Tag Archives: Queer Fiction & Book Reviews

Lesbian Bookshelf: Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

For queer people of African descent, finding an LGBT-positive book written by an African is painfully difficult.

Usually we’re stuck with books about praying the gay away, or Nollywood movies about the devil turning good women into lesbians (apparently the devil does that a lot).

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta is a breath of fresh air. Fresh gay, gay air.

The book follows Ijeoma, a young Nigerian girl, during and after the 1967-70 Biafran War.

When her mother sends her to live with a family friend in order to escape the war, Ijeoma meets a young Hausa girl – ethnically her enemy – and the two fall in love. Over the next twenty years, Ijeoma wrestles with her feelings toward women, her traditional mother and the expectation of heterosexual marriage.

What makes this book so great?


It goes toe to toe with religion, and admits that there’s no winner.

Okparanta’s depiction of Christianity is nuanced. In the book, Christian characters openly debate the meaning of the Bible’s anti-homosexuality passages. Some Christians fervently oppose gay people, some are accepting and many don’t talk about it. Despite being queer, Ijeoma prays often. Gay and lesbian Nigerians hold secret meetings inside of a church.

It would be easy to vilify Christianity in a book like this, but instead the writer honestly dialogues with it, proving that middle ground exists between blind adherence and absolute rejection. You could give a book like this to both your conservative mother and to a friend who’s questioning her sexuality.


It doesn’t shy away from sex.

But it doesn’t exploit it, either. In many books, even a lesbian kiss would be considered explicit – or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the author will revel in the “sinfulness” of lesbianism and write overly in-depth depictions of scissoring.

Okparanta’s characters have sex. Why? Because lesbians in real life have sex and this isn’t church camp. But Okparanta handles it with tact, and only includes it when it’s relevant to the plot (Blue is the Warmest Color could have learned something from her).


It’s funny.

How do you take a book about a relentless war that leaves thousands dead, a suicidal father, an overbearing and hyper-religious mother, rigid gender norms and the lynching of LGBT people, and make it funny? I wouldn’t be able to do it, but Okparanta has.

Not every moment is ha-ha and I definitely pulled out my tissues more than once, but somehow despite the subject matter, Okparanta keeps the book light. It definitely has its amusing moments.

For example, Ijeoma’s roommate treasures  a “special scarf” she believes will attract all of the best men in Nigeria. And, ironically, Ijeoma’s mother fawns over the “good Christian girl” she believes will be a good influence on Ijeoma – when in fact that girl is Ijeoma’s lesbian lover. Awkward.


As a queer person of African descent, I truly hope that Nigerian writers will follow in Okparanta’s footsteps when it comes to taboo subjects.

More than that, I hope that audiences will be receptive to the queer and transgender Nigerian writers who dare to document their journeys.

LGBT Storylines Make Waterstones Children’s Book Prize Shortlist

Two of the stand-out novels on the shortlist for the older fiction category of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize focus on issues relating to sexual orientation and gender.

Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun is the story of a brother and sister driven apart by tragedy but brought back together as they both fall for boys at the same time. Nelson’s second novel has been optioned by Warner Bros to be adapted into a film.

The second book, The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson follows two teenagers struggling with their gender identities and finding it hard to keep the secret at school.

The organisers pointed out that although fantasy and adventure books were still present, they did not dominate the list.

James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, said:

It doesn’t surprise me that fiction should reflect the issues and concerns of society as a whole. Great works of fiction reflect those issues that are of primary concern in a society. LGBT rights are something teenage children are informed about and can talk about sensitively – that wasn’t the case at the time of my childhood. The whole quality of understanding and debate has moved on dramatically, and we’re the better for that.”

Juno Dawson, a children’s author who has herself recently transitioned, also hailed the rising profile of LGBT-themed youth fiction. She told The Independent:

The floodgates are open and I don’t think they will close again. I hope we will see diversity as standard in children’s books. Ten years ago, authors may have been wary that including diverse characters would affect sales, but I don’t think that’s true anymore.”

She added:

These books are now getting their moment in the spotlight. We must be careful that diversity doesn’t become a fad in the way vampires were a fad with publishers getting bored and moving on.”

In total, 18 books have been shortlisted for the 2016 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, split into the categories of older fiction, younger fiction and illustrated books.

