Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Human Rights Are Gay Rights And Gay Rights Are Human Rights" - Hillary Clinton

From the Washington Blade article:

“Just as I was very proud to say the obvious more than 15 years ago in Beijing that human rights are women’s rights — and women’s rights are human rights — let me say today that human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights,” she said.

Clinton made her remarks during a State Department event [held on June 22, 2010] commemorating June as Pride month.

Thank you for saying the obvious. I'm proud that it's finally being spoken by people in power.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An 18 Year Old Girl is Left Out of her High School Yearbook... Because in her photo she's wearing a tux and not a dress!

Sierra is 18. And a lesbian. And because she wanted to be true to herself and wear what she felt comfortable in, her Mississippi High School chose to omit her from her own graduating class' yearbook!

Watch this heartbreaking report from CNN:

Sierra, you keep fighting to change the world to make it more fair for everyone - and we'll be right there at your side, fighting with you!

Liberty, and Justice, and yearbook photos... for ALL!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Feel Proud - Celebrate GAY PRIDE MONTH!

What have you done today, to feel proud?

I shared this video with all of you.

Thank you for being my community.


Friday, June 25, 2010

The June 2010 Carnival Of Children's Literature!

Welcome One, Welcome All - to the fabulous, fan-tabulous, and fun collection of the best blog posts from the world of children's literature blogs this month...

Our theme?


As your M.C., the post of the month that most resonated for me was my link to a very brave 15 year old's blog. Brent is a Teen who is openly Gay, and fighting prejudice to have books with Teen GLBTQ characters - the same books listed here on this blog - included in the collections at his school and public library. Brent, at 15, is standing up and being real in a way I wasn't brave enough to do at his age. He's standing up for not just himself, but for everyone else's right to read these books as well, and I am SO proud of him.

What are the posts YOU and your colleagues from the world of Children's Literature are most proud of from this month?

Check out these amazing posts:

Pride and Books and YOU!

Susan Gaissert talks about Immigration books for Kids - the older books, and the newer false myths of immigration that our culture spins today. She ends with an inspirational story of immigration that we should all take to heart. I really loved this post - go check it out!

As part of National Refugee Week in the U.K., Zoe Toft shares about a selection of refugee-themed picture books in her piece, Fantastic Fiction for Kids – Thinking about life as a refugee. She includes "The Arrival" by Shaun Tan - which was amazing and I completely recommend it, too!

Laurina Cashin contributes her post, co-written with her wife Bobbie, Read LGBT family stories to ALL kids, which was written for the LGBT Families Day hosted on the Mombian blog. It's heartfelt and brave and so true - the more "other" stories are read by all of us, the more our common humanity comes through. Knowledge and familiarity are enemies of prejudice, and books are powerful tools of change. It's why the two-dad penguin picture book, "And Tango Makes Three" has been the # 1 challenged book in the U.S.A. for the last three years - if we can change the mythic lie that gay people can't be good parents to the truth that of course gay people can be parents - it's LOVE that makes a family - we'll be erasing hate and making our world safer for us all.

Book Reviews - Picture Books

Katie Fries is in with an elegant connection to our theme: "In keeping with this month's carnival theme of PRIDE, I have chosen to share my post about Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore and Kristi Valiant's marvelous picture book, Cora Cooks Pancit. In this book, Cora, the young title character, takes on a very grown up role and helps her mother prepare dinner for her family. In the end, Cora takes pride in helping to prepare the meal and surprising her siblings and other family members." Read Katie's review of the book, and check out what happened when SHE cooked Pancit, too! (What a great idea, to make the food featured in the book - in fact, Katie's whole blog explores pairing recipes and children's books...)

Mary Lee from A Year Of Reading contributes her review of "The Secret Lives of Princesses"

"One of the joys of this book lies in the diversity of the princesses. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, skin colors and cultures. (There is even one princess who is a prince.) They have incredibly unique talents and personalities...just like the reader, who is encouraged to find someone familiar (perhaps yourself?) in these princesses."
Intrigued? I know I am!

Deborah Freedman gives us an illustrated dialog with... her blog - and shares a suggested picture-books-about-friendship reading list!

