Monday, October 30, 2017

Spirit Level - A Teen Girl tracks down her same-biological donor half-siblings and falls for a Trans Guy

Spirit Level by Sarah N. Harvey

Harriet (known as Harry) is a donor-conceived child who has never wanted to reach out to her half-siblings or donor--until now. Feeling adrift after a breakup with her long-time boyfriend, Harry tracks down her half-siblings, two of whom are in Seattle, where Harriet lives. The first girl she meets is fifteen-year-old Lucy, an effervescent half-Japanese dancer. Then she meets Meredith, a troubled girl who is always accompanied by her best friend, Alex. Harry and Alex are attracted to each other, much to Meredith's chagrin, and when it becomes clear that Meredith is an accomplished liar, Harry makes it her business to figure out what Meredith is up to. In the course of her investigation, she discovers a lot about Meredith, but the biggest shock is not about Meredith--it's about Alex, who was born female. So now Harry must deal with not only her growing attraction to Alex, but also Meredith's hostility. As decisions are made around whether to contact their donor, the three donor sisters negotiate their relationship and Harry tries to figure out what she really wants.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter Eight

In Chapter Seven, Wyatt faced pushback on his thesis that Lincoln was in love with another guy -- which made him more determined than ever to prove it really happened. Only, now his parents have found out...

Want to start reading from the beginning? Click here for chapters One and Two.

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Okay community, here's Chapter Eight!

Chapter Eight

Monday January 12

            20 Questions

Wyatt’s mom’s turn:
1.     “What were you thinking?”
2.     “Why would you say Lincoln was gay?”
3.     “Does this book come right out and say he was gay?
4.     “Well if it doesn’t, why would you make something like that up?”
5.     “So you, without even a ninth grade education, are suddenly a Lincoln scholar?”
6.     “You know more than all those Ph.D.s and experts combined?”
7.     “Were you going to tell us about the ‘F’?
8.     “Do you just want to fail out of school now?”
9.     “It’s like a tidal wave about to smash our boat! Did you ever stop and think what effect this could have?”
10.  “What about your father – and all of this, his dream?”
11.  “How are we going to keep our business?”
12.  “How are you ever going to get a job?”
13.  “You don’t think H.R. departments check on things like this?”
14.  “Colleges?”
15.  “You could be sued! It’s called libel. Heard of it?”
16.  “Can we erase it from the internet?”
17.  “We were right when we said you weren’t mature enough yet to be on social media, weren’t we?
18.  “Why didn’t you just give the book back to him?”
19.  “What are people going to say?”

Wyatt’s dad’s turn:
20.  “Are you gay?”

“I have a girlfriend – I’m not gay!” Wyatt managed to work up some outrage with his lie. “But Lincoln was!”
He wasn’t ready, and they were too freaked out. What if they hated him when they found out – stopped loving him? If they knew the truth, would anyone love him, ever again?
He’d thought this would be a way to break the news gently. I mean, if Abe was gay, and great, it shouldn’t be that big a deal, right?
Wrong. Look how upset they are about Lincoln. And he’s not their only son.
“Lincoln was not gay!” The pressure-cooker vein in Wyatt’s dad’s forehead stood out. “Just saying it, and on somewhere as public as the internet, is like inviting disaster – the word of mouth on this will kill us!”
Gay = Disaster. Gee, thanks, Dad.
“Why? Why is it so bad if he was?” Wyatt was getting mad, and it was safer to move the focus and defend someone else’s right to be gay – someone long dead, far from him. “If you read the letters, if you look at the facts, it’s really obvious that Abe was in love with Joshua – and that makes them gay, or bi, or whatever you want to call it, but two guys in love with each other? That’s pretty gay! Which means that history is just a bunch of lies we’re being fed. And we’re feeding them!” He turned on his mom. “And the parade, all about Abe and Mary’s romance? It’s like this conspiracy to make a famous gay person straight. I mean, who else was gay that the people in charge of history aren’t telling us about? Alexander the Great? Shakespeare? Gandhi?”
His mom frowned at him. “Sweetie… You can’t start imagining that everyone is gay.”
Wyatt’s whole face felt scrunched up. “Well, why is it okay to imagine that everyone in history is straight, when we know that can’t possibly be true, either?”
His dad measured every word. “Lincoln. Was. Not. Gay.”

“Yeah, Dad. I hear you. But you’re wrong. And I’m going to prove it.”

* *

* *

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Vanilla - a gay teen novel in verse!

Vanilla by Billy Merrell

Vanilla and Hunter have been dating since seventh grade.
They came out together,
navigated middle school together,
and became that couple in high school
that everyone always sees as a couple.

There are complications and confusions, for sure.
But most of all,
they love each other.

As high school goes, though,
and as their relationship deepens,
some cracks begin to show.

Hunter thinks they should be having sex.
Vanilla isn't so sure.

Hunter doesn't mind hanging out with loud, obnoxious friends.
Vanilla would rather avoid them.

If they're becoming different people,
can they be the same couple?

Falling in love is hard.
Staying in love is harder.

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Monday, October 23, 2017

A Very, Very Bad Thing - a gay teen finds out that love can make you do all the wrong things, even when you have the best of intentions

A Very, Very Bad Thing by Jeffery Self

"Marley feels adrift as one of the only gay kids in his North Carolina town until Christopher moves in. Christopher's smart, cute, gay -- and the son of the country's most famous TV evangelists. Marley is determined to win Christopher's heart and be with him forever. And his plan is working until Christopher's parents find out and send their son away to an infamous "gay conversion" program. Hurt and outraged, Marley finds himself telling big lies to both cover up and find the truth, lies that have suffocating repercussions for both boys."

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter Seven

In Chapter Six, Wyatt blogs his first impression about Abraham Lincoln from his book of primary source letters: That Abraham Lincoln was in love with another guy. That Abraham Lincoln was gay.

Want to start reading from the beginning? Click here for chapters One and Two.

To read about why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free on this blog, click here.

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Okay community, here's Chapter Seven!