Book Review | Ask the Passengers by AS King

Sending love to the aeroplanes while lying on a picnic table is something I’d like to do a little more often. Teenager Astrid has it down to a fine art. A reminder of how, for some of us, we coped in our youth when questions of sexuality arose and that feeling of being a little different from the crowd.

Ask the Passengers by AS King is essentially about love and acceptance; a classic coming of age – coming out story. However, this book stretches us a little further.

Astrid, our protagonist, is a teenager living with her family in a small town in Pennsylvania, having moved from New York City. A senior in high school she not only has to endure the small mindedness of the locals, but the increasing disparity and dysfunction of her family. Knowing herself to be different, Astrid finds the best way to cope is to lie on the picnic bench in the back garden and send love and life questions to passengers on aeroplanes. It is here that King starts to create a little magic, juxtaposing Astrid’s questions with an anecdote from a random passenger on the plane. It adds quirkiness, cleverly drawing our minds to the interconnectedness of ourselves to one another and the world, wherever we are, whoever we are.

The main thrust of the storyline is when Astrid meets Dee and they become girlfriends. Astrid has a genuine need to move slowly in her discovery not only of her sexuality, but in questioning her whole self. However, her friends and girlfriend begin
to push for her to come out to her family, misunderstanding her request to be left alone. We feel Astrid becoming increasingly isolated yet standing firm in her self belief and wish to define herself on her own terms. Her love and study of philosophy
is a crutch, even adopting Socrates (nicknamed Frank) as her imaginary friend and confidante. King uses the philosophy angle, particularly the elusive character of Socrates to develop the notion of questioning who we are. This effectively highlights the bigotry surrounding Astrid and the propensity for people to label and stereotype.

Astrid is, however, eventually propelled forward to be open about her sexuality, coming out to her family who have a mixed and generally negative initial reaction, as seemingly do the entire town. King whips up the emotional responses to Astrid’s intolerable situation; anger, sadness and heightened comedy that such times can invoke. Eventually, Astrid finds light at the end of the tunnel when all settles down and people rediscover respect and dare we hope, a broader perspective.

It is a thought provoking book while remaining highly readable, funny and original; inspiring for a younger crowd and especially those questioning or discovering their sexuality. For those of us who are a little older, it keeps check on our journey of challenging societal norms, reflecting on our own experiences and how and if times have changed that much. Have they? A question I spent a little time thinking about after closing this book. One thing I do recall, however, is like Astrid I found the whole notion of ‘coming out’ perplexing and abstruse and I’ve no doubt I am not alone in this.

AS King is an American writer of young adult fiction. Ask the Passengers is her fourth novel and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a Lambda Literary Award finalist.

Book Review | Hild – Nicola Griffith

If you want to learn how to make flax, understand the habits of birds or curse in a range of ancient languages – then ‘Hild’ is the book for you.

Thankfully for readers like me, who are not particularly interested in any of those things – although I do now know a lot more about seventh century politics than I ever imagined possible – ‘Hild’ is also a compelling novel about women and power and survival.

The story starts when Hild is just a child, but a very special child. One of royal birth and uncanny powers. Before she is born, her mother dreams her destiny into being: this child will be light of world, an adviser to kings and a leader of people.

We follow her, her half-brother Cian and friend Begu, as they grow up and join the royal court, where at any time the King’s anger could mean the death of one of his advisers. He has absolute power. And yet Hild has power too, as the King’s seer. Where her power comes from, how she uses it and what she has to sacrifice to keep it are the questions I found most fascinating about this book.

Hild’s wisdom comes because she is observant, continually seeking out the pattern in things. She is always watchful, even among those she loves and trusts most, and remains unmarried for as long as she can. She becomes only woman among the King’s advisors, a vulnerable position.

Hild’s physicality matches her role. She is tall and a skilled rider. She is strong and unsqueamish in battle. But, quietly, Griffith shows the toll that so much violence has on Hild’s mind and sense of herself. Her choices are limited and often costly.

There are other sources of power in the book, which Hild learns to use to her own advantage to keep herself and her loved ones safe. The rise of the Church is one, and with it the magic of the written word which few – apart from Hild – learn to master. Marriage is another: it determines alliances between kingdoms, but who you share your bed with – man or a woman – seems to matter very little.

