Friday, December 21, 2012

Celebrate a gender queer Christmas! And Hannukah! And Kwanzaa! And New Year's!

This is just awesome. Enjoy,

Have a great New Year's and Holiday season!

I'll be taking a two-week break, but there's LOTS of posts to read from 2012!

Here's some really great thought-provoking ones to start with:

Gay Rights are Human Rights, and Human Rights are Gay Rights - Secretary of State Clinton's address to the United Nations

What would YOU do if you came upon a Swastika graffiti?

A Gay Valentine's Day Present for you

Joy Nash's FAT RANT, and how we need to stand up for Fat people

US Marines Gay Homecoming Kiss

Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen's music video will make you smile

Queer characters in dystopian YA

I'm Christian, unless you're gay

President Obama finally evolves on Gay Marriage

PFLAG Mom Marsha Aizumi is changing the world "One heart at a time."

The Starfish Story

Dan Savage on the Hypocrisy of using the Bible as a justification for anti-gay bullying and Dan Savage debates Brian Brown on Gay Marriage

Sally Ride, the USA's first female astronaut in space, is our first lesbian astronaut, too.  Only she never came out while she was alive.

"I Am A HomoLOVEual!"

Must-See Video for ALL Girls and Women (Everybody, actually!) and A 14-year old changes the beauty industry

30 days of PRIDE year two: Knit, Pearl, and Pride

A commercial worth 1,000 words

The Unheard Voices Project - GLSEN, The Anti-Defamation League and Story Corps offer an incredible LGBTQ history resource!

Casual homophobia on twitter

Arizona Principal punishes high school boys for fighting... by making them HOLD HANDS

Give Us Gay Marriage or Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends

The Fearless Projects by Jeff Sheng - celebrating LGBT High School and College Athletes!

You can also browse, in the left hand column of this blog:

The more than 160 books with gay teen characters and themes

The over 90 books with lesbian teen characters and themes

And the books with teen bi, trans and gender non-conforming characters, the GLBTQ graphic novels, and so many more... After all, the holidays are a wonderful opportunity to do some reading!

Enjoy, and I'll be back blogging January 7, 2013!

Namaste and Happy Holidays,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Briar Rose - A Young Woman Discovers Her Grandmother's Holocaust Survival Story (And A Gay Partisan Fighter Holds The Key)

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Rebecca's grandmother Gemma always told her the fairy tale story of Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), while at the same time not saying anything of her own history.  All the family knows is that Gemma escaped Europe just before World War Two.  On her death bed, Gemma reveals that she is the princess in the fairy tale, and makes Rebecca promise to find out the truth of her story.

Rebecca discovers among her grandmother's papers proof that she came to the United States during the war, not after.  A young journalist, Rebecca ends up following the trail of clues all the way to Poland, where she meets Josef, now elderly, who holds the key that will unlock Rebecca's grandmother's true history of surviving the Holocaust... the story of Briar Rose.

Haunting and important, weaving the Holocaust in with a famous fairy tale, history, romance, and a gay hero among others, I read this remarkable book in one sitting.  

Add your review of "Briar Rose" in comments!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gender Now Coloring Book: A Learning Adventure for Children and Adults

Gender Now Coloring Book: A Learning Adventure for Children and Adults by Maya Christina Gonzalez 

"Did you know that clown fish can change their bodies from boy to girl? Or that in some countries they know there's not just boys and girls? The Bugis of Indonesia have 5 genders!

We're the kids of the GENDER team and we want to share what we know about gender. Learn that there are many ways to feel on the inside no matter what body you have on the outside through stories from nature, history, and different cultures. Are you ready to color, learn, and play? Inside you'll find stories, pictures, games and more to encourage and remind you that you are free to be!
There's also a school edition with more activities and stories "to guide children in learning and understanding gender and its expression."

Add your review of "Gender Now Coloring Book" and/or "Gender Now School Activity Book" in comments!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Interview With Annameekee Hesik, Debut Author of "The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year"

A shot of Annameekee from her website.  Here's the caption, which will give you an idea of how much fun her book is: "Totally faking being on a real cable car. This one is stationary at AT&T Park where we watched the giants play ball."
It was a real pleasure to interview Annameekee...

Lee:  Hi Annameekee - congratulations on your Debut novel, "The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year!"

Annameekee:  Thank you so much!  It is a HUGE honor to talk to you and your fans about it!

Lee: Can you tell me about the journey to get it published?

Annameekee: Do you have ten hours? Ha. Getting it published was a long journey, but my perseverance finally paid off.  At first I tried to find a publisher without an agent.  I was actually pretty successful- got interest from Houghtin Mifflin and Scholastic.  But in the publishing world, things change very quickly.  Editors move, have babies, or quit and you never hear from them again.  Or, they liked it and then others didn't think it was right or it wasn't the right time.  I did land an agent, but he disappeared, too. Then I landed a publishing contract with a publishing company that I really admired (I used to read their lesbian books when I was in high school!) All was going well until they went bankrupt! Seriously. So I got another agent, he was great, we were in the middle of the "great recession" and I don't think publishers wanted to take any risks on a new author writing for LGBT teens. FINALLY, I found a home at Bold Strokes Books.  They are expanding their Solioquy YA line and I think I'm a good fit there! Whew!

Lee:  I met you at a SCBWI conference - has that community been part of your journey?

