Monday, January 27, 2020

Monster of the Week - A Gay Teen Has to Save the World of Myths and Magic (Again)



Monster of the Week (The Rules) by F.T. Lukens

It's the sequel to the quite awesome The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic!

Spring semester of Bridger Whitt’s senior year of high school is looking great. He has the perfect boyfriend, a stellar best friend, and an acceptance letter to college. He also has this incredible job as an assistant to Pavel Chudinov, an intermediary tasked with helping cryptids navigate the modern world. His days are filled with kisses, laughs, pixies, and the occasional unicorn. Life is awesome.

But as graduation draws near, Bridger’s perfect life begins to unravel. Uncertainties about his future surface, his estranged dad shows up out of nowhere, and, perhaps worst of all, a monster-hunting television show arrives in town to investigate the series of strange events from last fall. The show’s intrepid host will not be deterred, and Bridger finds himself trapped in a game of cat and mouse that could very well put the myth world at risk. Again.

Add your review of "Monster of the Week" in comments!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Who Is History Written For? The SAME Social Studies Textbooks in California and Texas Are Vastly Different

This investigative piece by Dana Goldstein in the Jan 12, 2020 edition of the New York Times is fascinating reading: TWO STATES. EIGHT TEXTBOOKS. TWO AMERICAN STORIES. American history textbooks can differ across the country, in ways that are shaded by partisan politics.

There are so many ways that textbooks shape the knowledge and prejudices of students - skewing perception and understanding to align with political agendas. In many cases it's silence in the Texas versions - not including the paragraph about post-WWII discrimination against African Americans in the housing market, not including language about gun control related to the Second Amendment, not including the information about Two-Spirit indigenous people that California students finally get to see.

Just think how powerful it is for a female-identified student to come across this:

"These policies only recognized male heads of families, disrupting some traditional societies in which females held leading roles."

And for a gender non-conforming student to come across this:

"The policies also refused to recognize the authority of "two-spirit", what today we might consider lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender Native Americans, who held special roles in some groups.

And consider how loud the silence is for those same students reading the Texas edition, where this language doesn't exists. Where this history is erased.

California and Texas have the same number of female students. The same percentage of gender-nonconforming young people. What's different is the history they're being taught (and how they're being shown whether they have a place at the table, or not.)

There's much more in the analysis, like the Texas version adding a critique of the quality of works produced in the Harlem Renaissance, and it all brings up the same issue: Nonfiction is not unbiased. History is shaped by those who record it, by what's included, and what's left out.

And when textbooks fail to include the stories of women, the stories of people of color, the stories of disabled people, and the stories of women who loved women, men who loved men, people who loved without regard to gender, and people who lived outside gender boundaries, we need to supplement that education as best we can, until all our communities' stories, all of our history, is included, too.

Because only then will everyone know that they have a place in history. A place at the table today. And that will let them know that they, too, can dream of a tomorrow without limits.

And not incidentally, that's what I hope to do with my writing.

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Truth Is - A 15-Year-Old Latina Dates A Trans Guy, Exploring Love, Identity, and Self-Worth



The Truth Is by NoNieqa Ramos

Fifteen-year-old Verdad doesn't think she has time for love. She's still struggling to process the recent death of her best friend, Blanca; dealing with the high expectations of her hardworking Puerto Rican mother and the absence of her remarried father; and keeping everyone at a distance. But when she meets Danny, a new guy at school--who happens to be trans--all bets are off. Verdad suddenly has to deal with her mother's disapproval of her relationship with Danny as well as her own prejudices and questions about her identity, and Danny himself, who is comfortable in his skin but keeping plenty of other secrets.

This novel was named one of the best YA Latinx books of 2019 by Remezcla and HipLatina. Add your review of "The Truth Is" in comments!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Infinity Son - YA Fantasy Where Two Brothers (One's Gay) Navigate an Alternate, Magical, and Violent New York



Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle #1) by Adam Silvera

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

Check out the interview with Adam in Publishers Weekly where he spoke about this new series.

