Friday, November 28, 2008

Namaste, The Secret Of Life, and Other Inspirations I Gift To You

Okay, I found this cool "Namaste" image here.

I really like it - and since I end most of my musings and posts with the sign-off "Namaste," I thought I'd share this with you. I like that this work of art seems to be saying:

"being centered in yourself, and honoring the spark of magic in others as well as in yourself, is the secret to the whole universe, and the secret to life."

And what better inspiration, or gift, could I offer you? And while an artist created the above, look at what magic the Hubble Telescope saw out there in our Universe:

Now THAT'S inspiring!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, and BE THE LIGHT. (Or, as Ghandi famously said, "You must be the change you wish to see in the world.")

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

Put your palms together in front of your heart with me, and say,



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving and Families: The One You Get and The Ones You Create!

I originally posted this essay last year on Thanksgiving Day, and you know what? I still love it. So, in a rare "reprise" moment here at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" here's what I still believe (with slight adjustments in this bold red):


Okay, this post has a soundtrack...

We Are Family (sung by Sister Sledge)

Grab or click it if you have it on your playlist or on an old CD (or heck, if you're a vinyl warrior, that's cool too.)

Or hey, go to itunes music store or one of the other online music stores and just play the free 30 second sample (a couple of times...) or buy it and download it right now!

Take a second, and put the track on...

And get in the Giving Thanks (Thanks-Giving!) mood...

We Are Family...

Okay, so you're born into one family - for good and bad, warts, sparkles, and all. It makes me think of the pre-school rhyme

"You get what you get and you don't get upset."

Actually, you DO get upset - getting upset - getting angry! - is a natural part of growing up! And what do you do? You find yourself making - CREATING - other families. And you'll continue to do that throughout your life, no matter the ups and downs of your relationship with the family you're born into.

Maybe it's Junior High when you start to make friends that's really YOU choosing and not just who lives near you, or whose parents like your parents - you're starting to feel a bit more independent, and that's the start of another family - or sets of families - throughout your life - your FAMILY OF FRIENDS, of choice.

All the people around us they say,

can they be that close?

Just let me state for the record

Were giving love like a family does!

Some of us have high school friends -connections that can last through our lives, or run their course - and that's a family (even with it's own reunions!)

There are college friends who become a family, with reunions and alumni associations and everything... (ahhh, if only there had been a gay fraternity at my college that I could have joined!) (Okay, last year there was a great article about the 20th anniversary year of a GAY FRATERNITY!!! That link is gone, but you can still check out:)
Delta Lambda Phi is the Gay Fraternity they talked about - they have a website, too, here.

Then there are the friends you make your first job...

This joyful gathering around you of kindred spirits continues throughout life.

There's a family of people from your hobbies and passions (I've seen knitters talk like long-lost siblings, and anyone who's ever worked on a theater show knows how the actors and crew become a sort of family as long as the production runs!) and the people you find in your careers (When I run into fellow Kid Lit writers and bloggers, I feel a kinship - a sense of family, a shared purpose...)

There's also a family of people you're part of just by being who you are (other two-Dad families with kids make me so happy inside, even when I don't know them at all...) And a sense of community (and extended family) from living in a certain area for long enough that the people at the grocery store know you by name and always say "Hi!"

Another kind of family is when you gather with others who share your take on the world - for me this was coming out and finding a sense of TRIBE with other Gay Men - and as I've grown up, finding a kinship with others in the broader GLBTQ community.

Here's what we call the golden rule

have faith in you and the things you do

and you won't go wrong

oh no this is a family joint (yea yea).

And then, to get a bit philosophical, we're all part of the FAMILY OF HUMANITY. I know, I know, we keep trying to kill each other, or cut each other off in traffic, but every time there's some disaster (9/11, Tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina, Wildfires in California, economic melt-downs...) we seem to be able to forget all the negativity and pull together to help each other out. Maybe we just need to figure out how to do it without the disasters... (sort of like the plot of so many sci fi novels and movies - all the human race needs is some common alien enemy, and we'll stop fighting each other...)