Annameekee:  Yes, especially when I met you!  My first SCBWI conference in LA was so overwhelming and kind of disheartening.  I was so desperate to find another publisher or agent that I didn't feel like I could relax and meet people and take in the learning.  However, when I went to the LA conference the second time, and the LGBT author lunch and panel was included, I felt like part of a community of writers that understood the special circumstances of being an LGBT writer writing about LGBT characters for teens. Thank you so much for being there for all of us!

Lee:  Awww... Thanks for that.  I love hosting those LGBTQ chats at the LA and New York conferences!  On your author website you have a student’s note “Ms. Hesik’s Gay But she’s a great teacher, and we have fun in her class.  I don’t care if she’s gay, she’s not any different than other teachers. (exept she’s not boring).”  Wow – you must have loved getting that student review!

Annameekee:  I absolutely love my students.  That post, it was written for an activity we were doing that focused on acceptance of others.  I asked students to write down experiences they had throughout the week regarding ways they have reached out to new people or how they have already felt acceptance towards different groups.  Then they would post it on this "ladder of acceptance" in the room.  I honestly have no idea who wrote that, but it is, hands down, one of the best student notes ever!  It confirmed everything I wanted to be for my students.  Yes, I am gay and they know it, but bottom line is, I'm a good "unboring" teacher.  When I can teach them acceptance of LGBT people AND that grammar is fun...well, I've met my goals in life! My students amaze me in so many ways. I wrote "The You Know Who Girls" for them - for every wonderful student out there!

Lee:  It's always so surprising to me how the very specifics of a character's story can make it so universal.  I'm reading about Abbey, and she's into girls, and I'm a guy and not into girls, but I'm really feeling what she's feeling.  It's that books are a window and a mirror thing, and so powerful.

Annameekee:  I know what you mean!  When I teach Night, a Holocaust survivor's story, or Chinese Cinderella, a horrific tale of a young girl who is abused, but perseveres and becomes a success, my students are so touched by the stories and also connect to the universal experiences of things like the importance of family, friendship, and love.  A favorite YA author of mine is Sarah Dessen.  Her books are totally not about girls liking girls, but I get so into them!  They are very well written and the characters' emotions and experiences capivate my attention.  One surprising thing that has happened with my book is the response from non-LGBT teen readers.  Not only are lesbian teens liking it, but straight guys like it, straight women like it, and my gay male students are enjoying it, too.  I'm really glad that Abbey's journey has touched so many different people.  I guess there is something very universal about first kisses, crushes, friendship, telling lies, recovering from it all, and forgiveness.

Lee:  Well said!  I love how you're so out and proud as a writer for teens.  As a teen, was your journey similar to Abbey’s?

Annameekee:  Haha! You and all my students and readers want to know...just how much was I like Abbey??  Well, in high school, I had a lot of similar experiences.  I came out at 15, I played basketball, and I lived in Tucson.  I dated girls in high school and I was out in a sense, but it wasn't like it is now for some teens. We were very hidden.  People knew about us, but no one actually talked to us about having girlfriends.  We were ignored or faked being straight in a lot of situations.  When I wrote "The You Know Who Girls," and as I write the sequel, I am definitely drawing on so many emotions that I experienced in high school (I was a mess- Abbey is in better shape than I was!)  The memories are still so fresh to me.  I think teaching high school has helped me continue to understand that teenage thought process, humor, and emotional state of mind.  Teenagers are insanely funny. I hope that my readers get a good laugh out of Abbey's story, too.

Lee:  The book is very funny and also very touching.  J.K. Rowling famously plotted out all seven books before starting to write the first Harry Potter book…  Is Abbey’s story going to take her through senior year, and if so, have you plotted it all out already?

Annameekee:  If only I could be like Ms. Rowling!  I have a good sense of where I want Abbey's story to go, but honestly, the most enjoyable part of this writing process is letting my characters tell their own stories.  When I sit down to write, I let myself walk in their shoes and they end up going places that surprise the heck out of me! There were several twists in Abbey's freshman year that I did not plan on happening.  I like it that way!

Lee:  Wow!  Cool to know.

Annameekee:  However, JK Rowling did influence me to write Abbey's story over four years.  When I started, there had never been a lesbian YA series written.  I wanted to give my LGBT students a series, too!  They deserve one!

Lee:  I'm so glad it's a series!

Annameekee:  I am glad it's a series, too, but of course, as I write the second one, I am freaking out a little. Like, oh god, what have I done?  I should have just written the one book and went on with my life!  It's very challenging working full time and writing a new book and trying to publicize the first one.  I love all the things I am doing, but it's hard to juggle them all.  Right now I am mentoring new teachers, so I don't have essays to grade or lesson plans to write. That helps!  But, I REALLY miss teaching those insane teenagers.

Lee:  As a writer, I loved your idea of figuring out what your character’s list of five amazing things would be (inspired by your personal list of five amazing things – right there with you on watching musicals and hummingbirds - we have some here, too. Hummingbirds, not musicals.  Well, not like in NY.)  It’s a great writing exercise.  But as a reader, I want to know: did you do it for Abbey?  And if so, what were they?

Annameekee:  Funny you should ask me I gave that prompt to my readers, I said to myself, "Hey self, you should do that for Abbey!"  Here's what I came up with- the shortened version:
1. pants that are long enough,
2. Backseats that she can comfortably sit in,
3. the sound of a basketball shot being rejected by her hand,
4. beating Kate at...anything,
5. Knowing a gay reference that Garrett doesn't know.
And what is your fav musical so far?  Also, I can't believe Book of Mormon tickets are almost $100 less expensive in LA!  What is up with that?!