Confession time. For pages of this novel, I had no idea what was going on. I gave up trying to remember which king was which, who was friend or foe, or even who was still alive. I skimmed over the painstakingly-researched Old Anglisc words – only finding the glossary too late. Not as observant as Hild, I missed a lot of the subtleties and could have done without much of the detail. But the character carried me through.

Hild, later St Hilda of Whitby, really existed, although history records very little about her. And Griffith has breathed her into life.

Hild – I salute you. A woman of wit, sense and intelligence. A woman of power in a man’s world. We need more stories like yours.

Book Review | Art Objects by Jeanette Winterson

Personable yet informative, provocative and highly engaging essays on art and it’s relationship to us.

Book Review: Art Objects by Jeanette Winterson is never far away from my bedside table. It’s a book I treasure. Perhaps many JW fans may find this little book an unusual choice as a favourite, however, I’d go as far to say that everyone should read this book. Why? because it’s important. I also believe it is one of her finer works. True to her style, personable and frank, honest yet confident, her passion is clear and it flows beautifully from start to finish.

So what’s so important? Art is what’s important. This book spares no excuses for the ignorant or elitist; its point is clear. Art is there for everyone to be enjoyed, or not enjoyed; loved and hated, moved or indifferent, provoked and changed. It matters simply because it permeates every level of our existence. It is our past and our future, it is our now. You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy or understand this book, that’s the whole point, it is for everyone.

Written as a series of essays, Ms Winterson begins with her own journey and discovery of paintings, how she sought to educate herself with a subject, at the time, she knew little about. Her words hit home and not without that wry wit bringing a knowing smile, but also a thoughtful frown. She ventures further with her thoughts and opinions on the development of literature, with essays on Virginia Woolf and her personal relationship with her work. It is without doubt a powerful piece, forcing us to think, consider and yet it is engaging, funny, serious and provocative. There is meaning for us all here in her words at any given point in our life, something resonates, something hits home. It has a place on everyone’s shelf.

Book Review | Fun Home – A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Asterix and Dr Zeuss bring a flood of colour and humour when I recall the little girl happily reading in the book corner of the schoolroom. Yet perhaps without realising I’d packed away the comics and cartoons along with my childhood, that is until I discovered Fun Home – A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, and graphic storytelling at its best. If I had any reservations about picking up a graphic novel, they were soon to dissipate. After stepping into Bechdel’s life in pictures, the outside world became quiet until the final page.

Fun Home is Bechdel’s memoir chronicling her life from childhood to early adulthood. A coming of age story, it explores the fraught and complex relationship with her father and the discovery of her sexuality in an increasingly bizarre and dysfunctional home. Bruce Bechdel, Alison’s father is an English teacher and director of the local funeral home of which “Fun Home” became the grimly comic reference used by the family. A distant and exacting man, he channels his perfectionism into the frenetic restoration of the large, Gothic-revival house they live in. The dark humour of “Fun Home” sets the tone as Bechdel intricately weaves us through her story of growing up, coming out as a lesbian amidst the confusing and odd situation of her fathers revelation of his own homosexuality. This all wrapped up in the turmoil of her father shortly afterwards being killed by an oncoming truck.

Bechdel gives us a forceful and unexpectedly personal history crossing the emotional gamut of melancholy, humour, grief and the search for happiness. The use of Daedalean and other literary allusion runs throughout the book giving the text richness and depth, elevated by the wonderful pen and ink wash drawings. The construct of the book is made up of just under 1000 panels in a familiar comic format. A stranger to the graphic novel, I found Bechdels illustrations completely absorbing, refreshing and poignant.

funhome-01

What interests me most after reading this book is the delicate balance it achieves with its easy flowing pace and wit transported by the element of cartoon, while tackling the deeper questions in life we are all faced with. More than once I saw myself within the illustrations and this provokes an added sense of awareness I haven’t come across before. The more I think about this book the more impressed I am. Provocative, clever yet touchingly honest, Bechdel’s early life is firmly etched in my memory.

For those less familiar with Alison Bechdel, she is an American cartoonist and author, initially known for her long running comic strip called ‘Dykes to Watch Out For’. Fun Home was her first critical and commercial success. This book ran on The New York Times best seller list for two weeks and was subsequently adapted as a musical. A later notable work is ‘Are You My Mother’ and she is the recipient of the 2014 MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award.

