Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Wonderland Holiday... See You In The New Year!

So we're arrived at the end of another calendar year of blogging: This is my 260th blog post in 2010, and "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?" just passed a quarter of a million readers! Thank you all!

I'll be taking a two week holiday from blogging, with time for us all to look back at some of the coolest posts of the year:

My "It Gets Better" video

My Speaker Visit to Palisades High School in California

The Rudolph the Gay Reindeer essay

A love letter to a banned book: "Annie On My Mind"

Was "Charlie and The Chocolate Factory" racist?

Gay History with Tom Robinson's "Glad To Be Gay" at the Secret Policeman's Ball

Our First Summer Intern Hannah's completion of the GLBTQ Short Story Bookshelf

Back To High School: A letter from a High School Freshman

My SCBWI Team Blog interview with M.T. Anderson

The letter written by a Gay WWII veteran

Our week-long celebration of Queer poetry for April 2010, National Poetry month

And books, Books, BOOKS! (check out the lists on the left hand column of this blog - we're over 350 GLBTQ teen books!)

Taking a holiday also lets me (and all of us) regroup, recharge, and set our sights on the year ahead! 2011 is going to be AMAZING, with three incredible events just in January:

The Annual Comment Challenge

The launch of my new speaker visit website

The 2011 SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City!

I'm excited, and hope you are, too! So until January 3, 2011, I wish you all Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and Happy being YOU!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The End: Five Queer Kids Save The World

By Nora Olsen

Time Travel.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Teen Heroes.

Saving the World...

Here's the author talking about her debut novel:

Congratulations, Nora! It's exciting when a devoted reader of this blogsite becomes one of our featured authors!

And add your review of "The End" in comments!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Homophobia Smack-Down! A California High School's GSA and Their Varisty Flag Football Team Play A Game... And Help Change The World!

Here's a short video I made of the event:

My favorite moment of the game, outside watching all those teens dancing together, the jocks and the GSA-ers, was when a F.L.A.G. kid slipped during a play and fell to the grass. After the whistle blew, one of the varsity players hoisted him up with a smile. It was so natural. So friendly. So amazing.

They really all were playing for the same team!

Adam Waters (Crossroad School's GSA, or F.L.A.G., sponsor) and the F.L.A.G. club even had Adam Shankman and Jamal Sims, two nationally famous choreographers, come and prepare their players for the dance. Adam Shankman is a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, produced the Academy Awards this year, and recently directed the Rocky Horror episode of GLEE. Jamal Sims is another amazing choreographer who has worked on all the Step Up movies.

The event raised a lot of money for The Trevor Project, it built community, and for me, it gave me so much hope for the future.

I felt really honored to be there, and I'm so happy to get to share it with all of you.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Aaron Huey's Remarkable TED Talk on America's Native Prisoners Of War

This is harrowing. Fascinating. So important.

Watch it.

Turns out, like GLBTQ history, Native People's histories until now have told by the winners. The majority. The oppressors.

The people that take the best part of the meat.

This is not the history I learned in school, but I'm glad I'm finally learning it now.

Who wrote the history you've learned?

Thanks to Pat Kahn for sharing this with me, so I could share it with you.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rudolph The Gay Reindeer - On Bullies, Forgiveness, and the Holidays

So Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is a staple of the Christmas season here in the U.S.A. Written by Johnny Marks in 1949, the lyrics go:

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
Had a very shiny nose
and if you ever saw it
you would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names
they never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

I've been thinking a lot about how Rudolph's red nose is really a stand-in for being gay, or being fat, or being Jewish, or being short, or Asian, or Black, or Latino... for being different.

So you have Rudolph, the Gay Reindeer, who was teased and bullied by all the other reindeer. Why? He was different. His difference was seen by the other reindeer as bad, and as a way to bond themselves - hold themselves up as better, "normal," reindeer.

They didn't let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

Rudolph, exiled from the community of his peers, for being different. Alone with just the light from his nose. His Gay red nose.

But then, Christmas Eve is foggy, and Santa won't be able to fly to deliver toys to the children of the World. It's a problem for everyone, until...

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say,
"Rudolph with your nose so bright
Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

Suddenly, Rudolph's very difference - that nose so shiny you would even say it glows - saves the day, and with the light of Rudolph's difference, Santa can see through the fog and the whole celebration of Christmas is saved.

Rudolph embraces the special gift of his difference and no longer sees it as a burden, but as a gift - and a gift not just for himself, but for the world.

That's the moment I want Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning teens to get to - that same moment that changed MY life forever - when I realized my being Gay, my being ME, wasn't a curse or a punishment or a burden, but a GIFT, and that I have so much to share with the world - not in spite of my difference, my being Gay, but BECAUSE of my being Gay, because of my shiny red nose!

What I struggle with are next lines,

Then how the reindeer loved him
and they shouted out in glee,
"Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,
you'll go down in history!"

I'm still pissed off at those other reindeer. They only liked Rudolph once they saw how he could help them. If his light burned low, or changed color, and couldn't cut through fog anymore, and he couldn't save Christmas again, they'd probably tease him again. Or would they? Can reindeer really learn how to accept and celebrate differences? Can we?