So, back to the pre-school rhyme, when it comes to family,

You get what you get and you don't get upset

Cause really, when you think about it - you get all these different families throughout your life.

And someday, if you're truly blessed, you can add one more kind of family tree to your enormous forest of families: you'll find someone to love, and maybe raise a child together. And you'll be a new family. I am so blessed.

We are Family!
For these and so many other reasons, I'm truly grateful.

And you know what?

There's even one more family that comes to mind:

The family - the community - that's part of the adventure of this blogsite!

Thank YOU for being part of my journey, as a writer, a shaman, and a novice blogger...

For all these things, and for you, my community of readers, I give thanks.

We are Family!

And I hope you grab a moment Today, and make a mental list of the families in your lives, and are able to give Thanks, too.

sing with me!

here are the lyrics if you want to sing along!

We are family! (we are family) Get up everybody sing!

Happy Thanks-Giving!




Yeah, I still really like what I shared last year - and you know what? I'm delighted that YOU, my kidlitosphere blog-reading family, have grown REMARKABLY in the past year, to where now there are over 6,000 of you reading my blog every month!

So to all of you, in the USA and around the world, I wish you a day of Thanks-Giving, and know that today, like every day, I give thanks for YOU!


I found the beautiful water lily (lotus) photo here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

5 a day: Fruits, Vegetables, and Comments! 100 Comments in 21 Days!!! The Comment Challenge's Mission: Accomplished!*

Veni, Vidi, Comenti.

I came, I saw, I commented.

So, you should be feeling great, having spent the last 21 days reading and commenting and truly BEING part of this amazing Kidlitopshere community.

And I mean that even if you didn't manage to keep up with the 5-comments-a-day pace.

Really, even if you only posted 10 comments in 21 days, congratulations!

Because now you know, now you see, now you understand, that to make a community work, you have to PARTICIPATE in that community. And if you did participate, no matter your quantifiable score, you probably saw more comments on YOUR blog, too. And more visitors.

And it hopefully JAZZED you up about blogging and about writing on your blog!

So Thank You for joining in!

Make sure to leave a comment here or over at MotherReader if you managed to make it to 100 comments in the last 21 days to let us know... We'll be having a prize drawing and announcing the lucky winners soon!

Also, feel free to comment on what you've learned by participating, even if you achieved a smaller quantity of comments - because sometimes it's not about quantity.

Ultimately, we hope it's been about sharing our epiphany:

The way to keep blogging fun and to really feel like part of this community is to participate by commenting on the discussions going on at blogs all around us!

And me? How did I do?

Well, I made it to 100 comments just yesterday, with a sprint of 17 comments to make it to the finish line. (Yeah, weekends are just not realistic blogging time for me.) But now I know that, and I won't set myself up with blog-commenting-on-the-weekend expectations. I hope to try and keep up with 25 comments a week, 5-comments-a-day, letting myself focus on Monday-Friday. And I'll try to eat more leafy green vegetables, too.

Thanks for asking.

Remember, Commenting is FUN! (Sort of like gifts and the holidays...)

Getting a Comment is Fun.

But giving a Comment is Priceless!

So go forth, and Conquer... with Comments!



(*I know, I know, but we have to re-claim that expression someday, and it might as well be today!)

The awesome fireworks photo was from here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sex Education: What Do You Think? Does It Make A Difference?

Here's your last Chance to tell me what YOU think before I post results next week!


Thanks for participating!



ps- The "Nuns Having Fun" calendar is an actual product. That you can own. Find it here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

GSA Monday Topic: Protests for Gay Civil Rights - Best Slogans

In the firestorm following California's Prop 8 vote to eliminate same-gender couples' rights to civil marriage by revising the state constitution to allow this particular type of discrimination, there have been enormous protests nationwide, the vast majority of them peaceful rallies and demonstrations of just how hurt and angry so many GLBTQ citizens and our supporters are about this horrible "tyranny of the majority" step California just took.

Some of the posters being held up at protests have been really great, like:

Sorry, were my Civil Rights getting in the way of your Bigotry?

(scroll down the page on this link to the amazing AfterElton websites' "Best. Gay. Week. Ever." for a photo of this protest sign in action!)

