Wednesday, September 30, 2020

We Are Lost and Found - A Teen in the 1980s Navigates a Homophobic Family, and World, the Threat of AIDS, and... Just Maybe, Love

We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar

Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James and Becky. Plus, his brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be Michael's only chance at avoiding the same fate. To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father's angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands. Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he's willing to risk to be himself.
Add your review of "We Are Lost and Found" in comments.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Yom Kippur 2020/5781 - A Good Time to Learn the Difference Between an Ally and an Accomplice

I found the photo of this great mural at the website Uncustomary here.

The ten days of and between the Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Ha Shana (the Jewish New Year, which happened on September 18) and Yom Yippur (today) have at their core both introspection and resolve.

Introspection, as in how did I do as a human being in the past year? Making amends for any mis-steps, and then Resolve, as in I'm going to do better – be better – this year.

For me, so much of that renewing surrounding the Jewish New Year, of aiming to be a better person annually, is based on a desire and a curiosity to always learn more. Understand more. 

So today I'd like to share this article, "Ally or Accomplice? The Language of Activism" by Colleen Clemens from the Teaching Tolerance website.

When I first heard the term "Accomplice" it made me think about how homosexuality and gender non-conformity have for generations been made illegal and prosecuted as crimes, and my initial discomfort was based in that paradigm, as if using the term would be buying in to the hundreds of years of criminalization of marginalized groups, including Black people, people of Native nations, people of color, disabled people, women, and my own Queer community.

But I've been reading up on it, and Colleen's article on the distinction between "Ally" and "Accomplice" was really helpful in my re-imagining the term "Accomplice":

"An ally will mostly engage in activism by standing with an individual or group in a marginalized community. An accomplice will focus more on dismantling the structures that oppress that individual or group—and such work will be directed by the stakeholders in the marginalized group. Simply, ally work focuses on individuals, and accomplice work focuses on the structures of decision-making agency."

A sign at a protest this summer really spoke to me. It said: 

 "Use white privilege to dismantle white privilege" 

And I think that's what the term "Accomplice" is aiming for.

So here's to a year of being better Allies, and Accomplices, to make our world a better place. In Hebrew, there's this ideal of action called "Tikkun Olam" which translates as "Healing the World."

We have work to do.

If you can vote, VOTE. Raise your voice. Be there for individuals as an Ally. And join in on the work of creating systemic change as an Accomplice.

And let's heal our world. Together.

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


Friday, September 25, 2020

Banned Books Week 2020 - How Will You Celebrate the Freedom to Read?

It starts Sunday, running September 27-October 3, 2020, and as every year, the American Library Association has made a list of the "Top 10 Most Challenged Books" of the past year. It is bracing that eight - EIGHT - out of ten were challenged for including LGBTQ characters or themes in books for kids or teens. 

Here's the list, from the ALA Banned Books Week website (highlights were added by me):    

Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 377 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2019. Of the 566 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:

George by Alex Gino Reasons: challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller Reasons: Challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning

Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth Reasons: Challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis Reasons: Challenged and restricted for featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas Reasons: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”

Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier Reasons: Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling Reasons: Banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole Reason: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content

Resolved: read a Queer book for kids or teens this upcoming week (and maybe every week?) to celebrate your freedom to read!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Willow and the Wedding - a Picture Book About a Young Girl Who Wants to Get Her Uncle to Dance at His Wedding (to Another Man) - a Picture Book I Wish Had Been Read to Me When I Was a Little Kid

Willow and the Wedding, by Denise Brennan-Nelson, Illustrated by Cyd Moore

Here's the publisher synopsis:

Willow is back! This time she’s so excited to be flower girl for her favorite uncle and his partner David’s wedding. Willow just can’t wait to help make it perfect. The beach ceremony! The dinner! The dessert! The dancing! But there’s just one hiccup. Uncle Ash refuses to dance these days. A wedding with no dancing?! Willow makes it her mission to remind him of the joy he found in dancing years ago. On the evening of the wedding, Uncle Ash surprises them all and everyone dances in just the ways they were meant to.

Gotta admit, this one choked me up a bit - just the joy about Ash and David getting married from everyone in the family, and the story's conflict not being the wedding being a gay wedding, but that Ash didn't want to dance...