What's Queer about it? Emil is Gay, there are significant Bi characters, and a lesbian relationship in there, too.

Add your review of "Infinity Son" in comments!

Friday, January 17, 2020

An interview with InQluded founder and editor-in-chief medina

I'm excited about InQluded, and about helping shine the spotlight on this platform and empowerment project for Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Youth. Here's the interview, and some images from the InQluded literary magazine...



Lee: Hi medina, so I’ve figured out that a lot of what I write are stories that would have changed my life had I read them when I was a teen. Is that what InQluded magazine is for you? What impact would it have had on your younger self if they could have read an issue?

medina: Hi, Lee! Oh, that absolutely makes sense. Representation is powerful.

I think that we as queer/LGBTQIA+ people are oftentimes playing catch up and yearning to live the lives we wish we could have lived fully before there was this kind of representation.

Hmm..I don’t know if inQluded is that for me. To be honest, I’ve never thought about that. My thought process for creating inQluded was: what do QTBIPOC kids deserve right now, and how can I help give that to them? I see what is happening right now in our political climate, I pay attention to what people younger than me are advocating for, passionate, about, etc. And so, I continue to create programming for inQluded to better serve the population we engage with daily. I’m always very much focused in the now and thinking intentionally about how what I do now can make a positive impact tomorrow. Do good as you go, ya know?

If inQluded existed back when I was growing up -- then -- I’d like to think the whole world would be altered, too. So, what would be my deepest hope would be that what I felt as a queer Latinx person growing up in Maine would have a positive ripple effect across the world. People my age would feel like they mattered. Like they belonged. Like they didn’t need to be ashamed for being queer...

...for being themselves.

They wouldn’t have felt scared all the time. To feel that, if they accidentally revealed that part of themselves that they would be friendless, unworthy of love or worse.

Parents, teachers, and adults in your life that you confide in can tell you how life is better with you in it, they can tell you how beautiful you are, but at a young age our need to be accepted by our own peers usually outweighs what adults are saying (even if it’s true). And really, I think the root of wanting to be accepted by peers is about trying to find community. So, to have a magazine for/by young people as a young teen, would have been life altering. I would have felt community, acceptance, connectedness and less fear.

If I had inQluded back then, I would probably be writing different stories today. I often describe writing for me as happy/sad; as devastatingly beautiful. I would love to not have to pull from this deep part of me that feels pain, sadness, rejection and alienation all the time. It’s emotionally tiring. I’d love to write a very fluffy story about fluffy fluffy fluffiness. I don’t feel I have that luxury, not yet, and probably never.

If I had inQluded back then, inQluded may not exist today. Because we already would have been inQluded.



Lee: Tell us about starting inQluded.

medina: This is what I know: Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24. LGBTQIA+ youth seriously contemplate suicide almost THREE TIMES the amount of heterosexual youth. This doesn’t take into account queer youth of color.

When we know the facts - how can we go on without doing something? How can we ever be the same?

I believe that our experiences lead us to things. Our experiences prepare us for things.

What do you think, Lee?

Lee: Hell, Yeah!

medina: Yeah, so, I think I’ve spent my whole life preparing to start inQluded.

I’ve always been someone who has found great joy from learning, listening, understanding and advocating for others. I am devoted to empowering and fostering a safe environment amongst youth through the arts. The arts are an integral part of the global conversation and has the powerful ability to engage all levels of society to promote change! I believe it is crucial to give youth at the intersection of vulnerable identities a platform on which to tell their own authentic stories.

Before I started my MFA program I was working as a youth advocate at a homeless drop in-center and though it was not part of my job description to create any programming, I couldn’t get it out of my head that our clients needed to be doing something creative. I’d get dozens of books donated, art supplies donated and watch how the atmosphere shifted. Art. Heartwork.

I immediately pitched to my supervisor that I wanted to facilitate a weekly writing program. After 9 weeks, it was finally approved. We went on to host an open mic and get the ball rolling to create a zine. I actually left before I could see if they created a zine because I began to slowly realize that I needed to go back to school and get my MFA in creative writing. My clients I worked with inspired me to do so. It was veryyyyyy Freedom Writers. Wish you could have seen it!