Can we forgive bullies? Perhaps. But I can't forget they didn't like Rudolph until he proved useful.

Is that reindeer nature or human nature?

My wish for this holiday season, going into 2011, is that we all work to get to the place where we go beyond tolerance. Beyond acceptance. That we create a world where we celebrate our differences and as we go there, we GLBTQ Red Nosed reindeer will keep saving the world, one gift of ourselves at a time.

So sing along to the Gayest, most diversity-celebrating Christmas Song of All..

And celebrate YOUR own difference!

Here's the song from the closing credits of the awesome animated special - the song starts about 1:28 seconds in...

What do YOU think? Should Rudolph forgive his former reindeer tormentors? Did those other reindeer really change and learn something?

Namaste, Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Ten Year Old's Dream Comes True... In The Heights

This was inspiring. Enjoy...

If Nicholas' dream can come true, how about YOUR dream?


ps - thanks to my husband for sharing the video with me, and for helping me make my dreams come true!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In Keisha's Shadow - A Teen Lesbian Romance

By Sandra Barret

Tori's dumped by her high school girlfriend for not being out and proud enough.

She's eighteen and trying to deal with college, her mom, and the legacy of her dead sister, Keisha.

The only ways she can get through is by drinking, cutting, and riding her horse.

Then Ashley shows up at the stables, shaking Tori's world to the core.

Note: In Keisha's Shadow does go erotica.

My thanks to Nora for the recommendation - it's exciting to have a bi-racial main character in a lesbian teen romance! Please share your reviews of "In Keisha's Shadow" in comments.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Spirit of Community ROCKS! Readergirlz and First Book team up to help Teens get great books to read!

I do love those Readergirlz divas! Once again Readergirlz does an amazing community project - this time teaming up to deliver more than 125,000 new books to low-income teen readers! Among the three dozen choices donated by publishers are the P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast's "House Of Night" series, which has Gay Vampyres as part of the ensemble!

So, as the Readergirlz suggest,

"Get in touch with every group you can think of that works with young adults - schools, after-school programs, church youth groups, community centers, etc. - and let them know that these books are available now."

Organizations serving low-income Teens can register here.

And a tip of my virtual hat to First Book and Readergirlz - it's a great project. Thank you!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Friend Of Dorothy - A Gay Teen Comic Book Adventure!

By Brian Anderson

It's OZ, as in "The Wizard of Oz." Only gayer.

Here's Brian's summary, which is so awesome, I can't improve on it:

Visited by a sexy, shirtless Gorlindo the Good Witch, some evil, soul-eating Scrows (scarecrows), and a smarty-pants, rude dog named Dodo, Scott-John of Earth must accept the mantel of the "Friend of Dorothy," Oz's first every superhero champion, and save the world. No pressure or anything!

You can check out the free 8 page preview of "Friend of Dorothy" here. And once you've read the whole thing, add your review in comments!

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Article, "Blog Your Way From Hobby To Career" is published in Bruce Hale's amazing newsletter

I'm pretty excited. The incredible children's author (of Chet Gecko mystery fame), storyteller, and writing teacher Bruce Hale has this great monthly newsletter, and my article is the FEATURE of the November 2010 issue. Here's a teaser:


By Lee Wind

Ring. Ring.
"He-hello?" I stammer, having seen the New York area code on the
caller ID.
Can I speak with Lee Wind?
Heart pounding too loud to hear well, I switch the handset to my
other ear. "Speaking."
Lee, we love your book and- *record scratch*

Okay, that hasn't exactly happened to me. Yet.

But there is a line that I've managed to cross: from hoping to
someday be a writer to feeling like I am a professional writer
*today* - and having most people (including my tax guy) agree with
me on that.

I did it by blogging. Interested? Here's what you need to know:

Did I hook you? For the full article, sign up for Bruce's newsletter here!

And thank you, Bruce, for the platform and the opportunity!


Friday, December 3, 2010

GLBTQ Spirituality - I've Got 50 Blogs Posts For You To Check Out!

Tim Dalton compiled this list of 50 Very Insightful Posts on GLBTQ Spirituality.

There are some fascinating articles, including a Black lesbian's journey to convert to Judaism, a Transwoman's experience of taking communion, and a letter from a Hindu Gay Man.

Go browse, read, and look through fifty windows into the diversity of GLBTQ-Spirituality.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Secrets Of Truth And Beauty - A Teen Novel with a Homophobia Theme

By Megan Frazer

Dara is 17 and she's big. Really BIG.

Back when she was little, Dara won a pageant. But now she's struggling with a control-freak mother and the fact that she had an older sister who her parents tried to erase from their lives.

When her parents pull her out of school after a disastrous report she does for English on society's obsession with thinness, Dara realizes she can keep following the rules and being misunderstood, or she can finally reach out to the sister she's never met - a sister who lives on a collective goat farm in Massachusetts for queer teens and other kids rejected by their families.

