Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
The classic play about a girl who washes ashore after a shipwreck and disguises herself as a boy was banned in a New Hampshire school system by a rule titled "prohibition of alternative lifestyle instruction," which means that teachers in the district are forbidden from discussing homosexuality in the classroom. The plotline in which Viola, dressed as a boy, falls in love with Duke Orsino was deemed inappropriate.
Little Red Riding Hood by Charles Perrault
The fairy tale of a little girl who is led astray by a wolf while on the way to her grandmother’s house was banned by two California school districts because one of the refreshments for her grandmother that Little Red Riding Hood carried in her basket was wine.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Frank L. Baum’s classic story about a girl and her friends traveling through the mystical land of Oz came under fire for its perceived socialist values, but it was also banned because it described witches as good – as in Glinda, the Good Witch of the South.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The story of a Southern family that confronts racism in their town may seem like an inspirational tale that’s appropriate for everyone, but it was banned by one school in Minnesota for inappropriate language because the heroine Scout swears, and by a school in Texas because it "conflicted with the values of the community."
Night Shadows: Queer Horror
What scares you the most? Some of the biggest names in queer publishing come together to share tales of things that go bump in the night, murder and revenge most foul, and dark creatures that will haunt your dreams, while putting a decidedly queer twist on the literary horror genre. The fourteen stories in Night Shadows are disturbing tales of psychological terror that will continue to resonate with readers long after they finish reading these delightfully wicked stories. Don’t read these stygian tales when you’re alone — or without every light in the house burning! English, 264 pages, ISBN: 978-1602827516
Chocolatiers of the High Winds
This gay steampunk romance follows the globe-trotting adventures of young Mayport Titus, the sole scion of the Titus Chocolate fortune. Mayport’s father, an adventurer and entrepreneur, established the intercontinental chocolate trade using sugar from India, cacao from South America, and a factory in New Amsterdam, before he and his wife were lost when their airship went down over the ocean and left Mayport orphaned. Now determined to make his own way in the world, Mayport attempts to resurrect his father’s old airship, The Dutch Process, with the help of Thiervy, an intimate school friend who happens to be both a pilot and an engineer. Together Mayport and Thiervy not only rebuild the ship, and revolutionize the moribund chocolate industry, they bring a new way of doing things to the world. English, 332 pages, ISBN: 78-1613900505
For Colored Boys
For Colored Boys, addresses issues like sexual abuse, suicide, HIV & Aids, racism, and homophobia in the African American and Latino communities, and more specifically among young gay men of colour. The book tells stories of real people coming of age, coming out, dealing with religion, seeking love and relationships, finding their own identity in or out of the LGBT community, and creating their own sense of political empowerment. For Colored Boys is designed to educate and inspire those seeking to overcome their own obstacles in their own lives. English, 300 pages, ISBN: 978-1936833153
Now for something completely different, as prescribed by ze Doctor, a quite sexual experience brought to you by the ever so sensual voice of Mr Cumberbatch (such a poetic name as well
So called “child porn” is a difficult and touchy subject. It’s obvious that no one wants kids to get abused. But we live in times where people get harsher jail terms for having some photos on their PC than people who actually rape kids. Where 17-year-old teenagers get charged with the production of child pornography because they made a photo for their boyfriend. Where drawings and stories. while never hurting any kid, are considered to be as evil as photos of sexual abuse. Where the copyright lobby admits to love child porn because it makes it easier for them to get their draconian censorship and surveillance laws passed.
In such times it must be possible to have a serious discussion about our priorities. Do we rather put people on trial because they own some comics with drawings of scantly clad teenage characters than going after the people who actually rape real kids? Do we want to pass laws which are being abused to spy on everyone of us without helping a single child in the process?
And now we might actually get to have this discussion thanks to an opinion piece published by Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the Swedish Pirate Party. He is explaining how our current laws are written by religious fundamentalists, how many, many innocent people, both adults and teens, are caught in the process and why we might want to reconsider the laws concerning the possession of “child porn” – which was legal until 1999 in Sweden and many other countries. The Swedish Association of Journalists still is against the ban as the Destroyer blog is pointing out.