So, long story long, I applied to my MFA program and to The New School’s new Impact Entreprenuership Fellowship and pitched my venture: inQluded.


Lee: So cool! You’ve done four digital issues so far? Where can people go to get them?

medina: Yes! We just released our fourth digital issue. We dropped our first digital issue last June. All of our issues are designed by Isaiah Frisbie. Issue one and four are illustrated by Daylen. Issue Two’s cover was illustrated by Matthew Penado and Issue Three was illustrated by Marina Labarthe del Solar.

Issue One: The theme for issue one (pride issue) was “chosen family” but we named the issue: Welcome Home. In the face of indifference, discrimination, hatred or rejection, many of us must recreate and rebuild a community, a family. A family that is loving and accepting of exactly who we are. One that is loving and accepting of who we are. According to a 2018 report by the Human Rights Campaign, only 24 percent of LGBTQ youth feel they can “definitely be themselves at home.” Our self-created families and communities become what we call home.

Issue Two: Here to Stay. Here to stay was our letter to the world, a declaration that strongly resists, reclaims and transcends revolution. We will not be forgotten. We will not be erased. We are here to stay.

Issue Three: Break Borders and Binaries. This issue highlights the narratives of QTIBIPOC migrants, refugees, and folks from the diaspora. In centering borders with this issue, we strive to recognize how critical it is to question the ways in which borders are used to police the lives of marginalized folks while simultaneously recognizing how these same borders also shape cultures and identities. You’ll discover work that combats, questions, engages, or transcends these borders and binaries.

Issue Four: Love Lives Here. As QTBIPOC young people, it’s imperative that we have a space where we can express ourselves freely. It is imperative that we have an opportunity to create art that is joyful and loving. The way we love may be different from the way someone else loves, but that doesn’t mean that our love is wrong. Love can never be wrong. I know that I am tired of the singular narratives and stereotypes that persist outside of our community: that our stories are only ones of sadness and trauma. We are more than that. We deserve a love story. This is our love story

All of our issues live on gumroad.com/inqluded.



Lee: Is your vision to have InQluded be more than the magazine?

medina: Part of our mission is bringing access to QTBIPOC communities and helping navigate the publishing world. Many of us experience social exclusion because of who we are. So, we built a space where we are inQluded. We will continue to amplify the voices of youth through inclusiveness, compassion, understanding and artistic expression. I believe inQluding emerging and diverse voices will ultimately empower our communities.

Media for young people is a critical factor in the development of young people; it helps create our perception of people and validates the experiences of young people. Everyone deserves to see themselves in the media. Without these stories, children will end up internalizing society’s prejudices and biases and not feel validated or seen.

Our community that makes inQluded is the vision I will follow. I’ll borrow inQluded’s vision and listen and continue to implement events or programming that honors inQluded.

Lee: You’re gearing up for a mentor program - tell us about that.

medina: SO EXCITING. I’d be happy to! The mentorship is a perfect example of how we take ideas from our community seriously and do our best to implement them into sustainable programming.

We'll match established QTBIPOC authors & illustrators with unpublished and/or unagented QTBIPOC writers & illustrators.

A break down of the inQluded QTBIPOC Writing and Illustrators Mentorship Program:

This program is for queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, youth of color
Mentors must be over the age of 18 (there is no age limit)
Must identify as queer or trans and BIPOC
The program will launch in February 2020 and run for five months, with one-hour meetings per month (you do not have to meet in person)



Lee: If someone reading this is interested in being a mentor, what do they need to know/do?

medina: Know that 1. I’m so thrilled you’re interested. Thank you for considering being a mentor.

This mentorship is less traditional, in that, we can be flexible with timing. We’d rather have a beautiful pair and have to wait for a mentor to be available then to give a mentee someone who may not be the best match. So, please know that we can work with you -- you don’t need to start mentoring tomorrow.

The commitment is for five months and one hour a month. This is the form: http://bit.ly/inqludedmentorapp

Mentor apps are due January 27th, 2020.