Gay is the new Black

No More Mr. Nice Gay

But I wonder if a poster with one of these great slogans, photographed in a newspaper, or on a website, or even seen in person, changes anyone's mind.

I think, maybe, a big protest (full of lots of great people and signs) makes others understand that a minority won't accept their ill-treatment. That we're standing up for our rights, just like other minorities have had to stand up for their rights in the past.

Someone recently referred to this time in history - right now, today - as being the Stonewall for this generation - "this" being 18-29 year olds. And I think there's something to that.

But what changes people's minds?

What really works, to get people who don't have a personal investment in the legality of same-gender marriage, to want Gay people to have this equal right?

What do you think?

And, if you have any other favorite slogans or posters you've seen, tell us about them in "comments!"



ps- I found the amazing protest image I used above here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Time Management and the MYTH of Multi-Tasking: How To Write, Blog, Comment, Do Your Homework, Fulfill All Your Responsibilities, and find BALANCE

Okay, if I actually had this completely figured out, you'd probably see me in some infomercial, wearing a Hawaiian lei, living the life of a multi-gazillionaire because I figured out the SECRET - shhhh! (And I'd tell you, for only 18 payments of $39.99 a month... Kidding! Just kidding.)

I heard the amazing Lori Getz speak on Internet Safety recently, and she talked about how a lot of Teens complain about having 4 hours of homework a night. She told the audience about sitting down with a friend's teenager and looing at the computer screen that was up while this girl was "doing her homework." There were 9 different windows up - mostly IM, facebook, and other "social" connections - with only one window referencing the homework.

Lori offered the girl an experiment. She had her close every window on the computer but the homework one, turn off her cell phone, and just focus on doing her homework. Just to see how long it would take. Lori sat next to the Teen while she did it.

And guess what? Miraculously, the 4 hours of homework took 45 minutes. And then the girl was done.

Did she maybe not have as much homework as she had thought? Or was something else going on?

I had an epiphany about my time management this week, and it's all because of the wonderful "Comment Challenge" Mother Reader and I put out for the kidlitosphere (and ourselves) to accomplish. 100 comments in 21 days. Aim for 5 comments a day.

But... But... I don't sit at my computer on the weekends. So I start on Mondays needing to do 15 comments. That's too many, and it takes too long. But if I try to do it (and I have) I've used up a lot of the time I'm supposed to be writing. Then, like dominoes, my whole plan for the day falls down.

And a month ago, I had three books that I'd promised my author friends that I'd read and get back to them on by TODAY. I tried to make reading those books fit in, a little every day, but it kept getting pushed off.

See, I had this notion that I should take my available time in a given day, and divide it up according to the number of tasks I have (weighted slightly by the task's urgency or priority.) Kind of like slicing up a pizza.

But that's not really how I read. Or write. Or work. Or do anything.

When I sit down to read a book, I'm happiest if I can grab a chunk of time and read it cover-to-cover. And that's what I did, with almost my entire time on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. And I finished what I had to in less time (and with more enjoyment) than it would have taken to read it 20 minutes a day over 4 weeks.

Some things, like working out and blogging, I managed to do every day - they're the habits, and I'm still trying to add the habit of commenting more on a daily basis...

But the big projects just take chunks of time, and if I give it to them, I'm WAY more efficient.

So I'm trying to think of my available time to work BEYOND a given day, and think of it more like - in a given week, if I read more on days 1 and 2, I'll write more on days 3 and 4, and blog comment more on day 5. (Like 5 different pizzas, with different toppings and crusts for each one...)

I used to think that maybe life and the pursuit of doing all the things I'm trying to accomplish, professionally and personally, is not about having perfect balance in every moment, which would be like levitating 7 balls in the air, but more like sequential juggling, holding on to each ball just long enough to toss it successfully in a perfect arc before snatching the next one out of the air...

But now I'm thinking, maybe it's a different KIND of juggling. Maybe the balance I should really aspire to is more like "contact juggling." Maybe being really good at something looks more like this:

Maybe that Teenage girl only has 45 minutes of homework EVERY night, and she's so busy multi-tasking and IM-ing that it takes her 4 hours to get it done.

