Friday, November 15, 2019

Final Draft - 18-year-old Fat, Pansexual, Ecuadorian-American Laila Tries To Figure Out How To Be a Great Writer... and How To Live

Final Draft By Riley Redgate

Laila Piedra doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and definitely doesn’t sneak into the 21-and-over clubs on the Lower East Side. The only sort of risk Laila enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories. But just before her graduation, Laila’s creative writing teacher and number one fan is replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who sees nothing at all special about Laila’s writing. A growing obsession with gaining Nazarenko’s approval leads to a series of unexpected adventures. With her sanity and happiness on the line, Laila must figure out if enduring the unendurable really is the only way to greatness.

Add your review of "Final Draft" in comments!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Best At It - A Middle Grade novel about a Brown, Gay, and Anxious Boy Dealing With Seventh Grade in Small Town Indiana

Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it.

Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge.... But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?

Interviewed in CBC Diversity's October 2019 newsletter about this, his debut middle grade novel, Maulik said:

“I read so many books as a kid, but I never, ever saw brown or gay characters in the stories I read. I could have used that kind of representation. It would have been very validating, very powerful, as a child to have been able to see my own experience reflected back in a book. So, a big inspiration was the fact that I believe there’s a need for diverse books for young people that address intersectionality. Kids are so much more than one thing. I happened to be brown and gay and dealing with some anxiety…and I hope that sharing my story offers “mirrors and windows and sliding glass doors” to so many young people.”

The novel has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Add your review of "The Best at It" in comments!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Here's a Theory: The Statue of Liberty is... a Man!

Well, based on a man.

So the assumption has always been that the French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, modeled Lady Liberty off his mother. But author and journalist Elizabeth Mitchell has a different theory, as reported in "Secrets of America’s Favorite Places", and told to the New York Post:
“As I was looking at it more carefully, the structure of the face isn’t really the same. [His mother] has a more arched eyebrow, has a thinner nose, has thinner lips, even in her youth. And he was a bust-maker … and was known for his accuracy,” Mitchell tells The Post.

“Going through photos he had in his files of his brother, I started to look at the face more carefully, and it really did look to be like Liberty. His brother in his adult years had actually gone mad, and it was Bartholdi’s task to go once a week to visit, sometimes [spending] hours just staring at his brother, who was not speaking.”

Here's a close-up view of a copy of Lady Liberty's face, from the museum under the statue:

And here's a photo of Frédéric's brother, Jean-Charles:

So why would it even matter?

The Statue of Liberty is still iconic, based on a woman or a man. Still amazing. Still a beacon of hope for what America stands for.

But, knowing “Lady Liberty” may actually be the likeness of a beloved young man adds a lovely LGBTQ hue to the oxyidized copper green-blue statue's welcome to America.

Should we think of her as a man in drag? suggests she might be a drag queen. The wonderful Peter Tatchell Foundation asks, in their Oct 24, 2019 newsletter where I first read about this, "Is the Statue of Liberty a giant drag queen? Could it be based on a Frenchman called Jean Charles Bartholdi? Well, 'Lady Liberty' is a great drag name!"

At the very least, if she's really based on Jean-Charles, it's pretty gender non-conforming!

Queer history really is everywhere.

Giuseppe Milo [CC BY 3.0 (]

Hold up your torch, Lady Liberty, and be proud of who you are—no matter who you're based on.

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

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers - Young Readers Will Love The Magic & Mystery (And Oliver's Best Friends in 3rd Grade, Twins Teenie and Bea, have Two Dads!)

The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers by Pseudonymous Bosch, illustrated by Shane Pangburn

Eight-year-old Oliver dreams of being a professional magician, even though he has terrible stage fright. And now, his friends Teenie and Bea have gotten him invited to a classmate's birthday party as the paid entertainment! Desperate for help, he visits The Great Zoocheeni's Magic Emporium, but comes away with nothing more than a moth-eaten top hat.

Oliver is in for a lucky surprise, though. Inside that top hat hides a wisecracking rabbit named Benny, who agrees to help Oliver with his act. But at the party, Oliver is accused of robbery! He'll need to solve the mystery of the missing robo-cat to clear his name before he and Benny can amaze the crowd with their grand finale.

Pseudonymous Bosch is the "infamously anonymous" New York Times bestselling author (of the Secret Series) and very nice guy who may or may not be "the alter ego of Raphael Simon, a totally unrelated author who lives in Pasadena, California, with his husband and twin daughters."

"The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers" even has a magic trick for the chapter book's readers to learn at the end! Add your review in comments!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Rainbow: A First Book of Pride - a Lovely Picture Book About Rainbows, and Our Rainbow Families, for Ages 3 and Up

Rainbow: A First Book of Pride by Michael Genhart, Illustrated by Anne Passchier

"A sweet ode to rainbow families, and an affirming display of a parent's love for their child and a child's love for their parents. With bright colors and joyful families, this book celebrates LGBTQ+ pride and reveals the colorful meaning behind each rainbow stripe. Readers will celebrate the life, healing, light, nature, harmony, and spirit that the rainbows in this book will bring."

Michael has written something simple and powerful, and Anne's illustrations are inclusive of many kinds of LGBTQ families, made up of many colors and types of people. Especially love the two dads kissing as they push their child in a stroller in the final celebratory spread.

This is definitely a picture book I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid!

Add your review of "Rainbow: A First Book of Pride" in comments!

Monday, November 4, 2019

November 2019 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

Hi Community, here's the latest!