Lee:  Avenue Q and Book of Mormon were great - funny and good entertainment... though definitely YA.

Annameekee:  I took my GSA to see Avenue Q.  Seriously, the puppet sex scene was UNBEARABLE to watch with students!  I didn't see that coming!

Lee:  (Laughing)

Annameekee:  My face turned redder that Abbey could ever dream of.  PLUS- a parent was there to chaparone!  Eegads!!!! But, I covered my tracks, everyone had permission forms and the permission form was very clear about the plot!  My experience with my GSA students has given me some of the best memories of my life.  I feel so happy to be surrounded by such brave and strong and hilarious young people.

Lee:  come to think of it, that could totally be a scene in Abbey's life...

Annameekee:  Right!!  Thanks for the idea!  Book 3!!

Lee:  Oh, and the photo of your cat reading your book is hysterical. So funny, and so your voice.

Annameekee:  My animals, along with my wonderful wife, make for a great family.  The animals are all big fans of Abbey, but the cat was severely disappointed about the lack of felines in the story.

Lee:  Thanks, Annameekee – I hope a lot more readers get to enjoy Abbey’s story.  And we’ll be waiting to find out what happens Sophomore year!  And beyond...

This dog knows a good book when it reads one!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The YOU KNOW WHO Girls: Freshman Year - A Lesbian Teen Series Begins!

"The YOU KNOW WHO Girls: Freshman Year" by Annameekee Hesik

"Abbey Brooks, Gila High freshman-to-be, never thought a hellish day of shopping at the mall with her best friend, Kate, could change her life.  But when she orders french fries from the flirtatious Hot Dog on a Stick Chick, she gets more than deep-fried potatoes.

Abbey tries to ignore the weird, happy feeling in her gut, but that proves to be as impossible as avoiding the very insistent (and - rumor has it - very lesbian) players on Gila High's girls' basketball team.  They want freakishly long-legged Abbey to try out, and Abbey doesn't hate the idea.  But Kate made Abbey pinky swear to avoid basketball and to keep away from the you-know-who girls on the team.

Sometimes promises can't be kept.  And sometimes girls in uniform are impossible to resist."

Add your review of "The YOU KNOW WHO Girls: Freshman Year" in comments!

And look for my upcoming interview with Annameekee later this week...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rainbow Family Collections: Selecting And Using Children's Books with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Content - A New Resource!

"Rainbow Family Collections: Selecting And Using Children's Books with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Content" by Jaime Campbell Naidoo

From the back cover:

Research shows that an estimated 2 million children are being raised in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) families in the United States; that the number of same-sex couples adopting children is at an all-time high; and that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) couples raising children live in 96 percent of all counties in the United States.  Today's educators and youth librarians therefore need guidance in choosing, evaluating, and selecting high-quality children's books with LGBTQ content.

Highlighting titles for children from infancy to age 11, Rainbow Family Collections examines over 250 children's picture books, informational books, and chapter books with LGBTQ content from around the world.  Each entry in Rainbow Family Collections supplies a synopsis of the title's content, lists awards it has received, cites professional reviews, and provides suggestions for librarians considering acquisition.

The book also provides a brief historical overview of LGBTQ children's literature along with the major book awards for this genre, tips on planning welcoming spaces and offering effective library service to this population, and a list of criteria for selecting the best book with this content.  Interviews with authors and key individuals in LGBTQ children's book publishing are also featured.

I know I've found some titles new to me in this - look for a blog post on "Gender Now Coloring Book: A Learning Adventure for Children and Adults" by Maya Christina Gonzalez soon!

Have you used this book as a resource?  Add your take on it in comments.


PS - my thanks to Yapha and Robin, two awesome librarians, who both made sure I knew about this one!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Katy Perry Gets the Trevor Project Hero Award... and says some pretty great things!

Watch this...

I love that the woman who sings "Firework" really gets it.

"Thank you for educating me so that I can educate others."


Congrats, Katie!

And yes, if you or a friend ever need someone to talk to, to remind you that you are wonderful and that we need you to stay in our world to make it even brighter, call The Trevor Project's lifeline at 866-488-7386.

'Cause baby you're a firework!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Being Trans is No Longer A Mental Disorder According To The American Psychiatric Association

This is big news - though not as widely reported as it might be.

As the CNN article by Miriam Falco about the new changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders explains,

The DSM is considered the "bible" of psychiatry because it's the criteria mental health professionals use to diagnose their patients.

It is also used by insurance companies, schools and other agencies responsible for covering or creating special provisions for individuals with developmental or mental disorders.

What the CNN article doesn't mention, and what's exciting for our Queer Community, is covered in the article APA Revises Manual: Being Transgender is No Longer A Disorder by Zack Ford at ThinkProgress,

"...the American Psychiatric Association board of trustees approved the latest proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, what will now be known as the DSM-5. This marks a historic milestone for people who are transgender and gender non-conforming, as their identities are no longer classified as a mental disorder. Homosexuality was similarly declassified as a mental disorder in 1973.

Until now, the term “gender identity disorder” has been used to diagnose people who are transgender. For conservatives, this has provided rhetorical carte blanche to describe the entire trans committee as disordered, delusional, and mentally ill. In some cases, this diagnosis has even been used to discriminate against trans people, with claims that they are unfit parents or employees, as examples. On the other hand, insurance companies have been more willing to cover the expenses associated with transition under this language, because treatment for a disorder is considered medically necessary, rather than cosmetic.

The new manual will diagnose transgender people with “Gender Dysphoria,” which communicates the emotional distress that can result from “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.” This will allow for affirmative treatment and transition care without the stigma of disorder."