Mary Ann Dames shares a post she loves from back during Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month at her blog, Reading, Writing, and Recipes. Among the picture books she reviews is "Yoko Writes Her Name" by Rosemary Wells, in which Yoko is teased about writing her name in Japanese. This is a good book for anyone who is teased about being different, whether it is for speaking/reading a different language or for being taller or shorter or any of the myriad things kids tease each other about.

Book Reviews - Chapter Books
Anastasia Suen book talks "Bad to the Bone," a funny chapter book that was the 2010 Cybil's Awards Early Chapter Book Winner!

Book Reviews - Middle Grade
Peggy Tibbetts from Advice From A Caterpillar shares her review of the MG graphic novel, Diary of a Wimpy Vampire: Because the Undead Have Feelings Too. Think "Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets Twilight!"

Swapnil over at switch2life is in with a review of “The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis.

Janelle from Brimful Curiosities contributes her review of the Middle Grade novel "It's Raining Cupcakes" by Lisa Schroeder. Isabel, the main character, desperately wants her mother to be happy with life. She tries to do the right things, and show her mother how much she loves her. In the end of the book it is clearly evident that her mother is very proud of her and thankful to have her as a daughter.

Sally Apokedak is in with her review of 100 Cupboards, the first in a MG fantasy series by N.D. Wilson, an author she's thrilled to have discovered. The books are full of faeries, a kid hero who's braver than he thinks, the demon/witch/destroyer of all life, and of course, cupboards that take you to different worlds!

Brenda Kahn from proseandkahn contributes her review of "Countdown" by Deb Wiles. Twelve days in October, 1962 told from the POV of Franny, an eleven-year-old Air Force Brat. Air Raid Drills, an embarrassing Uncle, conflict with her best friend, and the heat of the cold war (after all, how can you duck and cover for a nuclear attack if you're outside on the playground and there's no desk to get under to protect you?)

Book Reviews - Young Adult
Author Lori Calabrese is in with a review of the self-publishing success story - "We Hear The Dead," historical YA fiction about two sisters whose prank of pretending to commune with spirits ends up snowballing bigger than they ever expected.

Tammy Flanders is in with a proud celebration of this week's National Aboriginal Day in Canada, recommending Middle Grade and YA books by First Nations writers from Canada.

Angela of Bookish Blather shares her review of the Young Adult novel "God is in the Pancakes" by Robin Epstein. Assisted suicide, questions of Faith, a suddenly-hot friend, and pancakes... there's a lot of great stuff in the batter on this one!

Charlotte Taylor contributes her review of the fantasy "The King Commands" by Meg Burden Magical gifts and bad guys out to stomp out the people with those gifts, a war, politics, intrigue, five brothers... sounds great, and Charlotte loved it! And then, quite artfully, Charlotte weaves our carnival theme of pride into her post with a post-script exploration of the power of the Cybil awards (those amazing book blogger awards for books!) as the previous book in this series, "Northlander," had been shortlisted for the 2007 Cybils.

Margo Tanenbaum of The Fourth Musketeer contributes her review of "Once," by Morris Gleitzman, just published in the U.S. She writes for the Carnival, "It's perhaps the most unusual Holocaust novel I've read--one that made me laugh out loud as well as cry. What does this have to do with pride? I guess I have a perverse sense of pride that we Jews (or at least Morris Gleitzman) can find something to laugh at in the worst calamity in Jewish history. I think that's how the Jewish people have survived for so long..."

And MotherReader shares a book trailer (proudly created by her own teen reader) and discussion of the lesbian love story twist in the Cinderella re-telling "Ash" by Melinda Lo. It's wonderful to see teen readers get so passionate about books that they create their own trailers for them!

The Creative Process

Jennifer, of From the Mixed-Up Files of Jennifer Bertman, gives us all A Peek at the Creative Space of writer and illustrator Diane deGroat. You need to see Diane's taxidermy collection! And it's part of a series - lots of great stuff in Jennifer's files to explore...

Hilary Hattenbach and Jason White from Totally Writeous share a mysterious interview with Pseudonymous Bosch, author of "The Name Of This Books Is Secret." But Shhh! it's Top Secret, so click on over quietly... And then spread the word!

