#it gets better
#1 Must Have: A Blog to Celebrate Queer Culture
When A. Slaven was growing up in rural Ohio, she didn’t identify as anything but a weirdo. “There was so little context for being a queer person in the place where I’m from,” she says. “I didn’t even think about it. I just always felt very different.” It was only when she left the sticks for college in a nearby city — and developed her first reciprocated girlcrush — that she realized there was a name for the way she felt: Queer. Suddenly life was less lonely.
Now 33 and living in Seattle, Slaven is a librarian by day and club promoter by night. Along with her creative partner, lawyer/photographer Adrien Leavitt, she’s the brains behind #1 Must Have — a blog (named for the Sleater-Kinney song) and photozine documenting queer culture. For the last year, the two friends have been posting color portraits of the Seattle queer community — sans captions. The point is to show how queer people of all ages live. We caught up with Slaven as she prepared for the project’s New York gallery debut, at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.
Why start a zine about queer culture?
Part of why we started doing it is that the It Gets Better Project got so popular. We don’t think that you should just suck it up in high school and wait. We wanted to represent taking charge, empowering yourself, not just waiting it out and hoping that some day we can adopt a kid and shop at Whole Foods.
"Some people said, ‘He’s saying he fell in love with a guy for hype.’ As if that’s the best hype you can get in hip-hop or black music. So I knew that if I was going to say what I said, it had to be in concert with one of the most brilliant pieces of art that has come out in my generation. And that’s what I did. Why can I say that? Why I don’t have to affect all this humility and shit … because I worked my ass off."
Swedish activists push for gender-neutral pronoun →
Activists in Sweden are working to introduce the gender-neutral pronoun “hen” into the lexicon, to be used in addition to “han” (he) and “hon” (she).
The word was invented in the ’60s and gained prominence around 2000 when transgender activists began using it more frequently. Recently, the word was used in a children’s book and in the party program of the country’s third largest political party, and LGBT activists are working toward even greater recognition.
“Hen” is not meant to replace “he” and “she,” supporters argue. Instead, it allows speakers to refer to a person without having to mention the gender if they don’t know it, if the person is transgender, or if the information is considered irrelevant.
Pretty cool stuff. Let’s see where this goes.
#Monday is One Day
#diverse kids lit
#gay parents in kids books
#Real Kids/ Good Books Review
Monday is One Day by Arthur Levine, illustrated by Julian Hector (Scholastic, 2011).
If you are a working parent, Arthur Levine has created just the right book for you to read together with your kid(s) under a warm blanket on Sunday night.
This book really stands out because of the choice of illustrations. Just like actual families where one or both parents works, these families are diverse. There is a single mom, single dad, gay dads, straight parents, urban families, rural families, and one African American family. And I suppose that would be one of my quibbles — more families of color would have made Monday is One Day even better. And the other little quibble is the cover — how come the gay couple can’t stand together next to their kid? Hmmm?
(Covers of books featuring diverse characters is a whole other story!)
(Image source: Goodreads)
Another excerpt from Ash by Malinda Lo
Excerpt from Ash by Malinda Lo. For more, head to her website.
Aisling’s mother died at midsummer. She had fallen sick so suddenly that some of the villagers wondered if the fairies had come and taken her, for she was still young and beautiful. She was buried three days later beneath the hawthorn tree behind the house, just as twilight was darkening the sky.
Maire Solanya, the village greenwitch, came that evening to perform the old rituals over the grave. She stood at the foot of the mound of black soil, a thin old woman with white hair bound in a braid that reached her hips, her face a finely drawn map of lines. Aisling and her father stood across from each other on either side of the grave, and at the head of it, resting on the simple headstone, was the burning candle. Aisling’s father had lit it shortly after Elinor died, and it would burn all night, sheltered by the curving glass around it. The gravestone was a plain piece of slate carved with her name: Elinor. Grass and tree roots would grow up around it as the months and years passed, until it would seem as if it had always been there.
Maire Solanya said in her low, clear voice, “From life to life, from breath to breath, we remember Elinor.” She held a round loaf of bread in her hands, and she tore off a small piece and ate it, chewing deliberately, before handing the loaf to Aisling’s father. He pulled off his own piece, then passed it to his daughter. It was still warm, and it smelled like her mother’s kitchen after baking. But it hadn’t come from her mother’s hands, and that realization made a hard lump rise in her throat. The bread was tasteless.
“In the first draft of Ash, the Cinderella character falls for the prince. It wasn’t until my good friend Lesly read it and said, ‘You know, the prince guy is kinda boring,’ that I realized that Cinderella was gay.”
from her website
#diverse kids lit
#Real Kids/ Good Books Review
Ash (2009) by Malinda Lo.
I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Malinda Lo talk about her writing during her Diversity Tour earlier this year and I’ve been eyeing my autographed copy of Ash since then, waiting until I had a chunk of time to dive into it. I can finally report that I munched it down in just a couple of days.
Malinda Lo has taken the Cinderella story and created her book from the spaces left untold and unexamined in the classic narrative. The main characters circle around in a complicated love triangle involving fairies, both beautiful and dangerous, royal balls, and a mysterious Huntress thrown in for good measure.
If you’ve heard anything about Ash before now, you’ve probably heard that it’s a queer re-telling of Cinderella. And that it is. But more than that, Malinda Lo has created a vivid world where Ash becomes an active agent in her own life. In Ash she’s not a beautiful servant girl waiting for someone else to save her from a life of toil. In Ash, she is the one who makes the choice to save herself— choosing to be with the girl of her dreams.
Now that’s my kind of fairy tale!
Los Angeles Unified becomes first California school district to mandate gay curriculum (LA Weekly) →
Yesterday, board member Steve Zimmer out-gayed the rest of the state’s school districts — even San Francisco Unified; woot woot! — with the state’s first solid plan to implement SB 48.
Under his resolution, all schools within LAUSD must do the following in their classrooms within three months:
- Promote positive images of LGBT individuals.
- Make available age-appropriate LGBT inclusive curriculum for elementary and secondary schools.
- Require that newly adopted social studies materials include positive representations of LGBT and persons with disabilities.
- Include LGBT sensitivity in outreach, education, and training for students, parents, and staff.
- Remind staff of their duty to ensure that all students are safe and affirmed on campus, and to proactively intervene with acts of bias, harassment or bullying that they see, including, but not limited to LGBT-biased language and bullying.
- Implement for all staff a training specifying legal responsibilities, effective practices, and concerns unique to LGBT individuals, similar to the district’s child abuse module.
LAUSD’s human relations coordinator, Judy Chiasson, tells the LA Daily News elementary-schoolers with same-sex parents will now “be allowed to make two Mother’s or Father’s Day cards without questions or concerns being raised by teachers.”