Lee: You’re doing your own writing while at the same time prioritizing raising the voices of others. Can you speak to that balance?

medina: Working on inQluded fuels me with inspiration and motivation. As for my own writing, I’d like to think my job as a writer is to always raise the voices of others. I think some of the best writing is when you forget about the writer or author and are affected by that piece of work so much that it embodies you and changes you. I’m a vessel. I’m the messenger.

Lee: What haven’t I asked that you want to share with our readers?

medina: If you’re in NYC, please follow us @inqluded everywhere and keep track of our events! We are doing an open-mic series at Bluestockings in March and June. We have a creative writing workshop at Word Up Books in February and so many more in-person events!

Lee: Should we tell everyone about the cool thing we’ve cooked up?

medina: I thought you’d never ask?

Lee: inQluded will be running a piece from one of their issues as a Valentine’s Day gift to readers here at I’m Here. I’m Queer. What The Hell Do I Read?! I’m so excited about that!

medina: Yay!

Lee: Thanks so much, medina! You’ve given me another reason to look forward to Valentine’s Day.

medina: Thank you so much for chatting with me. :)


Check out the InQluded website and first four issues here.

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

Lee

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

InQluded - A literary magazine by and for Queer, Trans, Intersex, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Youth

How's this for an amazing mission statement?

TO CREATE A YOUTH-LED SAFE SPACE THAT HONORS AND CELEBRATES THE NARRATIVES OF UNDERREPRESENTED VOICES OF QTIBIPOC YOUTH. TO SUPPORT AND RESPECT YOUTH AS THEY BEGIN TO CREATE A WORLD WHERE THEY ARE AUTHENTICALLY REPRESENTED. TO EMPOWER, INSPIRE AND CULTIVATE NEW GENERATIONS OF CREATIVES.

There are four issues out so far:








The issues include poetry, visual art, nonfiction, and fiction, and they've been featured by Lambda Literary and Publishers Weekly.

You can get InQluded issues and learn lots more at their website here: InQluded.org

And watch for my interview this Friday with InQluded founder and editor-in-chief, medina!

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

Monday, January 13, 2020

The January 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

Happy New Year, Community!

Here's the latest...



Watch the under-four minute video by clicking the still frame above of by clicking here: https://youtu.be/U8xm2ZOyQ_A

Transcript:

Hi Community, I'm Lee Wind. It’s January 2020 and this is my Video Newsletter. The whole point of which is to Update, Inform, and hopefully Inspire YOU.

Queer History is Everywhere!

This month, I'm really excited about the story of Whitney Houston. So Whitney Houston was this amazing singer, with an incredible voice. She had eleven #1 hits, including "I will always love you," "I wanna dance with somebody (who loves me)," and "the greatest love of all,"
And she was singing about love, and there were these rumors that she was in a relationship with another woman but it was always denied.

She ended up marrying a guy, they had a child. But her life was kind of tragic, and she was addicted to drugs, and she ended up dying really young, at 48, in 2012.

But now, Robyn Crawford has come out - the woman that there were the rumors about - has come out with a memoir, called “A Song For You”, and in it she talks about their relationship. She says,

"We were friends. We were lovers. We were everything to each other." – Robyn Crawford, on her relationship with Whitney Houston

So it's bittersweet that this amazing talent, that Whitney Houston never felt safe or had the support to come out – but it is kind of amazing to know that that voice - the woman behind that voice - was part of our LGBTQ community.

Queer history really is everywhere.

Lee Wind Author Update

So, here it is... The award seal! Ahhh!

Readers Say

The reviews are in from my Models of Pride workshop, called Queer History is Everywhere. I presented to about 25 teens, 12 of them filled out their survey form, and 10 out of 12 of them said that it was “Excellent!”

They were asked, How will the content of this workshop be useful in your life? Here are five of the answers:

1) It hit hard – imam be smart

2) It was excellent! This will guide me in how I interpret history in future. It was also very empowering!

3) Finding more representation in deeper history. Representation matters!

