Wednesday, March 20, 2019

My School Visit - As An Author - At Pali High

Yesterday was a blast!

Thanks to the generosity of one of my kickstarter backers, I got to do a school visit at Palisades Charter High School here in Los Angeles.

I met with two 9th Grade English Classes, the Genders and Sexualities Alliance club, and students interested in writing and asking an author (me!) questions.

It was an awesome day, and we talked about the story-behind-the-story of Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill, the importance of language (homoLOVEual versus homoSEXual), how the facade of history that we're taught (that history is the story of rich, white, straight, cis-gendered, able-bodied, white men from Europe) is incomplete at best and misleading at worst, and how Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Fry Speed are just the tip of the LGBTQ historical iceberg.

The students read aloud a few of Shakespeare's love-sonnets-to-another-guy, and we unpacked one of Sappho's amazing poems (about her love for Anactoria, and how that poem changed the world.) I told them about crowdfunding the book, about some of the nice things that have happened since publication (including the Publishers Weekly Indie Success Story article and becoming a BookLife Prize semi-finalist).

And I answered questions, about terms (like cis-gendered) and writing (what software do I use - Scrivener or Word?) and being an author (plan for a day job, at least at first.) A good number of students are writers themselves, so we also dug into craft (questions about character and setting and plotting vs. pantsing) and living a creative life (making time to write--even if it's only twelve minutes a day.)

From driving to the school and having a parking spot reserved for me, to the warm welcome and yummy lunch from my host, GSA faculty advisor and Counselor Ms. Barker, to the student escort to the office and then to the library, to the amazing librarians Ms. King and Ms. Magadan who had the space prepped and handouts ready to go and pulled lots and lots of LGBTQ titles from their collection to share with the students, to Ms. Rosenthal and Ms. Moore (the 9th grade English teachers) who had prepped their classes with reading part of the book and an assignment about whether it would make a difference or not if Lincoln had indeed been in love with Joshua Fry Speed, to the supportive administration (including Dr. Magee and Ms. Iannessa), everyone went out of their way to be kind and helpful and were so gracious.

And the students were great - really engaged, really kind, really thoughtful.

I signed books (some donated from the kickstarter, some that the school purchased for the kids), and even signed one student's Rainbow Pride Flag!

And I got a T-shirt! It reads: "LOVE NOT HATE: Pali GSA"

The incredible gracious Pali High team that brought me to their school: (Left to Right): Ms. Barker, Ms. King, Me(!), Ms. Moore, and Ms. Rosenthal

Feeling grateful.

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


Karol Ruth Silverstein said...

Such a beautiful post about what sounds like a beautiful school visit! Thanks for sharing!

Laurie Young said...

What lucky students! They got to learn about Lincoln, crowdfunding, definition of terms, and invaluable writing advice! You bring multiple streams of advice all in one priceless presentation!!

Ishta Mercurio said...

This sounds like an amazing school visit! I really like what you say here about the importance of language and about how the facade of history we’ve been taught is so harmful. I LOVE that you talked about this with those kids! What a lucky school to have had you visit.