Kakie Fitzsimmons over at Bur Bur & Friends Blog shares a guest post by Jo Anne Pastel, a mother and author who is using a character in her children's book series to create awareness of neurofibromatosis, the children's tumor disorder that her own daughter was diagnosed with. [Link removed 11/10/19 at Kakie's request]

Our goal in creating the Nina character is to help parents and children dealing with NF1 and other disorders to know they are not alone and to see themselves reflected in our stories.

I think that's so much of what books can do - let people know that they are not alone in their life journeys.

Roberta Gibson over at Wrapped In Foil contributes her review of "Remarkable Women Writers," a non-fiction collection of ten biographies from Jane Austin to J.K. Rowling.

And Sara Wilson Etienne shares an awesome tip for us writers in her blog post, Hearing Your Story. It's really useful!

The Business of Children's Books
Megan Frances (Abrahams) took part in the blog tour for Diane Browning's debut picture book, "Signed, Abiah Rose" - and posted an interview with Diane's editor - Abigail Samoun of Tricycle Press. It's a great story of how Abigail 'discovered' Diane's work in a portfolio display at an SCBWI conference, and what she saw that made her take notice!

Dee White, of the Dee Scribe Writing Blog, shares her Tuesday Writing Tip, "How To Cope With Rejection." Good stuff to keep in mind - kind of like this T-shirt I'm always wearing that says "Life is not a race, but a Journey."

Colleen Mondor has a great post about BRANDING for writers: What it Means To Say "Brand Me!"- Colleen is thoughtful and articulate as always, and while I have a different take on it than she does, it's definitely a post that's worth checking out. (And there's an hysterical anecdote about Maureen Johnston's 'Brandability' that'll have you cracking up!)

Julie Musil joins in with a funny entry on the lessons in being tenacious she's learning from her 10 year old twins - and how that's really an important part of being a writer (she wonders if her kids are reading blogs for tips on how to best nag her for cell phones!)


Fiona Ingram is in with a true story that made me tear up. It's her story - and the story of her adopted daughter. In "The Rainbow Child and Her Paper Mom," Fiona tells of an underprivileged African child's journey from illiteracy to a new future, filled with books, learning, and academic success! It's a story of sacrifice and empowerment, of love and of how reading can truly be life-changing. I am so grateful I got to read this post - and I urge you to go check it out!

Pat Oaklief is in with a short and sweet article on getting boys to read more which gives a nice shout-out to Jon Scieszka's awesome Guys Read.

Aaron Mead is in with part 5 of his series for adults, "Children's Books: How To Choose Them," focusing on "Story."

And Some Poetry...

Kate Coombs, Book Aunt, is in with her review of four books for children about writing! They sound great, and I particularly am excited to read "Love That Dog" by Sharon Creech - a novel in verse about a boy who starts out not wanting to write poems (that's girl stuff, right?) but ends up finding out he has a lot to say! Thanks, Kate!

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater shares her poem, HOME, and tells us about a project focused on building pride in a small town at The Poem Farm (Day #86 of a new children’s poem each day.)

Greg Pincus, poet, author, and social media guru shares his poem, "Hello, Summer!" which pretty much captures a kid heading into summer perfectly. Here's a taste:

And days when I’m just lazybones
While eating melty ice cream cones.

Sounds like a plan!

Current Events and Kid Lit

The Oil Spill in the gulf. How in the world can you talk to your pre-schooler about it? Well, Elizabeth Baldwin shares how she's approaching it with her own child in her post, "What's the Deal with the Oil Spill?" over at her blog Learn Live Laugh, a resource for stay at home moms (though I'm sure stay at home Dads will benefit from reading it, too!) who want to make every day full of learning, fun, and rich experiences. Sound good? It is.

Eva, from Eva's Book Addiction, has a fascinating post aimed at recent library school grads who'll be out interviewing for jobs in a tough market... her advice? Remember that interviews are just another kind of story!

And Ami, from the brilliantly named "Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian," gives us all a peek at the Daddy-Daughter Fancy Nancy Tea Party Event they had as their library's Father's Day Celebration. It looked fancy, and sparkly, and deee-licious!