Maybe, just maybe, FOCUS is GENIUS!

(That'll be $39.99)*

Now, if I can just figure out how to feel like a writer on the days I don't write because I'm focusing on other tasks, I'll have figured out next month's installment of my Hawaiian infomercial!



*But of course, as an introductory offer, it's absolutely FREE for you, my loyal blog readers!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Magic's Pawn

By Mercedes Lackey

In a world of Heralds and Mages, out-of-control warlords and wild magic, Vanyel is 16, and a great disappointment to his father. He's not much of a fighter, and doesn't seem to be much of an heir. When he's shipped off to his Aunt at the High Court of Valdemar, he thinks he's finally going to get his dream... to become a Bard.

But those hopes are dashed when he's told he doesn't have the "bardic gift."

In the course of the adventure that follows, Vanyel meets and falls in love with another guy, forges a mental and emotional bond with a "horse," and may just be the last and most powerful Herald-Mage his world has ever seen.

A Fantasy book. With a Gay Main Character. How unbelievably cool. And, it's the first in a trilogy!

While "Magic's Pawn" wasn't released as a "Young Adult" title, it is really Vanyel's coming-of-age story, and as such I think it belongs in this collection.

Add your review of "Magic's Pawn" in comments!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The ART of Blog Comments: Day 14 of The Comment Challenge!

The "Art" of Commenting on a Blog

I woke up this morning to 4 new comments to moderate. 3 of them were topical and appropriate, made my heart light and the birds begin to sing, and I approved them right away.

1 of them threw me. It was a comment on a post I did back on June 20th, 2008, about why the Ring Finger is the RING finger, what that has to do with Reflexology, and, of course, tying it all into Same-Gender marriage. (At the time I was still calling it "Same-Sex" Marriage, not having yet had my epiphany about that...)

It read:

Nice information. I really liked it.

Okay, so far, so good.

It continued:

You know I've used this site at [They gave the URL and No, I'm not going to put it here] for sexy lingerie, lingerie, corsets, bustier, costumes, sexy costumes, fantasy lingerie, plus size lingerie, lace lingerie, sexy dresses, leather lingerie, and hot lingerie.

I thought they had some nice things.

Um, NO.

This is NOT how you go about commenting. This is EXACTLY how to turn people off - It's basically an advertisement for something the commenter is interested in, or is selling. The long list of hyperlinked synonyms, while showing me the commenter has a grasp on optimizing their search terms, felt ridiculous in the context of a comment.

And the comment was left with an unlinkable screen name pseudonym which not only prevented me from knowing who left the comment, but made it impossible for me to contact them to explain why I was not going to approve their comment.

Teachable Moment: Even if you are passionate about lady's undergarments (a search term they seem to have missed) if it has NOTHING to do with the post, and there's no strong compelling connection to the readers of the blog, don't be so blatent about self-promoting.

Trust that if you're contributing to the conversation in a meaningful way, the original blog poster and the people who read your comments will become curious about who you are - even if your screen name is ladysundergarments - and will click back to see what you're blogging about. And there, on your OWN blog, you can self-promote, run ads, and be as shamelessly commercial as you want.

Comments, ultimately, are about continuing and joining in the conversation. Letting people know about what you have to offer to the conversation is great. It's an art, and I thought this was a great example of a comment that went outside the frame.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, let's get

Back to "The Comment Challenge!"

We're 2/3 of the way through! Congratulations on having made it to day 14, and heck, congratulations even if you've not made it to your goals, but are more aware of commenting and how it builds community!

Comments seem up Up UP around the kidlitosphere (have you noticed it on YOUR blog?), and blogs everywhere are buzzing with energy!

There are so many great posts going up all around, and special events at different sites that make it easy to find new blogs that you might not already know about.

I got a special shout-out yesterday, with "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?" being featured in the new video podcast: "Best Children's Lit Blog Posts of the Day" over at Jon Bard's Childrens' Writing Web Journal.

Colleen Mondor's Chasing Ray gives us the master lists of who's interviewing who and where, for this week's 2008 Winter Blog Blast Tour, with links and quotes from interviews with authors all over the kidlitosphere - there are some real gems to discover!