Dara goes to spend the summer with her sister - and realizes she may have to let go of everything she's taken for granted in order to figure out who she really is, and what family really means.

Add your review of "Secrets of Truth and Beauty" in comments!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Hanukkah - And Some GLBTQ Biblical Hidden History

Tonight's the first candle. But, what if you don't have a menorah on hand? No worries:

A Banana Menorah always works.

So does a granola menorah.

Candles will stick up in bowls of ice, or M&Ms, or even snow... hey, the possibilities are endless.

So have fun with it. And you can always make a Gay Pride rainbow out of the candles to have it to feel more GLBTQ.

Something else you can do to make the holiday feel a lot more Gay? Read about:

The Hidden GLBTQ History in the BIBLE!

Ancient Gay LOVE Story Discovered: David and Jonathan

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor... DRESS? Cross-Dressing in the Bible


The Homoerotic (and Naked!) Ecstacy of the Prophets of Ancient Israel


More Biblical Homoeroticism: The Prophet Elisha and his Resurrection of a boy/youth


Even More Biblical Homoeroticism: The Love Story (and Lesbian Marriage!) of Ruth and Naomi


Ruth and Naomi - What Happened Next to our Favorite Biblical Lesbians?

Happy Hanukkah, and Namaste,

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

OUR SPIRIT - A GLBTQ-Inclusive Religious Resource For Teens

'Tis The Season... Here in the U.S.A., with Thanksgiving behind us, now the momentum builds across our culture towards Christmas. Even if you're Jewish, and celebrate Hanukkah, or are Atheist, or Muslim, or Buddhist, or celebrate something else, if you live in this country you can feel the push towards Christmas.

The Ads.

The Songs.

The Commercialism.

The lights on houses.

And sometimes, even the spirit of good will toward all.

But many times religions are a source of division and especially antagonism towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning people. Scripture can be used towards hate and shame, or towards love and celebration.

There's a new on-line resource all about including GLBTQ and Allied youth in the message of love:

While I'm an Atheist, and don't feel the need for a religion to mediate my personal spirituality, I appreciate a religious organization whose message is:

We believe that the true basis of religion is love and that all people deserve to be loved, especially youth who struggle fitting the traditional straight model of sexuality. Watch our movies, explore and, above all, know that you’re loved.

Their website has some fun videos and lists of GLBTQ-Inclusive Christian Churches and GLBTQ Support within other denominations. But most of all, their open celebration of GLBTQ Teens in a religious environment feels like progress.

And it kind of makes me want to sing...

Fa la la la la, la la... la... la!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Graeme, a Gay 14 Year Old, Speaks Up To Defend A Teacher Who Stood Up To Anti-Gay Bullying

Get this.

So back on Spirit Day at Howell High School in Michigan, teacher Jay McDowell (who was wearing a purple shirt) asked a student to leave his classroom after the student made hateful comments about Gay people.

The TEACHER was suspended.

Here's a video of a students speaking out at the school board meeting in the teacher's support:

(If this embedded video doesn't work, try going here to watch it:

And here's more about the teacher's suspension (note: the queerty site has adult ads on it. You can see the article here.)

Thank you, Jay, for not letting anti-gay hate speech go unchallenged in your classroom.

And Thank you, Graeme, for STANDING UP for what's right.

You both inspire me.


P.S. Thanks as well to Arianne for giving me the heads-up on this story, so I could share it with all of you!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Food For Thought Thanksgiving, Part 2: Fiction To Truth - As Readers, What Do We Need To Find To Connect With Fiction?

We're all readers.

And so I put it out there to you all: How do we manage to emotionally connect - to care - for fictional characters who are - on the surface at least - nothing like us?

I think it's because below the surface, under the spacesuit, or saffron robe, or Cowboy chaps - below all that exterior stuff of the story, good writers manage to tap their fictional characters into our common humanity.

We've all felt hurt. And fear. And longing. And hope.

And when fictional characters feel that, whether they're Tally Youngblood in Scott Westerfield's "Uglies" or Liza in Nancy Garden's "Annie on My Mind" or Harry and his Wizard friends in the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling - we feel connected to them.

The magic of reading - of fiction - has happened through that common humanity of emotion, and so we get to experience the adventures with and through those characters - at a safe distance.

That's the Greek Catharsis- and as readers, I think it's what we crave. Characters we care about. In a good story. Well told.

What I need to connect my truth to fiction? Emotion.

How about you?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Food For Thought Thanksgiving, Part 1: Truth To Fiction: The Personal Connection That Makes An Author's Book The One They HAD To Write

I asked Cheryl Rainfield, author of "SCARS,"

"Do you have a personal story behind "SCARS" that made it the book you had to write?" Here's her powerful response:

I know what it's like to be a queer teen who was raped, sexually abused, ritually abused, bullied, a misfit--and in so much emotional pain that I often wanted to die. I know what it's like to use self-harm to try to get through the pain (as well as art and writing). And I know how alone I felt. To feel like you're the only one, to have a society hate you for who you love, to have to struggle so much to get through a day--it can feel unbearable. And to have those things have to be kept secret--especially the sexual abuse and the self-harm--it makes the emotional pain so much worse.