* *

Chapter 7
Monday January 12

            Mr. Guzman faked a yawn as he examined Jennie’s blog on his hand-held tablet. “So Lincoln established Thanksgiving as our national holiday… why should we care? Where’s your first impression?” Their I’m-not-a-substitute teacher walked the front of the room like it was his own personal kingdom. He’d been telling everyone what was wrong with their blog posts and why he’d given them some version of a ‘C.’ Eight minutes of class left and there were only four still standing: Jennie – who was under the ax – Mackenzie, Wyatt, and Jonathon.
            Jennie giggled nervously.
            Mr. Guzman continued his video-game-worthy massacre. “You’re in high school now, Miss Woo, and you need to dig deeper. ‘C-minus,’ but I’m being generous.”
            Jennie giggled again, which Wyatt thought was just weird.
            “And now, to use the technical term, the bat-shit crazy book reports.” That made the class titter. He swiped the screen to call up the next blog. “Miss Miller!”
            Mackenzie stopped playing with the end of her fancy French braid and poised her fingers over her laptop keyboard, ready to take down every word Mr. Guzman said.
            “Calling Lincoln an occultist and arguing that his belief that the living could communicate with the dead inspired his Gettysburg Address, among other speeches, is quite the first impression.”
            Mackenzie broke in, “I said it influenced him. Not inspired.” She was the first one of them to protest at all. Wyatt gave her props for that. “It’s possible Lincoln was just so in love with Mary that he went along with it, but he went to a séance! Surrounded with all the deaths in the Civil War, his own two sons dying, and the guilt… I think he at least wanted to believe that you could talk to dead people.”
            Mr. Guzman made a snapping sound with his mouth. “I’m not sure how you’re going to prove that, but either way, annotating one speech would have been sufficient. No one has time to read what would print out to be eighteen pages of material on a blog. Consider the math of it: I have four classes. “C-minus again.”
            The color drained from Mackenzie’s face. Wyatt knew it was the lowest grade she’d ever gotten, and it could ruin her perfect GPA.
            “Speaking of math, Mr. Yarrow…” Mr. Guzman put down the tablet on his desk, entwined his fingers and stretched them out, like this particular grading murder was going to be extra work.
            Wyatt tried to keep his face completely blank. He told himself he wouldn’t react, no matter what happened.
            “What a load of crap you posted.”
            Jonathon led the room’s explosion of laughter.
            Mr. Guzman waited for them to settle. “For someone whose family lives and breathes the history of Abraham Lincoln, I must say I was roundly disappointed. While I applaud your use of video, I found it hard to believe your book came out – forgive the pun – and said that Abraham Lincoln was gay.”
            Whispers of disbelief swirled around him. Wyatt guessed no one had read his post.
            Mr. Guzman continued, “In fact, when I spoke with Mr. Clifton at the library an hour ago, he assured me that was NOT in your book. Thus, what you’ve presented to the world is lies, or if I’m continuing to be generous, I might call it ‘offensive conjecture.’ A book report is not where we make things up. ‘F.’ The one failing mark for the entire ninth grade.”
            But… I didn’t make it up!
With Jonathon snickering and nasty stares boring into him from all sides, Wyatt felt Thai-chili-pepper-level heat engulf him. He sank down in his chair.
            Jonathon stage-whispered to Charlie, “What a fag!”
            Charlie answered in the same let-everyone-hear-but-pretend-it’s-just-between-us voice, “Yeah, Mosquito ball fag!”
            They cracked up.
            “Gentlemen, that’s enough.” A scowling Mr. Guzman picked up his tablet again. “And finally, Mr. Rails…”
            Jonathon swung around from smirking at Wyatt. He’d been giving him that I’m-so-happy-to-watch-you-crash-and-burn attitude all first period P.E., too, but Wyatt couldn’t figure out how Jonathon had known in advance Mr. Guzman had failed him.
            “I saved your critique for last, because frankly, even though you clocked in with only one minute to spare…” here Mr. Guzman’s voice changed, sounding pleasantly surprised. “You used your time relatively well.”
            Jonathon grinned, letting every one of his dentist-brochure-white teeth show.
            Mr. Guzman continued, “Mr. Rails’ book contains transcripts of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. In an elegant display of how ‘the medium is the message,’ his entire blog post took the form of a debate rebuttal to Mr. Yarrow’s blogged piece of… Well, we’ve established what it was.”
            Waves of laugher smashed into Wyatt. He slipped down even lower, wishing he could disappear.
            “Also, Mr. Rails used a quote from his book, citing the source material. And his post was… let’s be real people, I had to read 142 of these, blessedly short. Nicely done, Mr. Rails. You would have received a B-plus. But bullying, in any form, is not acceptable in my classroom, and your blogs are an extension of that domain. Accordingly, I’ve dropped you down to a B-minus.
“Dude! Still the highest grade in the class!” Jonathon bragged, and high-fived Charlie. Then he turned and aimed his finger like a gun at Mackenzie, all, I got you this time.
Mr. Guzman raised his voice to be heard. “Note that you will need to delete the personal attack as soon as humanly possible.”
            Personal attack? Wyatt couldn’t see the screen in Mr. Guzman’s hand.
            Mr. Guzman clicked his tongue and set down his hand-held computer. “That’s everyone. Remember, as we move forward, to state your thesis, and then back it up with evidence from your primary source materials.” He walked over and circled ‘Thesis’ on the white board. “Keep in mind that the more you blog, the more traffic you’ll get. I expect you to address the concerns we discussed…”
            Wyatt stopped listening. He’d ask Mackenzie to borrow her phone right after class – and turn it on – so he could get online and see what Jonathon had said about him.
            He wanted to know. He needed to know, but his stomach clenched at the thought of what he’d discover.

Jonathon Rails’ Book Report Blog for Mr. Guzman’s 9th Grade History Class.Lincolnville High School.Book: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates by Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. REAL MEN. REAL AMERICA.
 First Impression Blog Post: Monday, January 12, 5:59 a.m.
Lincoln was not gay. Our greatest president ever, Abraham Lincoln, the founder of the Republican Party, was arguing with his advisors and said to them:
                        “If you call a sheep’s tail a leg, how many legs does a sheep have?”
                        “Five,” the advisors agreed.“No,” replied Lincoln. “A sheep only has four legs.” Then Lincoln added, “Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it so.” (pg. 4)
 Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest debaters ever.
Calling him gay doesn't make him gay.
And calling him gay, like Wyatt Yarrow did in his blog? You’d have to be some kind of gay idiot to do that.

