Tag: Marsha

New Picture Book Celebrates Friendship of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera

New Picture Book Celebrates Friendship of Marsha P. Johnson and

It’s Transgender Awareness Week, and hot off the presses today is a new picture book about transgender icons Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera!

Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution

Sylvia and Marsha Start a Revolution, by Joy Michael Ellison and Teshika Silver (Jessica Kingsley, 2020), tells the story of Sylvia and Marsha 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 rebellion 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 young readers—is the bond between Sylvia and Marsha and the overall sense of how they worked to help those in need. To read that they “strode with pride, like two lionesses” down the street after the rebellion, and to see Silver’s image of them smiling confidently, arm in arm, is to know that trans women can be strong and powerful. A few of the narrative transitions are a little jumpy, but the thread of Sylvia and Marsha’s friendship helps hold things together.

One point that may require a little adult explanation is when members of the community call out “Here comes Alice in the blue dress!” to indicate the police are on the way. We’ve learned earlier in the book that the police can arrest trans women for wearing dresses—and the police (all male) are not wearing dresses themselves. Young readers may think the call means the police are chasing someone named Alice until they understand the ironic slang. (Having said that, I’m betting that once young readers catch on, parents may be hard pressed to stop them from shouting this phrase themselves when they see a real officer on the street. Fair warning….)

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.


(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Sunday Funday Is Keeping Marsha P. Johnson Close

Sunday Funday Is Keeping Marsha P. Johnson Close

Hello it is Sunday and yesterday was Saturday! My neighbors had fireworks for some reason and they scared my cats, but per usual, my robot roommate came through. Not to be like a shill of big tech, but as a person who lives alone, very little makes my life feel more tech free than being able to talk to a robot and have it do what I tell it to do. It even sang me happy birthday when I woke up on my birthday! A roommate has never done that for me.

Okay, while you read about the good news, I’m gonna go feed my cats treats for breakfast to make up for last night.


+ Hopefully including tons of facemasks and hand sanitizer, Paris held a Pride parade and thousands came out for what turned out to be, in true historical Pride fashion, hella political.

+ Speaking of Pride, we can’t let it go back to a corporate-sponsored event, which Natalie highlighted earlier this week.

+ Youth activists from 50 Miles More recently completed a march for Black and LGBTQ+ lives from Milwaukee to Madison.

+ The songs our queer elders boogied to in the 70s and 80s.

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+ Queer folks in Ecuador are exploring gender identity through drag.

This metamorphosis, from one character to another and back is what’s so striking about transformismo. It isn’t just that Rentería changes into Dareyeska, or Macías into Destiny, but that they also have to transform the other way around. One complies with the arrangements, rules and expectations of society. The other creates a parallel world of fantasy and possibility where they can decide and rule on their own terms. These split realities aren’t necessarily at odds with each other, but rather emerge as adaptations and strategies for queer life to flourish on difficult terrain. Keeping these two worlds neatly separate, however, isn’t always easy as Rentería and Macías can attest to. But “easy” would be missing the aim of transformismo which, after all, is breaking free from all the ways being human is confined and constricted.

+ Wales has a new LGBTQ bookstore.

+ Want a documentary about LGBTQ friendship? Check out Jack and Yaya.

+ Google closed out Pride Month with a doodle of Marsha P. Johnson and a half-million dollar donation to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute.

+ Hmm, lesbians will turn anything into a dating app including…TikTok?

+ Seven queer folks share the beauty rituals getting them through the pandemic. Speaking of, let me go wash my face.

My Queer Blackness, My Black Queerness is a vital digital project about Black queer people by Jordan Anderson.

+ Some Dartmouth sororities rewrite their constitutions to include nonbinary people. Cute if we ever go back to school.

+ Teens and the gender binary.

+ My ancestor was a suffragist.


Okay weirdos and friends, I’ll see you soon. Love yourselves, love your communities, love your enemies into being nice, I guess? I don’t know, still working on that one. You’re always on my heart and mind.

Ari

Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.

Ari has written 306 articles for us.