Can you guess what happened when a Young Adult lit mag suggested a bi character wasn't OK for younger readers?


Kody Keplinger's young-adult book, Run, has a queer character in it. In its review, the trade publication Voices of Youth Advocates (Voya) suggested this was inappropriate for younger readers: “The story contains many references to Bo being bisexual and an abundance of bad language, so it is recommended for mature junior and senior high readers.”

Asked why it thought a bisexual character made it inappropriate for young readers, Voya's editors went defensive in record time:

Since this is Bi Visibiliy Week, I understand your need to find and destroy your enemies in a public forum, however, Voya magazine and I are not your enemies."

The complaint referred to was privately emailed; it was Voya's decision to publish it, without permission, along with this response. In another response, it doubled down on the notion that sexuality is inherently inappropriate for exposure to younger readers:

Sexuality (the act or the discussion or the mention, in some cases) and language generally reserved for adults are two issues that are legitimate concerns when addressing the maturity of a teen reader. ... This does not have anything to with with whether the sexuality was homo, hetero, bit or other – sexuality is sexuality. It just happened to be that the sexuality in this particular title (Why does that upset you?)

(Bonus points were not awarded for the parenthetical suggestion of emotional fragility.)

When scrutinized, Voya's archives were found to have covered many books "CHOCK-A-BLOCK with heterosexual sex". Only queer moments were subject to such "legitimate concerns."

To readers (and many authors) this wasn't just the usual media practice of hiding queerness from the young while slyly showering them with heterosexual titillation. Read the rest

Straight people identifying as queer runs from ugly appropriation to beautiful idealism


Jenna Wortham wrote a fascinating article about the pros and cons of straight people identifying as queer. In the wild, this is often nothing more than an ugly appropriation. Ah, but the possibilities...

"Someday, maybe we’ll recognize that queer is actually the norm, and the notion of static sexual identities will be seen as austere and reductive. ... To the queer theorist José Esteban Muñoz, queerness was not a label people could claim but a complete reimagining of how people could be. “We may never touch queerness,” he wrote, in his 2009 book, “Cruising Utopia.” “But we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality.” The widespread acceptance and even appropriation of the word “queer” seem to move us both closer to and further from such a future. But the horizon is out there, and you can see it if you squint."

Read the rest

Merriam-Webster adds "genderqueer" to dictionary

A gender-neutral bathroom is seen at the University of California, Irvine, 2014 [Reuters]

Merriam-Webster is to add "genderqueer" to its unabridged English dictionary; also "cisgender".

Cisgender: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth.

Genderqueer: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female.

Which pronoun? TIP: Whichever they want. Read the rest

How to talk about Caitlyn Jenner: a guide to speaking and writing about transgender people

Read these thoughtful guidelines from GLAAD, and just try not to be an asshole about it.

Ireland votes on same-sex marriage


In conservative Ireland, homosexuality remained illegal until 1993. Even divorce only became an option in 1997. But times have changed. The first major international plebiscite on gay marriage is poised to deliver an overwhelming vote in favor of extending the institution to same-sex couples.

"If the Irish can vote “Yes,” the thought goes, anyone can," writes Amy Davidson in The New Yorker. "If they can see how a conservative belief in the institution of marriage and in the unity of families, and an atavistic desire to be present at the wedding of one’s own children, translate into support for same-sex marriage so can, say, Mississippians."

The campaigns, for and against, served to illustrate the broader divisions in Irish society. The No campaign, in particular, made sharp use of fear as a motif, identifying wholesome Catholics as the real victims of intolerance. But the church has paid a high price for its longtime abuses: polls have support for gay marriage at about 70%, though there is some question about the accuracy of polling.

Even if it's close, the pace of change in Ireland has been remarkable. A 2013 International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association map of local support for same-sex relationships put Ireland at only 36%, though it took into account factors other than public opinion.

Here's a "Yes campaign" video:

At least 17 counties, and several U.S. states, have institutionalized same-sex marriage. In the U.S., the Supreme Court recently heart arguments in a case that may effectively settle the matter there. Read the rest

Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague

In Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague, "Ray" recounts his brave, quixotic, tragicomic adventures as an experimental AIDS drug smuggler who funded his operation by selling weed out of his New York apartment, during the early years of the "gay plague." It's a strangely fitting subject for a graphic novel, and Joyce Brabner and Mark Zingarelli graphic novel make it work as a history book that'll make you laugh and cry. Cory Doctorow reviews.

Transgender tipping point: Laverne Cox on the cover of TIME

This TIME cover story, the first to feature a transgender person, is a very big deal. Not just for trans folks, but for all of us.

As the headline suggests, it's a tipping point in the acceptance of gender diversity, and respect for all human beings.

Also Laverne Cox is awesome and talented and an amazing activist and looks totally fabulous.

Here's a TIME video interview.

If you haven't already watched 'Orange is the New Black,' get on it with Season 1.

Read the rest

Queer indie games

Brendan Keogh checks out the the "secret avant garde of video games."

"Queer people have always been creating culture from the margins," insists Anna Anthropy, game developer and author. "Like, queer people popularized jeans. It was queer soldiers who started wearing jeans outside of the military, and then that became popular. You have to have an outsider perspective to create something that is meaningful, fashionable, intelligent. Then that is gradually adopted by the mainstream."

Read the rest

The Decent People: LGBT pride in the former Yugoslavia

Years ago during the reign of Milosevic in Serbia I wrote an essay called "Decent people". It was about that 80 percent of Serbian people, the classic silent majority, who lived in denial of the genocide in Srebrenica, the snipers in Sarajevo, the shelling in Dubrovnik.

These so called decent people who could not grasp cruel political and military reality. Eventually the damage to daily life became impossible; the decent people could not go through with their charade of normality as postmen, engineers and dentists. On October 5th 2000 a million people took to the streets in Belgrade and physically deposed the tyrant.

However, time stopped then in Serbia. An October 6th never dawned for a bewildered Serbia, not even 12 years later, on the anniversary. Milosevic died behind the bars in the Hague, my Yugoslav-era parents are deceased, my postman is on pension but the inhabitants of the Serbian parliament today are the next generation of those decent people. No painful truths were admitted and confronted; there was a rebellion of the decent, but not a thorough change in the society.

Typically, a few days ago the new elected premiere of Serbia forbade the Gay Pride annual parade. He claimed that 80 percent of the Serbian population is against gay manifestations, and warned against the risky and inevitable gay-bashing that would follow in the streets. This new premiere is an old member from the deposed Milosevic' s party. Crushing the aspirations of Serbian gays has become routine, and he has already handled the trouble successfully before. Read the rest

Queers through the Years (video)

[Video Link] Joe Sabia directed the 3rd annual Queer of the Year in Montreal. Basically a two week competition in Montreal to promote Montreal as the most tolerant, accepting place on earth. (which it just might be). "Queer of the Year" in Montreal. "Basically a two week competition to promote Montreal as the most tolerant, accepting place on earth," says Joe, "Which it just might be." Read the rest

A Closed World: queer-friendly Flash game

A Closed World is an JRPG-style flash game, whose androgynous hero faces up to the oppressive attitudes of his/her hometown by leaving it. "[It's] a digital game with LGBTQ-friendly content, something that's very uncommon in games right now," writes the creators at Gambit. "Game designers and marketing professionals alike have cited a number of reasons for this, ranging from a perception of institutional homophobia in game culture to a genuine desire on the part of game designers to 'get it right' and create games with compelling queer content, rather than feeling that the element is merely 'tacked on' in the end." Read the rest