All those things I put into SCARS. I had to write it--for myself, to break the silence, to get out some of the pain, to be heard--and for others, to let them know that they're not alone, to encourage healing, and, for people who don't have those experiences (self-harm, sexual abuse, being queer), to encourage greater compassion. I also wrote SCARS because it was a book I needed and couldn't find as a teen--even as an adult. I think we all need to see our lives reflected (in a positive light) and to know that we're not alone. And I think truth needs to be shared.

So though SCARS is fiction, is has huge chunks of my own story in it, and a lot of my heart, my soul. It's actually my arm on the cover of SCARS; the scars are my own. The outside scars only hint at the pain inside. But there is also hope in SCARS--hope, love and healing--things that are so important for me, for us all.

I am grateful that SCARS is reaching so many people, that it's helping them feel less alone, or more understood. That feels like such a gift to me. I hope SCARS will be a book that speaks to you.

I also asked Author April Lurie the same question

- "Do you have a personal story behind "The Less-Dead" that made it the book you HAD to write?" Here's what she said:

The Less-Dead began solely as a mystery. I planned to write a story involving a serial killer, but when I realized that it was going to be a homophobic serial killer, I decided to explore my own personal experience of growing up in a strict, evangelical home.

I grew up in the seventies, and when I was taught that homosexuality was a sin and that gays led perverse lifestyles, I didn’t really think twice about it. After all, I was straight and I didn’t know any gay people. They certainly didn’t attend our church!

But when I went to college and my world broadened, I began to see the incredible hypocrisy of the statement, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” Why was being gay a sin? Why were my loving and wonderful gay friends sinners – destined for hell if they didn’t change their sexual orientation? It made no sense.

In The Less-Dead, my main character Noah became an extension of myself as a teen. He’s the son of the Bible Answer Guy, a radio talk show host who interprets the Bible literally, including the passages on homosexuality. Noah is fed up with all-things-church, and he believes that his dad is spreading hate. Suddenly my story became very personal.

But it became even more personal when I was writing the second draft of the book. During that time my daughter’s friend – a sweet, talented and charming young man – came out in his middle school. He was attending a private Christian school at the time, and when the administration heard the news, they told him he had to leave. They were not going to allow an openly gay student attend their school. I was told that his parents immediately put him into counseling in order to change his sexual orientation.

That’s when I decided to include the lengthy author’s note at the back of The Less-Dead, where I refute the six “clobber passages” in the Bible that pastors use to condemn homosexuality. I also listed several websites and organizations where gay teens can go to for help.

Lately in the news we’ve seen so many heartbreaking stories of gay teen suicides, and while there are many factors that contribute to the prejudice that gay teens face, the teachings of the evangelical church remain a root problem. If a teenager is raised to believe that being gay is a sin, and that loving a person of the same sex is shameful, how can he or she rise above that? If straight teens are being taught from the pulpit that gay kids are perverted and going to hell, how will the bullying and hatred ever stop?

The Less-Dead is a mystery surrounding a serial killer, but it’s also a story about a boy who challenges what he’s been taught. I hope the book will not only entertain, but spark discussion and encourage teens, both gay and straight.

Now for New York Times Bestselling Author Ellen Hopkins, she's spoken and written about her personal connection to her first book "Crank"

(followed in the series by "Glass" and most recently with "Fallout.")

Ellen's shared it was "loosely based on my older daughter's story of addiction to crystal meth. ...Crank began as a personal exploration of the "why's" behind my daughter's decisions, and what part I might have played in them. By writing the story from "my daughter's" perspective, I learned a lot, both about her, and about myself. But I also learned a lot about the nature of addiction..."

But Ellen has also written four books outside this series; "Burned,"


"Identical," and "Tricks,"

- and I asked her, "Was there a personal story behind every one of your books that made it a book you HAD to write?

Here's her answer:

I actually do believe we bring threads of real life into our work. Sometimes it's a personal story. Sometimes it's tapping into the emotion of a previous event in our lives. First kiss, for instance. Or first time we have sex. Or having a baby (or perhaps losing one).

BURNED was inspired by a rash of school shootings in the news. I wanted to explore what might put a girl behind the trigger. As I wrote her, she began to resemble a friend of my daughter's, who was Mormon and had weapons experience. Aunt J in that book looks very much like a woman who runs a bed and breakfast in eastern Nevada, where I spent time as an artist-in-residence. So the whole setting--Caliente--is a place I came to know and love.

With IMPULSE, I wanted to gain some understanding of why a teen, who has so much to live for, would choose suicide. I live in a small valley and we lost two teens to suicide in a year. One was the brother of a classmate of my daughter's. Vanessa in the book is a combination of two friends--one my age, who is bipolar and who has been suicidal; and a young friend who is a cutter.

IDENTICAL is dedicated to three friends, all of whom were sexually abused by their fathers as children. Their stories inspired the book completely.

