Tag Archives: LGBT youth

The Degenerates [released 3/17]

Written by: J. Albert Mann

Cover Art by: Design: Rebecca Syracuse; Illustration: Sarah Maxwell-Folio Art

For ages: YA (14 years and up)

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Fiction, LGBTQ, Growing Up, Mental Health, Disability, Own Voices, Interracial Love, Family, Friendship, Institutionalized Lives, Courage, Bravery, Love. 

Summary: 

This book is incredible.  I truly hope this book review does it justice, I couldn’t put it down.  We were given the opportunity to read the book before it’s released on 3/17 and I am so appreciative!  Four young girls (Rose, Alice Maxine, and London) are all institutionalized at the Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded, also known as the Fernald School.  Set in 1928, readers get a look inside the dismal and regimented existence that these girls as well as the rest of the inmates are subjected to.  The book is told in the four voices of the girls mentioned above, and the reader learns the schedule of the “school” and why they were abandoned there.  Using the language of the day, you can anticipate outdated terms for Down syndrome as well as learn about the eugenics movement that drove the incessant testing and measuring of intelligence leading to categories that we no longer use (but that many still use as ableist insults today).

I don’t want to give away too much, but The Degenerates is a slow burn, and made my little gay heart go pitter patter all the way until the last pages.  It’s a fantastic historically accurate book, and I’ve already told several people how much they need to read it!

In an extensive note in the back, we learn more about the author and how she developed the book from actual records found from the Fernald School, which was finally closed in 2014.  We coincidentally live very near the Fernald, so this book was of particular interest to us!  Everything in the book that a doctor or nurse says to a character was pulled from hospital records, as well as the characters names and their conditions.  The author herself is disabled, giving a personal voice to the probability that she herself would have been committed to an institution such as this one should she have been born last century.  Honestly, we probably would have been committed too, due to the criminalization of queer people in addition to the other disabled and marginalized citizens.  This adds another layer to reading the book and the heinous “care” that these individuals committed for life were given.

The Degenerates will be released on March 17th! This book was sent to us by Simon & Schuster, but all opinions are our own. This is a YA book everyone should devote a few hours to reading!

About the Author & the Cover Artist:

Jennifer+Mann_Author+Photo_2016+(1)J. Albert Mann is the author of six novels for children, with S&S Atheneum Books for Young Readers set to publish her next work of historical fiction about the Eugenics Movement and the rise of institutionalism in the United States. She is also the author of short stories and poems for children featured in Highlights for Children, where she won the Highlights Fiction Award, as well as the Highlights Editors’ Choice Award. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is the Director of the WNDB Internship Grant Committee.

selfieSarah Maxwell is an American illustrator based in London. She was born and raised in Austin, Texas, only to then travel to Paris for studies. Having lived there for over 5 years, she has made the move to travel across the pond to the UK to start a new chapter of her life.

Her work ranges from fashion illustration to animated GIFs and comics. The best way to describe her work is summed up in 4 key words: nostalgia, tenderness, femininity, and 80’s electronic music.

0-3Rebecca Syracuse is a graphic designer and illustrator, highly experienced in children’s publishing and product design.

The Love-Alphabet Rockers

Featured Artists and Guest Artists:

Alphabet Rockers - HighRes Photo by NinoFernandez
Photo by Nino Fernandez

Over 60 guest artists join the Alphabet Rockers co-founders, Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd. Voices from our next generation — Lillian Ellis, Maya Fleming, Kali de Jesus and Tommy “T3PO” Shepherd III, as well as 123 Andrés, Angel & Koja Adeyoha, Aris Wong, Ashanti Branch, Billy Dean Thomas, Celestina Pearl and Esperanza Carter-Pearl, Genevieve Goings, H. Daniel Mujahid, Harlow Carpenter, Honey Mahogany, Jennifer Johns, Juan “Wonway Posibul” Amador, Kanyon “CoyoteWoman” Sayers-Roods, KARLON, Kiran Nagraj, Lucy Kalantari, M. Zamora, MADLines, Mahawam, Malachi Garza, mariposa & AmihanCh’íníbaa’, Michelle “CHELLE” Jacques, Mike McCann, Nizhoni & Pálxcqíwn Ellenwood, Okee Dokee Brothers, Rei Matsuno, Rhonda Crane, RyanNicole, Samara Atkins, SaulPaul, Shaina Evoniuk, The Singing Bois, Sólás B. Lalgee, Yaw, Yiann, Zumbi Zoom.

