Friday, January 17, 2020

An interview with InQluded founder and editor-in-chief medina

I'm excited about InQluded, and about helping shine the spotlight on this platform and empowerment project for Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Youth. Here's the interview, and some images from the InQluded literary magazine...



Lee: Hi medina, so I’ve figured out that a lot of what I write are stories that would have changed my life had I read them when I was a teen. Is that what InQluded magazine is for you? What impact would it have had on your younger self if they could have read an issue?

medina: Hi, Lee! Oh, that absolutely makes sense. Representation is powerful.

I think that we as queer/LGBTQIA+ people are oftentimes playing catch up and yearning to live the lives we wish we could have lived fully before there was this kind of representation.

Hmm..I don’t know if inQluded is that for me. To be honest, I’ve never thought about that. My thought process for creating inQluded was: what do QTBIPOC kids deserve right now, and how can I help give that to them? I see what is happening right now in our political climate, I pay attention to what people younger than me are advocating for, passionate, about, etc. And so, I continue to create programming for inQluded to better serve the population we engage with daily. I’m always very much focused in the now and thinking intentionally about how what I do now can make a positive impact tomorrow. Do good as you go, ya know?

If inQluded existed back when I was growing up -- then -- I’d like to think the whole world would be altered, too. So, what would be my deepest hope would be that what I felt as a queer Latinx person growing up in Maine would have a positive ripple effect across the world. People my age would feel like they mattered. Like they belonged. Like they didn’t need to be ashamed for being queer...

...for being themselves.

They wouldn’t have felt scared all the time. To feel that, if they accidentally revealed that part of themselves that they would be friendless, unworthy of love or worse.

Parents, teachers, and adults in your life that you confide in can tell you how life is better with you in it, they can tell you how beautiful you are, but at a young age our need to be accepted by our own peers usually outweighs what adults are saying (even if it’s true). And really, I think the root of wanting to be accepted by peers is about trying to find community. So, to have a magazine for/by young people as a young teen, would have been life altering. I would have felt community, acceptance, connectedness and less fear.

If I had inQluded back then, I would probably be writing different stories today. I often describe writing for me as happy/sad; as devastatingly beautiful. I would love to not have to pull from this deep part of me that feels pain, sadness, rejection and alienation all the time. It’s emotionally tiring. I’d love to write a very fluffy story about fluffy fluffy fluffiness. I don’t feel I have that luxury, not yet, and probably never.

If I had inQluded back then, inQluded may not exist today. Because we already would have been inQluded.



Lee: Tell us about starting inQluded.

medina: This is what I know: Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24. LGBTQIA+ youth seriously contemplate suicide almost THREE TIMES the amount of heterosexual youth. This doesn’t take into account queer youth of color.

When we know the facts - how can we go on without doing something? How can we ever be the same?

I believe that our experiences lead us to things. Our experiences prepare us for things.

What do you think, Lee?

Lee: Hell, Yeah!

medina: Yeah, so, I think I’ve spent my whole life preparing to start inQluded.

I’ve always been someone who has found great joy from learning, listening, understanding and advocating for others. I am devoted to empowering and fostering a safe environment amongst youth through the arts. The arts are an integral part of the global conversation and has the powerful ability to engage all levels of society to promote change! I believe it is crucial to give youth at the intersection of vulnerable identities a platform on which to tell their own authentic stories.

Before I started my MFA program I was working as a youth advocate at a homeless drop in-center and though it was not part of my job description to create any programming, I couldn’t get it out of my head that our clients needed to be doing something creative. I’d get dozens of books donated, art supplies donated and watch how the atmosphere shifted. Art. Heartwork.

I immediately pitched to my supervisor that I wanted to facilitate a weekly writing program. After 9 weeks, it was finally approved. We went on to host an open mic and get the ball rolling to create a zine. I actually left before I could see if they created a zine because I began to slowly realize that I needed to go back to school and get my MFA in creative writing. My clients I worked with inspired me to do so. It was veryyyyyy Freedom Writers. Wish you could have seen it!

So, long story long, I applied to my MFA program and to The New School’s new Impact Entreprenuership Fellowship and pitched my venture: inQluded.