It's an important step towards equality for our Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming siblings! 

But come on, CNN.  Do another article about this, too!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It Starts With One - a great video about ending Bullying!

Watch this - it's one minute long.

"It starts with one.  Be that one."


This video was one of a number submitted to the Stop Bullying Video Challenge - great stuff!
My thanks to Cheryl Rainfield for the tweet about this!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Yolanda Scott: The Exclusive Pre-#NY13SCBWI Interview

Yolanda Scott

Yolanda Scott is the editorial director at Charlesbridge. She has edited over 150 titles, working with authors such as Eve Bunting, Tony Johnston, Kathryn Lasky, David McPhail, Linda Sue Park, Jane Yolen, and the late Martha Alexander. She is a former executive board member of the Foundation for Children's Books and the founder of Pubs in Pubs, a networking organization for children's publishing professionals. She has been a children's literature speaker and mentor at Boston College and Simmons College and has judged the Boston Public Library Children's Writer-in-Residence Program (2008-2011).

Yolanda will be giving two breakout workshops on the Saturday of the upcoming 14th Annual SCBWI Winter Conference in New York City, February 1st-3rd, 2013, WHAT HOOKS ME.  In it, she promises to share "what makes her run, not walk, to the contracts department."

I had the wonderful opportunity to ask Yolanda some questions before the conference..

Lee:  Tony Johnston, Linda Sue Park and Jane Yolen sound like members of a dream team. What makes a writer a dream for you to work with?

Yolanda:  I’ve been very lucky to work with such talented people, and there are some incredible people on the Charlesbridge list who are just starting out in their careers, too. When I think of my favorite authors, I can see that they have several qualities in common: they are all talented, hard-working, collaborative, passionate, and curious.

Lee:  You’ve been a mentor, so with that hat on, I’d love to hear your advice for writers hoping to be debut authors at Charlesbridge.

Yolanda:  It’s always so exciting to find a book from a first-time author! I just love that. Getting published is so, so hard, and it takes a special person to handle all that rejection without losing faith in one’s own abilities. Resiliency and a positive outlook are key. And of course, good, old-fashioned hard work. You have to be a reader to be a writer, and it goes without saying, you also have to write. A lot. And be willing to cast most of it aside. You have to be at peace that you will never get “there,” whatever that means. You just settle for being better tomorrow than you are today.

Lee: What would you suggest mid-list authors do to build their careers?

Yolanda: Well, I think the term “mid-list” gets thrown around a lot and can mean different things to different people. But for the sake of this question, let’s say it refers to published authors that are neither household names nor people at the onset of their career. And there are a whole lot of people like that, so it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle at any publishing house, I think (though less so at the smaller indies like Charlesbridge—to toot my own horn for a moment). So, you have to be proactive about letting your editors know what you’re up to. Let them know that you’re a good self-promoter, that you’re going to conferences, that you’re trying your hand in a new genre, or whatever. Don’t spam them, but keep consistent, positive contact. If you have a strong relationship with someone at your publishing house, see if you can have a frank talk with them about your track record. What’s sold, what hasn’t, and why? And sometimes you’re going to have to move on to greener pastures. These days, very few people work with one house. Diversification is helpful. But the main thing I would say is not to try to jump through hoops to be someone you’re not. Write what you want to write. Stick to your principles. Believe in yourself.

Lee:  Great advice for all of us!  Can you share your perspective on an author who wants to publish a variety of genres and/or age ranges? Do authors need to wait until they get to a certain point in their career to branch out, or are there no rules?

Yolanda:  Interesting question. If there’s a rule book for publishing, I’d sure like to see it. I think most publishers and writers are just trying to muddle through the best they can, especially in these challenging times, when the economy is so poor and the digital publishing future is upon us. In short, I think it depends on the individual situation.

Lee:  About that future of publishing… Are e-books and apps just another way to get our stories to our readers (like audio books and movies) or are they really the end of physical books as we know it?

Yolanda:  E-books and apps are new formats for storytelling, and there’s a whole heck of a lot of variety in what these e-books and apps do. Some are more akin to the traditional printed book than others. One of the key roles of an editor is to identify and develop promising work according to a generally accepted set of standards. The electronic publishing industry definitely needs those functions, and I think the standards for quality are still evolving as we understand more about the format and what makes a “good” app or e-book. Personally, I love the printed book and all its peculiarities: the paper stock, the trim size, the act of the page turn, and the limitations and opportunities of the four-color printing process. A printed picture book is a unique art form that cannot be duplicated electronically. And it still has a place in children’s lives; of course it does. I believe the picture book and the e-book can coexist peacefully, though. And I’m excited about the editorial challenges that working in a new format presents.

Lee:  I like that image of peaceful coexistence!  With the number of publishing houses offering self-publishing packages growing, and the ever-rising tide of self-published material, is the role of editor as gatekeeper going to shift to editor as vetter of what’s worth reading?

Yolanda: Hmm, I never really thought of my main function as being a gatekeeper, though of course I know what you mean. But most editors I know aren’t trying to keep people in or out of the kingdom—we’re just trying to find good writers to develop and good books to make better. There’s always going to be a need for that. And I think there’s real value in a writer working with an editor who isn’t being paid by the writer herself. Not being in the direct employ of the writer gives the editor the objectivity and autonomy that’s needed to shape the work properly.

Lee:   Speed Round!  Desert Island or Times Square New Year’s Eve?