For ages: Humans of all ages can groove to these beats!
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Image via Kanyon Konsulting LLC

Language: Primarily English and Spanish, but features many other languages in songs such as This is Ohlone Land which acknowledges the variety of indigenous groups and languages of Oakland, CA, where the album was recorded.

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Non-Binary Identity, Transgender Activism, Radical Joy, Self-Love, Cultural Consciousness and Pride, Self-Expression, Respect for All, Survival, Black Gxrl Magic, Ancestral Power and Healing, Strength, and Truth.

 

Summary:

It is impossible to sit silent and still when listening

to the Alphabet Rocker’s album The Love.

The album begins with a respectful acknowledgement of the land on which it was recorded, setting the stage for the thoughtful and transformational nature of the album.  Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd cover a wide range of topics artfully and powerfully.  In other hands and different voices the album could be heavy-handed and preachy, but by allowing the guest artists featured on the album to speak their truth, McGaw and Shepherd spread the love and recognition across the board.

ruth azul
Art by Ruth Azul

The Love is joyful, realistic but also hopeful, which can be an extremely challenging balance to strike-and they do it expertly.  The music and lyrics recognize the struggle and work of past generations and queer people of color from the far reaches of history like Hatshepsut to Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, founders of STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries as well as today’s activists like two-spirit Representative Sharice Davids of Kansas.

sharice
(R-KS) Sharice Davids

The album’s lyrics could easily parrot the “everything is sunshine and rainbows!” or “life is suffering” binary found in many narratives.  Instead, the artists both acknowledge the injustice heaped upon marginalized groups and create a sense of hope that emanates from songs like “Black Gxrl Magic.”  This faith in the promise of the future is fired up by “the next generation” of voices, empowered young people who speak their mind clearly and energetically.

We loved the small photos with pronouns of all the other artists featured on the album!  It allowed us to get to know each artist as an individual, and provided a visual reference for the wide range of personalities, identities and cultures represented in the fantastic music. The explicit celebration of the many intersections of queerness and cultural identity is refreshing and radical, as so many queer narratives are whitewashed and simplified to appeal to a larger audience. The Alphabet Rockers recognize the truth of the windows and mirrors approach that we reference here at the Tiny Activist; that honoring the distinct identities of people who are not like you creates more space for everyone.

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The Gender Wheel by Maya Gonzalez

One feature of the album that we particularly enjoyed were the interludes, especially They/Them, where each speaker introduces themselves with their pronouns.  It was powerful recognizing that children are able to grasp and see the importance this practice, especially when so many adults can’t be bothered to do the same. It gives us great hope that the next generation will be more open and accepting from a young age.The interludes create a space for dialogue, and they echo the practice found in other hip-hop albums, presenting more voices and personalities to be heard (both literally and figuratively).

Thinking in terms of incorporating this album in a class or community space, the short interludes allow for breaks and group discussion. The lyrics are thoughtful and complex in their understanding of culture and intersectionality, but easy to follow along with. The language is accessible and the lyrics are nuanced, subverting the tradition of simplifying concepts and wording in music produced for children.

The songs in this album went by so quickly, and it hardly seemed like 17 tracks! The Love should be in every classroom, so bring on the social justice dance parties!

About the Artists:

AboutAlphabetRockers-PhotobyKristin-Chalmers
Photo by Kristin Chalmers

ALPHABET ROCKERS make music that makes change. Led by Kaitlin McGaw (she/her) and Tommy Shepherd (he/him), they create brave spaces to shape a more equitable world through hip hop. Their GRAMMY nominated 2018 album, Rise Shine #Woke has reached 300K kids and families since its release, inspiring American kids to stand up to hate and be their brave and beautiful selves. Their latest album, The Love (2019) lifts up voices of our trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming community.

