Tag: LGBTQ

LGBTQ Parenting Roundup: Post-Election Edition

LGBTQ Parenting Roundup: Post-Election Edition

Tired of election news? Here are some recent profiles of LGBTQ families, musings on the path forward for LGBTQ parental rights in the U.S., and news about LGBTQ families from around the world!

LGBTQ Parenting Roundup

Family Profiles

  • Journalist (and transgender parent) Dawn Ennis interviewed actor, comedian, and lesbian mom Tig Notaro for Forbes, asking the excellent question, “How Does She Juggle ‘Star Trek,’ A Podcast And 4-Year-Old Twins?”
  • Ennis also interviewed videogame icon and transgender parent Becky Heineman (whom you may have seen recently on Netflix’s High Score) for Outsports.
  • Angela Chen of The Atlantic spoke with David Jay, founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, about his legal three-parent family.
  • Heather Chauvin of the Mom Is In Control podcast spoke with transgender advocate and parent Trystan Reese on “Navigating Pregnancy As a Man.”
  • Daniel Smith of Wales Online interviewed lawyer and transgender dad Bennett Kaspar-Williams about his pregnancy.

Politics and Law

Around the World

Penguins

  • A bonded male pair of African penguins have stolen an egg from a bonded female couple at a zoo in the Netherlands, HuffPo reports. High drama—although the fact is, a zoo spokesperson said, they are most likely unfertilized and will not hatch.

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Ways to Honor and Support LGBTQ and All Veterans

Ways to Honor and Support LGBTQ and All Veterans

A big thanks to all veterans for your service and the sacrifices you and your families have had to make. For Veteran’s Day and any day, here are some ways the rest of us can support veterans, LGBTQ and not. (Me? I’m making my veteran spouse an especially nice dinner tonight.)

U.S. Flag

This is a slightly revised version of a list I published last year; despite the pandemic (and perhaps especially because of it), showing our support for veterans is as important as ever.

  1. Thank the veterans you know, whether it’s an older relative who served in World War II or someone who has served more recently.
  2. Learn their stories.
    • If you know any veterans personally, ask them about their service—though be respectful if they would rather not discuss what might have been traumatic experiences.
    • Watch today’s special online screening by the LA LGBT Center of Our Service, Our Stories, a short film developed, filmed, and edited by LGBT Veterans.
    • The Modern Military Association of America, which serves LGBTQ service members, veterans, and their families, publishes a magazine of stories and news for and about LGBTQ military families. Go read a few stories to learn more about the joys and challenges of military life.
    • GLAD Legal Advocates & Defenders, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Trans People of Color Coalition and SPART*A have partnered to highlight the stories of transgender veterans and service members of color.
    • Read about a transgender American hero of the Civil War, in a picture book published earlier this year.
    • Beyond the LGBTQ community, check out the Veterans History Project from the Library of Congress.
  3. Support a veterans’ organization. In addition to the Modern Military Association of America, you might consider SPART*A, the nation’s leading transgender military service organization, American Veterans for Equal Rights (AVER), or some not-LGBTQ-specific ones listed at Military.com. (As always, do your own research on any organization before donating.)
  4. Take a veteran out for a meal or shopping, if you can practice appropriate social distancing. Many restaurants and stores have special discounts for them today—but any other day works, too.
  5. Educate yourself on how the Veterans Administration is still falling short on health care for LGBTQ veterans, according to a recent report.
  6. Remember that an estimated 134,000 American veterans are transgender, and over 15,000 trans people are serving in military today, even as President Trump is trying to deny them the right to do so. Learn more from the National Center for Transgender Equality as well as from GLAD and NCLR. Yes, Joe Biden has said he will reverse the ban, but I think it’s important we all understand what the impact of the ban has been on transgender service members and their families.

Cruise company apologizes after saying “trashy” trans not wanted at LGBTQ event / GayCities Blog

Cruise company apologizes after saying “trashy” trans not wanted at

Royal Yacht Albatross in Singapore
Royal Yacht Albatross (Image: YouTube)

It’s cheering to see travel and tourism operators catering for the LGBTQ community… when they get it right. Sadly, an incident last week in Singapore shows that some can still get things very wrong.

Royal Albatross Superyacht is a luxury, ‘tall ship’ schooner based in Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore. It takes bookings for corporate charters, weddings and other private events, as well as hosting a popular dinner cruise for members of the public.