 

Book Review | The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Absorbing and intelligent historical thriller which draws you into the characters’ world through high drama and delicate detail. A compelling and unsettling read.

Book Review: Genteel Frances Wray and her mother have fallen on hard times, so they let out their unused rooms to  paying guests: a brash, working class couple called Lil and Len. Although humiliating, this arrangement should be the answer to their financial worries. Instead they become entangled in a web of passion, violence, deceit and fear, which threatens to destroy them all.

The shadow of the first world war hangs heavily over their lives. Not just the terrible human cost, but the way in which it irreversibly changed the relationship between classes, generations and genders.

Frances scorns marriage and longs for the freedom that she glimpses in this new post-war world. And yet her loyalty to her mother, who has lost two sons in the war, prevents her from leaving to fulfill her own dreams. By her mid twenties, Frances is resigned to a lonely future of struggling to make ends meet, household drudgery and nightly card games with her mother. Then she meets Lil.

The question of whom or what can be trusted becomes central to this novel as Frances and Lil’s secret romance blossoms and even more so once they become unwilling partners in crime. The book is so compelling because, as a reader, you cannot relax or let down your guard: the risk of betrayal and discovery is always there, just as it is for Frances herself, to the point where she struggles even to trust herself.

The novel is strongest when it uses small details to reveal character or evoke an atmosphere. The looks, accidental touches and half-spoken words between Frances and Lil are far more erotic than the eventual sex scenes. A brief description of Frances hands swollen and ruined by scrubbing floors, speaks more clearly about how she is trapped in middle class poverty than any amount of social comment.

The big set pieces – in particular the courtroom scenes – are also beautifully crafted, unbearably ramping up the tension so that you are desperate to skip to the end of the chapter. But it was the small details that haunted me once I’d finished the book.

Sarah Waters is known for her Gothic imagination, twisting tales and lesbian protagonists. Although ‘The Paying Guests’ may not be as dark or as shocking as some of her earlier work, it’s an absorbing and nerve-wracking read. And those on the look out for lesbians in these pages won’t be disappointed either.

Buy this book now

Lesbian for a Year: Author Spends 12 Months as a Lesbian for New Book

Brooke Hemphill has just released ‘Lesbian for a Year’, an account of her quest to find out about her sexuality.

In 2010, Hemphill – a relationships and sex columnist living in Sydney, unexpectedly had a one-night stand with a woman. This lesbian experience led to a year of ‘sexual exploration’ where she dated other women.

She said the year of ‘dating only women’ was not a planned experiment, but rather a fit of passion, so she decided to write a book about it.

I have always been fascinated with dating and relationships and sex, but in terms of writing this book it was an experience that unexpectedly happened to me… It wasn’t like I woke up one day and thought, right I am going to do this for the next 12 months, it kind of just happened. And after talking to other people about it I realised that there are a lot of people who have similar stories or can relate to it, or have thought about doing something similar, so I decided to write a book.”

Brooke Hemphill

The title of her book, ‘Lesbian For A Year’ has seen her criticised from Sydney’s LGBT community, something she had anticipated.

It is a bit of a tricky one and I understand that a lot of people who identify as lesbian have issues with the title of the book. I have been getting a lot of feedback on Twitter and so forth about how you can’t really be a lesbian for a year and you are either straight or you’re bisexual or you’re a lesbian for a lifetime… But in my experience I had a one-night stand with a woman, woke up in the morning found her in my bed and thought, how did that happen?”

Brooke Hemphill

After this initial experience she went on to have a relationship with a women for six months.

I met a girl and we started dating, we ended up going out together for about six months. In that time I continued to kind of question what my sexuality was, was I gay? Or bisexual? Was I a straight girl kind of going through a phase, so the book kind of explores that journey.”

Brooke Hemphill

While she has copped flak for the title, Hemphill is quick to reassure the book has a serious message about breaking down barriers and stereotypes.

Generally, I think with everything that is going on in the country in relation to gay marriage if everyone went out and spent some time hooking up with their own gender we would probably be in a much more tolerant place and it would open up much more conversation and dialogue around this.