Watch the under-four-minutes video by clicking the still frame above or clicking here:


Hi Community, It’s November 2019, I’m Lee Wind, and this is my Video Newsletter, that's all about informing, updating, and hopefully inspiring YOU.

Queer History is Everywhere!

Robert Indiana is this famous POP artist who came up with the famous LOVE statue, you know, with the letters in a stack with the "O" on a slant? It's everywhere, all over the world. There's one in Israel, there's one in Washington, D.C. that's in Italian, there's one in the city I grew up in, Philadelphia, there's one at the college I went to, University of Pennsylvania, there's one in New York, they're all over the world, there was even a postage stamp!

And it's really exciting, because today, I learned that Robert Indiana was gay! In the 1960s, he had a relationship with another artist, Ellsworth Kelly, and it's just really cool that this icon of love that I've grown up with, this pop art thing that's been so popular, and loved by so many people, was from a gay artist. Queer history really is everywhere!

Lee Wind Author Update

Some months, it’s just about doing the work, and November is that kind of month.

Linda Sue Park taught me this great technique, it's called a 12 minute writing sprint, I set the timer on my phone for 12 minutes, and I tell myself I just have to focus for that much time. And I do it every day. Some days I'm able to do more than 12 minutes, if I'm on a roll, I'll hit the timer to do again, another 12 minutes, and another 12 minutes, but some days all I have is 12 minutes. But you know, piece by piece, day by day, I'm building the new novel, and I'm really excited about it!

Readers Say

Andrea @stargirlriots, is a reader in Cape Town, South Africa, and they tweeted on Oct 27th,

“I just finished the audiobook of Queer as a Five Dollar Bill by @LeeWind and !!!!!! (6 exclamation points) I have never reacted to a book SO much! I’d be “exactly! Thank you!!!” Talking back, eyebrows f-ing raised while I “yah! But—“ All. The. Way. Through. 10/10 recommend!"

Thanks, Andrea! I love that you loved the book, and I love that it's being read, and listened to, on the other side of the world. And when it reaches readers, and it effects them like that, that's what it's all about.


I had a great time at Models of Pride - there were over 1,400 LGBTQ and Allied teens there. I had a great session where we talked all about discovering LGBTQ history, and one of the attendees, a teenager, even sketched me!

I've been interviewed for a new podcast called “The Premise” which is all about the story behind the storytellers. I'm really excited, it's a brand-new podcast, I've very grateful to Jennifer Thompson and her husband Chad who had me on, and I'm looking forward to that launching in the next couple of months – I'll let you know.

Also, Nov 21 coming up, I'll be moderating a panel at my local high school of their pride project GSA group and I'm really looking forward to that!

Reading In, Writing Out

This month, I’m really enjoying…

Wayward Son

It's the follow-up to Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, which is sort of a gay Harry Potter book, but this time Baz, and Simon, and Agatha, and Penelope are all in America… And there's a road trip, and you don't know where it's going at first, but man, it builds up and gets really exciting, and I can't recommend it enough.


“Stories are truer than true. There's a quote from Neil Gaiman's Coraline: ‘Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.’ We absorb that, and it makes the next dragon a little more survivable.”

I love that. It's from A.J. Hackwith, a queer writer of science fiction and fantasy, author of The Library of the Unwritten, who was interviewed in Shelf Awareness Oct 25, 2019.

Thanks A.J., and thank you, Neil!

Want more? Check out I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read? at

Until then, the light in me recognizes the light in all of you.



Thanks to the team at for including Robert Indiana in their Icons of LGBTQ history this past November. They're a great resource for learning more about our Queer History!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Matthew Shepard's Parents Speak Out Against This Adminstration's (and Department of Justice's) Hypocrisy

As reported in the Advocate by Trudy Ring,

"We find it interesting and hypocritical that he would invite us to this event commemorating a hate crime law named after our son and Mr. Byrd, while, at the same time, asking the Supreme Court to allow the legalized firing of transgender employees.

“Mr. Barr, you cannot have it both ways. If you believe that employers should have the right to terminate transgender employees, just because they are transgender, then you believe they are lesser than and not worthy of protection. If so, you need not invite us to future events at the Department of Justice that are billed as celebrating the law that protects these same individuals from hate crimes. Either you believe in equality for all or you don’t. We do not honor our son by kowtowing to hypocrisy." —Judy and Dennis Shepard

It's refreshing and wonderful when people do the right thing.

Yeah, appearing with the current administration officials at this anniversary event would have drawn media attention to their mission of making the world a better place for LGBTQ people... but it would have used the Shepards as window-dressing, helping the administration continue to pretend they care about our equality while at the same time actively opposing it.

I'm really proud of Judy and Dennis.

I hope their standing proud for what's true and right inspires many others to do the same.

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

p.s. - shout out to my husband Mark who shared this with me, so I could share it with all of you.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Ghetto Goddess Series: Brew, Keeper, and Incarnate - a Trans Teen Witch (and her Mother) Find Themselves in the Middle of a Conspiracy

Brew by Dane Figueroa Edidi

Arjana Rambeau, a trans teenager from Baltimore, carries many secrets, one of which is she is a witch. Beginning to start a new school, she finds herself at the center of an unwarranted conspiracy. As she makes new friends, while attempting to maintain her old ones, she must learn how to distinguish who she can trust, because it seems everyone wants a piece of her and her growing powers.