And in TRICKS, all three of the female main characters' stories came from readers, who shared their heart-wrenching personal histories with me. And Seth (the character, not his story) probably resembles my oldest son, who is gay.

I find it fascinating, as a writer, to consider that no matter what I write that's "fiction" there's an element of my own personal truth to it - otherwise I don't know that I could make it sing. Make the characters feel real. Make readers care.

What about you? Is there a personal connection that you have to the fiction YOU write?

And for those of us in the U.S.A., Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Glee's Bully (Well, Max Adler, The Actor Playing The Bully) Does An "It Gets Better" Video

And he shares the secret about most bullies:

Thanks Max! It's really great that you've put this out there, and are standing UP!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wildthorn - Lesbian Historical Fiction

By Jane Eagland

It's the 19th century in Victorian England, and Louisa is seventeen when her carriage arrives NOT at her destination, but at a madhouse. She's called Lucy Childs and is imprisoned, and all her protests that they've got the wrong woman just prove to the staff at the insane asylum that she is indeed mad.

Louisa has to figure out how to escape... and at the same time, finds herself falling for one of the female guards!

Check out this review of Wildthorn by Daisy Porter at her amazing blog, Queer YA: Fiction for LGBTQ Teens. And add your review here in comments!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Activists ACT to End Don't Ask Don't Tell At The White House Fence

Watch this GetEQUAL Action:

Their words are ringing in my ears.

"I am. Somebody.

I deserve. Full Equality."


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Special Saturday Post: "Who's Your Harry Potter Boyfriend" - And why this Facebook Quiz Made Me SO Mad

With the new Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie debuting here in the U.S.A. this weekend, this post couldn't wait.

Yesterday, on Facebook, I saw this quiz:

Your Harry Potter Boyfriend (Girls Only)

Girls Only?


Why make this fun quiz about which fictional character would be someone's boyfriend only okay if you're heterosexual? Why leave the gay boys out of it?

With the Yule Ball coming up, why can't WE say which Harry Potter guy we'd like to ask us? (There are lots of options...)

The only possible purpose "Girls Only" serves is to reinforce the idea that even in the magical alternate universe of Harry Potter, it's only girls that are supposed to crush on boys.

Come on, people - Dumbledore is Gay, as J.K. Rowling stated though sadly, really only addressed head-on outside of the seven books:

JKR: My truthful answer to you... I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] ... Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extent? But, he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that's how i always saw Dumbledore. In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair... [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!" [laughter] "If I'd known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!"

Shouldn't it be okay if us fans are Gay, too?

Let's notice how even in our fandom, prejudice can thrive - and let's address it.

Come on, fellow Harry Potter fans, recognize and celebrate that some of us are GLBTQ. And with that sense of larger community, enjoy the movie.


Friday, November 19, 2010

What Would Jim Hensen Do? Or, Will The Real Kermit The Frog Please Stand Up?

Kermit The Frog's Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

So a good friend send me an email after my post on Monday, asking if I'd considered that the Kermit The Frog "It Gets Better" video I shared wasn't an official Kermit The Frog video from Jim Henson Studios/Children's Television Workshop/Sesame Street. It's a good point.

I don't know Chris Tuttle (who posted the video), but yeah, I guess it's probably someone who got a really good Kermit puppet and did the voice and video themselves. Because they probably wished there would be an official Kermit the Frog "It Gets Better" video out there to talk to kids about being isolated and bullied and urge them to speak up - to urge all of us to STAND UP and make things better.

And there was no official video.

So this is sort of a guerilla public service message.

I think there are a bunch of issues to untangle here.

1. While anti-bullying seems a universally accepted and important message, isn't it a slippery slope to say it's okay to take someone else's intellectual property and image and use it to promote an idea if they haven't approved it? What if the PETA people did a video where Kermit spoke up against eating meat - and became a guerilla vegetarian spokesfrog? That might be fine for vegetarians, but not so cool with the people who control Kermit.

2. If anti-bullying is such a universally accepted message, why hasn't there been an official Kermit The Frog "It Gets Better" video? Why haven't they had the real Kermit STAND UP in that way?

Do you remember what happened back when PBS shot the "Sugartime!" episode of "Postcards of Buster" that showed a two-mom family? Margaret Spellings (the then Secretary of Education) wrote a letter to PBS basically threatening them and asking for the government's money back for that episode! Because there's a public funding element to PBS/CTW/Sesame Street, there's a vulnerability to the prejudices of lawmakers - and that prevents some really great stuff from happening.

3. There's a fair-use right for comedy/satire - should there also be a fair-use right for public safety? I mean, Kermit's done ads for the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board (nonwithstanding there are people who don't want kids drinking so much cow milk) - but I bet they got permission.

4. Why haven't Ernie and Bert done a "It Gets Better" video?

5. What would Jim Henson do? We can't ask him because he died back in 1990, but what would be in keeping with his spirit?