Lee: So cool! You’ve done four digital issues so far? Where can people go to get them?

medina: Yes! We just released our fourth digital issue. We dropped our first digital issue last June. All of our issues are designed by Isaiah Frisbie. Issue one and four are illustrated by Daylen. Issue Two’s cover was illustrated by Matthew Penado and Issue Three was illustrated by Marina Labarthe del Solar.

Issue One: The theme for issue one (pride issue) was “chosen family” but we named the issue: Welcome Home. In the face of indifference, discrimination, hatred or rejection, many of us must recreate and rebuild a community, a family. A family that is loving and accepting of exactly who we are. One that is loving and accepting of who we are. According to a 2018 report by the Human Rights Campaign, only 24 percent of LGBTQ youth feel they can “definitely be themselves at home.” Our self-created families and communities become what we call home.

Issue Two: Here to Stay. Here to stay was our letter to the world, a declaration that strongly resists, reclaims and transcends revolution. We will not be forgotten. We will not be erased. We are here to stay.

Issue Three: Break Borders and Binaries. This issue highlights the narratives of QTIBIPOC migrants, refugees, and folks from the diaspora. In centering borders with this issue, we strive to recognize how critical it is to question the ways in which borders are used to police the lives of marginalized folks while simultaneously recognizing how these same borders also shape cultures and identities. You’ll discover work that combats, questions, engages, or transcends these borders and binaries.

Issue Four: Love Lives Here. As QTBIPOC young people, it’s imperative that we have a space where we can express ourselves freely. It is imperative that we have an opportunity to create art that is joyful and loving. The way we love may be different from the way someone else loves, but that doesn’t mean that our love is wrong. Love can never be wrong. I know that I am tired of the singular narratives and stereotypes that persist outside of our community: that our stories are only ones of sadness and trauma. We are more than that. We deserve a love story. This is our love story

All of our issues live on gumroad.com/inqluded.



Lee: Is your vision to have InQluded be more than the magazine?

medina: Part of our mission is bringing access to QTBIPOC communities and helping navigate the publishing world. Many of us experience social exclusion because of who we are. So, we built a space where we are inQluded. We will continue to amplify the voices of youth through inclusiveness, compassion, understanding and artistic expression. I believe inQluding emerging and diverse voices will ultimately empower our communities.

Media for young people is a critical factor in the development of young people; it helps create our perception of people and validates the experiences of young people. Everyone deserves to see themselves in the media. Without these stories, children will end up internalizing society’s prejudices and biases and not feel validated or seen.

Our community that makes inQluded is the vision I will follow. I’ll borrow inQluded’s vision and listen and continue to implement events or programming that honors inQluded.

Lee: You’re gearing up for a mentor program - tell us about that.

medina: SO EXCITING. I’d be happy to! The mentorship is a perfect example of how we take ideas from our community seriously and do our best to implement them into sustainable programming.

We'll match established QTBIPOC authors & illustrators with unpublished and/or unagented QTBIPOC writers & illustrators.

A break down of the inQluded QTBIPOC Writing and Illustrators Mentorship Program:

This program is for queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, youth of color
Mentors must be over the age of 18 (there is no age limit)
Must identify as queer or trans and BIPOC
The program will launch in February 2020 and run for five months, with one-hour meetings per month (you do not have to meet in person)



Lee: If someone reading this is interested in being a mentor, what do they need to know/do?

medina: Know that 1. I’m so thrilled you’re interested. Thank you for considering being a mentor.

This mentorship is less traditional, in that, we can be flexible with timing. We’d rather have a beautiful pair and have to wait for a mentor to be available then to give a mentee someone who may not be the best match. So, please know that we can work with you -- you don’t need to start mentoring tomorrow.

The commitment is for five months and one hour a month. This is the form: http://bit.ly/inqludedmentorapp

Mentor apps are due January 27th, 2020.

Lee: You’re doing your own writing while at the same time prioritizing raising the voices of others. Can you speak to that balance?

medina: Working on inQluded fuels me with inspiration and motivation. As for my own writing, I’d like to think my job as a writer is to always raise the voices of others. I think some of the best writing is when you forget about the writer or author and are affected by that piece of work so much that it embodies you and changes you. I’m a vessel. I’m the messenger.

