Oct 112013
 

I can never ever forget how powerful it was for me to see out queer folks when I was a  closeted teen. They were risking safety and livelihood  to be out in that conservative county I was raised in. I fed on their bravery.  I remember how I would count the long weekend hours until Monday morning when I would see the dyke teacher at my high school. Just seeing her swagger down the hallway in doc martins and faded jeans gave me hope enough to make it through another day even though she was forbidden by the school administration from actually being “out.”

Coming out for me, like so many others was dangerous. The initial price for queerness was extremely high – it cost me my home, family, and the community i’d grown up in.  And yet, queerness has given me more than I ever could have imagined in those dark closeted days.  Being out has afforded me a loving chosen family, work that I truly feel called to do, and so much more.  For me, there has been no greater freedom than being out, but I say that knowing that  I have and continue to be incredibly lucky. For far too many, coming out means falling through another set of cracks of  systems not designed to support our kids, and a community not ready to take them in.

In 2010 for the month of October connected to the release of the Kicked Out anthology, we started an online storytelling campaign called ‘Come Out, Kicked Out’ designed to provide an opportunity for folks in the community to write, draw, take a picture, or make a video coming out about their experiences with queer teen homelessness, and for allies within our community to stand up in solidarity with current and former homeless LGBTQ youth to talk about how they have seen this epidemic impacting their community.   Every day of October a different story was shared on our website with the idea of putting more faces and stories to this epidemic and to break down the profound stigma that still exists within the LGBTQ community about owning a history of teen homelessness or biological family disownment.  You can find all of those  incredible stories here. If you find yourself inspired by the incredible stories shared last year we’re always looking for guest posts. Email your stories to kickedoutanthology@gmail.com  Also, if you are able, consider purchasing a copy of Kicked Out this groundbreaking anthology brought together the voices of current and former homeless LGBTQ youth in the pages of a book for the very first time — and contributors share in the royalties!

The thought I’d like to end with on Coming Out Day is the hope that when we as queer folks shout COME OUT! COME OUT!  we must be sure that we as a community are prepared not just pay lip service to welcoming those youth into our “family”  we must truly be prepared to open our  homes, wallets, ears and hearts to ensure that the youth who pay a heavy price for heeding our call are not abandoned by the very community they have lost everything to be part of.

Oct 072013
 

I’m starting to write this somewhere high in the air inside a robotic pterodactyl on my way home to Brooklyn after being lucky enough to spend the weekend in Atlanta as part of the literary programming at Charis Bookstore connected to this years Atlanta Pride Festival. I had the chance to go to Charis with Kicked Out when it released about three years ago, and without a doubt it’s one of my favorite bookstores.  I got my start as a zinester at a feminist bookstore, and they have always felt like my most important literary homes.  I get really excited anytime I have the opportunity to visit one, especially a dear friend like Charis.

While I was sitting at the airport on my way from NYC to Atlanta on Friday morning, I got word that Charis had been vandalized the night before. Thursday night had been the kickoff pride literary event an amazing evening of 20 local Atlanta writers and sometime after the store closed that night some homophobes decided to leave some vulgar graffiti on the bookstore. It was ugly and hateful and made me so excited for Saturday night because I believe one of the best ways to respond to that kind of homophobia is to stand firm in queerness, and to not let the bigots win. Additionally it highlighted for me all over again the importance of queer and feminist bookstores, how people feel threatened by them, andwhy in the year 2013 they are still so needed by our community.

Click here to learn more about Charis, and if you can please donate to them – they are working on painting a beautiful mural on the wall that was vandalized and your donation will help them not only with that mural but all the incredible programming and events they have.

I had an amazing and super busy weekend in Atlanta hanging out with queer literary buddies. Alysia Angel and I have been
friends online for a really longtime and collaborated on several different projects (don’t miss her fantastic retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in Leather Ever After!) but had never actually met in person! We went to Elizabeth’s gay softball game right after I got into town. It was so much fun being queerleaders for all the dykes out on the field and Alysia and I bonded over our matching sandals.After that was delicious dinner – which involved  a detour when we were turned away and refused service at a restaurant for being queers!!!!!!!