4) It has inspired me to be who I am and not to look at myself as “abnormal” or “strange”

5) Everything was so interesting and I learned that queer history is ACTUALLY EVERYWHERE. This workshop changed my outlook on life

That's why I do what I do.

Events

In the beginning of February, I'm going to be traveling to SCBWI's winter conference in New York City, I'm really excited, it's always a wonderful three days. I'll be hosting the LGBTQ Q&A, once again it's a really beautiful safe gathering within the larger community, and I also will be blogging for SCBWI. If you're going to be there, say "Hi." Otherwise, you can follow along online. I'm really looking forward to it.

Reading In, Writing Out

I just finished…

Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro, and it's really wonderful.

It's about a 10th grader, Moss, who lives in Oakland. He's Black, and he's Gay, and he suffers panic attacks - I love the intersectionality of that - and the panic attacks are caused by the fact that the police killed his father about six years before the story begins.

And the story is about the police have taken over security at his high school, and his friends and him are being treated like criminals. And they organize to try and push back against the administration.

And there's some romance, and there's some tragedy, and it is super timely, and important, and the characters are amazing and I loved it!

(Thanks to Librarian Elizabeth Abarbanel for the recommendation!)

Inspiration

I love this quote:
Start writing, no matter about what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. You can sit and look at a page for a long time and nothing will happen. Start writing and it will.
- Louis L’Amour, the famous writer of Westerns, from his memoir, Education of a Wandering Man
I love that. Turn the faucet on, and the water will start to flow.

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

Until then, the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you.
Thanks!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Homo - A Troubled Gay Teen "At Odds with Gay Culture" Tries to Figure Out Where He Fits



Homo by Michael Harris

"I don't see why I have to become this new person just because I like guys. Most of who I am has nothing to do with who I hump.

Will's never been obvious about being gay. Not like Daniel, who takes the heat -- and the beatings -- at Spencer High. But then Will's best friend outs him on Facebook, and his small-town life starts to spin out of control. If he's not like everyone else, and he's not like Daniel, then who is he?"

You can read about the author's inspiration for the novel here. Add your review of "Homo" in comments!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The XY, a.k.a. "Who Runs the World" - a dystopian (or utopian?) world rebuilt by women - a YA novel that explores gender and its roles



The Xy, published in England as "Who Runs the World" by Virginia Bergin

"Welcome to the matriarchy

Sixty years after a virus has wiped out almost all the men on the planet, things are pretty much just as you would imagine a world run by women might be: war has ended; greed is not tolerated; the ecological needs of the planet are always put first. In two generations, the female population has grieved, pulled together and moved on, and life really is pretty good – if you’re a girl. It’s not so great if you’re a boy, but fourteen-year-old River wouldn’t know that. Until she met Mason, she thought they were basically extinct."

Add your review of "The XY" or "Who Runs the World" in comments!

Monday, January 6, 2020

I'm Interviewed on "The Premise" Podcast!

What a great way to start the new year!



I'm the subject of episode #2 of Jeniffer and Chad Thompson's new "The Premise" Podcast which, as they explain, is:

"A premise is what forms the basis of a theory or a plot. We talk to storytellers from all disciplines and get down to the story behind the storyteller—the passion and joy and creativity behind their stories. Our premise is that listening to others helps us build greater empathy and a stronger sense of humanity—storytelling is powerful stuff. By just listening, we can make the world a better place."

Isn't that a cool premise for a podcast?

And here's the description for my interview:

002 - Lee Wind - On Writing
Jeniffer and Chad talk with Lee Wind, Director of Marketing & Programming at IBPA, about his mission to write the books he wishes he'd read as a gay youth. They discuss Lincoln, examining history in closer detail to reveal the true selves of historical figures, and how it can create new role models and new perspectives. You'll also hear from Lee about his writing process, his ups and downs in the publishing world, and the wild tale of a rogue agent( the literary kind).

It's a great discussion, and I'm grateful to Jeniffer and Chad for the opportunity!

You can listen here. I'm already looking forward to future episodes.

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