2012 Rainbow Project Book Nominations

The Rainbow Project presents an annual bibliography of quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content, which are recommended for people from birth through eighteen years of age. The list is created each year by the GLBT Round Table and the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the ALA. Check out the Rainbow Project’s website for a full list of the 2012 nominations. For a list of the nominated books held by AADL, click here.

Donovan’s Big Day: A beautifully illustrated picture book about a young boy and his determination to do everything just right on his parents’ wedding day.

Huntress: Prequel to the critically acclaimed Ash. Two teenage girls, a warrior and a sage, undertake a dangerous journey to the city of the Fairy Queen to save their world from destruction.

Gay in America: A photographic survey of gay men of all walks of life from across the country.

I am J: One of the best books ever written about the complicated life and relationships of a transgender teen.

My Right Self: Color Portraiture and Documentary Photography Exploring Issues of Gender and Identity

My Right Self will be on display at the Michigan Union from November 14 - 20 and at the Hatcher Graduate Library December 2 - January 2. The exhibit reveals transgender issues and rights that are particularly relevant to contemporary questions of social justice and human rights. These images and accompanying text are meant to confront and dispel myths and misperceptions around marginalized and disenfranchised communities. For more information please contact thl-outreach@umich.edu.

AADL Talks To Jim Toy and Jackie Simpson

November 18 marks the 40th anniversary of the University of Michigan’s Spectrum Center, making it the oldest LGBT student organization in the country. I spoke with Jackie Simpson, the director of the Spectrum Center, and Jim Toy, one of the two people who founded the organization in 1971. Jackie and Jim talked about the beginning of the organization, its history and ongoing development, and the challenges and joys of the center today. Make sure to visit the Spectrum Center’s website to check out all the great events planned for the anniversary weekend!

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Coming Out, Standing Up

Expertly turned phrases and pithy remarks have long been the sword and shield of LGBT people making their way through life. Look no further than Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein, the patron saints of savage wit and wisdom. Today is National Coming Out Day, when we are encouraged to celebrate being out and open about ourselves. Nobody does this as well as the wielders of words, the Valkyries of verbosity, the champions of chortling, the legends of laughter. I’m talking of course, about gay and lesbian comedians, people who make a business of opening their lives up to other people and encouraging laughter.

The diversity of LGBT folks is reflected in the wide variety of comedic performers. You couldn’t get much more opposite than the prim and proper English archetype Stephen Fry and the extremely raunchy John Waters.
Matt Lucas is a sketch comedian most famous for his series Little Britain.
Margaret Cho is most well known for her hilarious stand-up routines, but she also has a hand in fashion design, music videos, and social activism.
Wanda Sykes, named one of the 25 funniest people in America by Entertainment Weekly, has been doing comedy in television and films as well as on-stage for the past two decades.
Oh, and then there’s this comedian named Ellen. Maybe you’ve heard of her?

Just Because I Am

Join us Monday October 3rd from 7:00-8:30 PM to see this moving documentary. The film follows a group of LGBT Windsor teens and young adults for a six-month period as they prepare their performance of Waking Up Blue, an original play that shares many of their own true experiences. The film takes the viewer through the journey of this youth group, led by an enthusiastic mentor, who gives a response to homophobia by creating a performance on love, respect and tolerance. While experiencing the transformative energy of art and the empowering effects of self-affirmation, these youngsters also face aggravating homophobic reactions unleashed by their collective coming out in this traditionally conservative border city. Artists/Filmmakers Gabrielle Pescador and Juan Javier Pescador will be on hand to lead a discussion following the screening of their 60-minute film. "Just Because I Am" is not rated.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #286

Back in June, Nancy Pearl raved about Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding *. She read a preview copy and was doing some heavy-duty hand-selling. This week, NPR gave it a glowing review.

Henry Skrimshander, the star pitcher of Westish College's Harpooners is on the brink of greatness, destined for big league stardom, rising above his small-town roots. However, an errand pitch goes disastrously off course, making havoc with the lives of 5 individuals.

Henry's confidence is deserting him, his bright future is in jeopardy. Owen Dunne, Henry's gay roommate, is caught up in a dangerous affair. The college president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Pella Affenlight, Guert's daughter, is home licking her wounds from a failed marriage, looking for a fresh start. Mike Schwartz, Henry's best friend and team captain, realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own.

"Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others."

"Harbach paints a humorous and resonant portrait of a small college community while effectively portraying the Wisconsin landscape and a lake that provides an almost mystical source of solace and renewal."

A big-hearted and defiantly old-fashioned coming-of-age story in the tradition of Chaim Potok's The Chosen, John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, and Scott Lasser's Battle Creek.