That's our June Carnival. Did you miss the deadline for sharing YOUR best post of the month? Add it here in comments...

Next month’s Carnival will be hosted by Zoe at her blog, Playing by the Book. Please submit your July blog article (it has a July 28 deadline and will go live on July 30, 2010) to the Carnival of Children’s Literature by using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. My thanks to Anastasia Suen for overseeing the Carnival tour...

And thanks to all of you for sharing the fun! Enjoy summer (and okay, winter, for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere!)

Go forth and explore, comment, and enjoy the diversity and genius of our kid lit community!

It's been great fun (and a great honor) being your Carnival Ringleader,



Thursday, June 24, 2010

Drowning in Slush: Laura Miller over at Salon looks at the brave new world of publishing... and is afraid. My Response? Don't Be Afraid. Get Vetted!

Yesterday over at, Laura Miller published her article on the changes happening to the book publishing industry, "When Anyone Can Be A Published Author." It's a fascinating read.

She feels that as it gets harder for end-user readers to determine if a book is vanity or self-published versus having gone through the traditional gatekeepers of publishing (agents, editors, publishing houses) we will all be buried in an avalanche of slush - the drek books that might very well turn readers off from books entirely.

In fact, the article cites the wild statistic that last year more than three quarters of a million books were published non-traditionally. (incidentally, Publishers Weekly, when they reported this back in April, said that it was the first year these non-traditionally published books OUTNUMBERED books that came about the more old fashioned way (with someone besides the author and/or their kin willing to put their time, money, and reputation on the line for the project.)

The Salon article mentioned the studies that have shown that too many choices make people less adventurous in their sampling, rather than more, and I have to agree - if I was at the supermarket, and they were offering samples of 22 flavors of mustard, versus samples of 3 different kinds of mustard, I know I'd avoid the 22 flavor sample - too many options.

Miller makes the point that as the industry shifts, we may simply be exchanging one set of gate keepers for a new set - and she calls out bloggers and denizens of social media networks (I'm assuming my fellow facebook 'friends' and Twitter tweeps among them) as where the new power will rest.

But I'm frankly not sure I agree with that.

I don't think that the value of vetting will diminish as choice increases - on the contrary, I think the "brand" of quality will be more important than ever.

Readers will become more savvy, and will look at not just author names they know - "Ohh - Suzanne Collins wrote 'The Hunger Games' - I wanna read her latest!"

but they'll be looking at Editors -

"Ohh - Cheryl Klein edited 'Marcelo in the Real World' - I wanna read her latest!"

They'll be looking at Imprints -

"Ooh - Razorbill put out Jay Asher's '13 Reasons Why' - I wanna see what they do with Vampires!"

They'll be looking at established awards -

"Ooh - Laini Taylor's Lips Touch was a finalist for The National Book Award - I've gotta read that!"

And maybe even new awards -

"What did the book blogger's Cybils say about the best easy reader of 2009? Mo Willem's "Watch Me Throw The Ball! An Elephant and Piggie Book? I'm getting that for my kid!"

They'll look at reviews of the reviewers (print and blog and other media) that they like - Oh, What did Colleen Mondor like for boys in her last YA column over at Bookslut? Francisco X. Stork’s 'The Last Summer of the Death Warriors?' Cool! I'm gonna read that next!

And perhaps most important - they'll listen to WORD OF MOUTH, which can now spread through blogs, facebook, twitter, and the like!

Already people are trying to 'game' the system - like the PR firm that got caught posting Fake 5 star 'reader' reviews to all their client's books on Amazon! (or this guy, who offered to pay people to write good reviews of a product they didn't even own!) Trust is key as we move forward, people!

Ultimately vetting - and the magic of hearing of a book in more than one place will drive readers to books... (Laini Taylor's Lips Touch was a National Book Award finalist, and it was also published by Arthur A. Levine Books, the same people who brought America the Harry Potter books, and I loved her book "Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer - I'm reading that next!)

Yes, I know things are changing.

But good stories are still going to be written.

And readers are still going to want to find them.