Yolanda:  I misread that as “Dessert Island.” Can I pick that? Which segues nicely to . . .

Lee:  Vanilla or chocolate?

Yolanda:  Chocolate. The darkest, richest possible. Not too sweet, not too bitter. I could go on, but I’ll stop myself before . . . sorry. Just went downstairs to break off a few pieces of my Trader Joe’s 75% bittersweet Belgian chocolate bar. And no, I would *never* take a chocolate bribe from a writer. J

Lee:  Karaoke Song?

Yolanda:  Ah, I’m a performer in my non-editing life, so there are many favorites to choose from. But when you get right down to it, anything by Pat Benatar works for me. I generally play “All Fired Up” before an audition. That or “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.”

Lee: Thanks very much, and I look forward to meeting you in New York in February!

Yolanda:  Likewise! I’ve heard about the NY conference for years and am thrilled to be attending at last.

Now I'm "All Fired Up" to learn more about what makes Yolanda run to the contracts department!

If you're fired up, too, registration for #NY13SCBWI is open, and space is still available (the Winter conference sold out last year.  And the year before...)  Find out more details about the 2013 SCBWI Winter Conference schedule, faculty and registration here.

Illustrate and Write On,

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Call For Submissions for a new book on Building an Intergenerational LGBTQ Community!

One of my mentors, Dr. Don Kilhefner, is teaming up with Jewel Thais-Williams on a new project, editing "Gay and Lesbian Eldering: Ending Age Apartheid And Building An Intergenerational Community"

They've issued "An Invitation to Youths, Adults, Elders-In-Waiting and Elders"

A Call for Submissions

The widest possible call is going out for submissions to a new anthology - Gay and Lesbian Eldering: Ending Age Apartheid and Building An Intergenerational Community - which will explore the role of conscious eldering in the gay and lesbian community.  The word "eldering" may be new to you.  It refers to the visible role and function elders have traditionally played in a community or tribe.  It is suggested that elders largely do eldering with adults; adults usually do mentoring with youth.

How might contemporary gay society adapt and renew these roles as we continue building a politically active, creatively alive and spiritually awake community?

The book will be based on the understanding that throughout the world and throughout history, human life has usually been divided into four stages - youth, adult, elder, ancestor.  In the process of growing from one stage to the next, both the individual and the community are transformed.  What does it mean to be a conscious elder?  Young and old alike, find out how you can contribute to this anthology.

For more information, go to

And I love the quote they include:

"If elders are lost, adults will be lost;
if adults are lost, youth will be lost."
- West African Wisdom Saying

It sounds like a great project and a wonderful opportunity!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Straight Up Thanks - A Place To Thank Our Straight Allies For All They Did (And Are Doing) For Our Queer Equality

Straight Up Thanks is very cool.  The premise?


We are LGBT people who want to thank the straight people who helped us win marriage equality in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state, and who helped us defeat an anti-gay marriage amendment in Minnesota.

If you're a queer person whose straight friends worked hard to win marriage equality—worked phone banks, knocked on doors, spoke out, gave money—send us a photo and a couple of sentences about what your straight friends did...

If you're a straight person who worked for marriage equality… THANK YOU!

The photos and stories are great and inspiring... and addictive!

Here are just a couple more.

Go check it out, and thank some straight allies you know!

And thanks to Dan Savage for creating another great online engine of change and gratitude.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

October 2013 is the Next GLBT History Month Celebration... and Now's Your Chance To Nominate The Queer Icon YOU Want To See Honored!

Equality Forum has put out the call for your suggestions!

"The 31 Icons, living or dead, are selected for their achievements in their field of endeavor; for their status as a national hero; or for their significant contribution to LGBT civil rights."

Find out more and nominate a lesbian, gay, bi, or trans icon that has yet to be honored here

They also have a list of all the queer icons that have been celebrated so far here - it's an excellent resource!

Deadline for submissions is this Friday, December 7, 2012.

Hurray for Queer History!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Starting From Here - A Teen Lesbian Novel

Starting From Here by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

Sixteen-year-old Colby Bingham's heart has been broken too many times. Her mother has been dead for almost two years, her truck driver father is always away, her almost girlfriend just dumped her for a guy, and now she's failing chemistry.

When a stray dog lands literally at her feet, bleeding and broken on a busy road, it seems like the Universe has it in for Colby. But the incident also knocks a chink in the walls she's built around her heart. Against her better judgment, she decides to care for the dog.

But new connections mean new opportunities for heartbreak. Terrified of another loss, Colby bolts at the first sign of trouble, managing to alienate her best friend, her father, the cute girl pursing her, and even her dog's vet, who's taken Colby under her wing. Colby can't start over, but can she learn how to move on?

Add your review of "Starting From Here" in comments!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Arizona Principal Punishes High School Boys for Fighting... by making them HOLD HANDS

Here's the full story of what happened last week.

"...the two students at Westwood High School in Mesa, Ariz., who have not been named, were faced with the prospect of either suspension from school, or sitting in chairs in the high school's courtyard and holding hands for 15 minutes during a lunch period. They opted for the latter.

"Kids were laughing at them and calling them names, asking, 'Are you gay?'" student Brittney Smyers told ABC affiliate KNXV.

Teens at the high school inevitably posted photos of the two, who spent the time shielding their faces with their heads in their hands, to social media sites."

Wow.   This says so much. 

And I have some things to say, too.

1.  As a culture we are so messed up about gay people.  The idea that the most humiliating thing possible for a young man would be having people think he was gay is TOXIC, and we have to change that.