This article argues that our current laws on the topic are counterproductive, because they protect child molesters instead of bringing them to justice, they criminalize a generation of normally-behaving teenagers which diverts valuable police resources from the criminals we should be going after, and they lead to censorship and electronic book burning as well as unacceptable collateral damage to innocent families. Child abuse as such is not condoned by anybody, and this article argues that current laws are counterproductive in preventing and prosecuting it.
I urge you to actually read the whole essay before you leave any heated comments. Falkvinge is not arguing for the abuse of children to be made legal in any way. Please keep the discussion civilised, thanks.
Rarely has a book for young adults been so eagerly anticipated as Tricks of the Trade, the third book by the popular young author Floortje Zwigtman. She understands better than anyone else that adolescents aren’t looking for a neat book of instructions for the future. These are stories that tell it like it is, historical novels about surviving in conditions where the laws and morals of polite society no longer seem to apply.
Adrian Mayfield is born in the poor East End of Victorian London, the son of a pub landlord and a seamstress. However, a different career lies in store for him. It’s not a scenario that the street-hardened lad could have envisaged: a wealthy older gentleman falls in love with him and takes him home. The man is Augustus Trops, a second-rate artist from Flanders. He introduces Adrian to the flamboyant circle of Oscar Wilde, where he meets other men like Augustus and finds work as an artist’s model. The work pays well and he meets the most interesting and powerful people of his time. Adrian is very pleased with his new life at first. Everything appears to be going swimmingly. Until, that is, London’s beau monde decamps to Europe for the summer holidays, as happens every year. Adrian, by now accustomed to luxury, ends up without any income.
In a male brothel he discovers the flip side of his new life in the twofaced London of the nineteenth century, where gossip, blackmail and brutal police violence make homosexuality a highly dangerous way of life. Then he faces the choice of whether to put his integrity and his friendships on the line so that he doesn’t have to live in a mouldy, cockroach-infested garret.
Tricks of the Trade is an intense book that is difficult to put down. It draws the reader in without resorting to cheap sensationalism. This is a result of Zwigtman’s unique ability to combine critical distance with open intimacy. The raw, breathtaking writing of this sharp, historical portrait really makes the reader think about life. Zwigtman is one of the great modern writers of books for young adults.
This is the first book in a series of three and was published in Dutch under the title Schijnbewegingen and in German as Ich, Adrian Mayfield. There is no English translation yet because all interested publishers asked the author to removed some of the detailed sex scenes considering the age of the target audience but Zwigtman, luckily, refused to do so.
In the past few years more and more TV shows have included gay characters, which is a very good thing. Game of Thrones, True Blood, Glee, Modern Family, Smash, Pretty Little Liars, American Horror Story, and many others. But of all those shows, the only one most kids are allowed to watch is Glee.
But if you want to give kids positive role models and the certainty that your feelings and that part of your identity are normal well represented and accepted in our society you’ll need more than just Glee. From a kid’s point of view there’s actually a severe lack of queer characters in the shows and films they get to see. All the Disney princesses marry princes. Pixar movies have married people, moms and dads, all over the place. Even the robots are matched up in obviously opposite-gender pairs. All the preteen sitcoms have girls chasing after boys and vice versa. If there is a character who has stereotypically "gay" mannerisms, that character is used for a laugh and not a lot else.
Those cartoons that actually should have gay characters have been effectively "straight-washed." The popular comic X-Men has had gay characters for quite a while, but when it’s adapted to television, none of the characters is anything but heterosexual. When Mystique and Destiny are included, they are no longer long-term lovers but "best friends." Northstar isn’t portrayed as gay, even though he was one of the first out LGBT characters in American comics.
Even the cartoons brought over from Japan and marketed to children have been "straight-washed" for Western audiences. In Dragon Ball any mention of the orientation of the gay character, General Blue, is censored. And Sailor Moon, which has no less than seven queer characters in the original version, has none in Western version. Some characters’ genders have actually been changed, and the lesbian couples are now "cousins," an old classic. The only LGBT character you could find that made it through was a minor character in Dragon Ball Z.