With headlining performances at Lollapalooza, The Kennedy Center, San Francisco Pride Festival, Art & Soul Festival (Oakland) and Kidchella (Philadelphia), and in over 50 schools across the country each year, diverse audiences love their contemporary sound and positive messages. They were Izzy Award Winners in 2018, American Library Association’s Top Album in 2017 and 2018, and won the Parents’ Choice Award for their 5-album catalogue. Alphabet Rockers appeal to a broad audience with lyrics like “I will stand up for you” and “I shine in my beautiful skin,” landing them in the top 5 songs of 2018 on Kids Place Live SiriusXM Radio. Their music, videos, concerts and curriculum are designed by an intercultural team of anti-bias thought leaders, educators, artists, parents and young people of all genders.

YOU KNOW I GOT YOU, SO GET ME!

It Feels Good To Be Yourself; A Book About Gender Identity

Written by: Theresa Thorn

Illustrated by: Noah Grigni

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Self-Acceptance, Self-Esteem, Gender Identity, LGBTQ Youth, Friendship,  Family, Love, Own Voices, Community, POC-Centric Narratives. 

Summary: This book is INCREDIBLE.  It was written clearly and in a style that shows us the author is familiar with children, and explaining things to them.  The book affirms and reaffirms for children that how they feel is more than ok, it should be greeted with love and acceptance and then celebrated.

The book’s characters have several different gender identities and describes being cisgender, transgender, and non-binary in a way that is very easy for young children to understand.  The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and some of the most diverse around.  There are disabled characters, characters with different body sizes, and children of color are very well represented!

The characters Ruthie, JJ, and Alex are described by how they feel inside, aka gender identity.  These explanations are very developmentally appropriate and easy for children to understand and identify with.  In the back, there is a helpful list of terms for those who may not be familiar.  These terms will also help older children get more vocabulary information from the story.  Additionally, there is a blurb about pronouns and a list of helpful resources.  There is even a note from both the author and illustrator about their own experiences with gender identity!  In our opinion, everyone should have a copy of this book!

Reflection Questions:

  • Did you identify with a specific character in this book?
  • What does is feel like when you try and tell someone something but they don’t listen?
  • How can you be a good friend to someone who tells you that adults might have made a mistake when deciding that they’re a boy or girl?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • There are lots of different things some people say are only for certain people.  Make a list of these things, and talk about why people say these things, and if they’re right or not.  Can anyone wear a dress?  Are certain games only for boys?  Who gets to decide these things?
  • Come up with strategies for what to say to someone who thinks another person or classmate is “weird” or “wrong” for feeling and doing what they want.  How can you educate someone that doesn’t think non-binary or transgender people exist?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

200068642Theresa Thorn is the cohost of the parenting humor podcast One Bad Mother and the coauthor of You’re Doing a Great Job! 100 Ways You’re Winning at Parenting. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and It Feels Good to Be Yourself is her first book for children.

 

 

 

headshotNoah Grigni is an illustrator and comic artist from Decatur, Georgia, whose work focuses on themes of gender fluidity, body positivity, and mental health. Through art and writing, they hope to make space for more stories centering diverse trans characters with depth, personality, and agency. Their work is introspective, bold, and playful, using vulnerability as a way to start difficult conversations and encourage honest reflection. Noah’s art is a reminder to heal, a call to action, and above all, an unapologetic celebration of trans and queer love. Noah lives in Boston with their partner, Braden, and their cat, Valentino.

Noah graduated from Lesley University in 2018 with a BFA in illustration and a minor in creative writing. Their art has appeared in It Feels Good To Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn, We’re Still Here: An All-Trans Comics Anthology by Tara Avery and Jeanne Thornton, The Transgender Heroes Coloring Book by Avery and Cameron, The Gender Identity Workbook For Kids by Kelly Storck, and The Worry Workbook For Kids by Muniya Khanna. They have also self-published their art and writing in several zines, including Don’t Cut My Flowers, Dibujitos//Aguadilla, Anatomy of a Wallflower, and The Lighthouse, which are available on Etsy.  They recently finished illustrating The Big Talk by Rachel Simon, coming in 2020 from Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Noah is currently working on their first graphic novel, Cloudland, coming in 2021 from Macmillan, among other projects.