Lee: What haven’t I asked that you want to share with our readers?

medina: If you’re in NYC, please follow us @inqluded everywhere and keep track of our events! We are doing an open-mic series at Bluestockings in March and June. We have a creative writing workshop at Word Up Books in February and so many more in-person events!

Lee: Should we tell everyone about the cool thing we’ve cooked up?

medina: I thought you’d never ask?

Lee: inQluded will be running a piece from one of their issues as a Valentine’s Day gift to readers here at I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read?! I’m so excited about that!

medina: Yay!

Lee: Thanks so much, medina! You’ve given me another reason to look forward to Valentine’s Day.

medina: Thank you so much for chatting with me. :)


Check out the InQluded website and first four issues here.

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

Lee

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

InQluded - A literary magazine by and for Queer, Trans, Intersex, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Youth

How's this for an amazing mission statement?

TO CREATE A YOUTH-LED SAFE SPACE THAT HONORS AND CELEBRATES THE NARRATIVES OF UNDERREPRESENTED VOICES OF QTIBIPOC YOUTH. TO SUPPORT AND RESPECT YOUTH AS THEY BEGIN TO CREATE A WORLD WHERE THEY ARE AUTHENTICALLY REPRESENTED. TO EMPOWER, INSPIRE AND CULTIVATE NEW GENERATIONS OF CREATIVES.

There are four issues out so far:








The issues include poetry, visual art, nonfiction, and fiction, and they've been featured by Lambda Literary and Publishers Weekly.

You can get InQluded issues and learn lots more at their website here: InQluded.org

And watch for my interview this Friday with InQluded founder and editor-in-chief, medina!

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

Monday, January 13, 2020

The January 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

Happy New Year, Community!

Here's the latest...



Watch the under-four minute video by clicking the still frame above of by clicking here: https://youtu.be/U8xm2ZOyQ_A

Transcript:

Hi Community, I'm Lee Wind. It’s January 2020 and this is my Video Newsletter. The whole point of which is to Update, Inform, and hopefully Inspire YOU.

Queer History is Everywhere!

This month, I'm really excited about the story of Whitney Houston. So Whitney Houston was this amazing singer, with an incredible voice. She had eleven #1 hits, including "I will always love you," "I wanna dance with somebody (who loves me)," and "the greatest love of all,"
And she was singing about love, and there were these rumors that she was in a relationship with another woman but it was always denied.

She ended up marrying a guy, they had a child. But her life was kind of tragic, and she was addicted to drugs, and she ended up dying really young, at 48, in 2012.

But now, Robyn Crawford has come out - the woman that there were the rumors about - has come out with a memoir, called “A Song For You”, and in it she talks about their relationship. She says,

"We were friends. We were lovers. We were everything to each other." – Robyn Crawford, on her relationship with Whitney Houston

So it's bittersweet that this amazing talent, that Whitney Houston never felt safe or had the support to come out – but it is kind of amazing to know that that voice - the woman behind that voice - was part of our LGBTQ community.

Queer history really is everywhere.

Lee Wind Author Update

So, here it is... The award seal! Ahhh!

Readers Say

The reviews are in from my Models of Pride workshop, called Queer History is Everywhere. I presented to about 25 teens, 12 of them filled out their survey form, and 10 out of 12 of them said that it was “Excellent!”

They were asked, How will the content of this workshop be useful in your life? Here are five of the answers:

1) It hit hard – imam be smart

2) It was excellent! This will guide me in how I interpret history in future. It was also very empowering!

3) Finding more representation in deeper history. Representation matters!

4) It has inspired me to be who I am and not to look at myself as “abnormal” or “strange”

5) Everything was so interesting and I learned that queer history is ACTUALLY EVERYWHERE. This workshop changed my outlook on life

That's why I do what I do.