* *

“I want you to delete your post.” It was the first thing Mr. Guzman said in their ‘chat’ after school. “Your whole blog, in fact. Start over.”
“I don’t want to start over!” Reading what Jonathon blogged had made Wyatt want to prove this even more.
Mr. Guzman made a clicking sound and sighed. “Mr. Yarrow, I failed you because you were making things up–”
“I didn’t!”
“…And with a failing grade, I’m required to notify your parents.”
“That’s not fair! I worked hard on it, and it’s true!” Wyatt realized he was shouting, and fought to get back in control.
Mr. Guzman swiveled in his desk chair. “You really believe your book, this…” He scanned a spreadsheet he’d printed out. “Joshua Fry Speed, proves Abraham Lincoln was gay?”
“It’s the first I’ve heard of it.”
“I thought we were supposed to dig deep?”
Wyatt’s teacher chuckled at that. “Not so far that you lose touch with reality. There is a core to the Earth after all. Molten lava, I believe.”
“You’re letting Mackenzie do séances…” Wyatt got an inspiration. “And if I pull it, what’s Jonathon going to debate?”
Mr. Guzman seemed on the fence.
“Come on… I read the whole book, I did the assignment. I’ve got a thesis! Let me prove it.”
Mr. Guzman considered. “David Rice Atchison, President eleven point five, huh?” He was quiet for a moment more. Wyatt waited, not sure which way it would go. Finally, his teacher decided. “How about I let you do a make-up post? And when I say ‘make-up,’ you need to show me you’re not making it up. I want to see sound reasoning, and citations.” He stood and started packing his satchel. “I’ll give you till midnight Friday to post something to back up your thesis, such as it is, so I can see where this is going. And if you can’t convince me, then on Monday I’m afraid you’ll have to start over.”
Wyatt was relieved he was getting a chance.
            “I’m curious.” Mr. Guzman paused and looked over at Wyatt. “You don’t have any new material on Lincoln – your book is older than I am. So, if you’re working from the same body of evidence as the rest of the world, why are you suddenly able to see that Lincoln was gay when no one else has?”
            Wyatt felt the trap there, and he blustered. “Well, it’s not like I’m gay or anything! I’m dating Mackenzie!”
Mr. Guzman gave a nod. “She seems like a girl who knows what she wants.”
The fact that he didn’t just slam gay people was a silence that shouted in Wyatt’s mind. He needed to test the waters a little more. How would Jonathon put it? “I don’t know any fags myself, but if Lincoln was one, that’s important, isn’t it?”
Mr. Guzman studied Wyatt for a long moment. “Mr. Yarrow. I don’t want to hear that word in my classroom again.
“Sorry,” Wyatt shrugged, elated but trying to keep his emotions in check. “What about you telling my folks?”
            After a tongue click, Mr. Guzman said, “I’ll hold off on contacting your parents. For now. Do we have an understanding?”
            Fine. He’d show that jerk Jonathon and Mr. Guzman that he was right. That Abe was gay. But all he said was “Yeah,” and got the heck out of there before Mr. Guzman could change his mind.
            Wyatt had work to do.

* *

            Wyatt was in the living room on the red and yellow Turkish rug by the fireplace. If asked, he could tell guests these kinds of rugs were popular in the 1800s. But this one was from Costco.
            He had a bunch of volumes of The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln out of the glass bookcase, and he was going through the huge index (all of volume twelve) when the doorbell rang. Which was odd, because they were kind of like a hotel – during the day, people just walked in. The clouds were already showing off pink and gold sunset colors, and it was just after 5 p.m.
            Wyatt heard his mom open the front door. “Ira? Where did the time go – is it seven already? Let me get Gregory…”
            “Um, no. Actually, Mrs. Yarrow, no bowling for me tonight. I’m here on official library business.”
            Wyatt put volume twelve on top of Joshua Fry Speed to hold his spot in both, curious. What was Mr. Clifton talking about?
            “Really, Ira. You can call me Liz. ‘Mrs. Yarrow’ makes me sound like my mother-in-law.”
            “I just feel we should keep things official. Me being here on business and all.”
            Wyatt inched to the doorway, careful to keep out of sight.
            “Oh!” His mom chuckled. “You make it sound like you work for the F.B.I.!”
            “I wish I could find some humor in this as well, Mrs. Yarrow. Unfortunately, there’s a matter about which I might lose my job, and I need your help. Specifically, I need Wyatt’s help.”
            His mom’s voice got quieter. “Come in. Wyatt’s doing homework in the living room. This Lincoln blog project has him all fired up.”
            “Ira!” Wyatt’s dad’s voice. “You’re early!”
            There was a pause. Wyatt guessed they were shaking hands.
            “He has something he needs to discuss with Wyatt?” His mom tried to explain, but she sounded baffled. Wyatt was, too.
            Adult steps came down the hall. Wyatt scrambled back to his pile of books, pretending to study. As they walked in, he was underlining ‘Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, letters to’ in his notebook.
            “Wyatt?” His dad said.
            To seem busy, Wyatt added an exclamation point. He glanced up, feigning surprise.
            “Sorry to interrupt you. Your mom and I love that you’re studying, it’s just that Mr. Clifton stopped by and he’s saying he needs our help.”
            Their town librarian was sweating, and it was January. What was going on?
            Mr. Clifton stammered out the words, “Wyatt. The… the book about President Lincoln I gave you…”
            Wyatt made a huge effort to not let his eyes move to it, under volume twelve right in front of him. One brown corner was poking out. “Yeah?”
            “I… I made a mistake in allowing it to be checked out. You see, it’s really a reference book, and I’ve violated a rather important guideline of library science by allowing it to enter circulation.”
            Wyatt thought about the crumbly spine, and how he’d been careful with it. But right now, it was being squished. “I didn’t hurt it or anything!”
            “I just… I need to get it back.”
            “But I need it for my report! I’m supposed to have it for six weeks!”
            “I’m sure we can find you another book. That one needs to come back to the library. Tonight.”
            Wyatt couldn’t hold the words in. “But you gave it to me! You never know where a book can take you, remember?”
            Mr. Clifton flushed and puffed out his cheeks. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. Every Lincoln book was assigned randomly, and your getting a reference book was simply a mistake.”
            He’s lying!
            “The bottom line is, I need that book back, now.” Mr. Clifton took a step towards Wyatt but Wyatt’s dad got between them.
            “Ira… I don’t know how appropriate this is. Wyatt didn’t do anything wrong.”
            “I’m not saying he did. It’s just that I could lose my job over this!”
            “That’s ridiculous.” Wyatt’s mom said. “No one’s going to fire you for checking out a reference book.”
            Mr. Clifton sniffed. “Some of us serve at the whim of the Mayor. You should understand that.”
            Wyatt’s dad shifted to the tone of voice he used when someone complained about running out of hot water, or the rooms being too drafty, and he tried to convince them that what they got was actually what they had wanted in the first place – a real Civil War-Era experience. “What’s the harm in letting the boy have the book for now? I’ve used the historical reference section. It’s not like there are hordes of people lined up for those books. He’ll return it safe and sound when it’s due.”
            Mr. Clifton gaped at the three of them. “You don’t understand!”
            “We’ll make sure he returns it not a day late. But until then, Wyatt has homework.” With an iron grip on his arm, Wyatt’s dad guided Mr. Clifton out of the room. It felt really good, his dad standing up for him and everything.
            His mom gave Wyatt a worried look, then followed them.
            He listened to the adults argue in the entry hall. Mr. Clifton’s voice was shrill. “I told her no one’s going to believe a high school kid’s book report, but the Mayor wants this dealt with. Have you seen his blog post?”
            There was a pause, like they were calling it up on the reception computer.
            Moving quietly, Wyatt took Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend, turned it so the plain back cover faced out, and sandwiched it in the glass bookcase behind volumes eleven and twelve of The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln. Then he pulled out volumes one through ten so they were all even.
            Completely hidden.
            He could hear his video playing on the tinny desk speakers. With a twist of the old-fashioned skeleton key, he locked the bookcase, and slid the key into his jeans pocket. Slipping out to the stairs, he stayed silent as a Civil War ghost. He stopped on the second floor landing, listening.
            Mr. Clifton cleared his throat. “It’s like Pandora’s Box.”
“All hell is going to break loose because of this,” Mr. Clifton continued. “I’m just trying to close it again.”
            But he gave me the book on purpose! Does he know about me? Wyatt tried to figure it out. Maybe Mr. Clifton had seen him hide Absolutely… But if he did know, and that’s why he gave him Joshua Fry Speed, wasn’t it because he wanted Wyatt to find out about Lincoln?
            He couldn’t hear what his parents said, but Mr. Clifton’s words hit him in the gut. “Did Wyatt tell you he got an ‘F’ on this report?”
            That bastard.
            Wyatt snuck the rest of the way up to the third floor. He had to get ready for the Inquisition.
            A thought stopped him at the hallway bookcase by Room Eight. His laptop was dead – at breakfast, his mom had given him a twenty-minute lecture about responsibility, and how he wouldn’t get a new computer until he could buy one with his own money. Given that he barely had twenty dollars saved up, and he only made twenty-nine cents for every coffee-aged document they sold downstairs, that was going to take a while.
The reception computer was off-limits except for homework. His parents and Mr. Clifton were on that now, anyway… but they did have this old set of Encyclopedias. Wyatt had never really thought of the cream, blue, and red-striped leather-bound set as anything more than period wallpaper, but maybe it had something on Pandora. After all, Wyatt figured, that’s what people did before the internet, right?
            He grabbed volume 18, ORN-PHT, and headed to his room.
            Turned out Pandora was this girl who got a box from the King of the Gods. Only she wasn’t allowed to open it. Of course, she did open it, and from inside all the different kinds of evil escaped into the world.
            Why would the truth about Abe loving another guy be evil?
            With the box open and all these Evils escaping, Pandora panicked, and slammed the lid shut. But that left only one thing trapped inside: Hope.
            Wyatt wondered if she ever let that out.
            He wished he hadn’t ruined his laptop after all. Maybe in computer lab he could add his blog as an external link to the Wikipedia article on Lincoln.
            The world needed to know, and he wanted to tell everybody.
            It was time to let Hope out.
            But first, he’d have to deal with his dad and mom, and make sure they didn’t know about him.