And it may be Polly Anna of me, but I think these changes will actually create a way for the handful of self-published successes to rise through the slush and be VETTED alongside the traditionally published books - because no matter what they're reading the books on (ipads or e-readers or paper) that's what readers will be looking for - good stories that someone besides the author said were worth the time.

So as for me, I'm excited about our brave new future of writing, and reading...

What do YOU think?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reap The Whirlwind - A Gay Teen Mystery

By Josh Aterovis

It's the Summer between High School and College, and everything in Will's life seems to be changing.

When his best friend dies in an accident, it seems like one change too many. But then Will gets a note that hints that his friend's death was NO accident...

With the help of Killian and his friends, Will launches an investigation to find out the truth...

This is the second in the series of Killian Kendall mysteries. Check out this interview with the author here. And add your review of "Reap The Whirlwind" in comments!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bleeding Hearts - A Gay Teen Mystery

By Josh Aterovis

Killian is in High School.

And there's a new kid at his school who's openly gay.

When that boy is killed in an attack that injures Killian, too, the police just want to write it off as a random mugging.

But Killian needs to know the truth - so he launches his own investigation.

Before it's over, more lives will be on the line, including Killian's.

Check out this interview with the author here. Add your review of "Bleeding Hearts" in comments!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Another Gay Teen Blogger Talks Books! (Specifically, his love of books about love...)

I was so excited to discover another gay teen blogger sharing from the heart - Check out John's great article "He's Reading WHAT?! The In's and Out's of a Guy Who Reads Romances" over at his blog, Dreaming In Books.

It's really eye-opening, about cover shame, "romantic prejudice," being true to yourself, and reminds us all of how books really can change lives.

I felt really honored to read it, and I'm so happy to share this link with all of you.

My thanks to John for sharing.

So go check it out, and then, go grab a good romance!


Friday, June 18, 2010

Lee on the Radio! Here's the podcast of this week's Katie Davis' Brain Burps About Books Radio Show!

Listen to internet radio with BrainBurps on Blog Talk Radio

click on the image above to play the audio file of the show!

I admit, I had butterflies – LIVE Radio?!? – but it ended up being an awesome experience.

I loved listening to Susan Taylor Brown talk about her poetry and how it led to her discovering family - and a sense of family she’d never had. I got all emotional listening to her read her poem, “Ring, Ring.”

And then, I was the guest! I had so much fun talking about Gay Dads and books and censorship and even

Glee’s invisible gay dads

and these books:

And Tango Makes Three

Daddy, Papa, and Me

“Luv Ya Bunches,”

The Real Life Channel,”

King and King

and “King and King and Family.”

Katie was a wonderful host, and it was truly an honor.

The show runs just over a half hour, and my interview begins at 14:20. There’s even a bonus book review by the fantabulous Betsy Bird at the end...

I hope you enjoy listening to it!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Brent, A 15 year old, Talks About Being Gay, Books, and What Librarians Need To Do!

Blogger, Book Reviewer, And Teen Extraordinaire

So I had the wonderful treat of hearing about this amazing article Brent wrote over at Janet Trumble's Pinched Nerves Blog from a few different people.

It's on books and reading, on being gay, and on the importance of GLBTQ Teen Lit for all teens - and how librarians have a responsibility to have those books available!

Brent had to deal with such prejudice from his school librarian (who told him his interest in GLBTQ teen books was "inappropriate") - and then he tells about successfully lobbying his local public library to finally carry two titles with queer characters!

Brent is a hero - right now, out there - reading, writing, blogging, and living his life as an openly gay Teen.

Go read his article. And check out his blog and book reviews over at Naughty Book Kitties.

Thank you, Brent. You totally inspire me.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Valiant - A Teen Fantasy with a Lesbian as part of the Ensemble

By Holly Black

The third Modern Tale of Faerie in the series (after Tithe and Ironside), this book follows 17 year old Val (she shows up at the end of "Ironside") as she runs away to live with a bunch of squatters in the subway system under New York City.

When one of Val's companions talks her into tracking down the lair of a mysterious creature, Val finds herself torn between her newfound affection for an honorable monster and her fear of what her new friends are becoming.