Events

In the beginning of February, I'm going to be traveling to SCBWI's winter conference in New York City, I'm really excited, it's always a wonderful three days. I'll be hosting the LGBTQ Q&A, once again it's a really beautiful safe gathering within the larger community, and I also will be blogging for SCBWI. If you're going to be there, say "Hi." Otherwise, you can follow along online. I'm really looking forward to it.

Reading In, Writing Out

I just finished…

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro, and it's really wonderful.

It's about a 10th grader, Moss, who lives in Oakland. He's Black, and he's Gay, and he suffers panic attacks - I love the intersectionality of that - and the panic attacks are caused by the fact that the police killed his father about six years before the story begins.

And the story is about the police have taken over security at his high school, and his friends and him are being treated like criminals. And they organize to try and push back against the administration.

And there's some romance, and there's some tragedy, and it is super timely, and important, and the characters are amazing and I loved it!

(Thanks to Librarian Elizabeth Abarbanel for the recommendation!)

Inspiration

I love this quote:
Start writing, no matter about what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. You can sit and look at a page for a long time and nothing will happen. Start writing and it will.
- Louis L’Amour, the famous writer of Westerns, from his memoir, Education of a Wandering Man
I love that. Turn the faucet on, and the water will start to flow.

Want more? Check out I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read? at leewind.org

Until then, the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you.
Thanks!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Homo - A Troubled Gay Teen "At Odds with Gay Culture" Tries to Figure Out Where He Fits



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?"

You can read about the author's inspiration for the novel here. Add your review of "Homo" in comments!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The XY, a.k.a. "Who Runs the World" - a dystopian (or utopian?) world rebuilt by women - a YA novel that explores gender and its roles



The Xy, published in England as "Who Runs the World" by Virginia Bergin

"Welcome to the matriarchy

Sixty years after a virus has wiped out almost all the men on the planet, things are pretty much just as you would imagine a world run by women might be: war has ended; greed is not tolerated; the ecological needs of the planet are always put first. In two generations, the female population has grieved, pulled together and moved on, and life really is pretty good – if you’re a girl. It’s not so great if you’re a boy, but fourteen-year-old River wouldn’t know that. Until she met Mason, she thought they were basically extinct."

Add your review of "The XY" or "Who Runs the World" in comments!

Monday, January 6, 2020

I'm Interviewed on "The Premise" Podcast!

What a great way to start the new year!



I'm the subject of episode #2 of Jeniffer and Chad Thompson's new "The Premise" Podcast which, as they explain, is:

"A premise is what forms the basis of a theory or a plot. We talk to storytellers from all disciplines and get down to the story behind the storyteller—the passion and joy and creativity behind their stories. Our premise is that listening to others helps us build greater empathy and a stronger sense of humanity—storytelling is powerful stuff. By just listening, we can make the world a better place."

Isn't that a cool premise for a podcast?

And here's the description for my interview:

002 - Lee Wind - On Writing
Jeniffer and Chad talk with Lee Wind, Director of Marketing & Programming at IBPA, about his mission to write the books he wishes he'd read as a gay youth. They discuss Lincoln, examining history in closer detail to reveal the true selves of historical figures, and how it can create new role models and new perspectives. You'll also hear from Lee about his writing process, his ups and downs in the publishing world, and the wild tale of a rogue agent( the literary kind).

It's a great discussion, and I'm grateful to Jeniffer and Chad for the opportunity!

You can listen here. I'm already looking forward to future episodes.

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


Friday, December 20, 2019

See you in January 2020!



Hello, community!

Thank you so much for coming along for the ride this past year. We've covered so many books, cultural moments, LGBTQ History discoveries, and much, much more! We even shared some fun moments about my own writing...

I'm grateful for it all, and for you! And now, for the next couple of weeks, I will be unplugging. No emails. No social media. No blog posts.

And then, I'll be back on January 6, 2020, for a new year of blog posts!

Until then,

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year 2019 is "THEY"


The next time you hear someone argue that you have to choose he or she to be grammatically correct, even though you know the subject identifies as gender non-conforming or non-binary, please share this link with them about the evolution of the word and the current accepted meaning of the word THEY:

“More recently, though, they has also been used to refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary, a sense that is increasingly common in published, edited text, as well as social media and in daily personal interactions between English speakers. There's no doubt that its use is established in the English language, which is why it was added to the Merriam-Webster.com dictionary this past September.”