2.  By offering this "humiliation" to the students as an option instead of being suspended, the school is acknowledging (and reinforcing) the idea that to be gay - or to be perceived as gay - is bad.

3.   What impact did this have on the queer students at the school?  Can you imagine how unsafe and homophobic the environment must be now?

4.  This shaming of gay people must stop.

5.  The fact that the other students uploaded photos of these two guys holding hands online, so they could share the humiliation on a broader level takes the old-fashioned idea of putting criminals in a public square in stocks into our technologically-driven century.  The two students hid their faces the entire time.

6.  This story makes me equal parts furious and sad.

7.  I wonder if the high school had a Gay-Straight Alliance club, if something like this might not have happened.

Ironically, the high school has an online form so students can, as it says on their website, "Stand Up To Bullying."  

I hope many of the students there fill this out, and cite the Principal's actions.  Because this didn't only affect the two students covering their faces in shame.  This affected the entire school community. 

And it's bullying.


Friday, November 30, 2012

This Milk Will Make You Gay... Milk Carton Accused of Trying To Make Children Gay in Russia

Yeah, that purple cow, rainbow, and guy with the mustache...  clearly just gay propaganda.

I wish I were joking... but it's in the news.

Here's two quotes from the article:
Mr Artukh [People's Council spokesman] accused Pepsi Cola [which owns Vesyoly Molochnik milk] of trying to promote homosexuality to young people, saying "this is a company renowned for actively and aggressively financing and promoting homosexuality."
...the director of gay rights advocacy group Coming Out Polina Savchenko said the move was a sign of the mood in St Petersburg since the anti-gay propaganda law was passed in November "It's so ridiculous and so middle-aged that it could be funny but unfortunately it's not funny because we know that they're serious," Ms Savchenko said.
So much work still to do to make our world safe for all queer people!  (And for those rainbow colored dancing cows, too.)


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Willow Smith's "I Am Me" Music Video - Brilliant!

Watch this!

I love so many lines of this,

"Your validation is just not that important to me!"


"I'm free and you can't stop me!"


"I'm me, I'm free, and that's all I can be."

So wise.  So young.  So impressive!

and one more moment I loved:

"You're you, I'm me, let's live in harmony..."

Thanks, Willow!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Every Day - What Happens When You're A Different YOU Every Day? And what does that mean for Gender and Sexuality and Love?

Every Day by David Levithan

Every morning, A wakes in a different person’s body, a different person’s life. There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

Add your review of "Every Day" in comments!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of The Universe - a gay teen novel

Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Add your review of "Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe" in comments!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Do You Know All About Internet Flitering and Online Censorship of LGBT Info in school / public libraries and children's / YA Computer Labs?

If so, here's a great opportunity to share that knowledge...

Via fabulous YA author Holly Thompson comes word of this call for an expert to write a chapter on censorship for a new book, Queers Online:

Rachel Wexelbaum, a librarian at St. Cloud State University, is putting together a book about Queers Online, and she's looking for a chapter on censorship. From her email:

"If you know someone who could write a chapter about Internet filtering and online censorship of LGBT information in school libraries/public children's/YA computer labs, please let me know…"

You can contact Rachel at rswexelbaum (at) stcloudstate (dot) edu

Here's more about the project

Note: The deadline for final manuscripts has shifted from January to June.


Friday, November 23, 2012

The Fearless Project by Jeff Sheng - Celebrating Out Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans High School and College Athletes

The Fearless Project inspires me, and I think it will inspire you, too.

Thanks, Jeff!

And thanks as well to the reader who wrote me about it, saying

"As an LGBT athlete, I found this very cool..."

They're right. It IS very cool!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Some College Humor for Thanksgiving: Give us Gay Marriage, or... "Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends"

"...if anyone reading this believes that gay men can actually become ex-gay men, I have just one question for you: Would you want your daughter to marry one?"

That great argument by Dan Savage in the New York times back in 2006 now gets taken one hysterical step further...

(be aware, there's an f-bomb used, so if that offends, don't watch.)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jailbreak The Binary - A Google Chrome Plug-In that makes our online world and language more gender neutral

Jailbreak the Binary

Takes all instances of 'male,' 'female,' 'he,' 'she,' (and many other gendered words) and "swaps them for gender neutral versions."  It's credited as "Attempts at gender neutrality by Marianna Kreidler."

So thanks, Marianna. My thanks as well to the reader who wrote in to tell me about this, saying

"It really makes you think about gendered assumptions.  My favorite instance using it so far was reading explanations of trans words and having it say that faab and maab both stood for human assigned at birth."


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Unafraid: Book 3 in the teen gay vampire series!

Unafraid by Michael Griffo

At Archangel Academy, Michael Howard has found new friends, new love, and a place that feels more like home than Nebraska ever did. But the most unexpected gift the school has given him is immortality.
When Michael Howard left his small Nebraska hometown to enroll at Archangel Academy, he couldn’t have imagined how much the experience would change him. Once mortal, Michael is now a vampire with a destiny that was foretold long ago, and a group of friends with their own mysterious abilities.

