asked out by one of the other characters, who is gay.

Add your review of "Chaotic Good" in comments!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Models of Pride 2019 is Saturday October 19, at Los Angeles City College (LACC) - An Amazing Event for LGBTQ and Allied Teens!

Models of Pride is the world’s largest free conference for LGBTQ youth & allies, including parents & professionals. The full-day event includes an Opening Session, over 130 workshops, lunch, a resource fair, college fair, job fair, dinner, entertainment hour, and outdoor dance party – all free!

I'm delighted to once again be part of Models of Pride, presenting one of those 130+ workshops. Mine is:
Queer History is Everywhere!
Online registration for Models of Pride will close Wednesday, October 16, at 10 a.m., but you can also register onsite the morning of Models of Pride beginning at 7:30 a.m. You must register/check-in before 1:30 p.m. to participate in the conference.

Go here to read all about it and register!

Hope to see you at Models of Pride 2019!

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

Monday, October 7, 2019

The company that gave the world Barbie is launching a new line of Gender Neutral dolls!

As reported by Tod Perry on Upworthy, this is pretty cool news:

"The dolls, which cost $29.99, don't have broad shoulders like Ken or breasts like Barbie. Creatable World dolls can be played with as a boy, a girl, or neither. They're slim with androgynous faces and short hair and can be fitted with wigs and a wardrobe consisting of sneakers, graphic tees, hoodies, tutus, or camouflage pants."

Mattel's Creatable World line of gender-less dolls

Nice to see this - it's certainly about time!

Read the full article here.

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

p.s. - thanks to my amazing husband for the heads-up on this one!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars - A Trans Teen Coming-of-Age Novel

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir By Kai Cheng Thom

This is the highly sensational, ultra-exciting, sort-of true coming-of-age story of a young Asian trans girl, pathological liar, and kung-fu expert who runs away from her parents' abusive home in a rainy city called Gloom. Striking off on her own, she finds her true family in a group of larger-than-life trans femmes who live in a mysterious pleasure district known only as the Street of Miracles. Under the wings of this fierce and fabulous flock, the protagonist blossoms into the woman she has always dreamed of being, with a little help from the unscrupulous Doctor Crocodile. When one of their number is brutally murdered, she joins her sisters in forming a vigilante gang to fight back against the transphobes, violent johns, and cops that stalk the Street of Miracles. But when things go terribly wrong, she must find the truth within herself in order to stop the violence and discover what it really means to grow up and find your family.

Check out this excellent interview with the author at Teen Vogue here. The author says that "she sought to write the book that she would have needed as a young trans girl." How awesome is that?

The novel was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Add your review of "Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir" in comments!

Thanks to my friend Karol for the heads-up on this one!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Lee Wind Video Newsletter: October 2019

Instead of a regular newsletter, welcome to the launch of this new way to update, inform, and hopefully inspire YOU!

Click here or on the video still above to watch the October 2019 edition of the Lee Wind Video Newsletter. Links and a transcript follow...

[Duration: 3:46]


Hi Community – I’m Lee Wind. It’s October 2019, and instead of a regular newsletter, I’m launching this new way to update, inform, and, hopefully inspire YOU. Let’s jump in…


CNN is reporting that the “Lovers of Modena”, this pair of ancient skeletons that were found buried together holding hands, which was really romantic, were actually two guys.

So everyone just assumed, back in 2009, when they found this couple buried, that they were a man and a woman. But scientists tested the enamel on the teeth of both skeletons and discovered a peptide found only in guys. So they actually were two guys!

Which just proves that even in Modena, Italy, back 1,500 or 1,700 years ago, Queer history really is everywhere.

(shout out to Gay Elder Dr. Don Kilhefner for sharing this one in his newsletter!)


I just heard from my editor at Zest/Lerner Books that THE QUEER HISTORY PROJECT: NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY? will be released in May of 2021. I’m really excited, stay tuned for more on that.


Over on NetGalley, Gloria M. gave Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill 5 out of 5 stars!

She writes, “Wyatt (our MC) has the most insufferable bff known to ya fiction, but all that turns about when he meets a librarian who gives him a book that hey hey shows omg Lincoln may have been gay… The drama can be fun or irritating depending on which way you swing, but I would still recommend the hell out of this gem.”