And don't forget to check out the list of "The Comment Challenge" participants over at Mother Reader, which is clickable and can easily get you to 5 comments a day!

Honesty Time: I'm one day behind (the weekends are proving a gigantic challenge for me) and need to post 10 comments today to stay on target!

Wish me luck - and hey, you can do that in a comment! (That'll leave you with only 4 more to go!)

Remember to have fun with it!



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama's Plan for Gay Civil Rights

Okay, if you need to get excited about the change coming to The United States Of America, check out this statement at, "The Office of the President-Elect."

Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."

-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

The Obama-Biden Plan

  • Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. Barack Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

  • Fight Workplace Discrimination: Barack Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. Obama also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

  • Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

  • Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: Barack Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

  • Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: Barack Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

  • Expand Adoption Rights: Barack Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

  • Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. Obama will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. Obama also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS. He will continue to speak out on this issue as president.

  • Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. Barack Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

  • Wow. If we can get all that accomplished in the next four years, just think what a SECOND term of President Obama could accomplish!

    The above made me feel better, and more hopeful, about the future than I have in days.

    I still feel deeply that we need to get full marriage rights, including the word "marriage," for so many reasons, including the fact that our country doesn't know how to do "separate but equal." Despite that not-quite-far-enough goal, I am delighted to see so many of our Gay Civil Rights Issues make it to the agenda of the incoming President!

    It has been a long time coming.

    Let us hope President Obama is more prepared for the Republican backlash than President Clinton was, and that our hopes are not dashed on the rocks as they were with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and "The Defense Of Marriage Act," both Clinton policies where they cow-towed to the conservative storm reacting to their original pro-Gay civil rights intentions.

    But I believe change is, indeed, coming.

    And it is time, to quote President-Elect Obama's acceptance speech on November 4, 2008,

    If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

    It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

    It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

    We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

    It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

    So let's support and help President-Elect Obama bend that arc of history towards a better day for us Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning Americans, too!

    We all need a better day.

    And after reading President-Elect Barack Obama's Plan for Gay Civil Rights, I have to say, my day is already feeling better.



    I found that cool rainbow-change logo at this Proud Parenting website. They didn't credit who designed it, but I thought it was perfect!

    Monday, November 17, 2008

    GSA Monday Topic: What Do You Do When You Don't See Things The Way Your Parents Do?

    How do you deal with believing different things than your parents?

    How can you cope with feeling different from the people who are raising you?

    What about when your Mom and Dad disagree with you?

    This topic comes up in a variety of ways and questions for Teens - most recently, with a bunch of GSA-ers expressing their frustration that when it came to Same-Gender Marriage, their parents just "didn't get it" and "didn't understand."

    That conflict, of being able to see your own beliefs as separate from your parents' beliefs, is a crucial part of being a Teenager - it's a crucial part of growing up into being a young adult.

    I think a lot if it could be called
    "How To Grow Into And Be Your Own Person."

    If you never examine the beliefs your parents hold with a critical eye towards figuring out if it's what YOU believe, you'd simply be a little half-clone of each of your biological progenitors.

    And often, the younger we are, the more closely we're allied with our parent's beliefs. If you asked a bunch of 7th graders if they supported McCain or Obama, and compared that with their parents' political leanings, I bet it would be more aligned than 12th graders and their parents' vote. Exit polls show that younger voters vote differently from older voters, and this is especially true in issues of civil rights in general and GAY rights in specific.

    In the CNN exit polls, when it came to voting in the recent Prop 8 referendum on Same-Gender Marriage, 61% of 18-29 year olds voted against the ban. That's compared with around 45.5% of 30-64 year olds who voted against it. That means there's a lot of people who disagree with their parents on Same-Gender marriage.

    It can be unbelievable frustrating when your parents don't see things the way you do. I guess so much of our early childhoods are spent learning what our parents like and don't like, what they believe and what they don't believe, and we just copy them at first. When we start to forge our own beliefs and opinions - especially about the "Big" issues, especially when it's deeply felt, it's hard when our beliefs don't jive with theirs.