Many queer adults know what it was like to grow up with no media representation. It created feelings of isolation. It reinforced the notion that they were "other." And many thought that because they weren’t mentioned, they must have been something secret, something bad. Nowadays kids are coming out younger and younger. It’s increasingly common for them to come out at 12 or 13 years old. And what does TV present them? Only Glee.
But maybe that’s about to change. ParaNorman (trailer below) is making a first step at least. It’s a stop-action movie with witches and zombies — all things my kids love. The movie is about how no one is totally what they appear to be….
Spoiler ahead… the chubby, silly kid is the bravest and most courageous of the bunch; the zombies aren’t bad guys; and the big, muscled jock, Mitch, is gay. That character’s orientation is only mentioned at the end of the movie, almost in passing. One of the female characters asks Mitch if he’d like to go to the movies with her, and Mitch says, "Sure." He then adds that he thinks she’d love his boyfriend. The girl looks disappointed, and the movie moves on to other things.
To some people this may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Here’s this character, who is basically the stereotypical jock, but in this movie, this kid’s movie, he’s also gay. It isn’t presented with a "very special episode" vibe. It isn’t something hidden. It isn’t something Mitch is in turmoil about. It just is.
While stories of coming out and dealing with bullying are important for kids to see, they are not the only stories for LGBT characters. ParaNorman is a movie about a group of kids, and one of those kids just happens to be gay. I would love to see youth-oriented television and movies follow this example and expand upon it. Imagine what it would have meant to gay adults (who were all once gay kids) to have had a gay character on Saved by the Bell, Facts of Life, or He-Man, a gay character who was just one of the gang and a regular part of the story. Why can’t iCarly or Drake & Josh have a gay kid in the mix? I think they should, because visibility matters.
And of course conservatives in America are already jumping on it because, as Towleroad put it, the makers of the film dared to make the gay character a normal guy, not a twisted, pathological villain or eccentric outsider.
(via Gay Voices)
The night before Susan and Rob allowed their son to go to preschool in a dress, they sent an e-mail to parents of his classmates. Alex, they wrote, “has been gender-fluid for as long as we can remember, and at the moment he is equally passionate about and identified with soccer players and princesses, superheroes and ballerinas (not to mention lava and unicorns, dinosaurs and glitter rainbows).” They explained that Alex had recently become inconsolable about his parents’ ban on wearing dresses beyond dress-up time. After consulting their paediatrician, a psychologist and parents of other gender-nonconforming children, they concluded that “the important thing was to teach him not to be ashamed of who he feels he is.” Thus, the purple-pink-and-yellow-striped dress he would be wearing that next morning. For good measure, their e-mail included a link to information on gender-variant children.
When Alex was 4, he pronounced himself “a boy and a girl,” but in the two years since, he has been fairly clear that he is simply a boy who sometimes likes to dress and play in conventionally feminine ways. Some days at home he wears dresses, paints his fingernails and plays with dolls; other days, he roughhouses, rams his toys together or pretends to be Spider-Man. Even his movements ricochet between parodies of gender: on days he puts on a dress, he is graceful, almost dancerlike, and his sentences rise in pitch at the end. On days he opts for only “boy” wear, he heads off with a little swagger. Of course, had Alex been a girl who sometimes dressed or played in boyish ways, no e-mail to parents would have been necessary; no one would raise an eyebrow at a girl who likes throwing a football or wearing a Spider-Man T-shirt.
There have always been people who defy gender norms. Late-19th-century medical literature described female “inverts” as appallingly straightforward, with a “dislike and sometimes incapacity for needlework” and “an inclination and taste for the sciences”; male inverts were “entirely averse to outdoor games.” By the mid-20th century, doctors were trying “corrective therapy” to extinguish atypical gender behaviors. The goal was preventing children from becoming gay or transgender, a term for those who feel they were born in the wrong body.
