Friday, December 20, 2019

See you in January 2020!

Hello, community!

Thank you so much for coming along for the ride this past year. We've covered so many books, cultural moments, LGBTQ History discoveries, and much, much more! We even shared some fun moments about my own writing...

I'm grateful for it all, and for you! And now, for the next couple of weeks, I will be unplugging. No emails. No social media. No blog posts.

And then, I'll be back on January 6, 2020, for a new year of blog posts!

Until then,

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year 2019 is "THEY"

The next time you hear someone argue that you have to choose he or she to be grammatically correct, even though you know the subject identifies as gender non-conforming or non-binary, please share this link with them about the evolution of the word and the current accepted meaning of the word THEY:

“More recently, though, they has also been used to refer to one person whose gender identity is nonbinary, a sense that is increasingly common in published, edited text, as well as social media and in daily personal interactions between English speakers. There's no doubt that its use is established in the English language, which is why it was added to the dictionary this past September.”

It's nice to see the "official" language catch up with how language is already being used!

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

Monday, December 16, 2019

Reading Tamora Pierce's beloved The Song of the Lioness Quartet Through a New Lens - The Author Says Alanna is Gender-Fluid!

This is pretty exciting!

Tamora Pierce recently tweeted that
"Alanna has always defied labels. She took the best bits of being a woman and a man, and created her own unique identity. I think the term is 'gender-fluid', though there wasn't a word for this (to my knowledge) when I was writing her."

Fan response has been enthusiastic, and heartening. Check out the twitter thread, and this article by Jessica Mason at The Mary Sue. As Jessica writes,
“So the fact that Alanna lived as a man by necessity and did typically “masculine” things doesn’t necessarily make her gender fluid…but then again, if her creator wants to identify her that way and allow people to claim her as a gender fluid icon, that’s great! And anything that gets us talking about societal constructs around gender is awesome.”
If nothing else, it's a great excuse to discover (or re-visit) these YA fantasy novels, especially as the character of Alanna and her (their?) story is being adapted for television!

Alanna: The First Adventure, Book One

From now on I’m Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I’ll be a knight.”

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna’s first adventure begins—one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and make her a legend in the land.

In the Hand of the Goddess, Book Two

Disguised as a boy, Alanna of Trebond becomes a squire, to none other than the prince of the realm. But Prince Jonathan is much more to Alanna; he is her ally, her best friend, and one of the few who knows that she’s really a girl. Now it will take all of Alanna’s awesome skill, strength, and growing magical powers to protect him from the mysterious evil sorcerer who is bent on his destruction, and hers!

Here continues the story of Alanna, a young woman bound for glory who is willing to fight against enormous odds for what she believes in.

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Book Three

Newly knighted, Alanna of Trebond seeks adventure in the vast desert of Tortall. Captured by fierce desert dwellers, she is forced to prove herself in a duel to the death—either she will be killed or she will be inducted into the tribe. Although she triumphs, dire challenges lie ahead. As her mythic fate would have it, Alanna soon becomes the tribe’s first female shaman—despite the desert dwellers’ grave fear of the foreign woman warrior. Alanna must fight to change the ancient tribal customs of the desert tribes—for their sake and for the sake of all Tortall.

Lioness Rampant, Book Four

“I’m not sure I want to be a hero anymore.”

Having achieved her dream of becoming the first female knight errant, Alanna of Trebond is not sure what to do next. Perhaps being a knight errant is not all that Alanna needs….But Alanna must push her uncertainty aside when a new challenge arises. She must recover the Dominion Jewel, a legendary gem with enormous power for good — but only in the right hands. And she must work quickly. Tortall is in great danger, and Alanna’s archenemy, Duke Roger, is back — and more powerful than ever. In this final book of the Song of the Lioness quartet, Alanna discovers that she indeed has a future worthy of her mythic past — both as a warrior and as a woman.

Add your review of any or all of the Song of the Lioness books in comments!

Friday, December 13, 2019

LGBTQ2 - Have You Seen the "2" and Do You Know What it Means?

Language evolves, and so does the acronym representing the Queer community.

One of the latest shifts has been to include the numeral 2, taking us from LGBTQ to LGBTQ2. The number 2 stands for Two-Spirit, to embrace and include indigenous Queer people.