    And that can lead to some enormous emotionally pitched battles, where we try to argue and convince our parents to come around to OUR way of thinking. And, often, parents will try to argue and convince us to come back to THEIR way of thinking, just as angry and with as much feeling of 'betrayal' as we have inside us.


    It's no big deal if my Dad's favorite dessert is Creme Brulee and mine is chocolate cake (hot, gooey, with ice cream, please...)

    That's because I'm not judged for liking a different dessert. I'm not WRONG about liking chocolate cake - but when I was a Teenager, I was told I was WRONG for liking boys. And that led to a WHOLE LOT of conflict.

    What's going on?

    I think, as a culture, we fall into the trap of confusing love with approval.

    Parents need to love their children unconditionally.

    But often, if the parents don't approve of their kids' actions or opinions, there's a feeling of anger and what's projected is the subconscious message: "How can I love you when you're wrong on this?"

    This is at the core of so much Teen-Parent conflict.

    Parents need to let their kids know that their love is unconditional.

    Kids need to understand that holding different beliefs doesn't make them unloveable, or bad sons or daughters. It just makes them normal teenagers, figuring out who they are as individuals, separate from their parents. In psycho-babble, it's called:


    Ultimately, it's our ability to still say "I love you" to someone with whom we disagree that makes up the true bonds of family. It can frustrate the Hell out of us, but, at the end of the day, if we can keep the currency of love separate from the currency of approval, Teens can grow up with confidence to be the adults they're destined to become...

    And parents can feel proud that they raised independent thinkers, that they gave them the confidence to be their authentic selves, and that they gave their children wings to fly and live out their own unique journies.

    Perhaps it's even our ability to respect the rights of others to hold beliefs with which we disagree that makes up the true bonds of our society. (Though when one group's beliefs turns into action or law that impinges upon the rights of another group, respect is not called for. Then it's time for protests and rallies and fighting for the rights of the group who deserves equal respect!) (That's a link to "join the impact," national protests for Gay Rights!)

    It's important to realize that the journey to be OURSELVES, by necessity, will take us down a different road than our parents - and that's a good thing.

    That's evolution.

    That's growing up.

    What about you? What are the things you and your parents don't see eye-to-eye about?

    Friday, November 14, 2008

    High School Musical 3: Big Enough For 2 Sequels, Latino Teens, Black Teens, Overweight Teens, Jocks, Nerds, Rich, Poor... But Not A Single Gay Teen?!?

    Oh, "High School Musical 3" was yet another frolic with

    Zac Efron as Troy,

    Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella,

    Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay,

    Corbin Bleu as Chad,

    Monique Coleman as Taylor,

    Olesya Rulin as Kelsey, and...

    Lucas Grabeel as Ryan.

    Oh, Ryan.

    It's 2008. Do we really have to have the "wink-wink-he-might-be-gay-from-all-the-clues" character?

    Some "clues:"

    Ryan dresses nattily. (And he'd know what "nattily" means - he's got his own style.)

    Ryan's a "dancer/choreographer."

    Ryan's pretty much always a smiling, trying to do the right thing, nice gay.
    I mean, "guy." Nice guy. (He can't even go along with his mean sister, he's just too aw, shucks... nice.)

    And in this episode - whoops- sorry about that - in this sequel, Ryan ends up taking lovable, bespectacled composer Kelsey to the Prom.

    And it was at that moment that I wanted to SCREAM.

    Okay, this movie has so little conflict, that I think if you timed out the moments when we were really concerned things might go wrong (the Wildcats might lose the game, Gabriella and Troy might not "work it out," the senior musi-cal might be a huge flop) I think you'd be hard pressed to find 10 minutes of tension in the entire 14 hour epic. (It wasn't 14 hours long? Really? I could have sworn...)

    All the conflict (such as there was) was internal.

    Inside me.

    Watching this.

    Wishing, hoping, that Ryan would come out, kiss the goofy is-he-going-to-graduate-or-not boy, and we could experience some actual diversity that included us.

    I wanted to love this movie as much as my five year old daughter next to me, jigging and jiving and dancing along to every musical number.