Connection with a person, not their gender, it could be male it could be female, I generally find I am more attracted to people’s personalities than gender or looks.

Some people would suggest that it puts a finality to what my label should be, but I think it is a bit more fluid than that and who knows what the future holds.”

Brooke Hemphill

 

5 More Must-Read Lesbian Books for the Weekend – #outwriters

5 More Must-Read Lesbian Books for the Weekend

Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (2006)

Noted lesbian writer and cartoonist Alison Bechdel always suspected that her father was a closeted gay man. But did her coming out to him contribute to his death? A story that beseeches us to be who we want to be, not enslave ourselves to other people’s expectations.

Read more


Nancy Garden, Annie on My Mind (1982)

This tale of fortitude and perseverance focuses on two teenagers, Liza and Annie, who fall deeply in love, despite coming from very different backgrounds.

Read more

 


Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle-Stop Cafe (1987)

In a hick town in ’80s Alabama, Ruth falls for Idgie and their dalliance leads to the opening of a cafe, betrayal, the forming of a makeshift family, a rescue and a murder.

Read more

 


Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body (1982)

The unnamed narrator of this novel by Winterson, who is best known for her autobiographical novel Oranges are not the Only Fruit (1985), is rather unlucky in love. Her decision to leave her partner for a beautiful woman called Louise creates all kinds of drama.

Read more


Audre Lorde, Sister Outside (1984)

This veteran lesbian feminist campaigner’s best assortment of essays on life, love, art and critical thinking. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand and critique the inherently patriarchal societies we all have to grin and bear.

Read more

 

 

 

5 Must-Read Authors and Must-Read Lesbian Books – #OutWriters

5 Must-Read Authors and Must-Read Lesbian Books – #OutWriters


Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925)

A modernist classic that explores the timeless themes of memory and reality. While planning a lavish party, Clarissa Dalloway reminisces about her charmed youth and her love for the beautiful Sally Seton…

read more


Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt (1952)

Better known to the world as a mystery and crime writer, Patricia Highsmith switched genre to deal with forbidden same-sex romance in stuffy post-war Britain. The price of Therese and Carol’s love is judgment by family and society…

read more


Natalie Diaz, When My Brother was an Aztec (2013)

A powerful collection of poems by acclaimed Mohave Native American author Natalie Diaz. While mainly focusing on her brother’s drug addiction, she also examines her own sexual identity in a deeply eloquent and touching style…

read more


Emily Danforth, The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2012)

A dramatic and fast-paced yarn that highlights the horrors of so-called “conversion therapy” which is becoming disturbingly popular in the United States. Cameron’s reactionary family cannot accept her lesbianism and so send her to the sinister Camp Promise…

read more


Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)

Breaking all the strictures of race, class and gender as they apply to the southern states of the 1930s, Celie falls in love with the charismatic chanteuse Shrug Avery and her life changes irrevocably…

read more

 

Making a Difference – ‘Love Leaf Books’ by Sarah and Amanda Berry-Williams

Sarah and Amanda Berry-Williams are two women making a difference for themselves, their family and other gay parents.

We are a family of five : two moms, and three kids, who believe that all families are important and special. We want every parent to feel included in every aspect of their child’s life, and this includes the baby book.

Amanda Berry-Williams

They have come up with a series of baby books – entitled Love Leaf Books

My wife Sarah and I started Love Leaf Books because when we had our children, we couldn’t find any affordable baby books that fit our two-mom family (two moms, three kids). We ended up with one really ugly book for our first son, which only referenced ‘Parent’ throughout, and was as generic as it could be. For our second son, we simply crossed out ‘Daddy’ throughout, and wrote in Mama. It looked bad. It felt bad. And it made us want to give other families like ours the option of an affordable baby book that really FIT them. Really recognized them as a family.

Amanda Berry-Williams

Their books are personalised throughout and hand made to order.

After months and months of preparation, my wife and I opened our little store on Etsy, and have since sold over 350 books (to four countries!) in less than a year. We’ve made books for straight couples, single parents, two moms, two dads, transgendered parents, etc. We’ve made books for families created through surrogacy or adoption. Any family is a family, whether that be Mom, Dad, and Baby, or Two moms, a co-parenting dad, and two foster siblings. We just want every family to feel recognized and honored as the family they are.