It recently decided to hold a dedicated LGBTQ dinner cruise. It got in touch with a local LGBTQ dating app, Prout, to ask them if they’d help promote it on social media. Prout duly posted information about the cruise to its Facebook page.

Related: Gay couple’s hotel photo shoot prompts praise and criticism in Singapore

However, soon after the posting appeared, the company contacted Prout to ask questions about its followers.

“Within 10 mins of our social media and telegram post going public, the company contacted us to ask if there were any “transsexuals” following us,” a spokesperson for Prout said on Facebook last week.

“After further communication, the company said that they are open only to those who are “classy and willing to spend”, and not targeting the “trashy transsexual kind who only want to create trouble”. Upon hearing this, we immediately took down all the posts related to that event.”

Prout went on to condemn the company.

“Firstly, as a LGBTQ community group, we want to emphasize that marginalized communities are not here to be exploited by brands and companies to tap on the pink dollar for. If a company is not truly inclusive and does not contribute to uplifting the community, we have no wish to collaborate with them.

“Secondly, to call the trans community “trashy” is offensive and degrading. Transgender persons have historically been discriminated, and it is utterly dehumanizing to use the word “trashy” as it reinforces stigma against them.”

It also criticized the person who had contacted them for using the term “transsexual”, which has largely been replaced with transgender, and which some trans people find offensive.

Prout also posted screenshots of the exchange.

Related: This Vancover pandemic street art showcases pride in Asian men

Not long after Prout’s Facebook posting, Royal Albatross Superyacht took to Facebook to issue a prompt apology. It said the event aimed to “provide a private romantic dinner cruise experience without judgment.”

It went on to say, “Yesterday, a staff member communicated privately with someone and used a bad choice of words to address our target audience. The comments do not represent the position of this company, we retract them entirely and we apologize. We have since corrected the staff member and we will ensure we are more sensitive when it comes to our future communications. In hindsight, we were naïve not to take into consideration the diversity of the entire LGBTQ+ community. We are sincerely sorry to have offended by what was said, it was not our intent to exclude any particular group. We welcome everyone.”

It went on to say that the LGBTQ event had been put on hold while they better educate themselves.

“We have suspended our #LoveIsLove sail as we need to educate ourselves on the diverse communities. We invite any group organizers who would be interested in helping us and or holding events like these to contact us privately. Again, we apologize to anyone that was offended.”

The ship’s founder and CEO, Peter L Pela told Coconuts the event would go ahead at a later date.

“We have already started looking into providing diversity training to our staff as we do need to understand more about the sensitivities involved. I would also like to add we are only postponing our plans to hold such an event and we are looking forward to holding a successful event in the future where everyone is welcome.”

Watch: LGBTQ Legal Experts Talk 2nd-Parent Adoption and Other Ways to Protect Your Family

Watch: LGBTQ Legal Experts Talk 2nd-Parent Adoption and Other Ways

Two LGBTQ legal experts recently spoke on a GLAD panel about second-parent (co-parent) adoptions, Voluntary Acknowledgments of Parentage, and other ways LGBTQ parents can secure our legal relationships with our children. Regardless of who is in the White House, the U.S. Supreme Court remains conservative, and these actions are an important way of protecting our families. Watch the video now.

Patience Crozier, GLAD senior staff attorney, and Joyce Kauffman, GLAD board chair and lead attorney at Kauffman Law & Mediation, are not only attorneys, but also queer parents themselves. They understand both the legal and the emotional side of all this. They speak about why second-parent adoptions are necessary (even if you’re married!) and what to expect during the process; how Voluntary Acknowledgements of Parentage offer some LGBTQ parents another path to legal recognition; how likely they think it is that marriage equality could be overturned and what might happen to existing same-sex spouses in that case, and more.

The summary? “The good news is that there are ways to make sure your family is legally protected, and if you’ve already taken those steps they can’t be undone,” GLAD says.

Their focus is somewhat on New England, which is GLAD’s ambit—but even if you live elsewhere, I think you may also find much of this useful, if only to help you then ask better questions of lawyers and policymakers in your state.

Watch the video here—but please also visit the GLAD website for links to all the resources mentioned during the panel, along with additional legal information on parenting and other topics.

Supreme Court Considers Whether Child Service Agencies Can Discriminate Against LGBTQ People

Next Week, a Crucial SCOTUS Case on Discrimination in Foster

Even as we have been waiting for the results of the presidential election, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case yesterday that will determine whether taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies—and possibly any provider of government-contracted services—can cite religious beliefs as a reason to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others. Here are some of the arguments made.