* *

* *
Endnotes for Chapter 7 
On his blog, Jonathon quotes Lincoln’s joke about “calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it so.” Abe did say this, but it wasn’t included in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates book I imagined Jonathon had for his book report (not on page 4 or elsewhere.) I actually found this Lincoln quote on page 194 of The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln: A Treasury of Quotations, Anecdotes, and Observations, Edited by James C. Humes, Gramercy Books, Random House, 1996.

* *

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Just Between Us - Gay Teen Love Faces an HIV Hurdle... Can Luke and Curtis Make Their Relationship Work?

Just Between Us by J.H. Trumble

Luke Chesser is back, and it looks like his luck may be changing when he makes a surprising connection with one of the marching band field techs, Curtis Cameron.

But just as their relationship is set to launch, Curtis is diagnosed HIV positive. Too ashamed to tell anyone, he puts off treatment and pulls the plug on his relationship with Luke. He won't risk infecting another person. But Luke won't let go so easily. The two soon find themselves struggling to either define their relationship in terms they can both live with or end it altogether.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Alys - a Steampunked riff on 'Alice In Wonderland' with homophobia as a theme and a lot of hope

Alys by Kiri Callaghan
Following her gay best friend’s suicide, Alyson Carroll descends into the realm of Dreams and Nightmares. In her quest to find home, she discovers that Charlie might not truly be gone after all, but when she meets Oswin, the prince of Terra Mirum, she must face her own fears and raise an army against The Nightmare Queen, or surrender as the world of dreams is consumed by terror and darkness forever.

I recently caught up with author Kiri Callaghan (dressed as a fae character from her novel) and got the scoop:

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter Six

In Chapter Five, Wyatt's first "date" with Mackenzie is cut short, and when he finally cracks open his book on Lincoln for his book report, he discovers the real-world historical letters that Abraham Lincoln wrote Joshua Fry Speed. Letters that, Wyatt suspects, reveal that Abraham was in love with Joshua!

Want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapters One and Two.

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Okay community, here's Chapter Six!

Chapter Six

Wyatt Yarrow’s Book Report Blog for Mr. Guzman’s 9th Grade History Class.
Lincolnville High School.
Book: Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend by Robert Kincaid.


First Impression Blog Post: Monday, January 12, 3:56 a.m.
President Abraham Lincoln Was Gay!

Fact: When Abraham Lincoln was 28 years old, he was a brand-new lawyer and moved to Springfield, Illinois. He went into Joshua Fry Speed’s store to buy the stuff for a bed so he’d have somewhere to sleep.
Fact: Abe was so poor, he didn’t even have $17 to pay for the stuff he’d need for his own bed.
Fact: Joshua told Abe he could share his bed.
Fact: Abe was a success as a lawyer and had the money, but still shared the bed with Joshua for four years!
Fact: The bed was a double bed, 53 inches wide (less than 4 ½ feet) and not even six feet long.
Fact: Abe was six feet four inches tall. Lying down, even like a soldier at attention, from shoulder to shoulder he’d cover 29 inches across.
Fact: If Joshua was average height (and the internet says that in the mid-1800s, that was around five feet seven inches tall) lying down, his shoulders would have been at least 24 inches across.
Fact: 29 + 24 = 53. Not an inch to spare.
The facts add up: There’s no way they could have shared that bed and not been touching practically the whole time. Here, I’ll prove it.

Insert Internet Video: “Abraham Lincoln Was Gay: BEDMATES!”

A hand moves away and Wyatt backs up from the lens. He’s in the Lincoln Room, black-suited wax-Lincoln by his side. Wyatt looks right at the camera.

Okay… Hi. I’m Wyatt, and this is my video proof that President Abraham Lincoln was gay. Or, at least, had a thing with Joshua Fry Speed. Like, a love thing.

This… is a life-sized wax figure of our sixteenth President, six feet four inches tall. And that…

Wyatt points over his shoulder to the bed where the old military mannequin, changed into his mismatched Union dark-blue wool coat, light-blue pants, and brown boots, lies on his back.

…is a guy pretty much the size of Joshua Fry Speed.