But there are enemies too, some of them hiding in plain sight. Being strong enough to defend himself isn’t enough. Michael must find a way to protect his entire race of vampires. Dark forces within the school will drive everyone to take sides in the escalating violence. And despite his powers, Michael will discover that love, jealousy, and vengeance have a danger all their own…

Add your review of "Unafraid" in comments!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Front Porch Tales & North Country Whoppers: Folk Tales, one of which stars a Gay Couple

Front Porch Tales & North Country Whoppers by Tomie dePaola

A very sweet book with some hysterical stories, including one in particular that I had the opportunity to ask Tomie about.  I had the great opportunity to interview Tomie for the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators in honor of Tomie's winning The Society of Illustrators' Lifetime Achievement Award.  It's a three part interview - one, two, three, and here's an excerpt from where we discussed Front Porch Tales:

Lee:  Yeah.  So your Story “Settin” in your folk-tale compilation “Front Porch Tales and North Country Whoppers” has two really unexpected elements – one was that fish-out-of-water experience of the couple of non-New-Hampshire natives experiencing an authentic “Settin," which totally cracked me up.

Tomie:  That's a true story!

Lee:  And then that the couple are “two young fellas livin’ in an old fahmhouse out theyah on the Greendale Road.” 

Tomie:  That's right.  I could show you the farmhouse tomorrow if you come up. (Laughs)

Lee:  Is that a gay couple?  Or did you intend to leave it up to the reader to decide who they are to each other?

Tomie:  Actually, we didn't know we were gay at the time.  We were both, we were living in this farmhouse because we had a spiritual ideal, we were going to become - this was a very popular thing in the far-out Catholic Church in the 50's - it was called a Lay Institute, I think.  We met in a monastery, and we wanted to have kind of like a little, simple monastery.  And we had no idea that we were... I mean, I knew I was gay, but Jack, he was older than I was and he didn't know he was gay.  And we didn't live a gay life, we lived a life of two friends.  And that actually happened, that whole thing of sitting there with no one saying a word!  (Laughs.)

Lee:  That hysterical.  For me, as a reader looking at it, I got really excited.   I was like, 'wow, it's a gay couple in this great story, and it's not really about their being gay, it's just this hysterical story.'

Tomie:  That's actually what it is, yeah.  And it was very interesting, because it wasn't that long after that we both realized that oh, wait a minute.  This is more than a religious experience here, our living together.  But talk about being accepted...  Jack and I were terribly accepted in this little village in Western Vermont.  People loved us.  They called us 'the two fellas,' you know?  So I guess, if you don't walk down the street in a dress, you're all right.

Lee:  We'll get the world to where people can walk down the street wearing whatever they want.

Tomie:  Yeah. That's right.  Exactly.  You can in Vermont now. Vermont was one of the first New England states to legalize Gay Marriage, you know?

Lee:  Yeah, that's terrific.

Tomie:  Yeah!

It was very exciting for me to see this sweet and funny anthology of stories for children include a gay couple.  

And it's great to know that this GIANT in the world of children's books is openly gay.  Tomie also has eight books (so far) in his wonderful autobiographical chapter book series, 26 Fairmount Avenue.

The first book in the series

It's lovely to read them knowing that the little boy in these books grows up to be a man who fell in love with another man... like me.

It's certainly a book I wish I had read when I was a child.  And now, I read them for my inner child!

I hope you will, too.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Lost Gay Fiction - Queer Short Stories Online by E.M. Forster, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway and more!

I didn't know these short stories as posted at Lost Gay Fiction, but I'm having a great time reading them.

There's nothing explicit in the two I read (Arthur Snatchfold by E.M. Forster and The Sea Change by Ernest Hemingway) but I would say they're Young Adult.

With ten short stories posted so far, it's a great site to know about.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Young Avengers - A Marvel Comics Series with two main gay characters!

The Young Avengers: The Children's Crusade by series creators Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung

When Wiccan's reality-altering powers begin to rival those of the Scarlet Witch, the young hero sets out on a quest to find her that spans the Marvel Universe and pits Wiccan against both the Avengers and the Young Avengers. But will Wiccan's desire to solve the mystery of his parentage be his salvation or his undoing? With three words, the Scarlet Witch changed the world forever...and now with her return, nothing will ever be the same for the Marvel Universe. 

Yup.  It's a gay teen kiss from the Young Avengers: The Children's Crusade.  How cool is that!?

My thanks to the reader who recommended this - they also wrote:

Two main characters on the team are gay, and I think that for the younger people who are into comics and such would really appreciate reading their story. It's pretty cool too because in their debut comic, one of the teen's parents are very excited that he finally found love and came out to them. ...Sorry if it's weird that I'm telling you about this, but I feel that these books would just make a lot of young people feel more comfortable about themselves. Marvel, a big comic book company, accepts all types of love, and wants to let people know that it's okay to love whoever you want. I just think that's really cool. :)

It's not weird at all - it's wonderful that you shared - and now more people get to know about it!

Add your review of any of The Young Avengers series of comic books as well as this hardcover title, "Avengers: The Children's Crusade" in comments!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In a Bind - a new free-to-recipients chest binder program for male identified trans youth and young adults

In another example of our queer and allied community reaching out to help those who could use some help, the In a Bind distribution program of the Portland, Oregon nonprofit TransActive aims to

"collect pre-owned chest binders from guys who don't need them anymore and donate them to trans-masculine youth in need."

It's pretty cool that a program like this exists, and I'm delighted a reader told me about it so I could share it here with all of you.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


THE LAND NEAR OZ: Two Gay Yankees Move To New Zealand by Aaron Allbright

When Aaron Allbright and his better half, Beau, buy a piece of paradise from the direct descendants of the first English missionaries to inhabit the far side of the Far North of New Zealand, they meet the offspring of whores, convicts, whalers, English pirates and those first missionaries. Their closest seaside neighbor is Australia, 1500 miles away (known to everyone thereabouts as Oz).