Watch this InQueery video, What Does "Two-Spirit" Mean?, for a great six-minute explanation by Geo Neptune:

"In recent years, many native people are returning to the Two-Spirit traditions as a way to heal from the injustices the American colonial project has vitited upon their ancestors and traditions...

Two-Spirit identity is resilient and precious. It has survived centuries of colonial violence and prejudice. These sacred ways of knowing live on amongst native youth seeking to know more about themselves, elders who have kept the traditions alive despite the odds, and anyone in between." - Geo Neptune.

As Geo explains further in this article about them in Maine the Magazine,
A two-spirit, Neptune says, is “both male and female, yet neither female nor male.”

I'm really glad to have learned this, and happy to share.

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Homophobia Smack-Down: Indigenous People Champion the LGBTQ Community When a City Council Wouldn't

I love this story over at Upworthy by Annie Reneau, A city council voted down a rainbow crosswalk. Now residents have painted 16 of them.

In September of 2019, a proposal to install a rainbow crosswalk in the city of Chilliwack, British Columbia was voted down by the city council. Dissenters argued that such a crosswalk would be seen as a "political statement" and would be "divisive," but according to Yahoo! News, that hasn't stopped people from installing 16 of them on privately owned property...

"The city does not have jurisdiction over our lands so we are free to paint them to demonstrate our support for being an inclusive community," Dave Jimmie, president of the Ts'elxweyeqw Tribe, told Maple Ridge News.

How amazing is that?

The article shows lots more photos of rainbow crosswalks on private property, along with messages of support by the folks who painted them.

Read the full article here.

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

Monday, December 9, 2019

The December 2019 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

Hi Community!

Here's the latest...

Watch the under six minute video by clicking the still frame above or clicking here:


Hi Community,
It’s December 2019, and this is my video newsletter.

I’m Lee Wind, and the whole point of this is to educate, inform, and hopefully inspire YOU.
Let's get started...

Queer History is Everywhere!

So this month, the thing I'm really excited about is this whole idea of the Statue of Liberty actually being a guy.

The sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, was supposed to have modeled the sculpture after his mom. But author and journalist Elizabeth Mitchell has a completely different theory. She looked at photos of the sculptor's mom and then photos of his brother, Jean-Charles, and was like... wait a minute! This Lady Liberty looks a lot more like Jean-Charles. Which is really cool!

It lets us think that gender can be many things. And the idea that Lady Liberty is this gigantic, hundreds-of-foot tall sculpture of a drag queen is pretty amazing. And it's the thing I can't get out of my head.

Really, Queer History is Everywhere!

Lee Wind Author Update

This month I'm really excited because Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill has actually won two pretty significant prizes.

One was in the BookLife Prize competition put on by Publishers Weekly, it was selected as a semi-finalist in the children's and young adult category, which made it one of the top five independently published books of 2018, according to Publishers Weekly, which was really, really cool.

And then, it won another prize. It was actually the Winner in the [LGBTQ Books for] Children's and Young Adult category for the National Indie Excellence Award. And for those, there's actually a sticker, like a seal, and this month I'm getting it put on my book. So you'll start to see it for the ebook and the audiobook, and the print – both paperback and hardcover editions. All that stuff is happening now, but here's a sneak peek!

I'm really excited about it. It's really important for an indie published book, for it to be vetted in a lot of ways. I do have a lot of great blurbs and really nice reviews, but having the award sticker on the cover is something I'm really excited about.

Readers Say

So recently I got an email from somebody I didn't know, in Jerusalem, and they were writing to say 'thank you.' Here's what they wrote:

" I came across your blog today, and read the entire "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill" in one sitting. I cried a bit, and it truly gave me a sense of hope, peace, and the strength and commitment... to dream of a brighter future.

Thank you so much for all of your work on behalf of queer, questioning, and allied people, and for deciding to put your inspirational book on your blog for all to read." - a reader from Jerusalem.

I thought that was really cool. Not only is it being read on the other side of the world, in the country my parents are from, but also that it's making an impact, and it's giving people a sense of hope and a vision for a better life for themselves, and that's very, very gratifying.