    But all I got to watch was the reheated leftover conflict of Troy's basketball dreams versus his theatrical ones, and the same old heteronormative love story:

    Will Troy and Gabriella find a way for their love to survive moving away from home and going off to different colleges?

    The Big conflict for me was, and remains: Will Disney ever include us - Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, or Gender Non-Conforming Teens - in the defining stories of our age?

    Now, don't get me wrong. When I say "the defining stories of our age" I don't think they're defining love for Teenagers. That was done by the Princess mafia - you know, the stories Teens today (and adults today) grew up on.

    Belle's opposite gender Beast,

    his transformation into a handsome Prince, and their happily-ever-after.

    Jasmine's up-from-the-gutter Aladdin, and their magical adventure to boy-girl happily-ever-after.

    Cinderella's from rags to riches love for her Prince, and their happily-ever-after.

    Need I go on, or can you fill in your favorites yourself?

    These patterns are BURNED into our psyches from the time we get our first Disney stuffed animal.

    And even the animals are part of the heteronormative march-in-step!

    Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

    Donald Duck and Daisy Duck.

    Chip and Dale (HEY! Wait a minute... Just what is their relationship???)

    Now I know that the main audience for High School Musical 1, 2, and 3 is basically girls between the ages of 3 and 9 - I'm not sure how many 4th grade or older girls were in the audience, but I can tell you the Kindergarteners were in FULL attendance!

    Would it have destroyed their franchise to let Ryan be gay? I'm not asking for some half-naked wrestling session in the school gym that ends up in him having wild gay sex. It could be as sweet and "G" rated as Troy and Gabriella's love:

    which basically has them kiss with barely any physical parts of their bodies touching except their lips.

    I could have been happy even without a guy-on-guy kiss, if there had been a romantic interest for him and some shared looks, a sweet flirtatious smile - anything but the closeted "beard" move of taking the nerdy girl with glasses to the prom.

    And doesn't Kelsey deserve someone who will love her for herself???? Is it any girl's dream to go to the Prom with the closeted gay guy? Isn't that kind of a nightmare scenario?

    Doesn't Ryan deserve to be gay???

    And if Ryan isn't gay (a question perhaps only Lucas, the actor playing him,

    would know for sure), don't we Gay people deserve a little inclusion in this technicolor musical of High School Life today?

    Does East High have a Gay-Straight Alliance?

    Don't you wish they did?

    Don't you think, maybe, we should help them form one?

    Sing with me...

    Wild-cats! G-S-A! Some-one here has gotta be Gay! Wild-cats' G-S-A, Let's show the world - Whoop!

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    The Center Of The World

    By Andreas Steinhofel (translation by Alisa Jaffa)

    Phil is 17, and with his twin sister Diane, he lives in an atmospheric gothic mansion in Germany with their free spirited and promiscuous Mother. The town their estate borders is filled with conservative and judgmental people, who refer to Phil and his sister as the "witch's children."

    But that town also includes Nicholas, who becomes Phil's first boyfriend. Their relationship is passionate, and fraught with the tension of Nicolas hiding it.

    Mysteries are everywhere: Diane won't talk to their mother. Phil's American father abandoned them. What's the difference between sex and intimacy? Just how do you grow up to be a man?

    "The Center Of The World" is translated from the original German "Die Mitte der Welt."

    Add your review of this book in "comments!"

    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    The Comment Challenge: Day 7 Check-In! How y'all doin'?


    Ocean Currents

    melting chocolate chip cookies that stick together...

    Ah, the interconnectedness of all things, including US!

    Yes, the Kidlitosphere is a chummier, more in-tune-with-ourselves place in the last seven days. And it's all because YOU are joining in, fingers a-blazin' with comments, comments, comments!

    So let's check in.

    How are you doing?

    Is it easier than you thought?


    Are you going to the same sites day after day?

    How are you finding new sites?

    Are you thinking about your own blog's "link" list?

    Any stale links you've found?

    What about great sites you never heard of before?