Noah was assigned female at birth, and came out as trans in high school.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Written by: Mariko Tamaki

Illustrated by: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

For ages: YA graphic novel

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ Relationships, Love, Friendship, Social-Emotional Development.

Summary: Super quick read, I read this in about an hour!  The story is told from the perspective of Freddy, a biracial Asian teenage girl.  Freddy is hopelessly in love with Laura Dean, her on-again off-again unfaithful girlfriend.  Laura is a suave, blond, Shane-esque (from the L-Word) character who seems to like Freddy, but not enough to not continuously cheat on her with other girls.  To the reader, it is clear that Laura keeps Freddy around for when Laura doesn’t have plans, or is bored.  She is cocky and flirtatious, often found having trysts in closets with other girls.  In attempt to clarify what the relationship means, Freddy writes to a love advice columnist for help.  These emails are interspersed within the scenes of daily life with Freddy, her best friend Doodle (who is going through her own emotional issues unbeknownst to Freddy), and a few other queer friends.

As Freddy navigates life, and makes a new queer friend that invites her to a party, Freddy also invites Laura.  Laura never answers her texts, but Freddy sees her at the party kissing another girl.  Finally, Doodle calls Freddy out and gets honest with Freddy about how she has been ignoring their friendship because of Laura.  Doodle has slept with a married man, and is planning to get an abortion.  This is a really great story, getting to the quick of the emotional complexities that often accompany relationships and their impact on friendships.  It is a relief to be able to read queer stories where everyone is already out, and the focus can be on other nuances of the story-line rather than the coming out process itself.  Highly recommend!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

81ve7-jjPwL._US230_Mariko Tamaki is the author of the YA novel Saving Montgomery Sole and the co-creator of award winning comics This One Summer and Skim (with Jillian Tamaki), and Emiko Superstar (Steve Rolston). In 2015, This One Summer received Printz and Caldecott Honors, the Eisner for Best Graphic Album–New, and Canada’s Governor General’s award. Mariko maintains a solid fascination with the complex process by which teenagers become, or try to become, grown ups.

She has also written for BOOM! Studios, Marvel, and DC Comics, working with She-Hulk and Supergirl.

Mariko Tamaki began her career as a playwright and performance artist in Toronto, Ontario, working with fat activists Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off and performing and writing plays for Buddies in Bad Times Theater, a world leader in developing queer voices for the stage.  Her first film, “Happy 16th Birthday, Kevin,” premiered at the Inside Out Festival in 2013.

In addition to her literary work, Mariko holds a Master’s in Women’s Studies and worked for two years on a doctorate in Linguistic Anthropology.  Her academic research focused on accents used in drag cabaret performances.  Her research inspired an ongoing obsession with the way people talk. You can follow her on Twitter.

RVORosemary Valero-O’Connell is a cartoonist and illustrator with a BFA in Comic Art from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She was raised in Zaragoza, Spain, but now lives in a little apartment in the ice and snow of Minnesota, self-publishing her books and working as a freelance illustrator and comic artist. Rosemary’s work has been featured in comics anthologies, in galleries, and on many poster designs for MONDO. Rosemary’s one-shot comic What Is Left (ShortBox) was recently nominated for two Eisner Awards: Best Single Issue and Best Coloring. Rosemary is currently working on the upcoming Mariko Tamaki (Skim, This One Summer) graphic novel Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me for First Second. With her intelligent designs and heartfelt storytelling, this young artist has a bright future ahead.