 I feel so lucky to have  an incredible literary community, but it’s not that often that my people and I are in the same place, at the same time. Getting to spend time with some of my writer buddies  is definitely part of what made the weekend so special. Saturday morning Elizabeth, Alysia and her partner Dante picked me up at my hotel bright and early and we spent the whole day having fun! We started with a delicious breakfast at Ria’s Bluebird omg veggie sausage!!! (where we got a Riot Gurrrrrl discount written onto the receipt by the ADORABLE waitress) and then spent the afternoon exploring thrift stores all over the city and even checked out a lakeside neighborhood art festival full of dogs which you know made me super happy! Having a queer literary community physically together (aka off the internet) isn’t something I experience very often so it was incredibly delightful to get to talk shop with folks but also just have some silly fun together. We spent the whole day playing all over Atlanta (HUGE thanks to Elizabeth who drove us around all day) and then it was time to get ready to head to the bookstore!

Alysia and I were reading with Julie Marie Wade a great author based in Florida. The event was called “The Tears On Her Face Are From Laughter” a reference to a tattoo on Alysia’s for an evening of storytelling, poetry, and tales of queer triumph.

It was so fun to get to bring Roving Pack to Atlanta – and I was especially excited that I found a passage of the book that included a (brief) reference to Atlanta and it was so fun to read from the book at Charis next to these other fun and intense authors.  We closed the event with a really great Q&A facilitated by Elizabeth who asked us some really smart and challenging questions about craft, form, and identity as queer writers and activists.  After that was a big group dinner with new friends from the audience  Writing is such a solitary art form, and I’m really introverted so the solitary aspect of writing works really well for me, yet, there is something extremely special about the chances I have to spend in the company of queer writers who inspire and challenge me.

I’ve talked carefully before here on my blog about how editing Kicked Out was an incredible and utterly life changing experience for me as a writer, as an activist, and as an individual. Editing that anthology was some of the most important work I have ever done, and at the same time, it was also personally challenging and limiting in some ways. There were times where when I was touring Kicked Out I felt like I was only being seen as part of myself. I was the formerly homeless youth, the survivor, community builder and trauma writer, and I saw my role as being responsible  to hold that space. Those characteristics are part of me, but they aren’t the full pictures of who I am, or a complete view of how I want to be seen and understood in the world. With the release of Roving Pack, and then Leather Ever After it feels like I’ve really  turned a corner with my work, where my writing and I are seen more fully with all the paradox and complication. Every time I’m on the road now, it sinks in a little bit deeper how lucky I feel to have grown as a writer, and to have the opportunity to be fully seen and present.

This was such an amazingly FUN weekend and definitely not an experience that I’m going to forget anytime soon! HUGE thanks to Atlanta Pride and Charis for making my visit possible!!!

RWAR!!!!!! this was Sunday morning very very very early at the airport

Rainbow Awards!

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Oct 012013
 

 

Roving Pack

This morning I got the news that Roving Pack has been selected as a finalist in the Rainbow Awards – very very exciting! Roving Pack was an incredibly fun and challenging book to write and not only stretched me as an author and storyteller, but has opened so many doors. Above all, I’m thrilled that readers have connected to Roving Pack. This novel has far surpassed the hopes I had for it in really exciting ways, and being a finalist for this award is just one piece of that. Regardless of which book ends up winning the Rainbow Award to have it selected as a Finalist is absolutely thrilling! Get your own signed copy of Roving Pack (or ebook) here 

Leather Ever After

Leather Ever After which also released this year has received an Honorable Mention in the Rainbow Awards! In talking about the anthology, they said of the stories “some were truly erotic and very sexy…. others were complete kink.”  I didn’t know what I was doing when I began editing Leather Ever After in that I’d never done an erotic book before, and I only marginally consider myself to be an erotica writer. I’m not interested in weather my readers “get off,” I’m interested in the storytelling possibilities of the erotic world, and in particular BDSM. With Leather Ever After when I was compiling the stories, I was especially interested in the ways that as queers we build relationships and connections which sometimes draw upon erotic exchanges, and how those stories can be overlaid onto traditional fairy tales. This was a really fun book to put together, and I’m thrilled that it was honored in the Rainbow Awards! Want your own copy? Order here