Many parents and clinicians now reject corrective therapy, making this the first generation to allow boys to openly play and dress (to varying degrees) in ways previously restricted to girls — to exist in what one psychologist called “that middle space” between traditional boyhood and traditional girlhood. These parents have drawn courage from a burgeoning Internet community of like-minded folk whose sons identify as boys but wear tiaras and tote unicorn backpacks. Even transgender people preserve the traditional binary gender division: born in one and belonging in the other. But the parents of boys in that middle space argue that gender is a spectrum rather than two opposing categories, neither of which any real man or woman precisely fits.
“It might make your world more tidy to have two neat and separate gender possibilities,” one North Carolina mother wrote last year on her blog, “but when you squish out the space between, you do not accurately represent lived reality. More than that, you’re trying to ‘squish out’ my kid.”
The impassioned author of that blog, Pink Is for Boys, is careful to conceal her son’s identity, as were the other parents interviewed for this article. As much as these parents want to nurture and defend what makes their children unique and happy, they also fear it will expose their sons to rejection. Some have switched schools, changed churches and even moved to try to shield their children. That tension between yielding to conformity or encouraging self-expression is felt by parents of any child who differs from the norm. But parents of so-called pink boys feel another layer of anxiety: given how central gender is to identity, they fear the wrong parenting decision could devastate their child’s social or emotional well-being. The fact that there is still substantial disagreement among prominent psychological professionals about whether to squelch unconventional behaviour or support it makes those decisions even more wrenching.
Many of the parents who allow their children to occupy that “middle space” were socially liberal even before they had a pink boy, quick to defend gay rights and women’s equality and to question the confines of traditional masculinity and femininity. But when their sons upend conventional norms, even they feel disoriented. How could my own child’s play — something ordinarily so joyous to watch — stir up such discomfort? And why does it bother me that he wants to wear a dress?
Despite the confident tone of the letter Alex’s parents wrote to the preschool parents, Susan was terrified. She feared Alex’s fascination with femininity would make him a target of bullying, even in the progressive New England town where they live. She felt tortured by statistics that indicated gay and transgender teenagers, either of which she figured Alex might become, were much more likely to take drugs and commit suicide. She began having panic attacks. “The whole thing was vertiginous,” she said. “It’s hard to put a finger on why gender identity makes such a difference to our sense of who a person is, but it does. As a parent, it’s really destabilizing when that’s pulled out from under you. And I worried that if I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around my kid, and I love him more than life itself, then how would the rest of the world react to him?” Read on…
Lenore Skenazy wrote this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal last year.
Last week, the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, Timothy Murray, noticed smoke coming out of a minivan in his hometown of Worcester. He raced over and pulled out two small children, moments before the van’s tire exploded into flames. At which point, according to the AP account, the kids’ grandmother, who had been driving, nearly punched our hero in the face. Why? Mr. Murray said she told him she thought he might be a kidnapper.
And so it goes these days, when almost any man who has anything to do with a child can find himself suspected of being a creep. I call it "Worst-First" thinking: Gripped by paedophile panic, we jump to the very worst, even least likely, conclusion first. Then we congratulate ourselves for being so vigilant.
Consider the Iowa daycare center where Nichole Adkins works. The one male aide employed there, she told me in an interview, is not allowed to change diapers. "In fact," Ms. Adkins said, "he has been asked to leave the classroom when diapering was happening." Now, a guy turned on by diaper changes has got to be even rarer than a guy turned on by Sponge Bob. But "Worst-First" thinking means suspecting the motives of any man who chooses to work around kids.
Maybe the daycare center felt it had to be extra cautious, to avoid lawsuits. But regular folk are suspicious, too. Last February, a woman followed a man around at a store berating him for clutching a pile of girls’ panties. "I can’t believe this! You’re disgusting. This is a public place, you pervert!" she said—until the guy, who posted about the episode on a website, fished out his ID. He was a clerk restocking the underwear department.