U.S. Supreme Court

For detailed background on the case, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, I refer you to my piece from last week. In short, it began in 2018, when the City of Philadelphia stopped referring foster children to Catholic Social Services (CSS) because the agency would not license qualified same-sex couples to be foster or adoptive parents. CSS then brought a lawsuit in federal district court, which ruled for the city, as did an appeals court. CSS appealed to the Supreme Court, which took the case in February 2020. In June, the Trump administration filed a brief siding with CSS.

Yesterday, in front of a court that included the newly seated Amy Coney Barrett, lawyers for both CSS and the city presented their cases. All of the justices pushed on the question of whether CSS, in taking the city’s contract, was doing the city’s work or doing its own work and simply being licensed by the city. If the latter, the city would have less authority to enforce its nondiscrimination laws.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out that the city was paying CSS, and the government does not pay entities to take a license. Justice Stephen Breyer noted that the city isn’t asking CSS to endorse marriage for same-sex couples, merely that they meet the statutory requirements to be foster parents.

Prompted by more conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh, however, CSS claimed that no same-sex couple had ever applied to the agency. If they had, it said, they would simply have been referred to another agency. CSS also emphasized its 200-year history of providing services to children and families and said the city was targeting it because of its religion.

Attorney Neal Katyal, arguing for the city, said it is not targeting CSS because of its religious beliefs, but because there are no exemptions to the city’s nondiscrimination laws. This isn’t a matter of religion versus LGBTQ rights, they said, but rather of religion versus religion. A ruling in favor of CSS could mean that people are turned away from government services because of their religion.

Alito, however, seemed to side with CSS in opining that the city wasn’t actually trying to ensure that same-sex couples could be foster parents, but that it simply “can’t stand the message that Catholic Social Services and the Archdiocese are sending by continuing to adhere to the old-fashioned view about marriage.”

CSS also argued to overturn the 1990 Supreme Court case Employment Division v. Smith, in which former Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, said that Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution, which permits freedom of religion, does not mean that there are exemptions from “a neutral, generally applicable law” that is “not specifically directed to religious practice.” It was hard to tell if the justices seemed interested in overturning Smith, however.

Additionally, Hashim Moopan, a Justice Department lawyer arguing for CSS, said that the city does permissibly consider race or disability in placing children with foster parents. Why can’t it also consider sexual orientation? The city’s lawyers countered that there was a difference between child placements and the screening of potential parents, and it is the latter, where there are no exceptions, at issue here. When asked if CSS’ position of allowing exemptions to nondiscrimination laws could lead to discrimination on the basis of race, Moopan indicated that it wouldn’t, leading Breyer to ask whether “discrimination on the basis of race is different from discrimination based on gender, religion, and sexuality.” Moopan responded that “Race is unique in this country’s constitutional history,” and that eradicating racial discrimination “presents a particularly unique and compelling interest.” When pushed by Justice Elena Kagan on whether it is a compelling state interest to eradicate discrimination against gays and lesbians, he equivocated.

Alito seemed to side with the idea that racial discrimination and discrimination against same-sex couples are fundamentally different, citing Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision that legalized marriage for same-sex couples. “Didn’t we say in Obergefell that there are honorable reasons to continue to oppose same-sex marriage?” he asked. (The Obergefell decision, written by former Justice Anthony Kennedy, does indeed say, “Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here.”)

Justice Brett Kavanaugh also brought up this point in Obergefell, and told the city’s lawyers that while he understood the “stigmatic harm” of CSS’ policy on same-sex couples, “What I fear here is that the absolutist and extreme position that you’re articulating would require us to go back on the promise of respect for religious believers.”

Overall, the justices seemed split along ideological lines, although Chief Justice John Roberts’ thinking was less clear. The newest justice, Barrett, while she didn’t seem eager to overturn Smith, at one point tried to get Katyal to respond to a hypothetical situation in which a city has taken over all health care and contracts with private entities to provide it. Must a Catholic hospital then perform abortions? Katyal replied that the current case does not involve a government monopoly of previously private services, and that the government takeover of a private care system in itself raises constitutional problems.

Depending on how the court rules, the case could have far-reaching implications beyond just child services, as I explained last week. What’s next? Now we wait—even longer than for the outcome of the presidential election. A decision is expected by the end of the court’s current term next June.