December is not a month where I'm running around doing a lot of speaking. Which is kind of cool. You know there's this balance between Introvert and Extrovert, going out in the world and being really public and doing stuff, and... kind of just having time for yourself, to be creative, to spend time with  your family. It's nice to have some balance, and this is the time when we hunker down and get the work done. And I'm grateful for that opportunity.

Reading In, Writing Out

This month, the book I'm most excited about is...

Cursed by my friend Karol Ruth Silverstein. This is a YA that's #OwnVoices. Kind of pulled from her own life experience of being a teen and being diagnosed with a chronic illness, also with a lot of chronic pain, and when I was a young teen, when I was 13, I was diagnosed with something different, but it was also really horrible and painful and totally shitty and totally difficult to figure out how to be a teen and figure out how to get through it with a sense of hope and there's no miracle cure and Karol did such a beautiful job, and I'm super proud of her. And I can't recommend it highly enough. So read it! Cursed!


“A word after a word after a word is power.” —that's from Margaret Atwood

I love that quote. And I think a lot about how some days, all I get is twelve minutes to write. and it's a word after a word. And then the next day is another word after another word, and it builds up over time. And I love this idea, that “A word after a word after a word is power.” Because we're storytellers. So I'm very grateful to Margaret for that word – for those words – for her inspirational quote. And I hope it inspires you, too.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy holiday season.

And if you'd liked more, please visit my blog,  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.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Super Late Bloomer: Early Days in Transition - A YA Trans Comic Memoir

Super Late Bloomer: Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye

Instead of a traditional written diary, Julia Kaye has always turned to art as a means of self-reflection. So when she began her gender transition in 2016, she decided to use her popular webcomic, Up and Out, to process her journey and help others with similar struggles realize they weren’t alone.

Julia’s poignant, relatable comics honestly depict her personal ups and downs while dealing with the various issues involved in transitioning—from struggling with self-acceptance and challenging societal expectations, to moments of self-love and joy. Super Late Bloomer both educates and inspires, as Julia faces her difficulties head-on and commits to being wholly, authentically who she was always meant to be.

You can watch this episode of Nerd Out with Jessie Gender where Julia spoke with Jessie about the web comic and the book, as well “the forgotten nuances and everyday struggles of transitions that are never discussed by the general public, as well as what it means to be transgender once you finish the major steps in your transition.”

Add your review of "Super Late Bloomer: Early Days in Transition" in comments!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Heavy Vinyl - A Lesbian Teen Stumbles Into a Teen Girl Vigilante Fight Club (A Middle Grade and Up Comic Book Series Opener)

Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin Illustrated by Nina Vakueva and Irene Flores.

New Jersey, 1998. Chris has just started the teen dream job: working at Vinyl Mayhem, the local record store. She’s prepared to deal with anything—misogynistic metalheads, grunge wannabes, even a crush on her wicked cute co-worker, Maggie.

But when the staff’s favorite singer mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show in town, Chris finds out her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl…her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

Add your review of "Heavy Vinyl" in comments!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Moonstruck, Vols. 1 – 6 - A Middle Grade Lesbian Fantasy Comic Book Series

Moonstruck, Vol. 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle.

Volume 1:
Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it's up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it's too late.

Volume 2:

Julie, Selena & third-wheel Chet go on a werewolf-y date to a shady magic show. Something TERRIBLE happens, and for once it's not Mark or Lindi's fault!

Volume 3:

Poor Chet. Their centaur butt is missing, and on the day of the homecoming parade, no less! But don't worry: Julie and Selena are on the case (as long as Mark and Lindi don't ruin everything [again]).

Volume 4:

Julie and the gang go on the offensive to track down those horrible magic tricksters by going undercover. But can they outfox a fox? Like a literal fox? A literal fox who is a DARK MAGICIAN?? Oh man, honestly, I would cross my fingers for them if I were you.

Volume 5:

Wait, really? This is the end of the arc? No way, you can't possibly wrap this up in one issue! Julie and Selena are in a fight! Chet doesn't have their centaur butt back! Don't tell me that horrible fox magician is getting away with this!! These must be an action-packed 22 pages, I'll tell you that much.