Lewis from Ironside is a main character, and Val's best friend Ruth is a lesbian who plays an important role...

Be sure to check out my interview with the amazing Holly Black here. My thanks to Jon for making sure I included this book.

Add your review of "Valiant" in comments!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Representative Ike Skelton is worried about "What Do Mommies and Daddies say to their 7-year-old child?" (About Homosexuality) How About this?

My daughter's family portrait

An Open Letter To Representative Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee:

Dear Representative Skelton, I am the Father of a 7 year old child. And I am a homosexual. In fact, so is my daughter's other father, my husband. So you can imagine that we've had to deal with the issue of how to talk with our child about homosexuality. And far from it being scary or frightening - it's actually a pretty simple conversation. Here it is in 7-year-old-speak:
Some men fall in love with women. Some men fall in love with men.

Love is love, and everyone who finds love is very fortunate.
Some women fall in love with men. Some women fall in love with women.

Love is love, and everyone who finds love is very fortunate.
There. That wasn't that hard, was it? So now you don't have any reason to object to the "national conversation on homosexuality" you're so afraid that repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell will bring about. 'Cause all those mommies and daddies - and even you - well now everyone will know what to say.


Lee Wind

Why did I write this letter?

Here's the New York Times article on what Representative Skelton said:

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Tuesday that he thought the military should keep its ban on openly gay service members in part because he did not want to open a national discussion about homosexuality. The chairman, Representative Ike Skelton, a conservative Missouri Democrat, said he thought the debate in Congress over the proposed repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy might force families to explain homosexuality to their children. “What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?” Mr. Skelton asked reporters at a news media breakfast.

Wanna sign the petition to demand an apology from Rep. Skelton? Go here!


Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm going to be on the RADIO - Live! On Katie Davis' Brain Burps About Books Internet Radio Show! Today at 4pm Eastern, 1pm Pacific

When: 4 pm Eastern, 1 pm Pacific


What: I'm the guest on the second half of Katie Davis' Brain Burps About Books live internet radio show on fathers!

The wonderful poet and children's writer Susan Taylor Brown is Katie's guest for the first half, and she'll tell the amazing story about how she discovered that the father who had abandoned her as a child left her with family members she never knew she had - siblings. It was through the April Poetry month challenge she took on, writing a daily father/daughter poem on her blog that led her to meet a teacher who was interested in genealogical research. Teacher and blogger Keith Schoch will follow with creative ways to use Susan's books and poems in the classroom.

I'll be on the second half of the hour long show, talking about books for kids with Gay Fathers!

Katie Davis is a powerhouse of smarts and good energy, and in addition to this radio show, has a steady TV gig talking up children's and teen books. She's a prolific author and illustrator, and our conversation is sure to be crackling!

To listen: Just go to when the show is going to air - 4pm Eastern, 1pm Pacific Monday June 14, 2010. (Please note, it's internet radio, so there isn't any show before it at that website - if you go early, you won't hear anything, but if you go during that hour, it'll be awesome!)

I'll do my best to get an archive of the show to post on this blog later, but hey - it's LIVE - which is exciting, and I wanted to make sure you all know about it!

Wanna call in with a question or comment?: 1 (347) 857-4428

Hope you join me and Katie, as I tackle a new medium!



Friday, June 11, 2010

Elton John Performs At Rush Limbaugh's Wedding. No, Really.

Rush Limbaugh, virulent homophobe and anti-gay marriage crusader paid Elton John, famous gay musician, 1 million dollars to perform at Limbaugh's 4th wedding this past Saturday June 5, 2010. (Which may actually be a reduced rate - last year Reuter's reported his rate was $2 million to perform at private events.)

Wedding-guest Megyn Kelly of Fox News said of the wedding:

"Elton John actually had nothing but nice things to say about Rush Limbaugh and the happy couple, and said he's all about tearing down walls and building bridges." He even invited the newlyweds to join him and David Furnish at their home, she said."

Okay - did you catch that? Rush Limbaugh's 4th wedding? Aren't you glad he's defending the "sanctity" of marriage from us Gays? But that irony aside, I'm curious as to what's going on here.

