Sylvia and Marsha, Best Friends is here. Get your copy!

A day I have been working towards for years is finally here: my picture book Sylvia and Marsha, Best Friends is available for purchase. Order your copy now!

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Image: Sylvia and Marsha walk arm in arm down Christopher Street

Finally, A Picture Book about the Trans Women of Color who Started Pride

Through lush illustrations and sizzling prose, Sylvia and Marsha, Best Friends tells the story of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, two trans women of color who sparked the modern LGBTQIA2 movement.

Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson meet in 1969 as homeless transgender girls of color.  Sylvia longs for change, saying, “Someday we’ll be able to wear whatever we want.  People will call us by our chosen names and we’ll never go hungry.”  Together, they make history during the Stonewall Rebellion, kick-starting the movement for acceptance of queer and trans youth.  Sylvia and Marsha help transgender girls by sharing what they have in abundance: friendship. Today, they are still remembered, showing that best friends can change the world. 

Sylvia and Marsha, Best Friends is a picture book perfect for children, their parents, and any trans person who didn’t get to see themselves reflected in children’s literature. It’s not too late to read the stories you deserve and share them with the kids you love.

Get your copy by backing our Kickstarter now. We only have 30 days to make this book a reality, so don’t delay. We need your help to share this story with the kids who need it.

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Wild Nights with Emily: A Review

 

I never expected the best new queer film I’ve watched this year to be about Emily Dickinson, but Wild Nights with Emily was a balm for my heart.

Directed by Madeline Olnek and starring Molly Shannon, Wild Nights with Emily busts every myth about the great American poet. In this film, Emily Dickinson is no modest and maudlin recluse. Instead, it draws on a rich cache of primary evidence to depict Dickinson as she was: an ambitious queer woman with a biting wit.

Wild Nights upends the trope of the isolated, cruel genius, which has plagued other recent biopics about queer historical figures. Instead, Wild Nights depicts Dickinson’s lifelong love for her sister-in-law Susan Ziegler. Ziegler played the role of friend, lover, editor, inspiration, and intellectual equal for Dickinson. By showing how Zeigler was quite literally erased from Dickinson’s writing, Wild Nights skillfully reveals the homophobia inherent in depictions of queer historical figures as loveless and tragic.

I loved Wild Nights in part because it filled with me with the same giddy joy I felt as a college student when I discovered that there were plenty of queer people in the literary cannon; Walt Whitman, Truman Capote, and James Baldwin just couldn’t be out in my high school any more than I could. Wild Nights, however, also provided enough surprises and substance to hold my intellectual interest.

Thanks to Shannon’s performance and Olnek’s writing, Wild Nights is hilarious in a way that not only honors Dickinson, but also breathes new life into the lesbian costume drama genre. If you like movies about queer women, you may have watched many a frock flick. From recent films like Carol to older dramas like Tipping the Velvet, most of these films are charming, but they can also be predictable, twee, and one dimensional. At their worst, costume dramas about queer women get their emotional power from dramatic descriptions of homophobia that may be somewhat historically accurate, but certainly aren’t affirming. Wild Nights, instead, manages to make its characters feel contemporary while remaining true to the complicated situations they negotiated.

Wild Nights with Emily is a remarkable, groundbreaking film that never had a shot at getting its due. It played at Columbus’ Gateway Film Center for a measly 10 days. Nonetheless, I’m certain this film will live on like so many queer women’s movies before it. Stuffed onto library shelves and the recesses of streaming platforms, surely nerdy queer teens will find Wild Nights. I imagine them singing “Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me” to the tune of Amazing Grace, just like we once did.  Their laughter will be all the more gleeful for knowing the truth about Dickinson.

2018 Publication Round Up

I wrote a lot in 2018!

How to Brew Tea for a Funeral

Disability, Intersex Identity, and Transgender Identity in The Orville’s About a Girl, The Geeky Gimp

On the Body: What Transgender History Can Teach Us About Censorship, American Library Association Intellectual Freedom Blog

4 Activists who make me Proud to be Disabled and Transgender, Rooted in Rights

Neville Longbottom and Anti-Racist Disabled Solidarity, The Geeky Gimp

Tomatoes, Heritage or Hate, Ruminate

“Bad Penny: Trauma, War, and Trans Identity,” Headcase: LGBTQ Writers and Artists on Mental Illness

 

Columbus Alive:

Incarceration is an LGBT Issue and Now is the Time to Act

Families, all families, Belong Free

Stop Lecturing Millennials and Start Supporting our Movements

Trick or treat your way through Queer and Trans history

Transgender liberation requires audacious dreams

Bohemian Rhapsody’ proves nothing can ruin Queen

#MeToo: Why I’m still fighting losing battles

Can the queer and transgender community reconcile?

New Year’s resolution reading recommendations

 

If We Knew Trans History:

White Queer People Yelling at Trans Women of Color during Pride Celebrations: An Incomplete History

Trans Love, part one: Sylvia Rivera and Julia Murray

Homoplace: Livable Worlds in The Early Works of Cheryl Dunye

Book Review: Black on Both Sides by C. Riley Snorton

Even without ScarJo, I am skipping Rub and Tug. Instead, I want to see Dominique Jackson play Lucy Hicks Anderson

Music by Trans Artists to Get Us Through These Tough Times

Trans Boys and Girls: Prince’s Under the Cherry Moon in the Context of Minneapolis Transgender History

Ru, Please! Trans women have been a part of drag for DECADES

 

Rainbow Rant: Stop lecturing millennials and start supporting our movements

“Millennials don’t need a guilt-trip. We are already politically active, and we’re acting out of an understanding that older people should heed: It takes more than voting to change an oppressive system.

Queer and trans people know this truth deeply. At times when neither party fought for our interests, queer and trans people created new ways to effect change. We “zapped” politicians, held die-ins, built underground networks and took care of each other. These tactics are just as important today as they have been in the past.”

Read the whole thing here!

Rainbow Rant: Incarceration is an LGBT issue and now is the time to act

Big announcement!  I am writing an opinion column for Columbus Alive newspaper.  I’ll be writing about LGBT topics twice a month.  My first column is about the National Prison Strike.

Striking prisoners are demanding an end to prison slavery, which is legal under the 13th amendment; increased access to rehabilitation services; the reinstatement of Pell grants; an end to racial disparities in sentencing; the reinstatement of voting rights for former prisoners with felony convictions; the redress of grievances local to individual institutions, and more. These demands are not only reasonable; they address some of the most pressing forms of racism in our country.

Read the rest here.