Would you like some One Nation Under Gods extras?

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My novel, One Nation Under Gods, comes out June 2018 from ChiZine Publications.  Right now I’m working on it, and generating a lot of cool extras that I thought you might be interested in.

What you got?  I got cut scenes, excerpts from the book within the novel, The Field Guide to the Lesser Gods of the Midwest, worldbuilding stuff… even sketches.

So I started up a Patreon to distribute all that cool stuff.  I also launched the Patreon to help me get from month to month a little better.  It’s a site where you can be part of your favorite creator’s life by helping them keep writing or singing or playing or creating.  You pledge a small amount a month–sometimes only a dollar–and those dollars add up.  You can help a creator survive and make a big difference over whether or not a creation gets made!

So if you want to join me over there in the big Patreon and get some exclusive extras, just click this giant orange button.   OR if you just want to read “One Nation Under Gods” the short story that inspired the novel I’m writing, just check out the Patreon–the story is RIGHT THERE to read.  Press the orange button and come check it out!

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My Mother, My New Club, and the Swastika on my Shoes

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I first saw this picture through Natalie Laurel on Facebook.  She advocates turning the swastikas we are seeing into other things. 

It was 1978.  I was in fourth grade. I wanted to belong to something so badly. I was invited into my first club at school. Now, understand, our family had been Navy for 20 years, so in my young life, we moved around a lot–every year, sometimes. I had already lived 6 places on two coasts, and I was 9. So being invited into a club was a huge thing! It meant I was accepted–even as an outsider–even in a new small town in Missouri. A beautiful town.

I don’t know if it was a joke played on me, or not, this club–this acceptance. If it was real, then it gives me chills now. “Yes, you can be in our club,” an older boy said, someone who was in seventh grade, maybe. He was so tall. And I was so hungry for acceptance. He knelt down and he drew something on the front of my shoes. The new symbol for our club, he said.  When I went home that day, I said, “Mommy, I’m in a club! I’m in a club!” And I must have been beaming with that acceptance.

My mother took one look at my shoes–the only pair of shoes I had for school because we didn’t have a lot of money. And it was in ink, this thing. The boy had drawn a swastika on each of my shoes. I thought it was a cool club symbol because I was young, but my mother saw it for what it was.  She was shocked.  She knelt down to look at it.  She could not erase it–she must have known it would show up anyway. So she carefully made it a box, a four squared box. I was upset that she had done that–at first. I don’t remember if I cried, or tried to stop her–She was ruining the club symbol! She was marking on my shoes! — I’m sure I put up a little fight. “No honey. Not this symbol,” was what she said to me. “I don’t want you in that club.” I don’t know if she explained to me what that symbol meant–I think she must have tried.  But I can’t remember.  I did it for my mom more than for my fourth grade understanding of hate symbols.  It meant so much to my mom, that I didn’t pursue that club.  I don’t even remember if the club was really a club, or some cruel joke they were playing on me. I never saw any club meetings, any groups with swastikas on their arms or shoes. Never.

My shoes had a foursquare box on them for the rest of fourth grade. I made up a new club for people with glasses, and I forgot about the old club. We had three guys in the glasses club.

It’s our job to not let little children (or anyone) have to see that symbol everywhere.  Even if they don’t understand why.  This symbol is getting a revival.  If you see it, be vandals and change it.  Don’t let that symbol stay.  It’ll burn into the walls.  It’ll burn into our minds.  Turn the swastikas into boxes, Windows Logos, or brightly-colored boxes. Turn them into pinwheels, gift boxes, chessboards.

Turn them into windows that look out onto a better America.

*thank you, Mom.

 

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(this post was inspired by Natalie Laurel’s Facebook photo of the Windows logo shared by many. I know the original might be photoshopped, but buy a can a paint anyway, eh? )

Some Peace and Community for Queer Ghosts: Queer Ghost Hunters Series

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I’ve been charmed by a Youtube docu-series: Queer Ghost Hunters. It is unlike anything else in the genre of ghost hunting reality series.

Yes, it’s remarkably well-produced and edited.  It’s funny, and it’s poignant, deeply moving at times.

The Stonewall Columbus Queer Ghost Hunters accomplishes these things because it’s doing everything so differently than other ghost hunter shows.

  1.  They aren’t reacting to a disturbance or a sighting.  The ghost hunters don’t (so far) go to a place because they’ve been called by folks disturbed by ghost activity.  They are seeking out where they believe queers would have gone in cities and rural areas.  Theatres, prisons, convents.
  2.   The goal is not to get the ghost on tape, or to prove that ghosts exist.  The show takes as a premise that ghosts exist.  Their goal: to provide a safe space for queer ghosts to talk about what it was like living queer in different moments of history.
  3. They’re looking for QUEER ghosts specifically.  Their focus drives their narrative.  They are looking to bring a safe community to a group of queers who can’t move out of their places to find other queers. ( It’s not like ghosts can pack up and go to San Francisco or Greenwich Village.)  The show’s aim is to chat amiably with queer ghosts who may not have had anyone to talk to in their lives about being queer.
  4. All of the ghost hunters fall on the Queer spectrum: genderfluid, lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgendered, pansexual, even a bear. 🙂   This is about diversity in the cast as well as diversity in the ghosts, but they are talking about LGBT issues.
  5. This is MORE than just ghost hunting: it is an examination of the history of LGBT people and, in some ways, how people lived, hid, coped with being queer in different places.  In that, it is a reflection–and a chance–for people to talk about what it is to live as queer in any time.