Amanda Berry-Williams

The inspiring due are based in the US, but are selling their books in Australia, the UK, Ireland, Canada, etc.

You can purchase the books on etsy – www.etsy.com/uk/shop/loveleafbooks

5 Essential Lesbian Book Reads – #OutWriters

Here is KitschMix’s pick of essential Lesbian Book Reads that you should all checkout


Eileen Myles, Inferno (2010)

Rock star poet Eileen Myles looks back to her experiences of the 1970s New York punk scene for this novel of bad girl behaviour and sexual awakening… read more

 

 


Erica Fischer, Aimee and Jaguar (1995)

A bestselling account of the wife of a senior Nazi who falls for a Jewish lesbian in the closing stages of World War II. The stakes could not be higher. The book was turned into a critically-lauded film in 1999… read more

 


Jewelle Gomez, The Gilda Stories (1991)

A major precursor to today’s over-saturated vampire fiction market, The Gilda Stories follows the exploits of a black and bisexual vamp across two hundred years… read more

 

 


Michelle Tea, Rent Girl (2004)

An honest and unflinching memoir of Tea’s days as a prostitute. How did she square her lesbian feminist nature with the exploitation and abuse she suffered at the hands of the men she serviced? Utterly compelling – though difficult – stuff… read more

 


Susan Schulman, After Delores (1988)

The narrator of this story isn’t in a happy place: she’s been dumped by her lesbian lover, she’s high on drugs much of the time and she’s armed… Will she receive the justice she seeks? Will women ever be treated fairly? It is these big questions that the novel tries to address… read more

 

 

 

 

 

‘Masculine Women’ Debut Scoops Lambda Award

Descendants of Hagar, Nik Nicholson’s first book, has won the Lambda award for best debut novel. LGBT.

This work of historical fiction explores the issue of a woman coming to terms with her masculine nature. To research her book Nicholson interviewed a wide variety of women who identified themselves as ‘masculine’.

‘I didn’t want Linny to be a combination of all my assumptions about masculine women,’ said Nicholson during the Lambda ceremony. ‘I don’t know of any other book where such a process was used … I interviewed more than sixty women who I presumed were lesbians because I’d posted requests for interviews on lesbian sites, but surprisingly the majority were bisexual. This was a constant reminder that gender expression does not denote sexuality.’

Descendants of Hagar is set in Georgia in 1914 during the Black Codes era, when the oppression of African-American people was particularly severe. Madelyn “Linny” Remington is a tough black woman whose forefather was the strong-spirited slave Miemay. Trapped by the limitations of her race and gender, Linny makes a promise that gives her the freedom she desires but that also brings shame upon her family.

#OutWriters – Big Buzz About Upcoming Lesbian Book Awards

There’s a lot of anticipation about this year’s Golden Crown Awards (aka Goldies), the annual book awards held by The Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS), a non-profit organisation which is devoted to the promotion, education and recognition of lesbian writing.

With three Goldie nominations, US-based Cleis Press looks set to make the headlines at the 2014 ceremony. The progressive indie publisher stands to win three awards for an LGBT crime novel and two anthologies of lesbian romance stories.

Brenda Knight, Cleis CEO, is proud of her company’s achievement in particular and the Goldies in general:

‘Certain books are getting a lot of attention because they’re the best. Laura Antoniou’s (a Cleis author) The Killer Wore Leather was nominated for both a Lammy and a Goldie, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. The protagonist, Detective Rebecca Feldblum, not just investigates a case but falls in love.’

Cleis’s Best Lesbian Romance 2014 (edited by Radclyffe) Wild Girls, Wild Nights (edited by Sachhi Green) have also been nominated for Goldies.

Cleis Press’s brand new project, Out Writers, is a celebration of Pride Month and you too can get involved by sharing some thoughts about why you feel LGBT writing is important and/or why you write: #OutWriters on Twitter or Facebook.

Cleis specialise in challenging and intelligent books across all genres, including literary fiction, creative nonfiction, romance, crime, erotica, academic studies, pulp fiction, memoir and sex guides.

GCLS offer learning opportunities, assistance and encouragement to lesbian authors and ; support and promote high-quality lesbian fiction and nonfiction. The Goldies have been running annually since 2005.