Thanks, Gloria!


It’s October 2019. On the 19th, I’ll be at Models of Pride in Los Angeles, talking to LGBTQ and Allied Teens about discovering our LGBTQ History.

And then on October 25 and 26 I’ll be down in La Jolla at the La Jolla Writers Conference on faculty doing three talks, wearing both my author hat and my director of marketing and programming for the Independent Book Publishers Association hats, and I hope to see you at one of those!


This month, I’m really enjoying

By Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

It’s a retelling of the King Arthur legend, but far in the future, in space, and there’s lots of LGBTQ characters. And the whole culture is really attuned to the fact that there isn’t a gender binary—there are fluids, who they use the ‘they’ pronoun, and it’s just a lot of fun, I’m really having a great time with it.


I was listening to the Big Gay Author Podcast by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss, and they shared this amazing quote from Toni Morrison, who just passed away, and it was so inspiring, so I want to share it with you…

In a book called “Keep Going” by Austin Kleon, which was all about staying creative and positive in the difficult times we’re living in, Toni Morrison said, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”

Thank you, Toni.

Want more? Check out I’M HERE. I’M QUEER. WHAT THE HELL DO I READ? at

Until then,

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


Monday, September 30, 2019

The Importance of Queer History in YA - The Lambda LitFest 2019 Panel (recorded at BookSoup on September 27, 2019)

It was a great discussion, captured here on video to share with all of you! Click here (or on the still frame below) to check out the conversation moderated by YA author, Amy Spalding (THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ), with authors James Brandon (ZIGGY, STARDUST AND ME), Abdi Nazemian (LIKE A LOVE STORY), and Lee Wind (QUEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL) for a roundtable discussion about why writing Queer History in Young Adult canon is not only an important aspect to the popular genre, but a necessity in documenting our history for young people today.

Thanks to Amy, Brandon, and Abdi, Mark for recording, and everyone at BookSoup and Lambda LitFest 2019 for making this event possible!

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

#QueerHistoryIsEverywhere - The Lovers of Modena Were Two GUYS!

CNN is reporting that scientists have just discovered that the pair of ancient skeletons known as the “Lovers of Modena” who were found in 2009 (in Modena, Italy) buried holding hands were both men.

The middle-aged couple died sometime between 1,500 and 1,700 years ago, and like all queer history, the truth had been hidden – everyone just assumed that they had been a man and a woman.

Researchers figured it out by testing proteins in the skeletons’ tooth enamel where they found—in both—a peptide present only in men. They published their findings in the journal Nature.

Queer history really is everywhere!

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

P.S.: My thanks to Dr. Don Kilhefner for sharing this in his newsletter, so I can share it will all of you!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

It's Banned Books Week - celebrate by reading something that s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s you

For inspiration, consider the top 11 (there was a tie) most challenged books of 2018, as reported to (and by) the American Library Association. The folks at ALA even put together this handy video:

It's stunning that six out of the eleven books were banned, at least in part, because they included LGBTQAI+ characters and content. That's a lot of fear of us queer people.

So let's fight back, by making books for kids and teens WITH queer characters and themes really successful. Read them. Leave reviews online, wherever you read reviews. Ask your local library, and your school library, to carry them. And talk them up!

Stereotypes and ignorance and feeling isolated are all things that grow in the darkness of censorship - let's turn up the light!

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


Monday, September 23, 2019

I'll be a panelist for the 2019 Lambda LitFest Event at BookSoup This Friday September 27, "The Importance of Queer History in Young Adult Novels"

The information on their website may not be all there, but my enthusiasm is! I'm delighted to be one of the panelists who'll be at the famed BookSoup in West Hollywood, California this Friday September 27 at 7pm to discuss The Importance of Queer History in Young Adult Novels!

As the panel description says,

The 2011 passage of California’s FAIR Education Act mandated that LGBTQ accomplishments be taught in our history and social studies classrooms to show that gay Americans have been an integral part of our society and continue to shape our current world. A few other states have joined in this movement, but still, we have a long way to go before LGBTQ+ history is fully integrated into school curriculum. Join us for a roundtable discussion about why writing Queer History in Young Adult canon is not only an important aspect to the popular genre, but a necessity in documenting our history for young people today.