Harbach, a native of Wisconsin (Harvard and University of Virgina) is the cofounder of literary journal n + 1. This is his debut novel.

* = Starred review

Dan Savage Loves Libraries

“I want to emphasize the subversiveness that I think you librarians have by providing access to this information.” Dan Savage, author of several books and creator of the Savage Love column and podcast, spoke at the annual ALA conference in New Orleans last Friday. Savage praised libraries for providing critical access to information and resources for all people, even (and especially) when that information is controversial. He recalled his own days as a teenager when he would go to the Chicago Public Library to find answers to the questions he had about his developing sexuality. Savage stated that libraries are often the only resource troubled kids have to look for the answers to questions that they don’t trust their parents or peers with.

Access to information is a very personal subject to Dan Savage, who created the It Gets Better Project, an internet-based project with the goal of reaching out to depressed and suicidal LGBT youth. The project was designed to reach isolated young people who are dealing with bullying, abuse, hostile parents, or oppressive communities, all because of their (real or perceived) sexual identities. Thousands of grown-up LGBT people, celebrities, and organizations have contributed supportive videos to the project, all with the message that life is going to get better for these kids. Savage has also released a collection of essays in a book, It Gets Better, with contributing authors such as David Sedaris, Tim Gunn, Ellen Degeneres, Suze Orman, President Barack Obama, and tons more. Check out the book or BOCD at AADL, or visit the It Gets Better Project’s website at www.itgetsbetter.org.

Every Color of the Rainbow

Rainbow peopleRainbow peopleAh, the month of June! The days are long, summer is in the air, and people across the country and around the world are celebrating LGBT pride! For those of us sporting rainbow flags, it’s important to remember what they symbolize; diversity and inclusion.

It’s no secret that the most highly represented color in the rainbow is white. White privilege and the invisibility of other ethnicities in the LGBT community has been a constant problem ever since there was an LGBT community to speak of. Marlon Riggs was one of the first to confront the position of gay African-American men in his 1989 film, Tongues Untied. Fifteen years later, Dwight A. McBride released a collection of essays on race and sexuality called, Why I hate Abercrombie & Fitch, demonstrating that not much has changed. An assortment of recent articles, online essays, and blog postings has been compiled to show the current state of affairs, including the experience of LGBT Asian-Americans.

Many of the wisest and brightest minds to write about the intersections of race and sexuality come from the school of black feminism. Authors such as Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Barbara Smith, and many others have been fighting and educating for equality for years.
For additional reading, check out these titles: Dangerous Liaisons, The Truth That Never Hurts, One More River to Cross.

Let’s make this June a time to recognize the inequalities that exist, take a step away from our own habits, and look around at all the people who have different features, different cultures, and different stories than our own. We’ll all benefit!

Rainbow Picnic!

The whole family is invited to the Washtenaw Pride Picnic, 1-5 pm on Saturday, June 25 at Olson Park, 1505 Dhu Varren Rd, Ann Arbor. You bring your own food and beverages (no hard liquor) and fun stuff like a DJ, lawn games, face painting and relay races will be provided. More information can be found at the Facebook event page by searching for “Washtenaw Pride Picnic.” If you would like to volunteer, contact Scott Klee at scoklee@gmail.com. Everyone under the rainbow is welcome!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #252 - Fathers Found and Lost

Former Joffrey II ballet dancer Meg Howrey impresses reviewers with her debut Blind Sight.

Earnestly nice and innocent 17 year-old Luke Prescott grew up in a bohemian household surrounded by women. Then the father (a TV star) he never knew invites him to spend a summer in L.A. The two share some adventures but Luke finds out just a little more than he wants to know about this stranger, which in turn forces his mother to revealing some shattering secrets of her own.

Meg Howrey gives us "a smart, funny, and deeply moving story about truth versus belief, and what makes, and might break, a family".

Cate Kennedy won the 2010 New South Wales Premier's People's Choice (Literary) Award with her debut novel The World Beneath * *.

15-year-old Sophie accompanies her father on a backpacking trip through Tasmania in the hopes of establishing a bond with the father she’s never known. 25 years ago, her now estranged parents were part of the successful protest movement to save Tasmania's Franklin River. Sophie - sullen and stubborn, and Rich - hopelessly overconfident, soon find themselves severely unprepared for the arduous terrain and punishing weather.

"In elegant, fluidly written prose, Kennedy not only delivers scathing portraits of the ineffectual adults and the times that shaped them but also makes the epic wilderness another vividly rendered character in the story. A gripping debut."

* * = Starred reviews

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