Monday, February 27, 2017

Grace and History: Moonlight is The First LGBTQ Film To Win The Best Picture Oscar

The Oscar awards show last night was loooong, and when La La Land was announced as the winner of Best Picture (3 hours and 38 minutes into the broadcast), I thought the whole thing was over.

It wasn't.

After three speeches, Jordan Horowitz (Producer of La La Land) approached the microphone and said, ""I'm sorry. No. There's a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture."

Then he held up the card for the cameras:

In what was truly a moment of grace, Jordan raised the Oscar statuette he had been mistakenly handed, and said,

"I'm going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight."

And then the actual winners for Best Picture, the Moonlight team, took the stage, stunned, not sure if they could believe it...

Barry Jenkins (Director and Co-Writer of Moonlight) said:

"There was a time when I thought this movie was impossible."

It's an historic moment - Moonlight is the first LGBTQ film to win the Oscar for best picture.

And when, earlier in the evening, Moonlight won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, co-writer Tarell Alvin McCraney dedicated his win

"to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender-conforming who don't see themselves" in film.

Grace, and history. Here's the trailer for Moonlight:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Bayard Rustin's words inspire me

With everything going on in the US right now, including the bomb threats at Jewish community centers, the anti-immigrant raids, and now this week's attack on Transgender student rights, these words from the out Gay African American Civil Rights leader are a call to action:

"If we want to do away with the injustice to gays it will not be done because we get rid of the injustice to gays. It will be done because we are forwarding the effort for the elimination of injustice to all." -Bayard Rustin, in a 1986 interview.
Bayard  Rustin in 1965

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Otto Digmore Difference - A New Adult Gay Ex-Boyfriends and now 'just friends?' Road Trip

The Otto Digmore Difference by Brent Hartinger

Otto Digmore is a 26-year-old gay guy with dreams of being a successful actor, and he’s finally getting some attention as a result of his supporting role on a struggling sitcom. But he’s also a burn survivor with scars on half his face, and all indications are that he’s just too different to ever find real Hollywood success.

Now he’s up for an amazing new role that could change everything. Problem is, he and his best friend Russel Middlebrook have to drive all the way across the country in order to get to the audition on time.

It’s hard to say which is worse: the fact that so many things go wrong, or that Russel, an aspiring screenwriter, keeps comparing their experiences to some kind of road trip movie.

There’s also the fact that Otto and Russel were once boyfriends, and Otto is starting to realize that he might still have romantic feelings for his best friend.

Just how far will Otto go to get the role, and maybe the guy, of his dreams?

In an interview about the book, Brent says, "I confess that when I first introduced Otto in 2005 (in The Order of the Poison Oak, the first Geography Club sequel), I was annoyed by the response in some quarters of the literary world. I heard more than once that I shouldn’t be equating being gay with being disabled, because you don’t “choose” to be disabled. Like you choose to be gay?

But the world has changed a lot since then,. The last few years, the topic of “diversity” has finally broken through. It finally seemed like the time to give Otto his own book."

Add your review of "The Otto Digmore Difference" in comments!

Friday, February 17, 2017

An Actual "Fake News" Headline...

Glad we could clear that up. You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ian McKellen Performs Shakespeare's Words On Immigration

This is brilliant! (and under six minutes to watch, and hey, it's Ian McKellen!)

And, even though William Shakespeare wrote it more than 400 years ago, it feels so timely...

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

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Other Boy - Shane is 12, and is a regular boy... who has to find the courage to ignore the transphobic hate directed at him and just be himself

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey

Twelve-year-old Shane Woods is just a regular boy. He loves pitching for his baseball team, working on his graphic novel, and hanging out with his best friend, Josh. But Shane is keeping something private, something that might make a difference to his friends and teammates, even Josh. And when a classmate threatens to reveal his secret, Shane’s whole world comes crashing down. It will take a lot of courage for Shane to ignore the hate and show the world that he’s still the same boy he was before. And in the end, those who stand beside him may surprise everyone, including Shane.

Add your review of "The Other Boy" in comments!

Friday, February 10, 2017

If you're at #NY17SCBWI, Join me (and conference faculty guests) for the LGBTQ + Allies Q&A

Saturday February 11, from 8:30pm - 9:30pm (and probably for another half-hour after that), in the Chrysler Room in the Grand Central Hyatt.

Can't wait!

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

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Lily and Dunkin - Two 8th Grade Outsiders Learn To "Let The World See You"

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you're in the eighth grade.

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he's called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse.

One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.

Add your review of "Lily and Dunkin" in comments!

Monday, February 6, 2017

In Challenge, Opportunity: News About My Book, THE QUEER HISTORY PROJECT: NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY?

It needs a new, brave publishing home.

A nonfiction book for kids about men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries in history was bound to be controversial. Not so much the primary sources, or the facts (all of which have been published for adults before), but the daring to share it with kids.