Does Elton John fashion himself some kind of unofficial ambassador to the nation of homophobes? (Elton John performed with the anti-gay lyrics rapper Eminem at the 2001 Grammies and then they became friends.)

Is it internalized homophobia that Elton John can't even imagine wanting "marriage" for himself and his civil partner - or is he of a generation that just can't see themselves as equal to straight people? He has said he doesn't believe in gay marriage, back when the whole Prop 8 thing blew up.

Is it to be a counter-balance to the conservative full-house of a Rush Limbaugh wedding - being a prominent gay man in the middle of it all?

Or is it some plan to get money from homophobes - $1 million dollars for what, an hour's work? - and turn around and use their conservative anti-gay money to fund really wonderful pro-gay and other charity work (there are the Elton John AIDS foundations, which have raised over $220 million to support innovative HIV prevention programs, efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and direct care and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS with projects in 55 countries...)

Or is it simply that it was a high-profile gig, sure to get him talked about in the news and the blogosphere here in the umpteeth year of his career? Some kind of political re-invention a la Madonna - insult the gay community every so often, just to stay in the public eye?

Or am I missing something?

Is it just that Rush Limbaugh has great taste in music, and wanted to dance to "Candle In The Wind" at his wedding, and the singer was happy to oblige?

Perhaps I'm too cynical. But looking at this story, I don't think so. In fact, I may not be cynical enough.

Oh, and perhaps the oddest part of this story:

"Limbaugh, who's had cochlear implants since 2001, has said he can't really "hear" any music he didn't experience before he became deaf."


Okay, what do you think?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Clay's Way - A Gay Teen Book

By Blair Mastbaum

Sam's 15, a wanna-be Punk Rocker who writes bad Haikus.

He falls for Clay, a 17-year-old surfer, and decides to re-make himself to be everything Clay wants.

Through alcohol, drugs, hurricanes, car accidents, teenage parties, and monster waves, it's a case of lust mistaken for fate...

Add your review of "Clay's Way" in comments!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Unlived Affections

by George Shannon

Orphaned young, Willie's been raised by his strict grandmother, who never told him much about his parents.

Now he's 17, and about to go off to college when his grandmother dies.

Cleaning out her house, Willie discovers a packet of letters - a correspondence between his parents.

The letters hold the secrets of who his family was - and is - and may just hold the key to Willie figuring out who he is himself.

Add your review of "Unlived Affections" in comments!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Princess Knight - A Gender Non-Conforming Picture Book That I Love

By Cornelia Funke, illustrated by Kerstin Meyer

King Wilfred the Worthy has three sons, and a daughter, Violetta.

But since her mother died when she was born, the King decides to raise his daughter just like he's raising his sons - and he's raising them to be Knights.

Violetta's not as big or strong as her brothers, so she soon figures out her own way to fight and joust and ride her horse.

When she turns 16, the King announces there will be a big tournament in her honor with a gigantic prize. She's thinking which suit of armor she'll wear when he tells her that the prize is HER!

The best knight in the kingdom will win Violetta's hand in marriage.

Violetta knows there's only one thing she can do... Disguise herself as a man, enter the competition, and win the title of Best Knight in the Kingdom herself!

Oh, how I love this picture book, and how I wish it had been read to me when I was a kid. You can be sure I read it to my daughter.

The writing is awesome, the illustrations are fairy-tale worthy, and overall it's a wonderful kick-tushie tale of a girl knight.

Add your review of "The Princess Knight" in comments!

Monday, June 7, 2010

McDonalds runs a Gay TV Commercial in France... But is it "Good For The Gays?"

Okay, the teen actor is cute, and plays it well.

But what exactly is going on here? Is McDonalds' trying to say, hey, come as you are - we'll feed you our food even if you're closeted?

Or is it more like, wow, what a journey life is... and you can eat our food every awkward step of that journey.

I'm not sure about this ad. It's nice to be included (I'm so happy to see a gay teen in a commercial), but... I'd be SO much happier if it hadn't been a "celebration of the closet." Or perhaps I should say, un fete de faux heterosexualite... my best translation of "a party of false heterosexuality."