It will be interesting to see if the guerilla public service announcement video is allowed to stay up at youtube. Maybe PBS/CTW/Sesame Street/The Jim Henson Company can't come out and officially approve this message, but they can let it stand as is. Or will they "officially" do something about confronting bullying that reaches outside their preschool audience? Or will they just hire Chris to help spread the good word?

Because at the end of the day, I do love this Kermit the Frog "It Gets Better" video. But I admit, it's a tangled situation.

What do you think?


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Sky Always Hears Me And The Hills Don't Mind - A Questioning Teen Book

By Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Morgan is sixteen - two years away from escaping her Nebraska hick town and going off to college. She writes fortunes (like the ones you find in cookies) but she dreams of writing the Great American Novel.

Her boyfriend Derek bores her. At the grocery store where she works, she can't stop staring at the assistant manager Rob's cute butt. And then there's the kiss she shared with Tessa, who everyone knows is the school lesbian!

Then Morgan finds out that the person she trusted most in the world has kept a huge secret from her. That changes everything - and Morgan has to redefine her life and herself.

Add your review of "The Sky Always Hears Me And The Hills Don't Mind" in comments!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

YALSA Celebrates Diversity! A Guest Post By Lauren Bjorkman

The national YALSA Conference — Diversity, Literature, Teens: Beyond Good Intentions — last weekend launched me into the Stratosphere of Happiness. I had so much fun! Over 350 librarians came to share their passion for getting diverse books into the hands of teen readers.

On the first morning, Michael Cart and Christine Jenkins gave a “history lesson” on teen fic with GLBT content, highlighting books published from 1969 to 2010. Both of them are experts on the subject. I could tell by their extraordinarily long CVs.

Seriously, this pair knows their gay teen lit! The mound of books they brought with them (hundreds, I think) wowed my socks off. I especially enjoyed the covers from the books written in the 1970’s. Check this one out!

Michael and Christine book-talked dozens of titles each. The earlier books were tragedies, and usually ended with the gay character killed in a car wreck. Or truck wreck. Or motorcycle wreck. Seriously!

Luckily things got better in the 80’s, when some of the books ended on a hopeful note, and a few were funny — particularly books by M.E. Kerr. Still, the majority of GLBT teen lit consisted of sad stories and “problem” novels.

In the 2000’s there are many breakthroughs — LGBT books for the retail market, ones with multi-cultural characters, humor, happy endings, awards, and more books for younger readers. Viva Gaytopia!

In the afternoon, I was part of a panel about moving forward in LGBT teen lit with Megan Frazer (Secrets of Truth and Beauty), Kirstin Cronn-Mills (The Sky Always Hears Me), and Malinda Lo (Ash). We talked on serious topics — the fluidity of sexuality, labeling, coming out, heteronormativity, and settings without homophobia — and still managed to make 50+ librarians laugh out loud.

Megan's book

Kirstin's book

Malinda's Book

Lauren's Book

Friday night, we did a casual Q&A at Alamosa Books, an Albuquerque store devoted entirely to books for young readers and teens.

Saturday, I went to "The New Gay Teen: Moving Beyond the Issue Book," where authors read from their latest works. P.G. Kain (The Social Experiments of Dorie Dilts) had us in hysterics, as did Madeleine George (Looks). I’m very susceptible to funny books, so I can’t wait to read theirs!

I enjoyed every minute of the conference. Besides attending panels and meeting caring librarians, I drank margaritas with other authors, ate fab New Mexican food, and autographed 50 copies of my book, including one to a lovely librarian from Shiprock, New Mexico!

Shiprock (Wow! But where’s the library?)


Lauren Bjorkman is the author of My Invented Life, one of the great books featured right here on this blog!

Thanks, Lauren, for sharing with us your experience at the National Conference of the Young Adult Library Services Association (of the American Library Association.) While I wish I could have been there, your report gave us all a taste of what was served up... and it sounds amazing!

My thanks as well to Lauren for talking about my Hunger Mountain-published article, GLBTQ Teen Coming Out Stories: Move Beyond Them, or Keep 'Em Coming? An Imaginary Yang and Yin Dialog By One Writer of Two Minds" during her panel presentation. Thanks as well to Malinda Lo for including my article with the other wonderful links gathered from the panel. Great stuff there, and I'm honored to be included.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Israel's First: Gili Shem Tov and Dorit Millman are the first two women couple to compete on "Dancing With The Stars"

So 30 different countries have versions of Dancing With The Stars.

But in all 30 countries, including the U.S.A., there's never been a two-man or two-woman couple in the competition.

Now, on Israel's Rokdim im hakohavim (yes, literally 'dancing with the stars' in Hebrew) TV presenter, sportcaster and openly gay woman Gili Shem Tov and professional dancer Dorit Milman, an openly heterosexual woman, will be competing as a couple.

There's so much that's fascinating about this.

One, is that sometimes we can feel smug in the U.S.A. about how we're the world leaders on this or that... and here Israel has left us in the dust.

Two, Dorit is not a lesbian, or queer herself. But she's an ALLY. And the fact that she and Gili are teaming up, to break through this barrier, is really heartening.