New Book Sheds Light on Vintage LGBT Experience

The Invisibles 07Nowadays we live in a relatively tolerant society where LGBT people enjoy equal rights under the law. But it wasn’t always like this. As many books and films from the early to middle 20th century show, life for lesbians and gays was all about pain, suffering, abuse and prejudice.

Or was it? The photographer Sebastian Lifshtiz would beg to differ. His new book of photographs entitled The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride shows dozens of LGBTs from the first few decades of the 1900s – and many of them look positively proud and content with their lives.

According to Lifshitz, cross-dressing was popular in Britain and the US in the Roaring Twenties and sexual ambiguity seemed to dominate the nightlife of that period. Even during the conservative post-World War II years LGBTs were able to be themselves, although they had to be a little quieter about it than their contemporary counterparts.

Lifshitz found the old photos in flea markets and jumble sales and, brought together, they form a ‘gentle and playful’ narrative that reveals ‘homosexuality without inhibitions.’

Much is left to the viewer’s imagination as the pictures come with no captions or any contextual detail at all. We don’t know who these people are and we don’t know the true nature of their relationships. The chapters have not been organised chronologically or according to different themes.

The Invisibles: Vintage Portraits of Love and Pride is also the name of Lifshitz’s Cesar Award-winning film which does offer a little more background information than the book.

A Renaissance in Young Adult LGBTQ Fiction

A Renaissance in Young Adult LGBTQ Fiction – It’s been a common complaint for some time now within the LGBT community: there just aren’t enough books for young LGBTQ adults. All that is starting to change now, as 2014 has seen the publication of some truly great reads:

Moon at Nine


Far From You by Tess Sharpe

A whodunit with a fascinating element of same-sex attraction between the protagonists.

Synopsis: The first time, she’s fourteen, and escapes a near-fatal car accident with scars, a bum leg, and an addiction to Oxy that’ll take years to kick. The second time, she’s seventeen, and it’s no accident. Sophie and her best friend Mina are confronted by a masked man in the woods. Sophie survives, but Mina is not so lucky. When the cops deem Mina’s murder a drug deal gone wrong, casting partial blame on Sophie, no one will believe the truth… read more


Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis

Two lesbians fall in love under the religious strictures of 1980s Iran – with dramatic consequences.

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father, Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her… read more


Changers, Book One: Drew by T. Cooper and Allison Glock

Gender-bending occult thriller that bears a resemblance to the excellent Every Day by David Levithan.

Synopsis: Changers Book One: Drew opens on the eve of Ethan Miller’s freshman year of high school in a brand-new town. He’s finally sporting a haircut he doesn’t hate, has grown two inches since middle school, and can’t wait to try out for the soccer team… read more


Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kiklan

This nonfiction collection of portraits and interviews is a powerful insightful into the lives of LGBTYAs.

Synopsis: Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preferen… read more


Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Hard science fiction with a strong focus on bisexuality – a must-read!

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa… read more

 


Shadowplay by Laura Lam

The sequel to last year’s highly successful Pantomine, out now!

Synopsis: He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates… read more

 


Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

The issue of lesbians who work in the world of cinema is not widely discussed, but this book addresses precisely that theme.

Synopsis: A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world. Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess… read more

 


Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

Two female students in the same art class fall gradually in love…

Synopsis: Senior year is almost over, and Jamie Peterson has a big problem. Not college—that’s all set. Not prom—he’ll find a date somehow. No, it’s the worst problem of all: he’s fallen for his best friend… read more

 


One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

Israeli/Armenian author Michael Barakiva portrays young gay love with verve and sub
tlety.

Synopsis: Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek’s parents announce that he’ll be attending summer school in order to bring up… read more


Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters

Murder, love, betrayal, jealousy – this lesbian melodrama has it all and more!

Synopsis: When Alix’s charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee’s room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee’s cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T… read more

 

 

 

 

UK More Open to LGBT Characters in books, says Mortal Instruments Writer

Cassandra Clare, the bestselling author of the Mortal Instruments series of novels, has said that UK readers are more tolerant of LGBT characters in books. Ms Clare’s books for young adults have been blacklisted by American libraries for featuring gay characters.

‘There have been times when my books have been taken out of classes or libraries and that’s always a distressing feeling,’ she said to The Bookseller. ‘It certainly does happen in the US and when parents raise concerns about content they usually mean gay, lesbian and bisexual characters.’