Bembe Rambeau is a mystery, infamous amongst the magical community, she has very few friends but a collection of enemies; enemies, who seem to be attempting to remove not only her allies but her daughter as well; threatening both her small empire and family’s legacy. Bembe must now combat shifting loyalties while crafting an alliance with an enemy who she once wished dead.

Brew follows the lives of a mother and daughter, one who thinks she knows everything and another discovering what she knew isn’t true at all.


Arjana Rambeau and Candace Jones are best friends. Born in the heart of Baltimore, both teenagers’ lives have taken drastically different turns. As a secret society of witches gathers, and the Brotherhood of Winter returns, each one of the friends finds themselves in a fight for their lives.

Bembe Rambaeu, and Moni Oshun are powerful witches, but as their collective past returns to haunt them each woman must band together to discover the chilling secret of the legendary GodSlayer, but will what they find be their salvation or their undoing…

Victoria Rambaeu, a former zombie, and an infamous assassin witch, returns to Baltimore much to the displeasure of anyone who has had the misfortune to cross her path. As an ancient lover comes to exact revenge, she must contend with the children she abandoned and the destruction she left behind.

Keeper is the second book in the Ghetto Goddess series and follows a coven of witches and their allies who must do battle with past choices for a future that may destroy their very souls.


When Arjana Rambeau started Magic School, she could never imagine the perils she would have to face. As an old adversary rises and the Brotherhood of Winter exacts revenge, she, her best friend Candace, and her allies must prepare themselves for war.

Bembe Rambeau is trapped in the clutches of a powerful being. As the Heavens mourn and the Underworld rages, new Gods rise to answer the prayers of humanity but peace may only come at the expense of destroying everything the one they call The Savior Of Witches holds dear.

The death of a powerful Witch leaves a power vacuum that shakes the foundation of the magical community, as enemies mount, Marquita Jones and Moni Oshun must team up to protect the legacies of their dead friend.

Incarnate is Book III of the Ghetto Goddess Series and follows a family of Witches and their allies as they fight to protect the universe and survive a devastating Spiritual War.

Gratitude to Rah Froemming-Carter's HALLOWQUEEN: A QUEER HORROR ROUNDUP over at BookRiot where I found out about these titles! Add your review of "Brew," "Keeper", and/or "Incarnate" in comments!

Monday, October 28, 2019

I'm Speaking Tonight in Culver City, California, on a panel about Book Publicity and Marketing

**UPDATE: 10/28/19 1:00 PM Pacific

Because of the fires in Los Angeles, this event has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.**

Wearing my day-job hat as the director of marketing and programming for the nonprofit Independent Book Publishers Association, I'll be on a panel for the Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC) / Publishers Association of Los Angeles (PALA):
Publicity Panel — Seeing 2020 Book Publicity More Clearly
Moderated by Steven Sanchez (Vice President, Independent Writers Of Southern California), my fellow panelists include: Emanuela Cariolagian (Senior Public Relations & Transformation Strategist); Kathleen Kaiser (President, Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network); and Desireé Duffy (Founder of Black Château.)

You can find all the details here.

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

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Unbinding of Mary Reade - A YA novel "based on the true story of a girl who disguised herself as a boy to sail with the infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack—and fell in love with Anne Bonny"

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

There’s no place for a girl in Mary’s world. Not in the home of her mum, desperately drunk and poor. Not in the household of her wealthy granny, where no girl can be named an heir. And certainly not in the arms of Nat, her childhood love who never knew her for who she was. As a sailor aboard a Caribbean merchant ship, Mary’s livelihood—and her safety—depends on her ability to disguise her gender.

At least, that’s what she thinks is true. But then pirates attack the ship, and in the midst of the gang of cutthroats, Mary spots something she never could have imagined: a girl pirate.

The sight of a girl standing unafraid upon the deck, gun and sword in hand, changes everything. In a split-second decision, Mary turns her gun on her own captain, earning herself the chance to join the account and become a pirate alongside Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.

For the first time, Mary has a shot at freedom. But imagining living as her true self is easier, it seems, than actually doing it. And when Mary finds herself falling for the captain’s mistress, she risks everything—her childhood love, her place among the crew, and even her life.

Add your review of "The Unbinding of Mary Reade" in comments!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Wayward Son - the follow-up to Rainbow Rowell's awesome answer to our 'Gay Harry Potter' wishes, "Carry On"

Wayward Son (Simon Snow Series #2) by Rainbow Rowell

The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after… So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.

Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun.

I'm so excited about this sequel to Carry On! Add your review of "Wayward Son" in comments!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Highlights from Models of Pride 2019

I'm just back from Models of Pride 2019, and I'm so delighted to have once again presented a workshop in the youth track. There were more than 1,500 LGBTQ and Allied young people there, and every seat was filled in my Queer History is Everywhere session!

Some highlights for me:

1) The genuine excitement in the room - these young people wanted to be there, they wanted to learn about our LGBTQ history - and that made me excited to share with them!

2) The literal mouth-open jaw drop in surprise that I saw twice!

3) The many kind words of thanks shared with me by the young attendees after my session.

4) The happy rush of 'no way, we're getting a copy of his book?' when I shared the final crowdfunded copies of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" with the volunteers who read different primary source materials off the handout.

5) The gift of being sketched by a teen who didn't know me, but drew me sharing my enthusiasm and doing my best to empower these LGBTQ and Allied teens with the same information and stories and history that has empowered me!

6) Seeing the wonderful Jessica, Jake, and the Camp Brave Trails crew at the lunchtime resource fair!

7) Having my teenager attend Models of Pride, too!