And Three, I love Gili's quote: “I have realised that dance is about co-ordination and energy between two people, whether female or male." and that's such a great message to get out there.

Oh, and Pamela Anderson has been announced as one of the guest judges of this year's season, and that promises to be quite a "Grrl power" moment!

Here's their first dance on the show:

Now, whether they're the best dancers or not is kind of beside the point. Where the show really makes it's impact may very well be the opening credits sequence, where Gili and Dorit are featured right alongside every other competing couple!

And in America, ABC network said it was waiting to see how this goes over in Israel before the US show does it as well. But it's already being talked about... Ryan Seacrest told Portia DeGeneres (Ellen DeGeneres' wife, who changed her last name from De Rossi) on his November 9th radio show that the U.S. version of Dancing With The Stars is

"planning to feature a same-sex couple. You're at the top of the list."
Thank you Israel!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Kermit The Frog's "It Gets Better" Video

I love this - especially how it's a way to talk about bullying to the youngest kids.

Watch it. Talk about it. And share the message - we can make it better!

Thanks, Kermit (and Chris)!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Gay Orthodox Jews: "It Gets Better"

Well worth watching, whatever your religious background:

And remember, it's not just "hold on, it will get better" - we all have to do our part to MAKE IT BETTER!

My thanks to Chaim, Eli, Moishe, Mordechai, and Justin for speaking OUT, standing UP, and making this video happen.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Love Drugged - A Gay Teen Book With A Homophobia Theme

By James Klise

Jaime's a freshman in High School. He's gay but deeply closeted.

When a classmate learns his secret, Jaime panics and gets involved with hottie Celia as a cover - and that leads him to discover that her doctor dad is developing an untested drug - these pills that are supposed to "cure" homosexuality. Jaime steals some of them.

And he starts taking the little blue pills... and his relationship with Celia heats up.

Only now Jaime has to keep stealing them.

And in the middle of his pill-popping and girl-dating, he starts crushing on this guy Ivan, which is definitely NOT part of the plan.

There's a good article in the Chicago Tribune on the author (a high school librarian) here. And you can add your review of "Love Drugged" in comments!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Glee's Kurt Gets His First Gay Kiss... (spoiler alert!)

So in last night's episode of Glee, "Never Been Kissed" (you can watch it here) Kurt (played by Chris Colfer) finally gets kissed... only it's not what you might expect. It's the episode that really focuses on his being harassed and bullied for just being himself, for just being Gay, and shows a number of times where he's slammed into the lockers by a huge football jock/bully - it's physical intimidation that's shown as habitual, and when Kurt finally confronts this guy about what he's so scared of that he has to be so horrible to him, the jock kisses Kurt!

The Gay Kiss

Kurt's reaction

...basically revealing that the source of this guy's homophobia is his own conflict about being attracted to guys - his own conflict about being gay and closeted - his own self-hate.

It's a plot that's pretty much ripped from headlines, what with stories of all these extreme homophobes in our political and religious landscape who have been revealed to be Gay. Remember George Rekers? Larry Craig? Roy Ashburn? Ted Haggard?

Maybe we're approaching a time when anyone who is too homophobic, too upset about gay people will actually be seen by our larger culture as probably just another closeted, self-hating gay man, trying to throw us off the scent.

Like I've said before, I think we're approaching The Queen in Hamlet Tipping Point:

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

(Act III, scene 2, line 230)

We've seen it in our political world. In our religious world. And now, we've seen it on Glee.

We also saw what I'm guessing is a potential boyfriend for Kurt, Blaine (played by Darren Criss)

Kurt's New Boyfriend?

and that's pretty exciting. After all, with more than ONE out gay teen on TV, it takes the pressure off of Kurt to be the perfect representative for Gay people. The more representations there are of GLBTQ Teens in the media, the more of our stories are heard, the less powerful the stereotypes become - and then Kurt can just be Kurt. Fabulous Kurt. With the new hot boyfriend.

Okay, I'm a Gleek.

A Gay Gleek.

And I can't wait to see what happens next. What did you think of the episode?


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Is This The Next Evolution In The World Of Children's Literature? Editor to Agent, and now Agent to Social Media Expert?

I don't often use this blog space to talk about the shifting ground of the world of Children's literature (or, as Rubin Pfeffer would put it, the world of Children's Content Creation.)

But in yesterday's Publisher's Lunch, there was this announcement:

San Francisco-based Curtis Brown agent Nathan Bransford announced via his popular writers blog on Friday that he is leaving agenting to work for CNet, where he will help coordinate social media strategy. He says the blog and its forums will continue.

What I find so fascinating is that over the past few years we've seen a lot of Children's book editors move to become Children's book agents. (I won't even attempt a list, but I can think of five off the top of my head.) A lot of incredibly talented, brilliant, and successful editors were let go by their publishing houses and a number of those former editors thought that the best way they could follow their passions to help shape the stories kids and teens read would be to stay working with authors on shaping their stories, only from the literary agency side of things.