However, she has never experienced such resistance in the UK and she believes that, overall, British readers are more welcoming and tolerant of sexual minority characters.

Ms Clare, who was born in Iran but is a US citizen, called for more gay and lesbian characters in books aimed at younger people. ‘You want teenagers who are gay, lesbian, bi or questioning to access books with characters like them in them.’

She went on to discuss how positive the feedback from her readers has been with regard to her decision to include LGBT characters in her stories.

The filming of Ms Clare’s six-book Mortal Instruments sequence began in 2012.

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Author Rejects Criticism of Proposition 8 Book

Author Jo Becker has defended Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality, her book about the overturning of California’s anti-gay marriage law Proposition 8, saying that it was never intended to be a ‘history of the entire gay rights movement’.

She was responding to LGBT activists such as Dan Savage and Kevin Jennings who have attacked her book for emphasising the legal aspect of the struggle at the expense of the grass roots campaigning that many feel was so crucial to repealing Prop 8.

In a recent interview with MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow, Becker, who is a Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist, defended her decision to focus on the legal case: ‘The entire LGBT legal establishment was opposed to taking a case to federal court. … This was absolutely a revolutionary step to take and one that was very controversial at the time’.

Forcing the Spring begins with the sentence “This is how a revolution begins” and goes on to recount Proposition 8’s passing into law before it was successfully challenged in the Supreme Court by political consultant Chad Griffin, who Becker likens to civil rights hero Rosa Parks.

The decision to try to change the law was, for Becker, a ‘game-changer’ which opposed the ‘state-by-state’ strategy same-sex marriage activists had used previously. The historic Proposition 8 case saw main attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies face off in an epic legal battle that prompted the interest of LGBT communities all around the globe.

Since the abolition of Proposition 8, marriage equality has high on the news agenda in both the United States and across the world.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A Book Which Chronicles the struggles of LGBT Youth and Offers Strategies for Support

Recent studies find that LGBT youth face bullying at a much higher rate than their straight peers and gender conforming peers, and are at increased risk for suicide. Without support, LGBT youth struggle interpersonally and academically. The authors illuminate these challenges as well as the triumphs of LGBT youth through compelling personal narratives from more than 100 LGBT individuals and allies. “SAFE SPACES” chronicles the lives of LGBT youth of all ages, weaving together recent news stories, research studies and public policy trends. Action Steps and Reflection Points are embedded throughout, offering readers positive and tangible ways to make their own homes, schools and communities more inclusive and welcoming of LGBT people.

“Campus Pride commends the authors of this timely and thoughtful book. This is a ‘must read’ for anyone wanting to help make safer, more welcoming places for LGBT youth.” – Shane Windmeyer, Founder/Executive Director, Campus Pride.

“SAFE SPACES” points readers to a host of community and national LGBT resources, and includes a bibliography of academic, policy and news material related to LGBT issues. Readers will learn creative ways to support LGBT friendly teachers, coaches, community leaders and family members, and to challenge those that are not.

“SAFE SPACES: Making Schools and Communities Welcoming to LGBT Youth” is available for sale online at sales@abc-clio.comand Amazon.com

About the Authors

Annemarie Vaccaro, PhD,is a faculty member in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She has served as a facilitator for the national Campus Pride professional development series for LGBT student advisors, and is co-creator of a faculty fellows program designed to assist college faculty in making their curriculum LGBT inclusive. Her research on diversity has been published in various journals including The Journal of LGBT Youth, The Journal of GLBT Family Studies, and The Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health. Gerri August, PhD, is an assistant professor of Educational Studies at Rhode Island College. She serves on the board of Infinity Volunteers, and has co-facilitated a workshop series aimed at training teachers on diversity. She was recently honoured as an Education Alliance Fellow at Brown University, and is a faculty advisor for the LGBT student organisation at Rhode Island College. Megan S. Kennedy, PhD, is a faculty member in the Education Department at Westfield State University. She has co-presented at regional and national conferences on the topic of LGBT literature in the classroom, and is a faculty advisor for Westfield State University’s LGBT student organisation.

Source – http://www.mmdnewswire.com/authors-annemarie-vaccaro-gerri-august-megan-s-kennedy-77168.html