Our world can be such a frustrating place, with the pace of change not fast enough, and with negative people and energy taking power and trying to undo the drive towards equality and equity and diversity and not just tolerance, or acceptance, but celebration of others...

But there are moments when I think about how far our world has come--Models of Pride is in its 27th year, and it's huge, and important, and while I didn't have it when I was a teen, I'm so glad it's here now.

And that progress gives me hope. And that's a beautiful thing.

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

Friday, October 18, 2019

White Rabbit - A YA Murder Mystery

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to "talk." Things couldn’t get worse, right?

Then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. He and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox. Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth, but April has something he needs. Her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to clear his sister’s name . . . or die trying.

Add your review of "White Rabbit" in comments!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Stone Rainbow - A YA novel where love and prejudice collide in a small town

The Stone Rainbow by Liane Shaw

A continuation of Jack's story from Caterpillars Can't Swim.

Jack Pedersen is finding life complicated ever since he came out to his mom. Even though she's been doing her best to be understanding, it's obvious to Jack that his mom still wants to cry every time she says the word gay.

Complications go into overdrive when a new student named Benjamin arrives at his high school, and Jack starts experiencing feelings he's never allowed himself before. When a near tragedy turns life upside down, Jack realizes it's time to stop hiding and to stand up--for Pride, for Benjamin, and for himself.

Add your review of "The Stone Rainbow" in comments!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Caterpillars Can't Swim - A YA Novel Where a Friendship Between a Disabled Swimmer and a Closeted Gay Teen Help Them Both Go Against Stereotypes.

Caterpillars Can't Swim by Liane Shaw

For sixteen-year-old Ryan, the water is where he finds freedom from his wheelchair. But he never imagined he would become his small town's hero by saving his schoolmate, Jack, from drowning. For Jack, disappearing into the river seemed better than living through one more day of high school, where he is dogged by rumors about being gay. When Ryan invites Jack on a trip to Comic Con with his best friend Cody, the captain of the swim team, the three boys make an unlikely combination. This trip will give them the chance to go against the stereotypes the world wants to define them by.

Add your review of "Caterpillars Can't Swim" in comments!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Chaotic Good - A Teen Girl Takes on a Secret Identity as a Boy in the World of Comic Book Stores, Cosplay, and Costumes

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Cameron's cosplay creations are finally starting to earn her attention--attention she hopes to use to get into the CalArts costume design department for college. But after she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans online.

When Cameron's family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse.

Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town--her main destination for character reference--is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother's suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she's shocked at how easily she's accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her brother Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her "secret identity" gets more and more entrenched, Cameron's portfolio falls by the wayside--and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious in this geek girl anthem from You're Welcome, Universe author Whitney Gardner, complete with fully illustrated comic pages inked by Gardner herself.

What's even more Queer about this book@ is that Boy Cameron is asked out by one of the other characters, who is gay.

Add your review of "Chaotic Good" in comments!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Models of Pride 2019 is Saturday October 19, at Los Angeles City College (LACC) - An Amazing Event for LGBTQ and Allied Teens!

Models of Pride is the world’s largest free conference for LGBTQ youth & allies, including parents & professionals. The full-day event includes an Opening Session, over 130 workshops, lunch, a resource fair, college fair, job fair, dinner, entertainment hour, and outdoor dance party – all free!

I'm delighted to once again be part of Models of Pride, presenting one of those 130+ workshops. Mine is:
Queer History is Everywhere!
Online registration for Models of Pride will close Wednesday, October 16, at 10 a.m., but you can also register onsite the morning of Models of Pride beginning at 7:30 a.m. You must register/check-in before 1:30 p.m. to participate in the conference.

Go here to read all about it and register!

Hope to see you at Models of Pride 2019!

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

Monday, October 7, 2019

The company that gave the world Barbie is launching a new line of Gender Neutral dolls!

As reported by Tod Perry on Upworthy, this is pretty cool news:

"The dolls, which cost $29.99, don't have broad shoulders like Ken or breasts like Barbie. Creatable World dolls can be played with as a boy, a girl, or neither. They're slim with androgynous faces and short hair and can be fitted with wigs and a wardrobe consisting of sneakers, graphic tees, hoodies, tutus, or camouflage pants."

Mattel's Creatable World line of gender-less dolls

Nice to see this - it's certainly about time!

Read the full article here.

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

p.s. - thanks to my amazing husband for the heads-up on this one!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars - A Trans Teen Coming-of-Age Novel

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir By Kai Cheng Thom

This is the highly sensational, ultra-exciting, sort-of true coming-of-age story of a young Asian trans girl, pathological liar, and kung-fu expert who runs away from her parents' abusive home in a rainy city called Gloom. Striking off on her own, she finds her true family in a group of larger-than-life trans femmes who live in a mysterious pleasure district known only as the Street of Miracles. Under the wings of this fierce and fabulous flock, the protagonist blossoms into the woman she has always dreamed of being, with a little help from the unscrupulous Doctor Crocodile. When one of their number is brutally murdered, she joins her sisters in forming a vigilante gang to fight back against the transphobes, violent johns, and cops that stalk the Street of Miracles. But when things go terribly wrong, she must find the truth within herself in order to stop the violence and discover what it really means to grow up and find your family.

Check out this excellent interview with the author at Teen Vogue here. The author says that "she sought to write the book that she would have needed as a young trans girl." How awesome is that?

The novel was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Add your review of "Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir" in comments!

Thanks to my friend Karol for the heads-up on this one!