It's nice to see the "official" language catch up with how language is already being used!

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

Monday, December 16, 2019

Reading Tamora Pierce's beloved The Song of the Lioness Quartet Through a New Lens - The Author Says Alanna is Gender-Fluid!

This is pretty exciting!

Tamora Pierce recently tweeted that
"Alanna has always defied labels. She took the best bits of being a woman and a man, and created her own unique identity. I think the term is 'gender-fluid', though there wasn't a word for this (to my knowledge) when I was writing her."

Fan response has been enthusiastic, and heartening. Check out the twitter thread, and this article by Jessica Mason at The Mary Sue. As Jessica writes,
“So the fact that Alanna lived as a man by necessity and did typically “masculine” things doesn’t necessarily make her gender fluid…but then again, if her creator wants to identify her that way and allow people to claim her as a gender fluid icon, that’s great! And anything that gets us talking about societal constructs around gender is awesome.”
If nothing else, it's a great excuse to discover (or re-visit) these YA fantasy novels, especially as the character of Alanna and her (their?) story is being adapted for television!



Alanna: The First Adventure, Book One

From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.”

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins—one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and make her a legend in the land.


In the Hand of the Goddess, Book Two

Disguised as a boy, Alanna of Trebond becomes a squire, to none other than the prince of the realm. But Prince Jonathan is much more to Alanna; he is her ally, her best friend, and one of the few who knows that she’s really a girl. Now it will take all of Alanna’s awesome skill, strength, and growing magical powers to protect him from the mysterious evil sorcerer who is bent on his destruction, and hers!

Here continues the story of Alanna, a young woman bound for glory who is willing to fight against enormous odds for what she believes in.



The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Book Three

Newly knighted, Alanna of Trebond seeks adventure in the vast desert of Tortall. Captured by fierce desert dwellers, she is forced to prove herself in a duel to the death—either she will be killed or she will be inducted into the tribe. Although she triumphs, dire challenges lie ahead. As her mythic fate would have it, Alanna soon becomes the tribe’s first female shaman—despite the desert dwellers’ grave fear of the foreign woman warrior. Alanna must fight to change the ancient tribal customs of the desert tribes—for their sake and for the sake of all Tortall.


Lioness Rampant, Book Four

“I’m not sure I want to be a hero anymore.”

Having achieved her dream of becoming the first female knight errant, Alanna of Trebond is not sure what to do next. Perhaps being a knight errant is not all that Alanna needs….But Alanna must push her uncertainty aside when a new challenge arises. She must recover the Dominion Jewel, a legendary gem with enormous power for good — but only in the right hands. And she must work quickly. Tortall is in great danger, and Alanna’s archenemy, Duke Roger, is back — and more powerful than ever. In this final book of the Song of the Lioness quartet, Alanna discovers that she indeed has a future worthy of her mythic past — both as a warrior and as a woman.

Add your review of any or all of the Song of the Lioness books in comments!

Friday, December 13, 2019

LGBTQ2 - Have You Seen the "2" and Do You Know What it Means?

Language evolves, and so does the acronym representing the Queer community.

One of the latest shifts has been to include the numeral 2, taking us from LGBTQ to LGBTQ2. The number 2 stands for Two-Spirit, to embrace and include indigenous Queer people.

Watch this InQueery video, What Does "Two-Spirit" Mean?, for a great six-minute explanation by Geo Neptune:



"In recent years, many native people are returning to the Two-Spirit traditions as a way to heal from the injustices the American colonial project has vitited upon their ancestors and traditions...

Two-Spirit identity is resilient and precious. It has survived centuries of colonial violence and prejudice. These sacred ways of knowing live on amongst native youth seeking to know more about themselves, elders who have kept the traditions alive despite the odds, and anyone in between." - Geo Neptune.

As Geo explains further in this article about them in Maine the Magazine,
A two-spirit, Neptune says, is “both male and female, yet neither female nor male.”

I'm really glad to have learned this, and happy to share.