The more complete panel description:

Moderated by YA author, Amy Spalding (THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ), join authors James Brandon (ZIGGY, STARDUST AND ME), Abdi Nazemian (LIKE A LOVE STORY), and Lee Wind (QUEEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL) for a roundtable discussion about why writing Queer History in Young Adult canon is not only an important aspect to the popular genre, but a necessity in documenting our history for young people today.

James Brandon's ZIGGY, STARDUST AND ME is being released August 6 from Putnam/Penguin Random House. "Set in St. Louis in 1973, months before homosexuality was 'de-classified' as a mental illness, sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins is fighting to overcome his 'illness' when he meets Web, a Lakota Two-Spirit. The two boys fall in love and struggle to retain their identities in a world that continually threatens to tear them apart.

Abdi Nazemian's LIKE A LOVE STORY was released June 6 from Harper Teen/Balzar+Bray. "At the height of the U.S. AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s and early 1990s, three teenagers grapple with love, friendship and family as they become involved in activism under the tutelage of a queer mentor."

Lee Wind's QUEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL was inspired by the real historical letters between Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Fry Speed. In this award-winning novel, Wyatt, a bullied and closeted teen, outs Lincoln to change the world—triggering a conservative backlash and media firestorm. Crowdfunded, the book was Publishers Weekly’s September 2018 “Indie Success Story.”

Amy Spalding grew up in St. Louis, but now lives in the better weather of Los Angeles. She has a B.A. in Advertising & Marketing Communications from Webster University, and an M.A. in Media Studies from The New School. Amy studied longform improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. By day, she manages the digital media team for an indie film advertising agency. By later day and night, Amy writes, performs, and pets as many cats as she can. She is the author of five young adult novels, including her latest, the bestselling THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles).

If you're in the Los Angeles area this Friday, I hope you'll join us for what promises to be a great discussion!

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Daughter of the Burning City - A Fantasy Where a Bi Teen Girl Has To Solve A Series of Illusionary Murders

Daughter of the Burning City By Amanda Foody

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival's Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that--illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed...until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn't actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca. Their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina's illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all her loved ones disappear.

What's queer about it? The main character, Sorina, is bi, there's a lesbian secondary character, and Luca is ace-spectrum.

There's a great interview with the author here. Add your review of "Daughter of the Burning City" in comments!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Felipe Neto is My New Hero

He's a Brazilian YouTube star (with 34 million subscribers), but as I don't speak Portuguese, Felipe Neto hasn't been on my radar. But he is now!

As reported in the Advocate and at Pink News and in The Guardian...

At Rio de Janeiro’s international book fair (which just ended on September 10, 2019), the city's mayor "attempted to pull the graphic novel Avengers: The Children’s Crusade because it prominently features a same-sex kiss", saying that it should be "wrapped in black plastic and come with a warning label."

And on Friday, the mayor "ordered city inspectors to seize copies of Avengers." What happened next was amazing...

"In response, Felipe Neto... bought all the copies of major LGBTQ-themed books being sold at the festival, totaling about 14,000, and gave them out Saturday to anyone who wanted one."

What's with the black plastic wrapping? As Pink News explains,
In a mischievous act of compliance with the mayor’s demand that LGBT+ books are sold with content warnings, the books come in black bags with a label that says: “This book is inappropriate for backwards, outdated and bigoted people.”
Go here to watch Felipe's youtube post about his activism, and check out the video starting at 1:50 -- the nearly endless stream of people getting free copies of LGBTQ books is really inspiring.

In this still shot from Felipe's YouTube post, the label in Portuguese explains that 'We are going as fast as possible to distribute everything before the "censorship inspectors" appear'

14,000 LGBTQ books given out for free! It's a homophobia smack down for sure!

“Although we [are] going through the most frightening government in terms of repression since the dictatorship, this time we have a united and engaged people who will not permit that censorship, the imposition of others’ moral values,” Neto told the Guardian.

Bravo, Felipe!

And in another act of LGBTQ solidarity and allyship, Brazil's biggest newspaper printed the illustration of the "two men kissing on its front page to attack an attempt at censorship by the evangelical mayor of Rio de Janeiro."


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