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Lee Wind Video Newsletter: October 2019

Instead of a regular newsletter, welcome to the launch of this new way to update, inform, and hopefully inspire YOU!

Click here or on the video still above to watch the October 2019 edition of the Lee Wind Video Newsletter. Links and a transcript follow...

[Duration: 3:46]


Hi Community – I’m Lee Wind. It’s October 2019, and instead of a regular newsletter, I’m launching this new way to update, inform, and, hopefully inspire YOU. Let’s jump in…


CNN is reporting that the “Lovers of Modena”, this pair of ancient skeletons that were found buried together holding hands, which was really romantic, were actually two guys.

So everyone just assumed, back in 2009, when they found this couple buried, that they were a man and a woman. But scientists tested the enamel on the teeth of both skeletons and discovered a peptide found only in guys. So they actually were two guys!

Which just proves that even in Modena, Italy, back 1,500 or 1,700 years ago, Queer history really is everywhere.

(shout out to Gay Elder Dr. Don Kilhefner for sharing this one in his newsletter!)


I just heard from my editor at Zest/Lerner Books that THE QUEER HISTORY PROJECT: NO WAY, THEY WERE GAY? will be released in May of 2021. I’m really excited, stay tuned for more on that.


Over on NetGalley, Gloria M. gave Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill 5 out of 5 stars!

She writes, “Wyatt (our MC) has the most insufferable bff known to ya fiction, but all that turns about when he meets a librarian who gives him a book that hey hey shows omg Lincoln may have been gay… The drama can be fun or irritating depending on which way you swing, but I would still recommend the hell out of this gem.”

Thanks, Gloria!


It’s October 2019. On the 19th, I’ll be at Models of Pride in Los Angeles, talking to LGBTQ and Allied Teens about discovering our LGBTQ History.

And then on October 25 and 26 I’ll be down in La Jolla at the La Jolla Writers Conference on faculty doing three talks, wearing both my author hat and my director of marketing and programming for the Independent Book Publishers Association hats, and I hope to see you at one of those!


This month, I’m really enjoying

By Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

It’s a retelling of the King Arthur legend, but far in the future, in space, and there’s lots of LGBTQ characters. And the whole culture is really attuned to the fact that there isn’t a gender binary—there are fluids, who they use the ‘they’ pronoun, and it’s just a lot of fun, I’m really having a great time with it.


I was listening to the Big Gay Author Podcast by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss, and they shared this amazing quote from Toni Morrison, who just passed away, and it was so inspiring, so I want to share it with you…

In a book called “Keep Going” by Austin Kleon, which was all about staying creative and positive in the difficult times we’re living in, Toni Morrison said, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”

Thank you, Toni.

Want more? Check out I’M HERE. I’M QUEER. WHAT THE HELL DO I READ? at

Until then,

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


Monday, September 30, 2019

The Importance of Queer History in YA - The Lambda LitFest 2019 Panel (recorded at BookSoup on September 27, 2019)

It was a great discussion, captured here on video to share with all of you! Click here (or on the still frame below) to check out the conversation moderated by YA author, Amy Spalding (THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ), with authors James Brandon (ZIGGY, STARDUST AND ME), Abdi Nazemian (LIKE A LOVE STORY), and Lee Wind (QUEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL) for a roundtable discussion about why writing Queer History in Young Adult canon is not only an important aspect to the popular genre, but a necessity in documenting our history for young people today.

Thanks to Amy, Brandon, and Abdi, Mark for recording, and everyone at BookSoup and Lambda LitFest 2019 for making this event possible!

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

#QueerHistoryIsEverywhere - The Lovers of Modena Were Two GUYS!

CNN is reporting that scientists have just discovered that the pair of ancient skeletons known as the “Lovers of Modena” who were found in 2009 (in Modena, Italy) buried holding hands were both men.

The middle-aged couple died sometime between 1,500 and 1,700 years ago, and like all queer history, the truth had been hidden – everyone just assumed that they had been a man and a woman.

Researchers figured it out by testing proteins in the skeletons’ tooth enamel where they found—in both—a peptide present only in men. They published their findings in the journal Nature.

Queer history really is everywhere!

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

P.S.: My thanks to Dr. Don Kilhefner for sharing this in his newsletter, so I can share it will all of you!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

It's Banned Books Week - celebrate by reading something that s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s you

For inspiration, consider the top 11 (there was a tie) most challenged books of 2018, as reported to (and by) the American Library Association. The folks at ALA even put together this handy video:

It's stunning that six out of the eleven books were banned, at least in part, because they included LGBTQAI+ characters and content. That's a lot of fear of us queer people.

So let's fight back, by making books for kids and teens WITH queer characters and themes really successful. Read them. Leave reviews online, wherever you read reviews. Ask your local library, and your school library, to carry them. And talk them up!

Stereotypes and ignorance and feeling isolated are all things that grow in the darkness of censorship - let's turn up the light!

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


Monday, September 23, 2019

I'll be a panelist for the 2019 Lambda LitFest Event at BookSoup This Friday September 27, "The Importance of Queer History in Young Adult Novels"

The information on their website may not be all there, but my enthusiasm is! I'm delighted to be one of the panelists who'll be at the famed BookSoup in West Hollywood, California this Friday September 27 at 7pm to discuss The Importance of Queer History in Young Adult Novels!