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Homophobia Smack-Down: Indigenous People Champion the LGBTQ Community When a City Council Wouldn't

I love this story over at Upworthy by Annie Reneau, A city council voted down a rainbow crosswalk. Now residents have painted 16 of them.


In September of 2019, a proposal to install a rainbow crosswalk in the city of Chilliwack, British Columbia was voted down by the city council. Dissenters argued that such a crosswalk would be seen as a "political statement" and would be "divisive," but according to Yahoo! News, that hasn't stopped people from installing 16 of them on privately owned property...

"The city does not have jurisdiction over our lands so we are free to paint them to demonstrate our support for being an inclusive community," Dave Jimmie, president of the Ts'elxweyeqw Tribe, told Maple Ridge News.

How amazing is that?

The article shows lots more photos of rainbow crosswalks on private property, along with messages of support by the folks who painted them.

Read the full article here.

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

Monday, December 9, 2019

The December 2019 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

Hi Community!

Here's the latest...



Watch the under six minute video by clicking the still frame above or clicking here: https://youtu.be/j5LsK0_bFts

Transcript:

Hi Community,
It’s December 2019, and this is my video newsletter.

I’m Lee Wind, and the whole point of this is to educate, inform, and hopefully inspire YOU.
Let's get started...

Queer History is Everywhere!

So this month, the thing I'm really excited about is this whole idea of the Statue of Liberty actually being a guy.

The sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was supposed to have modeled the sculpture after his mom. But author and journalist Elizabeth Mitchell has a completely different theory. She looked at photos of the sculptor's mom and then photos of his brother, Jean-Charles, and was like... wait a minute! This Lady Liberty looks a lot more like Jean-Charles. Which is really cool!

It lets us think that gender can be many things. And the idea that Lady Liberty is this gigantic, hundreds-of-foot tall sculpture of a drag queen is pretty amazing. And it's the thing I can't get out of my head.

Really, Queer History is Everywhere!

Lee Wind Author Update

This month I'm really excited because Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill has actually won two pretty significant prizes.

One was in the BookLife Prize competition put on by Publishers Weekly, it was selected as a semi-finalist in the children's and young adult category, which made it one of the top five independently published books of 2018, according to Publishers Weekly, which was really, really cool.

And then, it won another prize. It was actually the Winner in the [LGBTQ Books for] Children's and Young Adult category for the National Indie Excellence Award. And for those, there's actually a sticker, like a seal, and this month I'm getting it put on my book. So you'll start to see it for the ebook and the audiobook, and the print – both paperback and hardcover editions. All that stuff is happening now, but here's a sneak peek!

I'm really excited about it. It's really important for an indie published book, for it to be vetted in a lot of ways. I do have a lot of great blurbs and really nice reviews, but having the award sticker on the cover is something I'm really excited about.

Readers Say

So recently I got an email from somebody I didn't know, in Jerusalem, and they were writing to say 'thank you.' Here's what they wrote:

" I came across your blog today, and read the entire "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" in one sitting. I cried a bit, and it truly gave me a sense of hope, peace, and the strength and commitment... to dream of a brighter future.

Thank you so much for all of your work on behalf of queer, questioning, and allied people, and for deciding to put your inspirational book on your blog for all to read." - a reader from Jerusalem.

I thought that was really cool. Not only is it being read on the other side of the world, in the country my parents are from, but also that it's making an impact, and it's giving people a sense of hope and a vision for a better life for themselves, and that's very, very gratifying.

Events

December is not a month where I'm running around doing a lot of speaking. Which is kind of cool. You know there's this balance between Introvert and Extrovert, going out in the world and being really public and doing stuff, and... kind of just having time for yourself, to be creative, to spend time with  your family. It's nice to have some balance, and this is the time when we hunker down and get the work done. And I'm grateful for that opportunity.

Reading In, Writing Out

This month, the book I'm most excited about is...