And it does seem that as editorial staffs have gotten smaller, editors have less time to work with an author to get the manuscript ready - and that an increasing number of literary agents are "editorial," working with their writing clients to get the manuscripts in top shape before submitting them to editors. So there's been a flow from editor to editorial agent.

Now, with Nathan Bransford leaving literary agenting for a professional social media gig, I'm wondering if this is the beginning of a new shift in the current. Are there now too many literary agents (which of course brings up the question, were there too many editors?) Or is it just that genuine expertise in social media is pretty rare, and Nathan has an incredibly marketable skill set?

After all, Nathan is the second blog- and media-savvy literary agent I know of who has moved from agenting to a social media gig. (Colleen Lindsay is the other former children's literary agent - and she's now working as part of the business development team at Penguin.)

So here's a few questions for my Children's Content Creator peeps - what do you think? Is this a new trend, or just a natural cherry-picking of talented people with social media skills?

Is the job of literary agent going to become as fluid (and musical-chair like) as the job of editor seems to be?

And is there a tension between the idea of a writer trying to find an agent that represents them not just for a book but for their career - and literary agents having careers themselves that might take them away from being agents?

It's a fascinating time in the world of creating content for Children and Teens!

Namaste, and do let me know your thoughts...


Monday, November 8, 2010

My Own "It Gets Better" Video

I love this project that Dan Savage started in response to the rash of gay teen suicides back in September. I've been watching lots of these "It Gets Better" videos and I've been moved, and touched, and inspired...

So here's my message to GLBTQ Teens - heck, it's my message to ALL Teens. And it's my message to you.


Friday, November 5, 2010

It's not cool anymore to be a homophobic jerk - the lesson one Arkansas school board member learned

Here's what happened:

Clint McCance, vice president of the Midland School District in Pleasant Plains, Arkansas, ranted on his facebook page back on October 20, 2010 about gay spirit day - where people wore purple to remember the teens who had killed themselves as a result of anti-gay bullying:

"The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide," he wrote.

"I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die," he said in another comment about gay people. His comments were riddled with anti-gay slurs.

What happened then is fascinating: He didn't get away with it. While he wasn't fired, he did announce his resignation. He told Anderson Cooper that he and his family received threats and were the victims of hate speech targeted to them, and that he's moved his wife and children out of state to protect them. And while he seems a bit bewildered that his comments created such a stir, what's fascinating is that our culture shifted:

It's not that we've never heard this level of hate before (sadly, we have, many times) - it's that suddenly, a person in his position (a school board member, charged with the educational guidance of our country's youth) is NO LONGER ALLOWED to say this out loud.

You can watch his interview with Anderson Cooper here.

Now I'm not thrilled that Clint McCance and his family have experienced death threats and hate speech directed against them, but I do find it worth noting that our cultural acceptance of this kind of anti-GLBTQ hate speech has ended.

And about that, I'm quite pleased.

Nobody should celebrate any "other" person's being hounded, bullied, murdered or driven to suicide. Not if that other person is a member of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning community. And not even if that other person is a homophobe like Clint McCance.

Having said that, I hope the other homophobes are watching what happened to Clint McCance when he celebrated the death of queer youth. And I hope from now on they watch what they say and post - because they will held accountable for their words, too.

Our world is changing.

And anti-gay hate speech is no longer acceptable.

Thanks, Anderson.

This is one big step towards making things better!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bait - A Homophobic Bully Comes To Terms With His Past

By Alex Sanchez

A gay student looks at Diego "that way" and sixteen-year-old Diego punches him in the face. That lands Diego on probation - just a step from jail.

At first Diego wants nothing to do with his probation officer, but as he starts to talk, he realizes that Mr. Vidas is the first person in his life who ever really wanted to listen to him.

But there's a lot of anger, and cutting, and secrets from his past standing in between Diego and healing enough to grow up.

Add your review of "Bait" in comments!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Some of the funniest (and my favorite) Gay signs from the Rally To Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Okay, okay. I know, the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert RALLY TO RESTORE SANITY and/or Fear happened five days ago. But in an effort to be sane, I'm just getting to this now. Breathe with me, people.

Here they are, my GLBTQ-inclusive favorites:


And yes, if you look it up, Mark II: 12-14 reads:

Mark 11:12-14 (King James Version)

12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:

13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

And as this reddit chat thread flamed on, there were some funny (and be aware, profane) moments, including these two, "BURN ALL THOSE WHO MAKE AND CONSUME FIG NEWTONS! THEIR BLASPHEMY MUST NOT GO UNPUNISHED!" and "... He might have just been making a comment. Along the vein of him stubbing a toe on a chair and going, "Ow, the chair hurt me!" and his disciples writing down that chairs are cursed and will harm their human makers and then go along and destroy all chairs. Oh religion..."


How much do I love that there's a cute guy holding this sign?


Lovely. And ridiculous.


Not particularly GLBTQ, but SO TRUE:

I found these among the gems pictured here.

And Jon Stewart's closing remarks at the Rally are well worth watching:

I'm glad his voice is being heard. We could use some sanity.