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The Book of Birmingham: Adding Martin Luther King Jr’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to the Bible

Minister Martin Luther King, Jr. preaching at an eventI would like to see Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963) added to all new Bibles.

I don’t propose this lightly.  Three times in the Bible, in three different places, listeners (and they wouldn’t have been readers) are exhorted not to add to, or take away, from specific books.  One is about Revelation, one is specifically to the Israelites in Deuteronomy to listen to the law, and the other is in Proverbs: “Every word of God is true….do not add to his words, lest you be proved a liar.”  I think it’s safe to say that I won’t propose adding any new words of God to the Bible.  I’m advocating something less radical.  If we can have letters from Paul, we can have letters from Martin.

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Recreation of The Last Supper: Johnny’s Cafe remix

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Here’s a recreation of The Last Supper at Johnny’s Cafe on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids Michigan. April 20 2012.

From Left to Right: Daniel VandeBunte, Kit Graham, Hannah Chee, Annie Bultheis, Seth Wilson, Emily Diener, Joe Gibson, Walter T. Runn, Kaile VanOene, Linda Anderson, Cotter Koopman, and Peter Rockhold. With great thanks to all participants! 🙂

Hidden Histories: towards an LGBT history curriculum for California Schools

I was over on Talking Dog this afternoon and reading about how California teachers are having to come up with curriculum fast for a new law that requires them to teach LGBT history in schools.  I don’t think teachers have to overhaul everything—but I do think a quick version might be able to make things better for January.

So I devised Hidden Histories. 

Hidden Histories is based on the premise that lots of histories have been hidden over time—and that gay history, while the most completely submerged, is just one of many.  The curriculum asks that you start off the new year with a framework, but that you don’t have to change any of your curriculum.  The framework, and subsequently turning your students into little detectives, will bridge the interim for you.

The hardest thing facing California teachers, in regards to this law, is that most people, including myself, have never heard gay history.  So requiring teachers to teach it will be difficult unless you teach them gay history first—and provide them some ideas, lesson plans, curriculum. And giving them only till January to comply is hard… I think you should rather that the schools devise a Teacher training day in the spring, to come up with curriculum.

Anyway, over there at the other blog, I gave my ideas–and hopefully people will feel free to use them.

Best reason for this teaching LGBT stuff in classrooms:

“Within the typical secondary school curriculum, homosexuals do not exist. They are ‘nonpersons’ in the finest Stalinist sense. They have fought no battles, held no offices, explored nowhere, written no literature, built nothing, invented nothing and solved no equations. The lesson to the heterosexual student is abundantly clear: homosexuals do nothing of consequence. To the homosexual student, the message has even greater power: no one who has ever felt as you do has done anything worth mentioning.” -Gerald Unks, editor, The Gay Teen, p. 5.

 

My Year of Canadian Reading: what stories are you made of?

As I’m approaching an inevitable embrace of Canada (oh, sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you!) I’m aware that I have very little knowledge of Canadian literature.  A poor citizen is one who does not know his country’s stories. It is how we speak to one another–a cultural physiography and language that connects Canadians together.  How can I become a citizen without learning this cultural language?  Sure I could take a class, I suppose, from a Canadian university online, do some papers, etc.  But I thought a more creative way would be for Yukoners to suggest Canadian books that meant something to them–then it would be more personal.

So I went on CBC with Dave White and we came up with a plan for book suggestions–a reading list of sorts–so that I could become more literate about Canada.  We are getting great results, but please call in to Dave and suggest more books.  I’d like to build a canon, of sorts, of Yukon-suggested Canadian literature.  Right now I’m looking mostly for fiction, poetry and drama—but I have decided that a few creative nonfiction pieces are a must, a Pierre Berton, a Farley Mowat, even a Kevin Chong (go, KC!).  I built a blog to read and discuss this literature.  It’s called “A Year of Canadian Reading” and you can follow the link to see what I’m reading, what I’m up to, and what I thought about books you suggested.  Follow along if you like.  Read them with me.  I want to get an idea about Canada from its literature.  I want to understand you through your stories.  I think when we understand a culture through its stories, we are more able to speak to and hear from its citizens, and as citizens we’re more able to understand each other.

I don’t have any intention of stopping reading after the Year is over—but an actual year is a start.  I’ve read some Canadian Literature.  I came in with knowing only three authors: Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.  But I’m aiming for the depth and breadth of Canadian Literature, even the heart of our warm, warm country.

Let me know if you want to play.  Follow these links if you want to:  SUGGEST A BOOK FOR ME, or find out WHAT I’M GOING TO READ.