Cursed by my friend Karol Ruth Silverstein. This is a YA that's #OwnVoices. Kind of pulled from her own life experience of being a teen and being diagnosed with a chronic illness, also with a lot of chronic pain, and when I was a young teen, when I was 13, I was diagnosed with something different, but it was also really horrible and painful and totally shitty and totally difficult to figure out how to be a teen and figure out how to get through it with a sense of hope and there's no miracle cure and Karol did such a beautiful job, and I'm super proud of her. And I can't recommend it highly enough. So read it! Cursed!

Inspiration

“A word after a word after a word is power.” —that's from Margaret Atwood

I love that quote. And I think a lot about how some days, all I get is twelve minutes to write. and it's a word after a word. And then the next day is another word after another word, and it builds up over time. And I love this idea, that “A word after a word after a word is power.” Because we're storytellers. So I'm very grateful to Margaret for that word – for those words – for her inspirational quote. And I hope it inspires you, too.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy holiday season.

And if you'd liked more, please visit my blog,  I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read? at leewind.org

Until then, the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you.
Thanks!

Friday, December 6, 2019

Super Late Bloomer: Early Days in Transition - A YA Trans Comic Memoir



Super Late Bloomer: Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye

Instead of a traditional written diary, Julia Kaye has always turned to art as a means of self-reflection. So when she began her gender transition in 2016, she decided to use her popular webcomic, Up and Out, to process her journey and help others with similar struggles realize they weren’t alone.

Julia’s poignant, relatable comics honestly depict her personal ups and downs while dealing with the various issues involved in transitioning—from struggling with self-acceptance and challenging societal expectations, to moments of self-love and joy. Super Late Bloomer both educates and inspires, as Julia faces her difficulties head-on and commits to being wholly, authentically who she was always meant to be.

You can watch this episode of Nerd Out with Jessie Gender where Julia spoke with Jessie about the web comic and the book, as well “the forgotten nuances and everyday struggles of transitions that are never discussed by the general public, as well as what it means to be transgender once you finish the major steps in your transition.”

Add your review of "Super Late Bloomer: Early Days in Transition" in comments!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Heavy Vinyl - A Lesbian Teen Stumbles Into a Teen Girl Vigilante Fight Club (A Middle Grade and Up Comic Book Series Opener)



Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin Illustrated by Nina Vakueva and Irene Flores.

New Jersey, 1998. Chris has just started the teen dream job: working at Vinyl Mayhem, the local record store. She’s prepared to deal with anything—misogynistic metalheads, grunge wannabes, even a crush on her wicked cute co-worker, Maggie.

But when the staff’s favorite singer mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show in town, Chris finds out her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl…her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

Add your review of "Heavy Vinyl" in comments!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Moonstruck, Vols. 1 – 6 - A Middle Grade Lesbian Fantasy Comic Book Series



Moonstruck, Vol. 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle.

Volume 1:
Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it's up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it's too late.


Volume 2:

Julie, Selena & third-wheel Chet go on a werewolf-y date to a shady magic show. Something TERRIBLE happens, and for once it's not Mark or Lindi's fault!


Volume 3:

Poor Chet. Their centaur butt is missing, and on the day of the homecoming parade, no less! But don't worry: Julie and Selena are on the case (as long as Mark and Lindi don't ruin everything [again]).


Volume 4:

Julie and the gang go on the offensive to track down those horrible magic tricksters by going undercover. But can they outfox a fox? Like a literal fox? A literal fox who is a DARK MAGICIAN?? Oh man, honestly, I would cross my fingers for them if I were you.



Volume 5:

Wait, really? This is the end of the arc? No way, you can't possibly wrap this up in one issue! Julie and Selena are in a fight! Chet doesn't have their centaur butt back! Don't tell me that horrible fox magician is getting away with this!! These must be an action-packed 22 pages, I'll tell you that much.

Volume 6:
Welcome to the beginning of the second arc of Moonstruck, that popular middle-grade/all-ages lesbian-werewolf-barista romance adventure you've been hearing so much about! Fresh off their latest hijinks, Julie and the gang try to unwind at a fraternity party hosted by a group of fairy bros. But like everything else in Blitheton, things are not as they first appear, and before you can say, "hey don't drink that or you'll be trapped in the fairy circle for all eternity," another round of magical hijinks has begun!

Add your review of any or all of the volumes of “Moonstruck” in comments!