As the panel description says,

The 2011 passage of California’s FAIR Education Act mandated that LGBTQ accomplishments be taught in our history and social studies classrooms to show that gay Americans have been an integral part of our society and continue to shape our current world. A few other states have joined in this movement, but still, we have a long way to go before LGBTQ+ history is fully integrated into school curriculum. Join us for a roundtable discussion about why writing Queer History in Young Adult canon is not only an important aspect to the popular genre, but a necessity in documenting our history for young people today.

The more complete panel description:

Moderated by YA author, Amy Spalding (THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ), join authors James Brandon (ZIGGY, STARDUST AND ME), Abdi Nazemian (LIKE A LOVE STORY), and Lee Wind (QUEEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL) for a roundtable discussion about why writing Queer History in Young Adult canon is not only an important aspect to the popular genre, but a necessity in documenting our history for young people today.

James Brandon's ZIGGY, STARDUST AND ME is being released August 6 from Putnam/Penguin Random House. "Set in St. Louis in 1973, months before homosexuality was 'de-classified' as a mental illness, sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins is fighting to overcome his 'illness' when he meets Web, a Lakota Two-Spirit. The two boys fall in love and struggle to retain their identities in a world that continually threatens to tear them apart.

Abdi Nazemian's LIKE A LOVE STORY was released June 6 from Harper Teen/Balzar+Bray. "At the height of the U.S. AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s and early 1990s, three teenagers grapple with love, friendship and family as they become involved in activism under the tutelage of a queer mentor."

Lee Wind's QUEER AS A FIVE-DOLLAR BILL was inspired by the real historical letters between Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Fry Speed. In this award-winning novel, Wyatt, a bullied and closeted teen, outs Lincoln to change the world—triggering a conservative backlash and media firestorm. Crowdfunded, the book was Publishers Weekly’s September 2018 “Indie Success Story.”

Amy Spalding grew up in St. Louis, but now lives in the better weather of Los Angeles. She has a B.A. in Advertising & Marketing Communications from Webster University, and an M.A. in Media Studies from The New School. Amy studied longform improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. By day, she manages the digital media team for an indie film advertising agency. By later day and night, Amy writes, performs, and pets as many cats as she can. She is the author of five young adult novels, including her latest, the bestselling THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles).

If you're in the Los Angeles area this Friday, I hope you'll join us for what promises to be a great discussion!

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Daughter of the Burning City - A Fantasy Where a Bi Teen Girl Has To Solve A Series of Illusionary Murders

Daughter of the Burning City By Amanda Foody

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival's Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that--illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed...until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn't actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca. Their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina's illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all her loved ones disappear.

What's queer about it? The main character, Sorina, is bi, there's a lesbian secondary character, and Luca is ace-spectrum.

There's a great interview with the author here. Add your review of "Daughter of the Burning City" in comments!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Felipe Neto is My New Hero

He's a Brazilian YouTube star (with 34 million subscribers), but as I don't speak Portuguese, Felipe Neto hasn't been on my radar. But he is now!

As reported in the Advocate and at Pink News and in The Guardian...

At Rio de Janeiro’s international book fair (which just ended on September 10, 2019), the city's mayor "attempted to pull the graphic novel Avengers: The Children’s Crusade because it prominently features a same-sex kiss", saying that it should be "wrapped in black plastic and come with a warning label."

And on Friday, the mayor "ordered city inspectors to seize copies of Avengers." What happened next was amazing...

"In response, Felipe Neto... bought all the copies of major LGBTQ-themed books being sold at the festival, totaling about 14,000, and gave them out Saturday to anyone who wanted one."

What's with the black plastic wrapping? As Pink News explains,
In a mischievous act of compliance with the mayor’s demand that LGBT+ books are sold with content warnings, the books come in black bags with a label that says: “This book is inappropriate for backwards, outdated and bigoted people.”
Go here to watch Felipe's youtube post about his activism, and check out the video starting at 1:50 -- the nearly endless stream of people getting free copies of LGBTQ books is really inspiring.

In this still shot from Felipe's YouTube post, the label in Portuguese explains that 'We are going as fast as possible to distribute everything before the "censorship inspectors" appear'

14,000 LGBTQ books given out for free! It's a homophobia smack down for sure!

“Although we [are] going through the most frightening government in terms of repression since the dictatorship, this time we have a united and engaged people who will not permit that censorship, the imposition of others’ moral values,” Neto told the Guardian.

Bravo, Felipe!

And in another act of LGBTQ solidarity and allyship, Brazil's biggest newspaper printed the illustration of the "two men kissing on its front page to attack an attempt at censorship by the evangelical mayor of Rio de Janeiro."


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

Monday, September 16, 2019

I'll Be On Faculty at the 2019 La Jolla Writers Conference!

Hello community!

I'm excited to be leading three sessions at the upcoming 2019 La Jolla Writers Conference in La Jolla, California, October 25-27, 2019.

So You Want To Crowdfund Your Book?
Workshop Block
A Case Study Breakdown and Brainstorming Workshop.

In January of 2018, Lee Wind launched a crowdfunding campaign to finance both the professional publication of his debut YA novel, Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, and raise enough money to donate 400 copies of his empowering book to LGBTQ and Allied Teens. The project fully funded in six days, and by the end, he’d raised enough money to donate 910 copies! Lee will walk you through both his Kickstarter project page and all the things he did to set himself up for success. Together, you’ll work through the main points to consider in setting up your own crowdfunded publishing project. From backer rewards to international shipping; from email lists to the financial realities; there are so many elements to consider. There will be worksheets to guide you and time to brainstorm your own book’s crowdfunding campaign!