Our Rainbow

Written by: Partnership between GLAAD & little bee books, additional appreciation to Tierney (creators of the Philly Pride Flag)

Illustrated by: C.G. Esperanza (Opening), Mohammed Fayaz (Black/Brown), Love is Wise (Red), Beena Mistry (Orange), Dylan Glynn (Yellow), Cynthia Yuan Cheng (Green), J Yang (Blue), Chris Kindred (Purple), Jeromy Velasco (Closing)

For ages: Toddler & up

Language: English

Topics Covered: LGBTQ, Acceptance, Self-Expression, Social-Emotional Development, Activism.

Summary: This book is SO cool!  It is a board book shaped like a waving flag, which is a great sensory experience for readers.  The collaboration of this book specifically covers the Philly Pride Flag and what the flag represents for our LGBTQ community.  A different artist illustrates for each color, explaining the original meanings intended by rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker.  Feelings, Nature, Forgiveness, and many more are included in this book that will be engaging to a variety of ages.  We can’t recommend this book enough, it needs to be on every shelf!

Having books that normalize the LGBTQ community is crucial for community members and allies alike.  Children that grow up seeing multiple family structures are more accepting and open to real individuals that they will inevitably encounter in their daily lives.  We need to be proud to know (and be!) these people all year round, not just during Pride Month.  Like other marginalized populations, corporations and advertising focus on them for a month and then do nothing for the rest of the year that benefits them (and sometimes have policies in place that actively hurt members).  What can we do to stop these harmful practices for everyone, especially individuals that are marginalized in a variety of ways?

Reflection Questions:

  • What is your favorite color in the rainbow?
  • Why do you think that specific flags were designed to celebrate different communities?
  • What do you think is important for everyone to know about the rainbow flag?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Design your own flag that represents you.  What colors and symbols are important to you and your family?
  • Learn more about the organizations that helped make this book possible.  Why were they passionate about LGBTQ activism enough to make books for children?
  • Find out what you can do in your community for the LGBTQ members that live there.  Are there specific resources needed, or community centered activities that you can be a part of?

About the Authors & Illustrators:

glaadFor over 30 years, GLAAD has been at the forefront of cultural change, accelerating acceptance for the LGBTQ community. GLAAD was founded in November of 1987 in response to the New York Post’s grossly defamatory and sensationalized HIV and AIDS coverage, and in that same year they persuaded the New York Times to start using the term “gay” instead of “homosexual” so that they could help the Times “get with the times”. They have been continuing to monitor and influence the media since then!


Little-Bee-Books-Logo-e1505769066989

little bee books is a children’s book publisher dedicated to making high-quality,
creative, and fun books for busy little bees ages 0 through 12, offering an inspired selection of early learning concept books, board books, novelty books, activity books, picture books, chapter books, nonfiction, gift sets, and more.


cgesperanzaOpening

Born the second of six kids. The South Bronx is where C.G. Esperanza first opened his eyelids. A land shrouded in bright colored decay, the birthplace of graffiti and the hip-hop DJ! He paints fantasy worlds of elephants, and castles too! Accompanying this wonder is some whimsical truth. Charles has a voice that is seldom heard. A fusion of jazz, distorted guitars, and chirping birds.

Author and Illustrator of “Red, Yellow,Blue and a dash of White too!” available now! (Skypony Press)


 

Black/Brownmofayaz

Mohammed Fayaz is an illustrator and one of the organizers of Papi Juice. Born and raised in New York City, Mohammed’s illustrations are intent on documenting his community of queer and trans people of color. With work that spans digital and mixed media, his illustrations lend an eye into a world traditionally left out of mainstream media.

 

 


 Red

2018-05-31-e-lee-loveis-wise-university-of-the-arts-new-yorker-cover-illustration-1-768x512Love is Wise is a Freelance Illustrator based in Philadelphia from Washington, DC. In addition to being a Capricorn lady who is obsessed with the color pink, she has worked with some amazing clients such as The New Yorker, L’Oreal, The New York Times, REI, Refinery29, BuzzFeed News, Bitch Media, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Philadelphia Printworks ,Illustrated Impact, Tampa Bay Times, Eileen Fisher, The Poetry Foundation, Cartoon Network, LeafTV, Got A Girl Crush, BUST Magazine & Wieden+Kennedy

Check out her collection of prints/shirts here with Philadelphia Printworks, The Schomburg Center in Harlem, buy prints of her New Yorker cover here and her Etsy shop here.