Volume 6:
Welcome to the beginning of the second arc of Moonstruck, that popular middle-grade/all-ages lesbian-werewolf-barista romance adventure you've been hearing so much about! Fresh off their latest hijinks, Julie and the gang try to unwind at a fraternity party hosted by a group of fairy bros. But like everything else in Blitheton, things are not as they first appear, and before you can say, "hey don't drink that or you'll be trapped in the fairy circle for all eternity," another round of magical hijinks has begun!

Add your review of any or all of the volumes of “Moonstruck” in comments!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Anger Is a Gift - A Gay Teen Boy Deals With Panic Attacks, Meeting a Cute Guy, And Figuring Out What He's Going To Do When Tragedy Strikes A Second Time

Anger Is a Gift: A Novel By Mark Oshiro

Moss Jeffries is many things—considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend and affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else—someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn’t become a rallying point for a community because of one horrible night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn’t feel so stuck.

Moss can’t even escape at school—he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oakland High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. That was even before the new regulations—it seems sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals.

Something will have to change—but who will listen to a group of teens?

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Winner of the 2019 ALA Schneider Family Teen Book Award! Add your review of "Anger is a Gift" in comments!

My thanks to awesome high school librarian Elizabeth Abarbanel for the heads-up on this one!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People - Can We Make This Required Reading In Schools?

I'm reading the adult version of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, and I'm stunned and humbled by so many things. Top among them are:

How I didn't know so much of this history (because it wasn't taught to me in school.)

But also how I never bothered to dig into it on my own (because I just accepted the narratives I'd been raised on, that didn't say anything about genocide with the goal of stealing native lands.)

And as we're about to celebrate Thanksgiving, I find myself not just ambivalent, but upset. I don't know that I can wish anyone a 'Happy Thanksgiving' without thinking about the 2nd grade art project I crafted all about pilgrims and "indians" being friends and having a big feast together.

I'd heard about Andrew Jackson and the horrifying forced march "trail of tears" from when my daughter studied that in school, but that isn't a unique example. Genocide is the right word, and this history book is packed with examples and primary source evidence, like this quote from U.S. Army general Thomas S. Jesup, who, in 1836, wrote of the Seminoles: “The country can be rid of them only by exterminating them.”

When I finish the adult edition, I'll jump into the one crafted for teens, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People (ReVisioning American History for Young People #2) By Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Adapted by Jean Mendoza and Debbie Reese.

In the meantime, I'll recommend that you all join me in learning about the troubling foundation of our nation's founding and expansion "from sea to shining sea." Because debunking the myths is the first step. The book really does accomplish what the publisher blurb says: "radically reframes U.S. history and explodes the silences that have haunted our national narrative."

One thing I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving is that I'm (at long last) getting educated about this.

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

Monday, November 25, 2019

When Aidan Became a Brother - A Picture Book with a Trans Child Excited (and Nervous) About A New Baby Sibling On The Way (Definitely a Picture Book I Wish Had Been Read To Me When I Was a Little Kid!)

When Aidan Became a Brother By Kyle Lukoff, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. His parents gave him a pretty name, his room looked like a girl's room, and he wore clothes that other girls liked wearing. After he realized he was a trans boy, Aidan and his parents fixed the parts of life that didn't fit anymore, and he settled happily into his new life. Then Mom and Dad announce that they're going to have another baby, and Aidan wants to do everything he can to make things right for his new sibling from the beginning--from choosing the perfect name to creating a beautiful room to picking out the cutest onesie. But what does "making things right" actually mean? And what happens if he messes up? With a little help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication, and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self.

The whole message of the story is so beautifully encapsulated by the party balloons for the arrival of Aidan's little sibling...

It's a Baby!


Even in the dialog, there's a scene where:

"Are you having a boy or a girl?" asked a lady.

Aidan didn't like it when people asked if he was a boy or a girl, and he hoped the baby couldn't hear yet. He was glad when Mom just smiled and said, "I'm having a baby."

I loved this picture book. I think you will, too.

The author's note, where Kyle shares what parts of his own story are the same as Aidan's (when he was born, everyone thought he was a girl, too) and what parts are different... And these words really resonated for me:

Aidan is a transgender kid, but he's also just a kid. Like you.
Life for Aidan, and for all different kinds of kids, will be full of growth and change. I don't know what the future holds for him, but I hope he lives in a world that supports and believes in him. Thank you for helping to create that world.