Absolutely a picture book I wish had been read to me when I was a little kid. Next best thing - I got to read it now. And recommend it to you.

Add your review of "Willow and the Wedding" in comments!

Monday, September 21, 2020

She/He/They/Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters - Author and Sociologist Robyn Ryle Presents Gender as a "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" Journey

She/He/They/Me: For the Sisters, Misters, and Binary Resisters by Dr. Robyn Ryle

If you've ever questioned the logic of basing an entire identity around what you have between your legs, it's time to embark on a daring escape outside of the binary box...

Open your eyes to what it means to be a boy or a girl -- and above and beyond! Within these pages, you get to choose which path to forge. Explore over one hundred different scenarios that embrace nearly every definition across the world, over history, and in the ever-widening realms of our imagination! What if your journey leads you into a world with several genders, or simply one? Do you live in a matriarchal society, or as a sworn virgin in the Balkans? How does gender (or the lack thereof) change the way we approach sex and love, life or death?

Jump headfirst into this refreshingly creative exploration of the ways gender colors every shade and shape of our world. Above all, it's more important than ever for us to celebrate the fact that there are infinite gender paths -- and each of them is beautiful.
Add your review of "She/He/They/Me" in comments!

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Trevor Project's Guide to "How To Support Bisexual Youth: Ways to Care for Young People Who Are Attracted to More Than One Gender"

This is really cool...

It's Bisexual Awareness Week, and The Trevor Project has put out their first ever guide to support Bi and Pan Youth. As they explain,

The handbook is an educational resource that covers a wide range of topics and best practices for supporting bisexual youth, including: bisexuality, pansexuality, and other multisexual identities; romantic orientations; preventing bisexual erasure and biphobia; navigating gender and bisexuality; exploring different relationship types; and self-care tips.

Last year, nearly 50% of the youth who reached out to Trevor’s crisis services experienced multi-gender attraction. And while bisexual people make up the largest portion of the LGBTQ community, bi youth are often erased and their specific needs overlooked. Our research shows that bi youth are at higher risk than their peers for sexual assault and bullying, and almost half of bi youth seriously considered suicide in the past year.

We hope this resource will help people challenge biphobic assumptions in their everyday lives and foster the creation of safer, more affirming communities for bisexual youth everywhere.

Click here to visit the Trevor Project website and download the guide.

One stand-out moment in reading it was when the guide said:

Your bisexuality is real and valid. You deserve so much kindness, care, and celebration for being exactly who you are!

Yes! That kind of support and validation, for everyone who identifies as part of the Queer community, is so important. Especially for Bi and Pan people who struggle with sometimes feeling like their authentic identity is erased by others (who can see them as either heteronormative or queer, depending on the relationship they may be in at any time.) That's not cool. Bi and Pan folks should be honored for who they authentically are.

Happy Bi Awareness Week, everyone!

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


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

More Happy Than Not - A New Edition Features a New Final Chapter

This is really cool.

The new edition of "More Happy Than Not" features a new final chapter, that "gives readers even more of Aaron Soto's unforgettable story."

I'm so intrigued.

And the idea of a new final chapter, of a book being changeable once it's been published, and lauded, is fascinating and inspiring.

Here's the info from the publisher:

Adam Silvera’s New York Times bestselling debut is back(!!!) in a new Deluxe Edition.

Features an introduction from #1 New York Times bestseller Angie Thomas, a new final chapter that gives readers even more of Aaron Soto's unforgettable story, and an afterword from Adam.

And the story:

In the months following his father's suicide, sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto can’t seem to find happiness again, despite the support of his girlfriend, Genevieve, and his overworked mom. Grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist won’t let him forget the pain. But when Aaron meets Thomas, a new kid in the neighborhood, something starts to shift inside him. Aaron can't deny his unexpected feelings for Thomas despite the tensions their friendship has created with Genevieve and his tight-knit crew. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound happiness, he considers taking drastic actions. The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-altering procedure will straighten him out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Want to learn more about Adam? Here's his website.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The September 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter

Click here or above to watch the September 2020 Lee Wind Video Newsletter.


Hi Community,

I'm Lee Wind. It's September 2020, and whoa - six months of sheltering in place. There are fires and smoke, and for the last week it's been really crazy, and there's still this ongoing sense that we have to do more than be allies. We need to be accomplices and help dismantle these systems that are so oppressive.