Friday October 25, 2019 from 2:10 pm - 4:00 pm


The Art and Science of Book Marketing
Workshop Block
A Hands-On Workshop.

Are you ready to create a marketing strategy for your book? Book marketing is both an art and a science, and never a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The answer to “how will I market my book?” must be customized, and during this workshop, Lee Wind will focus you on the specific efforts you can take to achieve your book marketing goals. From his dual perspective as the director of marketing and programming for the Independent Book Publishers Association and the author-publisher of the teen novel Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, Lee will guide you through a five-part program to craft your personal book marketing strategy. You will learn how to: Target Your Audiences; Get Your Book Vetted; Choose Your Tools; Lean Into Synergy, and Own Your Resilience. In the end, you’ll leave with book marketing insights and an actionable marketing strategy for your book.

Saturday October 26, 2019 from 8:00 am - 9:50 am


How Do You Measure Success: A Networking Game
Lecture Block
Every publisher, every author, wants to hit the best-seller lists and win the major awards. It’s also important to consider additional definitions of success. How about reaching readers? Inspiring social change? Building the author’s professional standing? Sending the book’s creators on tour? Growing a tribe? Shining a light on a subject you’re passionate about? And so many more…Join your fellow conference attendees in this fast-paced meet-and-greet networking event. We’ll challenge and expand our mental models about why we write and publish. We’ll find common ground and explore new territory in small groups that will keep shuffling – all in a game format that comes with bragging rights and new connections! Bring your business cards and a sense of adventure…

Saturday October 26, 2019 from 2:30 pm - 3:20 pm

You can find out all the conference info at, and if you'd like to attend, use this special promo code “25LJWC2019” and get 25% off conference registration (saves you about $100).

Hope to see you there!

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

Friday, September 13, 2019

Once & Future - Gender, Power, Revolution: King Arthur is Reborn as a Teenage Girl in a Futuristic, LGBTQ-Inclusive Universe

Once & Future By Cori McCarthy, Amy Rose Capetta

I've been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I've always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I'm done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

What's Queer about it? Reviews (including this one) call out that Ari and her knights' identities span pansexual, asexual, genderfluid, nonbinary, gay, and lesbian.

With Starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal, I can't wait to read this one! Add your review of "Once & Future" in comments!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

My Brother’s Name is Jessica - A YA Novel Where the Main Teen Character's Older Sibling Comes Out as Trans

My Brother’s Name is Jessica by John Boyne

Sam Waver’s life has always been pretty quiet. A bit of a loner, he struggles to make friends, and his busy parents often make him feel invisible. Luckily for Sam, his older brother, Jason, has always been there for him. Sam idolises Jason, who seems to have life sorted – he’s kind, popular, amazing at football, and girls are falling over themselves to date him.

But then one evening Jason calls his family together to tell them that he’s been struggling with a secret for a long time. A secret which quickly threatens to tear them all apart. His parents don’t want to know and Sam simply doesn’t understand.

Because what do you do when your brother says he’s not your brother at all? That he thinks he’s actually . . . your sister?

Add your review of "My Brother’s Name is Jessica" in comments!

Monday, September 9, 2019

The "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" Audiobook Gets a Strong Review from In'D Tale Magazine!

I'm excited about this review by Chelsea Anderson for the audiobook of "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill", in the September 2019 issue of InD'Tale Magazine!

Some highlights:

"a wonderful narrative style"

"an eye-opening experience"

"this is a novel for fans of YA who are looking for an authentic teen experience told with lots of heart!"

and praise for Michael Crouch, who narrates the audiobook:

"Mr. Crouch's narration is one full of emotion and connection to the story. His voice is wonderful to listen to as he takes us through Wyatt's head."

You can read the full review here.

Find out more about Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill here.

Want to listen to the first two chapters for free? Click here.

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

Friday, September 6, 2019

Las Niñas Pueden Ser Reyes (Girls Can Be Kings) - A Coloring Book I Wish I'd Had When I Was a Little Kid

Las Niñas Pueden Ser Reyes by Jacinta Bunnell, translated into Spanish by Fernanda Siles

This new Spanish translation of Jacinta Bunnell’s feminist coloring book Girls Are Not Chicks features 32 pages of girl power fun, translated by Nicaraguan educator, Fernanda Siles. Every day we hear on the news stories of Latinx folks here in the U.S. and those south of the U.S. border being recipients of brutal hostility and violence. At the same time, we see these same communities courageously risking everything so that they and their children can thrive. We see young Latinx people organize despite this repression, many of them young girls. I am so inspired by their mobilization. I offer this book as a token of love and appreciation that celebrates these brave and powerful activists, educators and communities of care. The title in English of this book is Girls Can Be Kings.

Measures 8 x 11 inches. Black & white line drawings, fun to color with colored pencils or crayons. This is the coloring book you should have had when you were a kid. Color the Rapunzel for a new society. She now has power tools, a roll of duct tape, and a bus pass! Paint outside the lines with Miss Muffet as she tells that spider off and considers a career as an arachnologist!

Girls are thinkers, creators, fighters, healers, superheroes, and kings.

¡Veintisiete páginas de diversión feminista! Este es un libro para colorear para cualquier edad y nunca puede uno ser demasiado grande. Las niñas pueden ser reyes ofrece una manera alegre y subversiva de examinar como los estereotipos de género que están en todos aspectos de nuestras vidas. Este libro ayuda a deconstruir la homogeneidad de la expresión de género en los medios infantiles, presentando imágenes más diversificadas que refuerzan los roles de género positivos para niñas.