According to the Huffington Post, Maxime Donzel of the French website interviewed Nathalie Legarlantezec, the brand director of McDonald's France, and got this explanation:
"We wanted to take a look at how French society is today. We're very comfortable with the topic of homosexuality, there is obviously no problem with homosexuality in France today". While the statement sounds a bit naive in a country where same sex couples cannot legally marry nor adopt, the idea was to give a positive image of the brand: "The point was not to show someone who is troubled, especially a teenager. We know it can be difficult for some people, but we wouldn't have dared show someone who is struggling".
Um, if they're so "comfortable" with homosexuality, why is the Teen not out to his Dad? Sure, it seems he's comfortable with himself and his secret love, but the whole point of the love still being secret tells me that there IS some issue with homosexuality in France.

What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Or not harsh enough?

Is it "Good for the Gays?"

Oui or Non?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic - A Graphic Novel Memoir About A Lesbian Teen and her Closeted Gay Dad

By Alison Bechdel

It's a true story. It's funny. It's heart-wrenching.

Alison's Dad was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home (what her family called the "Fun Home.")

Just after Alison goes to college and comes out as a lesbian, she discovers her father was gay.

A few weeks after learning this, her father was dead, leaving Alison grieving - and with "a legacy of mystery to resolve."

Written by the author/artist of the comic strip "Dykes To Watch Out For," this graphic novel memoir won a ton of awards (including being over 23 publications' "best book of the year!") Check out this great interview with the author here. And add your review of "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" in comments!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

If It Doesn't Kill You - A Teen Book With A Gay Father

By Margaret Bechard

Ben's on the freshman football team. And he's just started to fit in with the guys, when Ben's Dad, a town legend and former high school football star himself, comes out as GAY - and leaves Ben and his Mom to move in with his boyfriend!

Ben's pretty angry about it, but he has his own problems... and one of them's so bad, only his dad's boyfriend can help him out of it!

Add your review of "If it doesn't kill you" in comments!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn - A Gender Non-Conforming Teen Fantasy Book

By Alison Goodman

Okay, the publisher's synopsis was so good on this one I have to share it as is:

Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he'll be able to apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon's power. It is forbidden for females to practice the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. After a dazzling sword ceremony, Eon's affinity with the twelve dragons catapults him into the treacherous world of the Imperial court where he makes a powerful enemy, Lord Ido. As tension builds and Eon's desperate lie comes to light, readers won't be able to stop turning the pages...
Additionally, there is a secondary character, Lady Dela, who is transgender (M to F) and is very important to the story... and I've been told, is "freakin' awesome."

My thanks to Bibliovore for the recommendation! Add your review of "Eon: Dragoneye Reborn" in comments!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Outrage works! The Malawi Queer Couple Who Had Been Sentenced To 14 years get Pardoned!

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (left) and
Malawi's President, Bingu wa Mutharika

Our outrage, and the political pressure brought to bear on Malawi seem to have worked. It was announced on Saturday that after meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Malawi's President

Bingu wa Mutharika announced the pardon on "humanitarian grounds only"...

"These boys committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws," Mutharika said. "However, as head of state, I hereby pardon them and therefore order their immediate release without any conditions."

What was missing from the news reporting (even from the NY Times) was any mention of the fact that this was NOT a gay couple, but a man and the transgender person he was in love with.

I'm so glad they were pardoned - and I'm also empowered to see that our outrage - the outrage of the world community - can affect change in situations like this.

However, I wish the media would take greater pains to report the story correctly. We should be working on combating transphobia at the same time that we fight homophobia!

I will say that it was heartening to hear the U.N. Secretary General be so firm about his support for gay rights:

"It is unfortunate that those that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation still exist in some countries, this outdated penal code should be reformed."

(You can check out the whole clip on this Reuters news video here - there is an ad first, sorry.)

The pardon of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga is a good reminder that our world is changing for the better - and how important it is for our voices to rise up and insist that it continue to change for our own - and everyone else's - basic equality and rights as human beings.

I hope you feel empowered by this story, too.



My thanks to Angela for letting me know the news had broken on this!