And in the midst of all of it, in the midst of all of it, some nice things have happened. And I find myself a little self-conscious, awkward, feeling like maybe I shouldn't be talking about the nice things that have happened, even though they're things that I've worked on for a very long time. And I've realized that when the sky is amber, (laughs), when things are difficult, it's important to still share good things, because it's hopeful, and it's nice, and so with your indulgence, I'll share a few nice things that have happened.

It's almost as if I'm a gardener - I'm a vegetarian and not much of a real gardener out in a garden – but I feel like there are projects I've worked on for so long that are flowering and bearing fruit, and that is a lovely thing to celebrate. And so, with your indulgence, I'm going to share three really lovely things that have happened.

My nonfiction book that's coming out from Lerner had its big cover reveal this past week on Betsy Bird's School Library Journal Fuse #8 blog.

Click through to see big cover reveal

She does an amazing job, and she does these great interviews with people, and she did this cool interview with me! So it's very exciting, you can go there, check out the cover, check out the interview, it says a lot about the book, and about why I wrote it, and the importance of putting this nonfiction, these true stories from history, stories of men who loved men, and women who loved women, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. Taking the primary sources and putting them in front of kids and letting kids read it themselves, and how empowering that can be, and that is. And I'm really really excited about that and very grateful to Betsy for the opportunity, and very excited that the book is coming out in April 2021.

So that's the first seed that was planted - oh my gosh - so many years ago. More than ten years ago I started on that journey, so it's very exciting to see that book slowly making its way out into the world with a big cover reveal this week and that interview.

The second lovely thing, is something that came about because of these video newsletters. After the video newsletter I think back in January or February, I was contacted by an editor of the English Journal, uh, journal (laughs) which is published by the National Council of Teachers of English, and they asked me if I would be interested in writing the “Bookended” column, it's sort of like an essay that happens at the end of each of their journal issues, that talks about something about the author's experience in English classes in either middle school or high school. And so I got to write this essay, and it came out this past week, in September.

The first page of my three-page essay in the English Journal September 2020 issue, called "Who's the Monster? (Hint: It's not the whale.)"

So that's something where the seed was planted in February, I guess, and that is flowering now. And that's very exciting because 16,000 middle school and high school English teachers will read that. And so I'm very excited, and it just feels very nice, to reach both librarians - school librarians in particular - and to reach English teachers at this moment feels very very exciting.

And then third thing I want to share is that I have been blogging at I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? for thirteen years. September 15th, 2007 was my very first post, and now it is 13 years later. And that is amazing, and exciting. And actually, I looked it up, Google counted for me, and this post that's going up, is post #2,700. I've done two thousand seven hundred posts on my blog about LGBTQ kid and teen books and culture and politics, and so much more, and you've been here as part of the journey, and I'm so grateful for that.

And just last week we passed three million page loads!


BOOM! (mind blown sound)

Wow! It's very exciting. I'm very very grateful, and very humble[d], trying to come at this from a place of humility, too, because oh my gosh there's so much going on in the world, and that you would allow me to take a little time to share with you some good news that's happened for me, in the midst of all this, is very lovely.

So thank you so much. Stay safe, be kind to yourselves and others, and we're all in this together, and thank you for letting me share.

Until next time, the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you.

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Queer Love Story Behind "Goodnight Moon" - Or, How I Learned To Love A Children's Classic

So recently I had this revelation from the SCBWI 2020 Summer Spectacular Online conference about Goodnight Moon, this perennial favorite board book/picture book that we were gifted multiple copies of when our daughter was born, that I never really understood.

I mean, there's not much plot. Not to diss author Margaret Wise Brown, or Illustrator Clement Hurd, but it's really just a bunny settling into bed, saying "Good Night" to the things in their big green room. Like the comb, and brush, and bowl of mush by their bedside.

On August 2, 2020, in that online SCBWI conference, when talking about the heart-message of a book being either explicit or implicit, editor and author Jill Santopolo explained that for Goodnight Moon, the heart message is "everything is as it should be, and it's safe to go to sleep."

And suddenly the popularity of the book made more sense to me. That's the storyline. Implicitly there.

Then just last week, Lambda Literary published this article by Lizzy Lemieux, ‘Goodnight Moon’ and the Queer Love Story of the Great Green Room.