H/t to C-SPAN and to ACLU lawyers Chase Strangio and Josh Block, who live tweeted the hearing.

After decades of progress, LGBTQ equality is under attack again. Let’s fix that. / LGBTQ Nation

Senator Kamala Harris at the 2019 San Francisco Pride Parade

Senator Kamala Harris at the 2019 San Francisco Pride ParadePhoto: Scot Tucker/SFBay.ca

More than 50 years ago, a group of LGBTQ+ people at the Stonewall Inn did what so many Americans have done throughout our history—they stood up for equality. It was a turning point in a movement that would continue to march, organize, and vote for the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.

And it’s because of those efforts, through the decades, that, in 2013, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier were united in California’s first same-sex marriage after Proposition 8 was struck down by the courts—a wedding I had the honor of officiating.

Related: Voting deadlines, registration & what’s at stake for LGBTQ voters in 2020

But today, after decades of progress, LGBTQ+ equality is once again under attack.

President Donald Trump, Vice President Pence, and Senate Republicans jammed through a Supreme Court nominee who poses a threat to LGBTQ+ equality—just weeks after two other justices suggested reconsidering the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision that made marriage equality the law of the land.

The Trump administration banned transgender Americans willing to risk their lives for our country from serving in the military. They’ve rolled back protections put in place by the Obama-Biden administration against employment discrimination for LGBTQ+ workers. And they opened the door to allowing health care workers to refuse treatment to patients based on their gender identity.

At a time when our country is experiencing the worst public health crisis in a century, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a reckoning on racial injustice, and a changing climate that’s battering our coastlines and setting the West on fire, it’s devastating that LGBTQ+ Americans must also worry about their human rights.

Here’s the good news: we can vote to put an end to the Trump-Pence era of discrimination and fear—and send the most pro-equality administration in history to the White House.

Joe Biden and I believe that every human being should be treated with dignity and respect and be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or who they love. We will reverse the attacks the Trump-Pence administration has made on the LGBTQ+ community. And we won’t stop there—we will advance equality through long-overdue changes.

Right now, half of all LGBTQ+ Americans live in states where their civil rights can be violated. They face discrimination in nearly every aspect of their lives, from housing to starting a family to obtaining a driver’s license with their correct gender on it.

Joe and I will make enacting the Equality Act a top legislative priority in our first 100 days in office. Passing this law will guarantee that LGBTQ+ Americans are protected under existing federal civil rights laws.

We’ll work to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from violence, prioritize the prosecution of hate crimes, and work to end the epidemic of assault against the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure LGBTQ+ youth are safe from bullying, harassment, and sexual assault.

We’ll reverse President Trump’s discriminatory ban on transgender Americans serving in the military, and ensure that every American who is qualified to serve can do so regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We’ll make sure transgender service members receive the health care they deserve. And we will work to ensure LGBTQ+ individuals have full access to all appropriate health care treatments and resources, including care related to transitioning, such as gender confirmation surgery.

You can trust that Joe will work to support the LGBTQ+ community every single day as president—because that’s what he’s done for years. He supported marriage equality well before most major politicians. He worked with President Obama to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And he knows how much work there is left to do.

As the great civil rights lawyer Pauli Murray once said, “The lesson of American history [is] that human rights are indivisible.” They cannot be advanced for some and ignored for others.

Now is the time to build a country that embraces that truth—a country where every American is treated with dignity and respect, and where equality and justice truly are for all.

Related: Voting deadlines, registration & what’s at stake for LGBTQ voters in 2020

New Report Looks at Need to Support LGBTQ Parents and Parents of LGBTQ Kids

New Report Looks at Need to Support LGBTQ Parents and

The first report from a new project dedicated to families with LGBTQ children or parents shows the negative impact of stigma on both groups—and points the way forward to keeping these families strong and healthy.

Hands

Families with LGBTQ Children or Parents: Countering Stigma with Knowledge and Support” is the first publication of The Constellation Project, which formed last year as a data resource to help both nonprofits and researchers reach out to and serve families with LGBTQ children or parents. One of the authors is Nathaniel Frank, the director of Cornell University’s What We Know Project, which I’ve long cited as a resource for all of the academic papers showing the well-being of children with LGBTQ parents.

In his introduction to the Constellation report, Frank explains that families with LGBTQ children and families with LGBTQ parents both “face stigma and rejection” and “both require similar mitigation.” The report therefore offers two literature reviews, one for each group, showing the research that exists and identifying gaps in our knowledge. (I will also note that of course these two groups aren’t mutually exclusive.)

