Sep 302013

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that this fall I had the opportunity to partner with The Center For American Progress. They are a brilliant research institute in DC that have given us some of the best and most nuanced statistical understanding of LGBTQ youth homelessness as an epidemic in this country. This month CAP released a new report “Seeking Shelter The Experiences and Unmet Needs of LGBT Homeless Youth” and I was honored when I was contacted by the writers and asked if I would be willing to contribute to it from a personal perspective.

I immediately said yes and then had to give some thought to what I wanted to say. They wanted me to tell my story of having been kicked out and what it was like to be a teenager.  I wanted my contribution to this report to take things a step further, to not just talk about what it was like to be kicked out, but to give voice to the ways in which as queer homeless youth we built our own families, grow each other up, save each other in ways that no one else could.

“I rode busses for two hours to get to the city of Portland. I held my breath and walked into the queer youth center for the first time. It was all concrete, spray paint, bike parts, glitter, and BO, but for the first time I knew that I wasn’t alone. I learned the beginnings of trust from other kids who had lost everything. We swore allegiances to one another, built families in the back rooms of that youth center, in parks, under bridges, in punk houses. We kept the promises we made. We grew each other up, saving one another in ways no adults, no social workers or agencies ever could.”

I take every writing opportunity I’m given seriously, especially ones like this where I’m given the chance to speak to a group of readers who might not otherwise come across a story being told not from the perspective of a researcher, but from actually having lived this experience, and I’m so grateful that  COP prioritized the inclusion of current/former homeless LGBTQ youth within this new report.

The Center For American Progress released their report at an event in DC last Thursday and I was shocked and honored when I turned on the live video streaming to hear the event open with my words being read aloud. “Listen when we tell you our stories”

You can learn more about the report and for free download a full PDF, which includes my story here

Sep 232013

This weekend I had one of the most unique and special experiences of my career; I had the chance to SKYPE with a book group and talk about Roving Pack. Now this wasn’t just any book group, this was a youth book group at SMYRC – the Sexual minority Youth Resource Center in Portland Oregon, the same queer youth center where I grew up as a queer teen. To have this kind of partnership with the agency where I was an alumni was incredible.

This summer, the youth at SMYRC and an LGBTQ group at Outside In – an amazing homeless youth serving agency and clinic (where I got medical care for years as a teenager) read Roving Pack.  I was so excited that the youth and staff at SMYRC wanted to read Roving Pack! Roving Pack is fiction though pieces of it definitely are based on who I was as a youth in Portland, and QYRC the fictional Queer Youth Recreation Center definitely bears a strong resemblance to the SMYRC I knew in the early 2000′s.  I was so curious what the SMYRC youth of today would think about the novel, its themes and what kind of questions they would have for me!

The youth at SMYRC asked some of the best and hardest hitting questions I’ve ever gotten about the novel.  They wanted to know about so many things including:

Gender portrayals

How much of the book is based on truth

If I had been concerned about writing a book with so much BDSM content

How I felt about the Daddy/boy relationships in the book not always being healthy or positive portrayals

What the writing process had looked like

How people I’d known as a youth in Portland had responded to Roving Pack

Why I ended the book the way that I had- what happens to Click

If I’d been concerned straight people wouldn’t understand the queer language/themes

I also learned about what their favorite scenes from the book were, or scenes that had otherwise stayed with them in some way and was interested to se that some of them were some of my own favorites.

SMYRC has moved twice since I was a youth, the space is completely different, and I was so grateful to be welcomed back into the new SMYRC and to have the chance to answer questions about Roving Pack and to talk with the current generation of youth who call SMYRC home. I’ve been so blessed that in the last year I’ve had a number of opportunities to connect with youth in Portland from keynoting the Oregon Queer Youth Summit in the late Spring to now getting to have a much more intimate conversation with youth.

Before getting on SKYPE Saturday night I was more nervous than I normally am before I talk to readers. I’m always nervous before I meet readers, but this was different, it felt like such a tremendous full circle to be visiting SMYRC the place where I wrote my first stories, where I built my first queer families and honestly I was terrified that the youth might hate the book, or not have related to it. It was so exciting to have such an engaging conversation with the folks at SMYRC, to have the chance to go back and visit them, to talk to youth who had read Roving Pack was an incredibly special experience for me not only as an author, but also personally. I owe my life to SMYRC in so many ways and it’s a tremendous honor to now be able to connect with the SMYRC youth of today.

Has your book group read Roving Pack? If so please get in touch I’d love to join your group via SKYPE!

Sep 182013

So excited that Leather Ever After is getting  fun coverage in USA Today! Check us out in the “Happy Ever After” Book section! You’ll see Leather Ever After and get a peek at a few literary items on my bucket list! Click here and scroll down to the bottom!

Once upon a time, in a dungeon far, far away the kinkiest writers in the land were summoned to pervert beloved fairy tales with tales of dominance, submission, bondage and surrender. In these stories twisted princesses take control of submissive princes, witches play with power and fairy tales come to life in our homes and dungeons…. Get your own copy today! 

Sep 152013

I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like to, something about the business of summer ending, and the demands of this new weekly column at Dogster has taken a lot of my blogging energy. I do a lot of what i like to think of as micro blogging on facebook and twitter but it’s not the same as actually communicating with all of you here in a more concretely organized blog. It’s been a busy couple of weeks – Kestryl’s girlfriend stayed with us for the last two weeks when she’s been here on a visit from Holland. I was worried about what that experience would be like, the kind of growth that having invited her into our home represented to me. I definitely had my moments of struggling, but they were few, and minor and relatively easy to work through. I’m stunned at how much I’ve grown in the past few years, how well the visit went, and what that represents about the ways in which I’ve successfully grown beyond making decisions and boundaries based on fear, the ways in which I’ve been able to truly practice the larger believes that I have about love and relationships and connection. I worried a little that the visit would leave me with renewed little-phobia and self-judgement about being a little in the world and while when I’ve had brief struggled that have centered around that, when that panic clears I’m left more solid than I’ve ever been, more secure in my identities and the ways that I want to live my life. That’s a nice place to be, a powerful and exciting place.

This week also marked 12 years since I ran away from my birth mother’s house. It’s been 12 years since I was surrounded by the whirring of polaroid cameras capturing the bruises. 12 years since she was dragged drunken down the stairs of our house, 12 years since she spent the night in jail and I, thinking I was finally home and safe lied when asked “you’re over that gay thing right?” by the adults I ran away to, the adults I thought would love me. I was 17 then and it’s been so many lifetimes that have led me to where i am today.

This same week I read this incredibly sad news story that broke my heart. in the story, this little elephant in China couldn’t stop crying after keepers removed him from his mother after she rejected him, and tried to kill the little elephant for a second time. Family trauma is complicated and intense and something that stays with us in different ways over time. According to the story, the little elephant cried and cried for five hours, and then he figured out how to form relationship, to build a new family with his keeper who had rescued him.  I can’t stop thinking about this picture of a the little elephant crying, just crying out of grief and loss and abandonment.  This news story hit me, and keeps hitting me. I can’t get the picture of that baby elephant out of my mind.

The last thing I need is another project, and I know I don’t have the capacity to take this on right now as I’m working diligently on my next novel Lost Boi, but someday, someday I will write a picture book   about this little elephant. It will be a hard story, a rough story about what it means to be rejected. A story for us who escape, who run away, who survive, despite our mothers.