Turns out, Margaret Wise Brown had a real green room:

“Brown’s New York City apartment, gifted to her by her lover, actress, and poet Blanche Oelrichs, who was known by her nom de plume, Michael Strange. While Brown was writing her magnum opus of children’s literature, she painted her own gifted bedroom green and yellow and covered her poster bed in red velvet.”

It's information from Amy Gary's 2017 biography In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown, and it's fascinating. The article includes this bit:

“The relationship was never truly a secret. During her divorce from John Barrymore, an exposé even dubbed Michael the ‘Sappho of Long Island’, forcing her to go temporarily ‘incognito’ for fear of social ostracization. External and internal homophobia coloured the couples relationship. In letters, Michael ‘insisted’ they use coded language. As Gary writes, ‘At times, they attached emotions they had for each other to their dogs or had imaginary characters speak for them in their letters. Michael’s was Rabbit and Margaret’s, Bunny.’”

Look at the brush!

Oh - My - WOW!

Suddenly, there's a whole other reason to love this story of Bunny (Margaret's stand-in), lovingly seeing all the things in their great green room (gifted to her by the woman who loved her), and knowing that everything is as it should be, and it's safe to go to sleep.

And in that one-two revelation, I love a children's classic.

As Lizzy put it so perfectly in the final line to her article,

“Goodnight stars. Goodnight air. Goodnight women loving women everywhere.”

I loved learning this bit of Queer and Kid Lit history!

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

You're Invited To My Friend Lori's FREE Online "Writers Happiness" Writing Retreat (Sept 11-13, 2020)

I've done two of these before, and it's been awesome, both in terms of the sense of community gathered, and in my getting some writing done!

If writing's your thing, you might consider joining.

Here's the scoop, and the link to register:

Join Lori and me

"...and other writers in a free, communal writing weekend, Friday evening through Sunday lunch (with an optional Friday daytime component). You are welcome to attend for all or just parts here and there, whatever works for your time, brain, or life right now.

The idea behind this writing retreat is simple: community and time. Time to write, to brainstorm, to clear your psychic space from distractions. To sit with your manuscript. To revise. To remember why you love this. To finish something. To start something. To feel refreshed. To be supported. To remember that your writing matters in the midst of all of this, and that it’s also totally okay if it’s not coming easily at the moment.

There are no critiques, no readings, no workshops. Just a chance to work on or think about your project in a supportive community of other writers working on and thinking about their projects as well. [Lori will] also be leading optional writer-centric yoga and guided meditations. All writers of anything are welcome, whether it’s a book or a blog, a dissertation or a business plan."

Get all the details here.

Hope you'll be able to join!

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

P.S. - Lori didn't ask me to share this, but I am because it's just so good, and it's free, and I'm delighted to spread the word!

Monday, September 7, 2020

#ShowThemYouCARE #SuicidePrevention - September is National Suicide Prevention Month

According to The Trevor Project’s research, 40% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months, with more than half of Trans and Nonbinary youth having seriously considered it.

Check out this video from The Trevor Project, explaining how to Prevent Suicide with CARE: which stands for Connect, Ask, Respond, and Empower

As Patricia says in the video,
"Acceptance from at least one adult can decrease the risk of LGBTQ youth suicide by 40%."

Learn more about how to help LGBTQ youth in crisis here:

Stay safe, 

know that the world needs your light,

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


Friday, September 4, 2020

The New Queer Conscience - Adam Eli Argues That Queers Anywhere Are Responsible For Queers Everywhere

The New Queer Conscience by Adam Eli, Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

Voices4 Founder and LGBTQIA+ activist Adam Eli offers a candid and compassionate introduction to queer responsibility. Eli calls on his Jewish faith to underline how kindness and support within the queer community can lead to a stronger global consciousness. More importantly, he reassures us that we're not alone. In fact, we never were. Because if you mess with one queer, you mess with us all.

I love the description of this book, and can't wait to read it! Add your review of "The New Queer Conscience" in comments!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe (An ALA Alex Winner, Naming It a Book for Adults That Will Have Teen Appeal)

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia's intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.
Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity--what it means and how to think about it--for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

The School Library Journal starred review said, "It's also a great resource for those who identify as nonbinary or asexual as well as for those who know someone who identifies that way and wish to better understand."

Add your review of "Gender Queer: A Memoir" in comments!