Frank points out, however, that “The scholarly consensus on LG [lesbian and gay] parenting is now so robust that, besides noting a need for further research on how to mitigate the impact of stigma on children with LGBTQ parents, this report does not dwell on the outdated question of whether LG parenting yields adequate child wellbeing outcomes. It’s now clear that, as the 2010 film put it, ‘The Kids Are All Right.’” Thank goodness that’s settled. (In my opinion, it was settled long ago; it’s just nice to see additional affirmations of it. And while there’s been less research on kids of transgender and bisexual parents, I can’t imagine the results will be different when it comes to children’s well-being.)

Instead, he says, the report shows “a particular need to focus research and support on parents.” Parental rejection of LGBTQ children is a key cause of many negative outcomes, but research shows (as I’ve discussed) that “even ambivalent and rejecting parents are often open to interventions to improve their family relationships.” We need to look even further at how best to do that. As for LGBTQ parents, Frank says, they still need support, like all parents, and may also “experience difficulties obtaining the same opportunities and protections that many parents take for granted.”

The first review, by Kirsty A. Clark and John E. Pachankis of Yale University, focuses on families with LGBTQ youth. The report summarizes what they say we know:

  • LGBTQ youth are more likely to face stigma-related stressors and associated mental health problems than their heterosexual, cisgender peers.
  • Parental rejection of LGBTQ youth raises the odds of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, substance use, and other risk-taking behavior among LGBTQ youth.
  • Support by parents of their LGBTQ children is associated with positive mental health and serves as a buffer against the harmful effects of minority stress.
  • Parents of transgender and gender-diverse youth face unique social, emotional, and institutional challenges around their children’s social and medical gender affirmation processes.

Future research directions include the need to:

  • Recruit more parents with conflictual or negative responses to their LGBTQ children, as well as parents with limited financial resources, conservative cultural or religious values, and more diverse racial, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds.
  • Recruit parents and parent-child dyads to research parent-child relationships directly, without relying primarily on youth self-reports.
  • Conduct more longitudinal studies of parental reactions to LGBTQ youth.
  • Rigorously test promising interventions that support parents of LGBTQ children, particularly those geared toward parents with rejecting or ambivalent attitudes.

The second review, by Susie Bower-Brown and Anja McConnachie of the University of Cambridge, focuses on families with LGBTQ parents. Research currently tells us:

  • LGBTQ people face discrimination when seeking to adopt or use assistive reproductive technology.
  • Rejection and differential treatment of LGBTQ parents often come from extended family (such as grandparents).
  • LGBTQ parents face further levels of stigma and other barriers when they are also members of other marginalized populations based on racial and ethnic identity and socioeconomic status, as well as when they live in conservative communities.
  • Bisexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming parents face additional hurdles to optimal wellbeing by virtue of their marginalized status, even within the LGBTQ population.

In the future, the report says, we should:

  • Obtain more robust counts of LGBTQ parents, such as via the U.S. Census.
  • Recruit and research larger numbers of LGBTQ parents, particularly those with diverse racial, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds; those with lower income; those from environments with conservative cultural or religious values; and those who are bisexual or transgender or gender-nonconforming.
  • Identify and test protective factors for LGBTQ parents, and their children, in hostile environments.
  • Research how rejection and differential treatment of LGBTQ parents by their own families (i.e. grandparents) affect family outcomes.

If you’re interested in the details behind all this, I encourage you to read the full report, though it is a dense dose of social science research, which will either delight you or make you run away screaming. (No judgment either way; I was trained as a historian myself and have sympathies on both sides.) If you don’t want to wade through it, at least know that it exists as a resource to guide policymakers, advocates, health care professionals, educators, and others, because, as Frank says, “The needs of the families in this report must be addressed at every level—political, social, and cultural—with an increase in knowledge, community and support.”

No matter who wins the election next week, the conservative shift of the U.S. Supreme Court and the threat that poses to LGBTQ families makes such work—backed by legitimate, authoritative social science research—even more vital than ever.

Elvira unites with Los Angeles LGBTQ Center for free Halloween virtual screenings / GayCities Blog

Elvira unites with Los Angeles LGBTQ Center for free Halloween

Halloween is likely to be pretty different this year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, clubs remain closed across whole swathes of the world so the opportunities for partying are more limited.