Niñas son pensadoras, creadoras, luchadoras, curanderas y superhéroes.
One of the brilliant interiors - The page showing a young girl who traded in her Barbie for "something less destructive"/"algo menos destructivo."

I particularly love Jacinta's explanation of the title:
The title of this book is Las niñas pueden ser reyes: Libro para colorear (Girls Can Be Kings Coloring Book), inspired by Seondeok of Silla, a 7th-century Korean girl who became the first queen of Silla despite a misogynist uprising against her fueled by the motto “girls can’t be kings!” I learned of her from the incredible book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

It's inspiring to see how powerful knowing real history that includes woman can be -- the story of Seondeok, told in one book, inspiring Jacinta's Spanish version of this book, and reaching out to all the readers (and colorers) to come!

The Spanish version of one of my favorite pages in the original: "Nobody wants to fight the patriarchy alone. Make friends."
I'm very excited about this coloring book—it's absolutely something I wish I'd had back when I was a little kid!

Add your review of "Las Niñas Pueden Ser Reyes" in comments!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Paula Stone Williams' Powerful TEDx Talk to Help Us All Be Better Allies to Trans Women and to ALL Women

I'm happy to share this with you all, "I've lived as a man and a woman -- here's what I've learned" by Paula Stone Williams.

I hope it resonates for you, too.

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

Monday, September 2, 2019

Noggin - A Teen (or at least his head) comes back from the dead five years later - he's still 16, but his best friend, and his girlfriend, have changed

Noggin By John Corey Whaley

Listen—Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.
Now he’s alive again.
Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but Travis can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still sixteen, but everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

What's gay about it? There's an LGBTQ coming out subplot.

Add your review of "Noggin" in comments!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Miike Snow's Genghis Khan Music Video - A Queer James Bond Fantasia That You've Gotta Watch!

Every so often there's a piece of popular culture that makes me ridiculously happy - going back and repopulating my teenage obsessions with gay characters, gay adventures, gay romance... and there's a power in that. A healing. And a joy.

I had it reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, which gave me a gay Harry Potter story to love and call my own.

And I had it watching this amazing music video by the group Miike Snow, Genghis Khan.

I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did! 

It's also inspiring that these are both so successful - Carry On is a huge bestseller, and as of writing this, the Genghis Khan video has had more than 39 million views!

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

ps - Shout out to my friend Kelly who shared this with me!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali - A Teen Girl Struggles Keep Both Her Conservative Muslim Parents and Her Girlfriend In Her Life

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali has always been fascinated by the universe around her and the laws of physics that keep everything in order. But her life at home isn't so absolute.

Unable to come out to her conservative Muslim parents, she keeps that part of her identity hidden. And that means keeping her girlfriend, Ariana, a secret from them too. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life at home and a fresh start at Caltech in the fall. But when Rukhsana's mom catches her and Ariana together, her future begins to collapse around her.

Devastated and confused, Rukhsana's parents whisk her off to stay with their extended family in Bangladesh where, along with the loving arms of her grandmother and cousins, she is met with a world of arranged marriages, religious tradition, and intolerance. Fortunately, Rukhsana finds allies along the way and, through reading her grandmother's old diary, finds the courage to take control of her future and fight for her love.

Add your review of "The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali" in comments!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Queer: A Graphic History - a Nonfiction Graphic Novel-Length Work that Explores Queer Theory and How to Start Seeing Things "Queerly"!

Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker, illustrated by Julia Scheele

"Activist-academic Meg John Barker and cartoonist Julia Scheele illuminate the histories of queer thought and LGBTQ+ action in this groundbreaking non-fiction graphic novel. A kaleidoscope of characters from the diverse worlds of pop-culture, film, activism and academia guide us on a journey through the ideas, people and events that have shaped 'queer theory'.

From identity politics and gender roles to privilege and exclusion, Queer explores how we came to view sex, gender and sexuality in the ways that we do; how these ideas get tangled up with our culture and our understanding of biology, psychology and sexology; and how these views have been disputed and challenged.\

Along the way we look at key landmarks which shift our perspective of what's 'normal', such as Alfred Kinsey's view of sexuality as a spectrum between heterosexuality and homosexuality, Judith Butler's view of gendered behavior as a performance, the play Wicked, which reinterprets characters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, or moments in Casino Royale when we're invited to view James Bond with the kind of desiring gaze usually directed at female bodies in mainstream media."

Add your review of "Queer: A Graphic History" in comments!

Friday, August 23, 2019

Julián is a Mermaid - A Gorgeous Picture Book I Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was a Little Kid

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself?

What's so great is that this is not about gender. It's about love. And acceptance.

The illustrations are perfect.

A moment of wonder when Julián sees the women dressed up as mermaids

Abuela's reaction is perfect.

Julián's childhood innocence, love of mermaids, fantasy of being a mermaid, and steps taken to be a mermaid for the afternoon are so sweet and perfectly conveyed.

The sense of celebration.

Of community.

Of family.

Of love.

This is a beautiful picturebook about being yourself, and loving children who are themselves--uniquely, wonderfully themselves--when they're a little kid, and when they're a mermaid. Always. No exceptions. No gender boundaries required.

I love this picturebook, and absolutely wish it had been read to me when I was a little kid. Cheers to Jessica!

Winner of a 2019 Stonewall Book Award, add your review of "Julián is a Mermaid" in comments!