Wyatt struggles to carry wax-Lincoln over to the bed. The sculpture tips backwards, and Wyatt catches the right-arm-that’s-out-to-shake just before it smacks into the sideboard and breaks. Cradling the arm and leveraging wax-Lincoln onto the bed, Wyatt talks to the camera.

Lincoln was tall. He would have had to scrunch up in any bed, even one today, and this wax-figure’s knees don’t bend.

The video jump-cuts, and Wyatt approaches to take the camera off its tripod.


The camera aims back at the bed. Wax-Lincoln is on his left side and at an angle, size 14 shoes sticking past the footboard. His right arm rests across the other mannequin’s chest. From the end of the bed, the camera pans left to right. The two figures are pressed against each other with no extra room.


The camera flips around to show Wyatt’s face, Lincoln and the soldier on the bed behind him.

They didn’t need to share it. They chose to. For four years! Do the math: Lincoln was gay.

* *

* *

Want to know why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free right here on this blog? Click here.

Ready for Chapter Seven? Click here.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

National Coming Out Day + LGBTQ History Month = Let's Discover the Men Who Loved Men, Women Who Loved Women, and People Who Lived Outside Gender Boundaries in History

Because if we (and especially today's teens) know our LGBTQ past, we can be assured Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, Questioning, and Queer people have a place in the present. And if we know we have a place in the present, we can dream of our futures...

So let's discover the real history of Eleanor Roosevelt loving Lorena Hickok.

The real history of William Shakespeare writing 126 love sonnets to another man.

The real history of the Pharaoh Hatshepsut changing how they portrayed their gender over 22 years of rule, from being seen as completely feminine, to an in-between gender, to being portrayed as completely masculine.

And let's be real about the history of Abraham Lincoln loving Joshua Fry Speed. (Want to know more about that one? Check out my YA novel inspired by that true history, here.)

Here are this year's LGBT History Month icons:

And be sure to check out the more than 370 LGBT Icons from the Equality Forum's LGBT History Month celebrations of the past 10+ years here.

And let's celebrate who we've been, who we are, and who we can be!

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

Monday, October 9, 2017

Arrests after seven people wave the Gay Pride Rainbow Flag at a concert in Egypt

It's being reported by many news agencies, including the BBC,


You can add your voice to the outrage by joining me and signing this ALL OUT petition to the Egyptian government.

All Out reports that
"At least 43 people have been detained in Egypt just because someone waved a rainbow flag.

The hunt started when images of a concert in Cairo were posted on social media, showing someone dancing with the rainbow flag. The police claimed that the people arrested were “homosexuals who raised the LGBT flag and encouraged the practice of immoral acts."

Most of those detained have been put through a speedy trial and sentenced to six years in prison. They are appealing these sentences and we need to show Egyptian authorities that colours are not shame. That's why activists from Egypt, the Middle East, and North Africa have started this petition with All Out."

Waving a flag shouldn't be a crime.

Being your authentic self shouldn't be a crime.


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

Friday, October 6, 2017

Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill: Chapter Five

In Chapter Four, Wyatt gets assigned a book for his President Abraham Lincoln book report, uses Mackenzie as protection from Jonathon, and learns that if business doesn't pick up, his family might lose their Lincoln Slept Here Bed and Breakfast.

Want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapters One and Two.

To read about why I'm serializing my entire YA novel for free on this blog, click here.

Thoughts? Reactions? #queerasafivedollarbill fan art? Share them in comments here or on social media (facebook, twitter, instagram.)

Okay, community, here's Chapter Five!

Chapter 5
Sunday January 11

            It was seven o’clock, the exhibits were shut for the day, and Wyatt was just about to pick up a second kitchen chair to carry to the exhibition screen in the old dining room when Mackenzie walked in from the hallway. “Hi, Honeybear!” She was back from dinner with her dad, joining them for the first time for their family movie night.
“Oh.” She had been waving a packet of microwave popcorn, but Mackenzie’s face fell as she smelled the rich wafts of steam and heard the PUHP-P-P-P-P-P-P! coming from the covered cast-iron pot by Wyatt’s dad.
            Wyatt nodded ‘hi’ from behind the chair back he was still holding.
            His dad shouted over the popping, “This is going to be way more delicious than from a microwave! Just like in old times!”
            “Thank you, Mackenzie. That’s very thoughtful.” Wyatt’s mom took the package from Mackenzie’s hand, and gave her a big hug. “We’ll save this for next time.” She shot her husband a look, then turned to Wyatt. “Sweetie, why don’t you offer your girlfriend something to drink?”
            Wyatt felt bad that he hadn’t warned Mackenzie about his dad’s latest circa-1860s kitchen toy. But how was I supposed to know she was going to bring anything? She never brings anything. Then he remembered. This wasn’t just her coming over while her dad was at an AA meeting, like this afternoon, when she’d hung out and done homework while Wyatt antiqued a bunch of President Abraham Lincoln Timelines. This was more like a date. Oh, man. How was he going to survive a date?
            His mom prodded him with her eyes. Wyatt let go of the chair and played his part. “We’ve got some sparkling apple juice…”
            “That sounds great.” Mackenzie joined him at the counter to help with the glasses.
            Wyatt’s mom peered down the empty hallway. “Your dad couldn’t join us, after all?”
            Mackenzie shook her head. “He wanted to study. There’s another police officer test coming up.”
            Banished to the converted dining room to set things up so his mom and Mackenzie could have ‘a little girl time’ before the movie, Wyatt set the fourth chair in front of the only T.V. in their B&B. He hit eject and put The Civil War in Four Minutes DVD in its case. His dad was already reading the latest Kovel’s Antiques & Collectables, all ready for the Bond movie since it wasn’t some boring documentary on 19th century field hospitals.
            Wyatt loaded the DVD. At least he could watch the previews.