However, there are ways you can mark the occasion with others online. Camp horror icon Elvira has teamed up with the Los Angeles LGBT Center for a special, virtual screening event taking place this Friday (October 30).

Related: Gay Los Angeles

In connection with Shout! Factory TV, Elvira will host two free online screenings of her 2001 movie, Elvira’s Haunted Hills. The screenings will take place at 7 pm and 9 pm PT. The 7 pm screening will also include a virtual costume contest. Anyone interested in entering must submit photos of themselves in their outfit in advance to lalgbtcenter.org/costume 

Elvira, the gothic vamp played by actress Cassandra Peterson, earned herself a huge cult following on the release of the 1988 comedy horror film, Elvira: Mistress of the Dark. It spawned numerous sequels.

Whilst watching this Friday’s movie, viewers will also be encouraged to donate to the LA LGBT Center via the Text-to-Donate mobile phone platform, to help it continue to offer its vital services during these difficult times. To join the fun, go to lalgbtcenter.org/watch this Friday evening.

Related: Gay bars in Los Angeles

“What better way to start celebrating Halloween than with shrieks of laughter from the comfort of your own home!” said the LGBT Center’s Membership Associate Kimberly Fisher.

“We are thrilled to partner with Shout! Factory TV to highlight the entertainment company’s profound commitment to honor our authentic selves in visual media. And to have Elvira herself hosting this special ‘live scream’ event is certainly a treat—not a trick!”

Depressed that Halloween won’t be the same this year? Check out a recent video from Elvira encouraging people to celebrate in any way they (safely) can!

Related: Gay Los Angeles has a super stylish new coffee house

LGBTQ History Books for Children and Teens

LGBTQ History Books for Children and Teens

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve done a roundup of kids’ books on LGBTQ history and there have been many new ones in that time! Here’s a fresh list of old and new for LGBTQ History Month—including an upcoming picture book about Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera!

LGBTQ History Books for Kids

I’m focusing here on books that delve into the history of Pride and LGBTQ people more generally; ones that look solely at the experience of a Pride march or the colors of the rainbow flag can be found in my roundup of Pride Books for Kids. Also, as far as I know, all the authors below identify as White; I wish there was much more diversity of authorship among these books that chart our diverse history. (I know there are LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books by authors of color; I’m speaking just of history books here.) Publishers, you can do better than this.

An Upcoming Picture Book

Let’s start with one book I haven’t reviewed previously. Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution, by Joy Michael Ellison and Teshika Silver (Jessica Kingsley, 2020), isn’t out until November 21, but I’d be remiss not to mention it here. It tells the story of Stonewall icons and transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera by focusing on their close friendship and how they cared for their community in the face of harassment by police and others. We see them at the heart of the Stonewall Rebellion, then opening a home for homeless trans girls and continuing to fight “for the survival and rights of transgender people.”

Some of the violence during the riots has been tempered for the age group and a few historical details could be argued, but as the authors note, this is only one retelling of what happened. What comes through clearly, though—and is probably most important for this age group—is the bond between Sylvia and Marsha and the overall sense of how they worked to help those in need. A few of the narrative transitions are a little jumpy, but the thread of Sylvia and Marsha’s friendship helps hold things together.

The back matter offers additional details on the two, a glossary, discussion questions, and activities. There are a couple of errors in the two online resources listed, though: “Queer Kids Stuff” should be “Queer Kid Stuff,” and “The Family Equality Council” should be just “Family Equality.” (Also, I would have added PFLAG and Gender Spectrum as key resources, since they do a lot of work with families of trans kids.) Those are minor issues, though. This inspiring story of friendship, community, and revolution rightly gives Sylvia and Marsha their place on our kids’ bookshelves alongside the mostly White and male figures who have dominated LGBTQ picture book biographies.

Other Elementary School Books

Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution, by Rob Sanders (Random House, 2019), uses the perspective of the Stonewall Inn itself to create a simple yet compelling story that focuses on the people in the neighborhood. Jamey Christoph’s evocative illustrations capture their diversity of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. (Full review.)

Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno (Random House: 2018), is an inspiring biography of Milk that stresses his friendship with Gilbert Baker, who designed the rainbow flag as a symbol of hope and inspiration. It does mention Milk’s assassination, although as gently as possible, but parents should still be prepared to address kids’ concerns there. (Full review.)