Daring to share Abraham Lincoln’s letters that reveal his love for Joshua Fry Speed, and the conflict both men felt about the women they would ultimately marry. Including the 1842 letter where Abraham wrote Joshua, “I now have no doubt that it is the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to dream dreams of Elysium [heaven] far exceeding all that anything earthly can realize. Far short of your dreams as you may be, no woman could do more to realize them that that same black-eyed Fanny.”

Daring to share the late 1500s/early 1600s love sonnets William Shakespeare wrote to another man, the mysterious Mr. W. H. Including Sonnet 144, where the Bard wrote, “Two loves I have of comfort and despair, Which like two spirits do suggest me still; The better angel is a man right fair, The worser spirit a woman color’d ill.”

Daring to share the 1911 love contract between Mohandas Gandhi and the man he loved, Hermann Kallenbach, where they pledged “more love and yet more love… such love as, they hope, the world has not seen” between them.

Daring to share the circa 1899 poem Jane Addams wrote about the “delivering love” of Mary Rozet Smith.

Daring to share the letters Eleanor Roosevelt wrote Lorena Hickok, including the 1933 letter where she wrote about wearing Lorena’s diamond and sapphire ring to remind herself, “she does love me, or I wouldn’t be wearing it.”

And daring to share so much more…

To put this book out in the world (and into schools, and libraries, and bookstores, and kids’ hands) requires a publisher that’s going to be behind both it and me 100%.

It has become clear that THE QUEER HISTORY PROJECT: NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY? didn’t have that support at Simon & Schuster, so I’ve taken it back.

Now, my book needs to find a new, brave, and excited-to-share-this-project-with-the-world publishing home.

So these true—and surprising—stories can reach young LGBTQ and Allied readers (and the adults who didn’t get to read this when they were kids!)

So it can change our view of history, our vision of ourselves, and our dreams of what’s possible.

So it can change lives.

Thanks for being with me on the journey.

The Queer History Project: No Way, They Were Gay?
Primary source materials reveal the true—and surprising—stories of men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. (Ages 11 and up.)

Representation: Danielle Smith, Lupine Grove Creative

Nine of the featured men who loved men, women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries in history. How many can you name? How many of their surprising – and true – stories do you know?

Friday, February 3, 2017

2 Million Page Views!

A fun milestone to celebrate - in the past week, I'm Here. I'm Queer. What The Hell Do I Read? shot past the 2 million page views mark, and as I write this clocks in at 2,007,765!

Thank you for being part of this blog.

Thank you for being part of this movement towards more diversity in children's literature.

Thank you for being part of caring about LGBTQ young people and teens.

Thank you for being part of my community.

I'm very grateful.

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The First Annual Lambda LitFest Los Angeles - A Queer Festival of Writing And Reading!

Where are you going to be Saturday March 11, 2017? If it's Los Angeles, or even the Lambda Literary Facebook page for the live video feed, count yourself fortunate.

LitFest Saturday is a full day of discussions, readings, entertainment, and community. The day features four powerful panels:

The Morning Plenary on barriers, opportunities, and being a queer writer in the 21st century with panelists Luis Alfaro, Zachary Drucker, Sarah Schulman, Justin Torres and Rebecca Walker, moderated by Cheryl Klein.

Quintessentially Queer LA, with panelists Ryka Aoki, Bernard Cooper, D’Lo, Wendy C. Ortiz, Claudia Rodríguez and Terry Wolverton, moderated by Alex Espinoza.

Queer Characters in Novels, Screenplays & Everything in Between with panelists Lucy Bledsoe, MariNaomi, Michael Nava, Our Lady J and Peter Paige, moderated by Noel Alumit.

Queer Truth: Nonfiction & Journalism in a Post-Truth World with panelists Tre’vell Anderson, Diane Anderson-Minshall, Melissa Chadburn, Alberto B. Mendoza and Robin Podolsky, moderated by Susie Bright.

That evening there's Lambda LitFest presents UnCabaret, hosted by Beth Lapides and featuring Julie Goldman, Marga Gomez, Ian Harvie, Alec Mapa and Justin Sayre. (Sorry, this one won't be live-streamed - you have to be there in person!)

But, as the infomercials used to say, That's not all!

Lambda LitFest is actually a full week (March 6-12, 2017) of programs and readings, with more than 24 community-curated events all across the city. From Giving Tongue: A Celebration of Lesbian/Queer Poets to Celebrating our Heroes: Betty Berzon, Jeanne Córdova, Paul Monette, Mark Thompson there's so much to enrich and inspire!

There's even a Lambda LitFest Closing Party -- with dancing and crafts!

It's going to be so much fun.

Check out the schedule of events (LitFest Saturday and the whole week's worth of readings, workshops, discussions, and entertainment), speaker bios, and all the rest here.

I'm honored to be part of the #LambdaLitFest steering committee, and I hope you'll mark your calendars, check it out, and be part of the first annual Lambda LitFest Los Angeles!