* *

Wyatt looked up as Mackenzie and his mom finally came in, each with a large bowl of popcorn – one for his parents to share, the other for Mackenzie and Wyatt.
            He would have rather had his own.
            This preview was more soda commercial than spy thriller anyway. “Ready for the movie?” Wyatt aimed the remote to go back to the main menu, but his mom took it from him and hit mute instead.
            “Let’s visit a little, first.”
Wyatt knew it was because she was in no rush to see the inevitable action movie he always chose.
            Mackenzie scooted her chair right up against Wyatt’s, explaining, “We can share better this way.”
Wyatt grabbed a handful of popcorn and stuffed his mouth.
Wyatt’s mom gestured to the T.V. screen, her voice light like it was just a casual suggestion. “Maybe we could do one of our own. A commercial, for the B&B.” She glanced at Wyatt’s dad, who was frowning.
His dad wasn’t hearing any of it. “Word of mouth is the best advertising, and it’s free.”
“But Wyatt has his new camera, and we could put it online. It doesn’t need to cost any–”
“Liz!” His dad cut her off. “I’ll thank you to let me handle things my way.”
In the silence Wyatt could almost hear his mom thinking that his dad’s way wasn’t working so well. That’s what the bank guy thought, too – but his mom would never say it.
To Wyatt’s surprise, his mom tried once more, “How could it hurt to let more people know about us?”
“New topic.” His dad bristled, giving her a move on look.
Wyatt leaned over and whispered to Mackenzie, “You’re really family, if they’re fighting in front of you.”
Mackenzie stifled a giggle.
 “Okay,” Wyatt’s mom put up a hand in surrender. “And we’re not fighting. It was just a suggestion...”
If you avoid making waves, your boat never capsizes. His mom had told him that fortune-cookie-worthy motto enough times. But it occurred to Wyatt that a boat that didn’t make waves was a boat that didn’t move.
 “So…” His mom included them all in the conversation’s new direction. “Mackenzie was telling me that the Lincolns had séances in the White House!”
            Séances? Wyatt gave Mackenzie a quick glance. Why didn’t she mention that earlier?
            “Eight of them, at least.” Mackenzie sparkled at the attention. “Trying to communicate with their dead son.”
            “Which one?” Wyatt’s dad asked over his glasses.
“Willie, who died a year into the Civil War. He was twelve.” Mackenzie answered, and then glanced at Wyatt’s mom. “At least they knew he was dead.”
No one said anything, and Wyatt wondered if Mackenzie was talking about her own mom, off on some journey to ‘find herself.’ It had been like three years since Mackenzie had heard anything from her.
Mackenzie spoke first. “It turns out my book’s a lot more interesting than I thought it would be.”
            Wyatt’s dad said, “Ah, don’t judge a book by its cover.” Trust his dad to pull out the most time-worn cliché possible, dust it off, and put it out there like it was new wisdom.           
His mom eyed the Bond movie menu screen that had come up after the final preview, and he knew she was wishing it was some HGTV house-staging marathon instead. She stalled with one more question, this time for him. “How about your book, Sweetie? What’s it about?”
            His book. Still in his backpack, untouched. Because really, what was he supposed to do? He had to do a good job, or his parents would kill him, but not too good a job, or Jonathon would really kill him. So he just… hadn’t done anything.
            Wyatt tried to say it like it was no big deal. “I still have a little reading to do.” But as soon as the words left his mouth, he knew he was sunk. There was plenty of time, but his mom fixated on how he hadn’t even cracked the book. And then Mackenzie chimed in that their ‘first impression’ blog posts had to be online by 6 a.m., and hers had taken a lot longer than she thought, because of all the footnotes.
            Not helpful.
            So no cool cars or gadgets or super villains for 007 – or Wyatt.
            Just his mom’s relieved scolding, as she put the disc away for next Sunday.
            Just his own pathetic apology to Mackenzie, “Sorry this pushes your movie back a week.”
            Just her saying, “It was still one of the nicest family nights I’ve had in a long time. You don’t know how lucky you all are.”
Just him not feeling lucky at all.
            Just an awkward hug where Mackenzie tried to kiss Wyatt goodnight – on the lips – and at the last millisecond he turned his head so she kissed his cheek instead, and then he pretended he didn’t notice anything weird.
            Just a look askance from his dad as he got up to drive Mackenzie home. “You know better than this, young man.”
            Just Wyatt standing in the kitchen filling sandwich bags with popcorn – snacks for him to take to school for the whole week ahead that would be stale by Tuesday.
            Just… Lincoln.

* *

            Wyatt thought about watching something online, but didn’t think he could get away with it. Instead, he killed time designing his own Bond car – one that could drive like a race car, but also maneuver like a hummingbird in the air and like an otter through the water… and still shoot out lasers to stop the bad guys in their tracks. He drew his soldier’s face. Then drew himself in next to him. Wyatt imagined going for a drive, a Bond guy and him. He added them holding hands, and doodled the beginning of a heart – STOP!
            He crossed it out. All of it. Again and again, soaking the paper with blue ink. Then he cut the paper into thin strips, first one way, then the other, hand-shredding it like confetti. He threw a third of it in his trash can, another third in the bathroom trash can, and tossed the rest in the toilet. FLUSSHHH! No one would be able to put that back together.
At ten o’clock, when he figured the movie would have been over anyway, Wyatt pulled the top comforter up over his feet and grabbed the stupid Lincoln book.
            It was thin, seventy pages. He loved Mr. Clifton. Not like that. Just, cool. At least it wouldn’t take all night.
He opened the cover. It was a bit crumbly at the spine. How old was this thing?
            The full title read:
                        Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend
                        by Robert L. Kincaid
            Copyright page said 1943. Wyatt figured back then ‘intimate’ just meant close. Best friends. Maybe today it would be
                        Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s BFF
            Maybe that’s what he’d call his blog.
            He opened the book at random. Page 55. It was a letter, signed
                        Yours Forever,
            Sounded like a love letter. Like it should be in Mackenzie’s book, love letters between Abe and Mary. With séances thrown in to keep it interesting. It was weird that Abe had signed it “Lincoln.” Wyatt scanned back to the top of page 54, where the letter began.
                        Springfield, October 5, 1842
                        Dear Speed:
            It was a letter to Joshua Fry Speed. Did everyone write like this back then? Why was Abe calling him by his last name? It was like they were in P.E. together or something.
            Wyatt started to read the letter. Joshua had been married eight months. Sounded like Abe had to talk him into it. And then Abe asked
“…But I want to ask a closer question, “Are you now in feeling as well as in judgment, glad that you are married as you are?” From anybody but me this would be an impudent question, not to be tolerated, but I know you will pardon it in me. Please answer it quickly, as I feel impatient to know.”

            Wyatt reasoned it through: So Joshua got married because he judged he should, not because he felt it. And Abe wanted to know if the feeling came later.
            When was this? He fished a piece of paper out of his jeans pocket and uncrumpled it to mark the page. It was Mackenzie’s note, the M and W for their names inside a heart.
He ran downstairs to grab a fresh President Abraham Lincoln Timeline. Back in his room, the stiff coffee-stained paper crackled as he unfolded it, and he searched for the year.
                        1842: Reconciles with Mary Todd. Marries her on November 4.
            This letter was before that wedding. Just a month before.
“Please answer it quickly as I feel impatient to know.”
            Abe was asking his BFF
“Are you now in feeling as well as in judgment, glad that you are married as you are?”