Sewing the Rainbow: A Story About Gilbert Baker (Magination Press: 2018), written by Gayle Pitman and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown, flips the perspective Sanders used, and takes us along with Baker from his childhood, through adversity, to the request by his friend Milk to create a new symbol for their community. A few rough transitions may take adult explanation, but all will be inspired by this story and how Baker regained his lost sparkle. (Full review.)

The Harvey Milk Story, written by Kari Krakow and illustrated by David Gardner (Two Lives Publishing: 2001), conveys Milk’s significance with warmth and appreciation. It is wordier and more detailed that Sanders’ book, and probably best for older elementary students. Unfortunately out of print and only available in used versions; see if you can find a cheap one or seek it in a library.

When You Look Out the Window: How Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin Built a Community, by Gayle Pitman (Magination Press: 2017), tells of the transformation that LGBTQ-rights pioneers Lyon and Martin helped bring to San Francisco and its LGBTQ community.

The Fighting Infantryman, by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Nabi H. Ali (Little Bee, 2020), is the story of Albert D. J. Cashier, an immigrant, Union soldier in the U.S. Civil War, and a transgender man—though as Sanders notes, he probably wouldn’t have used that term. Terminology aside, Sanders reinforces that “His identity fit him as snug as his suspenders.” (Full review.)

Mayor Pete: The Story of Pete Buttigieg, written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Levi Hastings (Henry Holt, 2020), takes us from Buttigieg’s birth in Indiana to his announcement of a groundbreaking run for president. “Only time will tell” who he will become, it concludes. It’s a smart way to end a book that was finished in May 2019 and fast-tracked for publication, as Sanders confirmed with me—well before Mayor Pete won the Iowa Democratic Caucuses but shortly thereafter dropped out of the race. It may inspire young readers on their own journeys of self-discovery and service. (Full review.)

For Spacious Skies: Katharine Lee Bates and the Inspiration for “America the Beautiful,” by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by Olga Baumert (Albert Whitman), tells of Bates’ childhood during the Civil War, her dedication to study, and her work to address social injustices, as well as the trip that inspired her most famous poem. It mentions “the home she shared with Katharine Coman”; an afterward calls their relationship “a close companionship,” though as I explain in my full review, it was likely more than that.

Be Amazing: A History of Pride, by “Drag Kid” Desmond Is Amazing (Farrar Staus Giroux, 2020), is less a detailed history than a short overview of the Stonewall Riots and the first March one year later; brief biographies of Stonewall icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera; and a description of the influence of Pride on Desmond’s life. A mention of President Obama’s 2009 declaration of Pride Month makes it (incorrectly) seem as if that legitimized the observance. What it lacks as a history it makes up for with dazzling illustrations from Dylan Glynn and an enthusiastic message to “Be amazing.”

Harvey Milk, Ellen DeGeneres, and RuPaul Charles from Little Bee Books (2020) with no stated author,  illustrated by Victoria Grace Elliott, each offer simple takes on these figures’ lives, though not as simple as the board book format might imply. (Full review.)

Middle Grade Books

Rainbow Revolutionaries: Fifty LGBTQ+ People Who Made History, by Sarah Prager (HarperCollins, 2020), offers short but engaging profiles of LGBTQ+ people who have had an impact on the world in a variety of times and places. The format matches her book for teens, Queer There and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World (see below)but the language has been tuned to a slightly younger audience. In both books, Prager writes in an informal, approachable style while also providing substantial facts about each person’s life and motivations. (Full review.)

Pride: The Celebration and the Struggle, by Robin Stevenson (Orca, 2020), is an updated edition of her 2016 Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community, which blends a history of the event with a broader look at the struggle for LGBTQ equality, along with a look at what it means to come out, what to expect at Pride events around the world, a glossary, and an explanation of gender identity. The new edition places a greater focus on activism and activists, as the need for such work has grown over the past few years.

Gay & Lesbian History for Kids: The Century-Long Struggle for LGBT Rights, by Jerome Pohlen (Chicago Review Press, 2015), starts with Sappho, Alexander the Great, and other figures from distant history, but then focuses mostly on U.S. social and political history. A series of activities throughout the book add fun and engagement. Despite the main title, Pohlen is inclusive of the LGBT spectrum.

Stonewall: Our March Continues, by Olivia Higgins, illustrated by Tess Marie Vosevich Keller (self-published, 2019), straddles the picture book/middle grade line as it tells the tale through the eyes of young LGBT people in the 1960s seeking community in New York City. It’s an engaging approach, but the undifferentiated first-person narrative, intended to convey perspectives from different people, may be confusing. Young readers might also need adult guidance so they are not scared by the line, “My parents demand that I change or leave home forever.” (Full review.)