Yeah. Let's create that world, together.

Add your review of "When Aidan Became a Brother" in comments!

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Cardboard Kingdom - a Young Graphic Novel (with an ensemble that includes LGBTQ Characters and Themes)

The Cardboard Kingdom, created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from ten other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez.

Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters--and their own inner demons--on one last quest before school starts again.

In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be--imagine that!

On the ALA's Rainbow List, this book was also named one of the best books of the year by Kirkus Reviews, The New York Public Library, and School Library Journal

Add your review of "The Cardboard Kingdom" in comments!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Today is Trans Day of Resilience 2019 - Celebrate With Trans Art and Poetry "to Uplift Black Trans Power and Liberation!"

This is really wonderful! Re-naming the "Transgender Day of Remembrance" to the "Trans Day of Resilience" is smart and important - words have power!

From the press release:
Led by Forward Together, a national women of color-led organization, whose mission is to unite communities to win rights, recognition and resources for all families, the TDOR art project acknowledges how violence disproportionately impacts trans people of color. The art project simultaneously uses visual art and poetry to uplift trans power and resilience. Trans artists and poets of color are telling their own stories of resistance, hope and liberation.

“Forward Together is honored to present this project to the world for the sixth year in a row,” said Micah Bazant, Forward Together Artist in Residence. “At a time when white supremacy and anti-trans oppression are killing trans women of color, we offer this art to share our vision of trans freedom. Trans communities of color have always existed and have always used art to survive. As the government tries to erase trans people from laws and policies, art and culture are especially critical. There is no way to erase the beauty and power of trans resistance.”
Some highlights:

I'm cheering for Black Trans power and liberation!

View and read more of the art and poetry here.

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

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cursed - a Teen Girl Fights the Pain of a Chronic Illness Amid Her Parents' Divorce and an Unfriendly New School (but she has an awesome Lesbian sister)

Cursed By Karol Ruth Silverstein

As if her parents' divorce and sister's departure for college weren't bad enough, fourteen-year-old Ricky Bloom has just been diagnosed with a life-changing chronic illness. Her days consist of cursing everyone out, skipping school--which has become a nightmare--daydreaming about her crush, Julio, and trying to keep her parents from realizing just how bad things are. But she can't keep her ruse up forever.

Ricky's afraid, angry, alone, and one suspension away from repeating ninth grade when she realizes: she can't be held back. She'll do whatever it takes to move forward--even if it means changing the person she's become. Lured out of her funk by a quirky classmate, Oliver, who's been there too, Ricky's porcupine exterior begins to shed some spines. Maybe asking for help isn't the worst thing in the world. Maybe accepting circumstances doesn't mean giving up.
Normally, a sister or best-friend being Queer (and wonderful) isn't my first choice to spotlight on this blog, but Cursed is exceptional in so many ways.

It's powerful – an #OwnVoices YA about chronic illness - chronic pain - and it's real in a way afternoon specials never were.

It's thoughtful in the whole exploration of Ricky's cursing, and while there are plenty of curse words used in the novel, it really gets into the power of words as both a coping mechanism, and a tool (for both bad and good.)

It's hopeful in a real way -- there's no miracle 'cure' and the character knows this. That's part of what's so difficult for her, but it's a part of the book that makes it practically sing to those of us who have had chronic illnesses for which we were told there was no cure. (It's painful. It's shitty. It's completely out of your control but you have to be a teenager and deal with both challenges at the same time.)

It resonates with our shared humanity - I didn't have what Ricky (or the author, my friend Karol) had, but when I was 13, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (painful. shitty, completely out of my control...) I've read a lot of YA and middle grade, but this is the first time that part of me felt seen. Heard.

It's retroactive, but this book healed my inner teen a bit.

The one who would have loved this book so much.

And hey, just like Ricky, I had an awesome queer sibling, too. (But I didn't know that for years to come.)

But this isn't about me, it's about Cursed. An amazing novel by my friend Karol Ruth Silverstein.

It was even a Junior Library Guild selection! I can't recommend it highly enough.

Add your review of "Cursed" in comments!

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!