            Maybe Abe wasn’t sure if he should get married, either. Joshua hadn’t been.
            Wyatt stared at the heart note from Mackenzie. Goose bumps broke out along his upper back and arms. Whoa. He and Mackenzie weren’t married, but that was how he felt! He judged – it kind of made sense to be her boyfriend. But he didn’t feel it. Not the way he was supposed to.
            The goose bumps travelled all the way along his spine, down his legs. The hair on his scalp stood up.
            Was their reason for not feeling it the same as his?
            It wasn’t possible. Was it?
            He turned the pages backwards. This section was all letters, almost all of them from Abe to Joshua. He checked out how they ended
                        Ever Yours,
                        As Ever,
                        Yours Forever,
                        As Ever, Your Friend
                        Yours Forever,
            Who was this guy Joshua? Wyatt flipped to the beginning. He ran a store.
“A tall angular young man with lean, wrinkled cheeks and sad, gray eyes, walked into a general store in Springfield, Illinois, more than a century ago, and laid on the counter a pair of saddlebags which he carried in the crook of his long arm.  He asked the young proprietor of the store the price of a mattress, blankets, sheets, coverlid, and a pillow for a single bed.  The items came to seventeen dollars.
“It is perhaps cheap enough,“ the young man with the saddlebags said, “but small as it is, I am unable to pay it.  If you will credit me until Christmas, I will pay you then, if I do well; but if I do not, I may never be able to pay you.”
“The proprietor looked up into the face of his prospective customer and was moved by the forlorn expression in his eyes.  He said:
“You seem to be so much pained at contracting so small a debt, I think I can suggest a plan by which you can avoid the debt and at the same time attain your end.  I have a large room with a double bed which you are welcome to share with me.”
                        “Where is your room?”
            “Upstairs,” the proprietor replied, pointing to a pair of winding stairs which led from the store to the room.
“The tall young man picked up his saddle bags, went upstairs, set them down on the floor, returned below with a beaming countenance and exclaimed jovially,
                        “Well Speed, I’m moved!”

            That sounded weird. They didn’t know each other, but Joshua offered to share his bed with him? That was pretty intimate.
“This episode is familiar to all students of the life of Abraham Lincoln.  The date of its occurrence, April 15, 1837, marked the transition of Lincoln into a career which led to immortality.”

            Wyatt kept reading. Turned out Abe was really successful in Springfield. But long after he could afford his own bed, he still shared that bed with Joshua. They shared it for four years.
            The bed!
            Quickly, Wyatt thumbed back through the pages, scanning for the facts.
                        “Springfield, Illinois”
                        “a double bed”
            He raced out of his room to the stairs, nearly colliding with his dad who was coming out of the laundry room with a basket of folded kitchen towels and napkins. His dad put a finger to his lips, signaling there were guests in Room Six. “Where are you going?” he whispered.
            “Homework.” Wyatt held up the book.
            “Seems like there’s more to it than you thought. Good thing we didn’t watch the movie.”
            “Yeah. I guess you and Mom were right.” Wyatt kept his head down. There was no way they could know he’d just started.
            “Well, do your best. And don’t stay up too late.”
            Wyatt nodded to get away, and hustled one flight down, trying to not be too loud. Or too excited.
            He opened the door to their Lincoln Room and hit the switch on the electric-posing-as-oil lamp. Orange-yellow light flickered across the rocking chair, the dresser, the sheets.
            Suddenly in his mind Wyatt saw a second pillow by the first. He blinked it away. Abe hadn’t bought one, so maybe they shared the pillow, too?
            He knew the dates, but had to check anyway. The small bronze plaque on its wooden stand in front of the bed announced,

Lincoln Slept Here
1837 – 1841

            It was theirs. The bed Abe and Joshua shared.  It was their bed!
                        In judgment but not in feeling
            Was it code?
            Could Abe and Joshua have been…
            Wyatt’s legs gave way and he was sitting on the floor, heart pounding. He opened the book and read like his life depended on it.

* *

            It was past midnight when, back in his room, Wyatt went online. He’d read Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend cover-to-cover but now he hesitated, cursor in the search box. This was something he couldn’t take back. His mom had disabled ‘clear history’ and checked his browser once a week, part of their family internet compromise: If you’d be embarrassed for your mother to know you’ve been there, you shouldn’t be there in the first place. If it had been up to his dad, they wouldn’t have internet at all.
But Wyatt had to know, and he could figure out how to cover his tracks later. He typed,
                        was lincoln gay?
and hit return.
            50 million results.
            One of the hits on the first page was a review of some book, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln. There was that word again. Intimate. Wyatt toggled and did a book search instead. It was the only book that popped for “abraham lincoln gay.”
            But for ‘abraham lincoln,’ 38,355 books came up. If the gay thing only came up in one of them, how could it be true?
            Wyatt’s book didn’t come out and say he was gay, but those letters…
            And Lincoln was a hero. Lots of people wouldn’t want him to be in love with another guy. But, what if he was?
            Wyatt smoothed out the President Abraham Lincoln Timeline on his desk.
1837: Moves to Springfield (new capital) and begins practicing as a trial lawyer.
            Nothing about where he lived, or sharing a bed, or maybe falling in love with Joshua Fry Speed. The only stuff about Lincoln’s personal life was
1840: Becomes engaged to Mary Todd.
1841: Breaks engagement to Mary Todd and plunges into deep depression. This is one of many bouts of depression that Lincoln suffered throughout his life.
1842: Reconciles with Mary Todd. Marries her on November 4.
            The ‘Fatal First” of January 1841 was supposed to be the trigger of Lincoln’s giant depression. It was when he broke his engagement to Mary the first time round.
            But in Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend, January 1, 1841 was also when Joshua told Abe he was moving back to Kentucky. Away from Abe. Marking the end of their four years of living together. The end of their sharing that bed one floor down from where Wyatt was sitting right now.
            Nobody really had a reason why Abe broke things off with Mary the first time and got so depressed. But… What if Abe’s depression wasn’t about Mary, but about being freaked out about being in love with Joshua? About Joshua kind of breaking up with him, moving away, and eventually marrying that woman Fanny?
            And then eight months after Joshua got married, Abe went ahead and married Mary because he judged it the right thing to do. The politically smart thing to do. Even if his heart, and Joshua’s heart – their feelings – were elsewhere…
            In judgment but not in feeling.
            But no one’s ever said anything about it!
            Wyatt remembered that one book that came up in the search. Or maybe when they did say it, no one listened. He got back on the computer.
                        ‘was president lincoln gay?’
            A lot of the sites that popped up were angry, ‘the very question insults the memory of our greatest President’ – stuff like that.
            One site argued that no one could be a ‘homosexual’ before this Austrian guy invented the word for it in 1869, four years after Lincoln was gunned down by John Wilkes Booth. What a load of crap. Guys falling in love with other guys didn’t all of a sudden start when they came up with a word for it.
            I didn’t need any words to know.
            Wyatt found a video clip: “Was Lincoln Gay?” And hit play.
Internet Video: “Was Lincoln Gay?”

A professor in a suit stands at a podium in a small conference room. Words on the screen read “Family Values in Christ Coalition Summit.” He speaks with an I-know-better-than-you attitude.