Young Adult Books

Queer There and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World, by Sarah Prager (HarperCollins: 2017), aims for the teen audience, but adults will also learn much from her engaging profiles. Prager offers a thoughtful exploration of historical terms for what we now call “queer” identities, an overview of queerness around the world, and profiles that are both informative and entertaining.

Gayle Pitman’s The Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets (Abrams, 2019) is organized around 50 representative objects from the era and the event, such as photos, matchbooks, picket signs, and more. Pitman skillfully weaves the stories behind these objects into an accessible and substantial narrative. (Full review.)

What Was Stonewall? by Nico Medina (Penguin, 2019), looks at Stonewall in the context of the broader movement for LGBTQ equality both before 1969 and after, through 2016.

The Stonewall Riots: The Fight for LGBT Rights, by Tristan Poehlmann (Essential Library, 2016) is a solid overview, but only available in a $30 library edition, which may make it a better library pick than one for home bookshelves.

Rainbow Revolutions: Power, Pride, and Protest in the Fight for Queer Rights, by Jamie Lawson (Crocodile Books/Interlink, 2020), takes an more event-based approach to history, in contrast to Prager’s people-based one (see above), offering brief snapshots of significant moments and movements in LGBTQ history from the Victorian age to our current era. There’s a lot of fascinating information in the volume, although Lawson’s choices about what to focus on feels somewhat uneven. (Full review.)

Gay America: Struggle for Equality, by Linus Alsenas (Amulet: 2008), is explicitly limited to gay men and lesbians and a little dated now, but worthwhile within those limits, covering politics, culture, relations between the lesbian and gay rights movement and other civil rights movements, entertainment, the evolution of gay and lesbian identities, and more.


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Todrick Hall, Lance Bass and others share their hometown LGBTQ recommendations / GayCities Blog

Todrick Hall, Lance Bass and others share their hometown LGBTQ

Travel booking company Orbitz is marking LGBTQ History Month in the US by teaming up with some LGBTQ celebrities and influencers.

The corporation has launched its own micro-site, Orbitz.com/Pride, to showcase hotels dedicated to welcoming all LGBTQ guests. It’s also asked its influencer partners to recommend things to do for visitors who may be touring their respective home towns.

The featured tours include LGBTQ highlights in New York City, Austin, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Miami.

“The pandemic has impacted so many parts of our daily lives, including the travel industry and the destinations and small businesses that rely on it,” says Carey Malloy, Brand and Marketing Director at Orbitz. “While many of us are still at home right now, we wanted to find a way to celebrate the places that bring joy and meaning to so many in the LGBTQIA community.”

Related: Explore these iconic New York gay bars from home, plus other virtual experiences

If you check out the Orbitz Instagram, you’ll find virtual tours of each city throughout this month, led by the featured influencers. New stories will be added and highlighted using the hashtag #HappyPlace.

For example, here’s NSYNC’s Lance Bass giving you a tour of his favorite parts of Los Angeles.

Amongst Lance’s recommendations are the Mondrian Hotel (“my go-to place to host friends and family that visit for years”), the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the dog-rescue center, Vanderpump Dogs. Unsurprisingly, he also highly recommends Rocco’s WeHo (“the most inclusive bar and restaurant on the planet”), the bar he happens to own!

Todrick Hall also offers his West Hollywood recommendations on Instagram, which include The Abbey, the Los Angeles LGBT Center (“a great resource for the community but also visitors as they host live events”), and the Matthew Shephard Human Rights Triangle.

Hall also offers a rundown of things to do in his home state of Texas. Among his recommendations are the lesbian-owned Hotel San Jose in Austin, the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas (“the largest predominately LGBTQ church in the world”), and the Round-Up Saloon in Dallas (“A favorite of mine. It was the first time I saw gay men line dancing.”).

Also featured in the series are travel influencer couples Allie and Sam (@allieandsam), who offer their lowdown on Miami, and Matt and Beau (@ProbablyThis) on New Orleans.

New York City gets two tours: one from Ravi Roth (above) and lesbian couple Gabi and Shanna (@27travels on Instagram).

Finally, trans entrepreneur Chris Rhodes offers recommendations for Austin, Texas. Rhodes namechecks gay bar Cheer Up Charlies and the queer-owned Austin Motel among his highlights.