Contact her for a chat, commissions, & inquiries at loveiswiseillustrations@gmail.com!


Orange

7196985-large

Beena Mistry is a combo pack UX Designer and Illustrator who can tell some pretty good stories with shapes and colour. Find Beena at beenamistryart@gmail.com and @BEENATHEMISTRY.

 


Yellow

dylanglynn_author-683x1024

 

Dylan Glynn is based in Toronto and studied animation at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario and directing for animation in Valence, France. His multidisciplinary practice is characterised by its emotion, grace and sense of wild-movement. His work has been recognized and exhibited by Society of Illustrators, American Illustration, Somerset House and the Canadian Screen Awards.

 

 


Green

selfie

Cynthia Yuan Cheng is a freelance illustrator and cartoonist recently landed in Los Angeles, CA. Cynthia loves to create warm, hopeful comics & illustrations exploring relationships, identity, and personal experience.

In her free time, you can find Cynthia on the hunt for delicious foods and fun movies.  She grew up reading manga and playing American football in New Jersey and graduated from MICA with a B.F.A. in Illustration and a concentration in Sequential Art.

Find her on social media: twitter / instagram / tumblr
Her online store can be found here.


Blue

JYang_Morn3J YANG is a trans illustrator and designer working in children’s books and education. Published work—Our Rainbow, Spirit Day (upcoming this fall), and the interior illustrations in Craftily Book 6. The content J aims to put out in the world normalizes the existence of queer people, people of color, and disabled people by not making their differences the focal point of the story. J organizes & produces 2 charity artbooks a year with 30+ artists each—check out the Found Family Zine, Huemanity 2019 (a calendar), and this year’s #DogsforFlint and Beyond The Veil. Based in New York. BFA in Communications Design from Pratt Institute. Pronouns they/he. Reach out at jyang1029@gmail.com!


 Purple

chriskindred

Chris Kindred is an illustrator, cartoonist, and writer working in Richmond, VA. He can be found on twitter and via email here: chris@chriskindred.com

 

 


 Closing

jeromy velasquez

 

Jeromy Velasco is a left-handed illustrator/printmaker currently based in Los Angeles. Contact Jeromy via email, on instagram and twitter!

Spinning

Written & Illustrated by: Tillie Walden

For ages: Young Adults and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Sports, LGBT Youth, Growing Up, Women in Sports, Figure Skating, Family, Love.  Content Warning: Assault.

Summary: This book is a graphic memoir of the 12 years Tillie spent as a competitive figure skater.  Tillie’s parents are rather uninvolved in her skating, and she is often at practice alone in the early hours of the morning and alone at competitions on the weekends.  This graphic novel is special in that it focuses on the mundane happenings in Tillie’s life, showing Tillie as mostly unhappy and searching for something better.  The novel shows Tillie falling in love with a classmate, spending many happy moments together until her girlfriend’s mother finds out about them together and forbids any contact between them.  Several years pass, and Tillie’s SAT tutor assaults her on their last study session.  Spinning is a book that can be consumed in one sitting, despite being almost 400 pages long.  Poignant and quiet, Tillie is an interesting protagonist.  Highly recommend this coming of age tale, especially to any young girl that may feel uninspired by their life and feel like they’re the only one around.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you think Tillie feels satisfied with her life?
  • What do you think she would change if she could?
  • Overall, do you think Tillie truly enjoyed skating, or was it just something to pass the time and have a routine established?
  • What does this book make you think about in regards to your own life?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Create your own graphic novel!  Develop your own characters, or base it on your own life like Tillie did.
  • Try a sport you’ve never done before!

About the Author & Illustrator:

TillieWaldenTillie Walden is a cartoonist from Austin, Texas.  She graduated from the Center for Cartoon Studies and has published several books.  She loves cats, architecture, and going to bed early!