Given the level of distrust, is it any wonder that, as the London Telegraph reported last month, the British Musicians’ Union warned its members they are no longer to touch a child’s fingers, even to position them correctly on the keys? Or that a public pool in Sydney, Australia last fall prohibited boys from changing in the same locker room as the men? (According to the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, the men demanded this, fearing false accusations.)
What’s really ironic about all this emphasis on perverts is that it’s making us think like them. Remember the story that broke right before Christmas? The FBI warned law-enforcement agencies that the new Video Barbie could be used to make kiddie porn. The warning was not intended for the public but it leaked out. TV news celebrated the joy of the season by telling parents that any man nice enough to play dolls with their daughters could really be videotaping "under their little skirts!" as one Fox News reporter said.
This queasy climate is making men think twice about things they used to do unselfconsciously. A friend of mine, Eric Kozak, was working for a while as a courier. Driving around an unfamiliar neighborhood, he says, "I got lost. I saw a couple kids by the side of the road and rolled down my window to ask, ‘Where is such-and-such road?’ They ran off screaming."
Another dad told me about taking his three-year-old to play football in the local park, where he’d help organize the slightly older kids into a game. Over time, one of the kids started to look up to him. "He wanted to stand close to me, wanted approval, Dad stuff, I guess. And because of this whole ‘stranger danger’ mentality, I could sense this sort of wary disapproval from the few other parents at the playground. So I just stopped going."
And that’s not the worst. In England in 2006, BBC News reported the story of a bricklayer who spotted a toddler at the side of the road. As he later testified at a hearing, he didn’t stop to help for fear he’d be accused of trying to abduct her. You know: A man driving around with a little girl in his car? She ended up at a pond and drowned.
We think we’re protecting our kids by treating all men as potential predators. But that’s not a society that’s safe. Just sick.
UPDATE: This article was originally posted a year ago but I just found a video about the family described here and thought it’s well worth it updating this. Check it out, it below and if anyone ever uses “family values” as an argument against anything regarding gay families or parents, just show them this video…
It’s 11-year-old Andrew’s turn to set the table for dinner, and he deals out 14 paper plates as if they were playing cards. Marcus, 5, climbs onto a bench and announces, "It smells like pancakes." His brother, 3-year-old Cooper, counters, "I think it smells like chicken." "It smells like Ambrose," says Logan, 7, climbing in between Cooper and their sister Ambrose, who’s 4. She glares at the laughing boys. Actually, it smells like spaghetti. A big pot of homemade sauce is bubbling on the stove.
The six littlest children fit on the 9-foot-long bench along one side of the table. Andrew and the four other big kids sit in chairs on the other side. Olivia, the baby of the family, is in a high chair. Daddy sits at one end, Papa at the other. Steven and Roger Ham are raising 12 children, all adopted from foster care, in Arizona, one of the most unlikely places for two gay men to piece together a family.
The Ham family. More photos.
In Arizona, two men can’t be married, nor adopt children together. In his 2008 run for U.S. president, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who with wife Cindy has an adopted daughter, said he opposed allowing gay people to adopt. "I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family, so, no, I don’t believe in gay adoption," McCain said during an appearance in Wisconsin.
That same year, Arizonans approved a ban on gay marriage by 56 percent of the vote. Since 1997, conservative Arizona lawmakers have introduced a half-dozen bills that would keep single people, including gays and lesbians, from becoming foster parents or adopting children in the state’s care, or would move married couples to the top of the waiting list for adoptions. Those attempts -- one as recent as last year -- failed to muster enough votes. But this year was different. On April 18, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill that gives preference to married couples in state and private adoptions, all other criteria being equal. Yet, in 2009, the governor gave Steven and Roger Ham an award for their efforts at keeping siblings in foster care together through adoption.
"As someone who was raised from the age of 10 by a widowed mother, I am well aware that single or unmarried individuals can make wonderful parents," Brewer says. "This legislation merely establishes marital status of adoptive parents among a host of factors to be considered when placing a child." Opponents, however, contend that marriage doesn’t guarantee a stable and loving family. Read on… (Yeah, it’s a pretty long article but it’s worth it)