Rumors of President Lincoln having a deviant ‘Alternative Lifestyle’ are simply that, wild expressions of a shrill homosexual agenda that no serious historian takes seriously. And what proof do they have?

The Professor holds up a copy of The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln and sneers.

Conjecture and fantasy, by an activist with a pro-homosexual agenda. Pure trash.

He uses his foot to open the lid of a conveniently placed trash can and drops the book in with a clang.

Can you imagine lipstick and pink eye shadow on Lincoln’s face on Mount Rushmore?

The video cuts to a cartoon image of that very thing, with a pink feather boa around Lincoln’s made-up face on the mountainside. An unseen audience bursts out laughing.

* *

Wyatt hit stop.
He didn’t want to dress up like a girl, or be a girl. And he didn’t know if Lincoln did or didn’t, but that had nothing to do with whether or not Lincoln was gay. Or bi. Or whatever you’d call it if Abe’s feeling was for Joshua instead of Mary…
Next to the frozen image of Lincoln’s Mt. Rushmore face in drag, the website suggested:

Other videos you might like:
Marcia Gay Harden Visits Mt. Rushmore
Dead Presidents Punk and Rock Washington, D.C.
George Washington’s Gay Inspector General

What was that one about?
Cautiously, Wyatt hit play.
Internet Video: “George Washington’s Gay Inspector General”

A handsome teen guy sits in front of an outdoor-sized Gay Pride Rainbow flag pinned to the wall behind him. He wears a rainbow bracelet and is strumming a fast-intro on a blue acoustic guitar. The tune is ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy.’

An inset picture of an oil painting pops into the frame next to him. It’s of an old military guy in one of those white wigs from Revolutionary War-time, in a gold vest with lots of medals pinned to his jacket.

Words scroll on the bottom of the screen:

Music: George M. Cohan
New Lyrics: Martin Sykes

The teen, Martin, smiles – teeth brilliant white against his darker skin. His fingers fly, building the song to the familiar chorus.

Martin (sings)
Von Steuben’s a Yankee Doodle Dandy!
A Yankee Doodle who liked guys…
Freidrich Wilhelm Von Steu-eu-ben,
Without him there’d be no Fourth of July!

The inset image changes as Martin continues singing, showing other old paintings of:
Ben Franklin,
Washington at Valley Forge inspecting troops,
And finally, the famous painting of George Washington Crossing the Delaware, the new flag of the United States of America unfurling behind him.

Martin (sings)
Ben Franklin, knew that our army, need-ed help
General Washington, he knew it too.
Freid-rich. Went. To. Valley. Forge. Just. To. Train. Our. Sol-diers.
He’s why American’s here for you!

Martin finishes the song with a flourish of strumming. For the first time, he looks directly at the camera.

And that’s all true.

The video ended, and Wyatt stared at the guy on the screen, letting it sink in. He was so out. And proud. Probably lived in New York City, with some model boyfriend. And that song – a gay general who helped America win the revolutionary war against the British?
So cool.
The video player suggested another video, “Also from Martin Sykes:”

Legal Advocates of Oregon: Rhonda Sykes on 2 Years of Speaking Truth To Power

Not so interesting. And he was getting distracted.
            Back to Lincoln, and those letters. What if this Kincaid guy who wrote Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend was making it all up? What if the letters weren’t even real?
            Wyatt picked up the book and checked the boring stuff in the beginning. On the title page, above the year, it read, “Department of Lincolnalia, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, Tennessee.” The author couldn’t have made up the letters and still gotten it published by a university named after Lincoln! They had to be real.
            Still, Wyatt had never even heard of Joshua Fry Speed before. And if they were an item, wouldn’t he have?
            Maybe not. Maybe historians were trying to keep this a secret.
            He’d never heard of Von Steuben – and him being gay – either, until a minute ago.
            But since everyone loved Lincoln, if the world knew Abe was gay – that he loved another guy – maybe they’d start to feel differently about gay people. Maybe, if Abe was out, everybody gay would be able to come out.
            Wyatt had a first impression about Abraham Lincoln, that was for sure. But if he was going to pull off this blog post, he had a lot to do.

* *

            It was past 4 a.m. when Wyatt finished and his post was live on the school blog host. He unplugged his laptop and fast-carried it to the bathroom sink before the two-minute battery charge gave out. Careful to not electrocute himself, he leaned the laptop on its side under the faucet and turned the water on. It poured into the side slot, drenching the keyboard. Something inside whirred and shorted out. The screen went blank.
            A dead computer tells no tales.
            He carried it back to his desk wrapped in a towel, and spilled a glass of water on the wood floor right below the table edge. He let it soak in, making sure his story would make sense.
            Tracks covered.
            Wyatt fell into bed, head swimming. He thought about brushing his teeth, but just pulled the three comforters up, overwhelmed and desperately tired. As he lay there, waiting to slip into sleep, one thought surfaced…
            Lincoln freed the slaves. Maybe now, he can free the gays.
            Maybe, he can free me.

* *

* *

Chapter Five Endnotes

In Chapter 5, Mackenzie discusses the séances held in the White House while Lincoln was President. The séances are discussed on pages 40-41 of Lincoln at Home: Two Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln’s Family Life.
Wyatt reads the whole 70 pages of Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend. The October 5, 1842 letter where Abe asks Joshua, “are you now in feeling as well as judgment glad that you are married as you are?” is on pages 54-55, and is also found on pages 161-162 of Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches And Writings, Edited by Roy P. Basler, Preface by Carl Sandburg, De Capo Press paperback edition, Perseus Books Group, Cleveland, Ohio, 2001. The excerpt explaining how Abe met Joshua, wanting to buy stuff for a bed from Joshua’s store, is taken from pages 9-10 of Joshua Fry Speed: Lincoln’s Most Intimate Friend. That same book includes the five letters Wyatt noticed Abe wrote Joshua that ended with the sign-offs, “Ever Yours,” “As Ever,” “Yours Forever,” “As Ever, Your Friend” and “Yours Forever” – on pages 53, 52, 50, 49 and 48.
Wyatt also refers to their B&B’s ‘President Abraham Lincoln Timeline,’ and the timeline dates and quotes I used are from the Abraham Lincoln Chronology (Historical Documents Co., 1993.) I purchased my copy at the Lincoln Memorial Shrine, Redlands, California in April 2011. Their timeline was “reproduced on antiqued parchment that looks and feels old,” which inspired Wyatt’s antiquing chore.
Martin’s video song about Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, the gay man who helped the U.S. win the Revolutionary War and who “single-handedly turned a militia, consisting mostly of farmers, into a well-trained, disciplined and professional army that was able to stand musket-to-musket combat with the British” is also based on real history. You can read more about von Steuben, his being gay and his role in U.S. history here:

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