There are Maoris with traditional full face and body tattoos; a former member of Led Zeppelin; a Texan named Big Mama. And in the wild hinterland paradise of evermore, dreams are made and life is good—just not in the way either Aaron or Beau hoped, planned, or could have ever imagined.

Paradise is a world of adventure, new wisdom and intimations of mortality.

Add your review of "The Land Near Oz" in comments.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A 10 year old girl with two dads writes President Obama... and His Response!

This is a really sweet story, and the best thing of all is knowing this is the man we just elected to be our President for another four years!

Here's the letter Sophia sent to Barack Obama:

images from the post at Perez Hilton's blog

It reads:

Dear Barack Obama,
It's Sophia..., your friend who invited you to dinner.  You don't remember okay that's fine.  But I just wanted to tell you that I am so glad you agree that two men can love each other because I have two dads and they love each other.  But at school kids think that it's gross and weird but it really hurts my heart and feelings.  So I come to you because you are my hero.  If you were me and you had two dads that loved each other, and kids at school teased you about it, what would you do?
Please respond!
I just wanted to say you really inspire me, and I hope you win on being the president.  You would totally make the world a better place.
(heart) Your friend Sophia.  P.S. Please tell your daughters Hi for me!

And here's President Obama's response.

It reads:

Dear Sophia,
Thank you for writing me such a thoughtful letter about your family.  Reading it made me proud to be your president and even more hopeful about the future of our nation.
In America, no two families look the same.  We celebrate this diversity.  And we recognize that whether you have two dads or one mom what matters above all is the love we show one another.  You are very fortunate to have two parents who care deeply for you.  They are lucky to have such an exceptional daughter in you.
Our differences unite us.  You and I are blessed to live in a country where we are born equal no matter what we look like on the outside, where we grow up, or who our parents are.  A good rule is to treat others the way you hope they will treat you.  Remind your friends at school about this rule if they say something that hurts your feelings.
Thanks again for taking the time to write to me.  I'm honored to have your support and inspired by your compassion.  I'm sorry I couldn't make it to dinner, but I'll be sure to tell Sasha and Malia you say hello.
(signed) Barack Obama

My thanks to Rob Jost for sharing this recently - it's awesome!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita announce their engagment... and a new marriage equality organziation!

Jesse Tyler Ferguson (from TV's Modern Family) is Funny.

And what he says here is True.

And Funny!

Man, this line cracked me up:

"Who wouldn't want to see us get married?  We're as cute as puppies—puppies with bowties!"

Find out more about Tie The Knot, and cheer Jesse and Justin on!


ps - extra love and thanks to my husband, who shared this with me so I could share it with all of you!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Goldenhead: Or Bodies Or Avatars - A Fantasy Where The Imaginary Becomes Real

Goldenhead: Or Bodies Or Avatars by Annalinde Matichei

Goldenhead is a girl from an earth-like (male/female) world who never felt at home there.  She lived most of her life with an “imaginary” pixie companion, frequently visiting the “imaginary” city-sized spacecraft called the Imperial Princess.

While Goldenhead is trying desperately to “grow up” and leave her “fantasies” behind, her body falls into a coma and she finds herself fully among the people and places she believed she had imagined.

She also finds her new real world threatened by dark, demonic forces and becomes one of the three Little Knights determined to protect the Motherland.

The author plays a prominent role in the small press that published this book.  Add your review of "Goldenhead: Or Bodies Or Avatars" in comments!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012



Huffington Post Announces Obama's Win

CNN says "It's Obama"


Yahoo calls it for Obama!

Thank you, America! celebrate, saying Obama's reelection changes the politics of marriage equality forever!

Obama's second term means progress towards true equality for all - including we gay, lesbian, bi, trans and queer people - will move forward!!!

And in Maine, voters APPROVED GAY MARRIAGE, reversing a 2009 ban.

Gay marriage also won in Maryland!

Despite the unfairness of voting on anyone's equality, winning these referendums in Maine and Maryland changes the conversation nationwide.  LOVE - our gay love - won!

Oh, and Tammy Baldwin won her election to become our nation's first out GLBTQ Senator!

For all this, I am so grateful.


Collide - a Bi Teen Novel

Being bisexual is cool now—unless you’re a boy. Or so it seems to invisible fifteen-year-old Hazard James. But when he falls in with bad apple Jesse Wesley, Hazard is suddenly shoved into the spotlight. Jesse and his friends introduce him to the underworld of teenage life: house parties, hangovers, the advantages of empty homes, and reputation by association. So what if his old friends don’t get it? So what if some people love to hate him? Screw gossip and high school’s secret rules. There’s just something about walking into a room and having all eyes on him when just last year nobody noticed him at all.

For a while Hazard basks in the attention, and before he realizes the depth of the waters he’s wading, he and Jesse strike up a “friends with benefits” routine. It could be something more, but what self-respecting teenage boy would admit it? Not Jesse—and so not Hazard, either. Not until it’s too late. Hazard and Jesse have collided, and Hazard’s life will never be the same.
My thanks to the reader who recommended this book, saying "Have you, or would you, review Collide by J R Lenk?  I read it twice since getting it a couple of months ago and I love it.  The E-reader edition does have a few typo's but it's a beautiful story."

Add your review of "Collide" in comments!  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Three Quarters Of A Million Hits!

I've been blogging here for over five years.

More than 1,400 posts.

And we've just achieved a milestone: blasting past 750,000 page loads!

Knowing the blog is being read and appreciated means so much.

So thanks and cheers to you, my readers!