    Here's my report:

    How I did with commenting:
    I did really good for the first two days (5 comments a day). But this past weekend was nuts, and I don't think I even made it to my computer. So I played make-up on Monday (13 comments) and Tuesday (7 comments) so I'm all caught up. Today I only have to comment 5 times to stay on schedule, but I think with my weekend coming up, I may try to get ahead of the game so I don't fall behind again...

    What I learned:
    I need to be better about my time management. It's fun to visit sites and comment, but I have to get the tofu and potatoes of my working day done FIRST - I had a few days there where I ran out of time to write and work on my book (that's bad, since I'm a writer) because I had spent so much time commenting and blogging and emailing... Yesterday I did better.

    Another productivity tip I'm going to try is turning my e-mail off for bigger periods throughout the day. I think it might be good if I'm not so constantly distracted when the darn thing "pings!" (Like I expect to be notified of winning the lottery via e-mail, or something like that!)

    What inspired me:
    I found a site that combined the author's passion for needlework with their passion for writing and reading, and they'd come up with a project for people to hand-stitch bookmarks and then donate them to libraries. Last year they donated over 600 hand-made bookmarks. I thought that was super-cool, how Jen managed to take two passions and find a comfortable place for herself where they met. (It was here - Needle And ThREAD: Stitching For Literacy!)

    What super-inspired me:
    How many of YOU joined in "The Comment Challenge." (67 of you are on the master list here! If you're not, go add yourself via a comment!)

    Almost everywhere I go to read a blog, it seems comments are UP - and people are having fun.

    And as I just mentioned, Mother Reader is keeping the master list of who's signed up to participate at her amazing blog. And no, you don't have to sign in to be part of this, but it's a way for us to track who's in and who's reaching the goal of 100 comments in 21 days - we have to figure out who's gonna be eligible for the prize drawings, after all!

    Hint: That list is a GREAT source to link around and find super blogs to comment on...

    So tell me here in comments, or tell Mother Reader, How's it going?

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Sometimes It's Nice When Someone ELSE Says What Needs To Be Said: Keith Olbermann Comments on Prop 8

    Thank you, Keith.

    The fact that you care so deeply, so passionately, about MY rights makes me proud of you and all the straight allies of our civil rights movement.

    We have quite a fight ahead of us. I'm glad you're on our side. I'm glad you're on the side of LOVE. (And if that's corny, well, so be it.)

    The video is from his show, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on MSNBC.

    Monday, November 10, 2008

    GSA Mondays: Labels - Just how sticky are they? Can you change how people see you?

    As an offshoot of last week's discussion at the Gay-Straight Alliance club meeting that I help facilitate, the topic of how hard it was to change people's perceptions of you came up.

    The point made was that if you make a mistake as a freshman, and word gets out that, say, you're a "Big Slut" - that's a hard label to shake. Even if you act like Mother Teresa or one of the nuns from "The Sound Of Music" (okay, not Maria, but you get my point...) everyone's still going to be calling you a "Big Slut" for the rest of your entire high school career. You don't get to change who you are until you've left high school and are making a new life for yourself in college.

    The general consensus among the kids attending was that they agreed. It's super hard to get anyone to see you in a different way once minds were decided, once labels were made and given. Labels are sticky.

    But then one of the other very smart faculty adults at the meeting offered up this idea:

    Why not take on NEW labels for yourself, all the time? How about a NEW label, every day? Even though there might be some people who would still try to call you a "Big Slut," they'd also have to contend with the fact that you're a "Brainiac," you're a "Fashion Icon," you're a "Super-Chef," you're a "Soccer Star," you're a "Stock Market Wizard," you're an "Artist," you're a "Fanboy," you're a "Reading Fiend," you're an "Iconoclast," you're YOU.

    It was a great point - we're ALL multifaceted, and while we may get one label we don't like, we can add others to make up a more real and full picture of who we are.

    There are lists and lists of labels speaking to the negative. Lots of words to put us down. To tear at our self-confidence. To inflate others in their eyes by trying to deflate us.

    But guess what?

    We are each the master of our own destinies. We get to define ourselves, too.

    So, to get the ball rolling, here are some labels I CLAIM for myself.

    So if you're going to call me names - go ahead and include some of the labels I claim for myself, too!

    Let me know what labels you CLAIM for yourself!