Solidarity in Purple: Supporting Gay Teens After Spirit Day

Heather Kennedy, or moria on Flickr, used under Creative Commons LicenseAs millions are wearing purple today, Wednesday, I found myself trying to imagine what this might mean to a closeted man or woman.  Walking down the street are all the people who would support you coming out. 

When I was struggling with coming out–I didn’t know who might be supportive and who wouldn’t.  I grew up in a culture that would designate a day, “If you wear Purple on Fridays, you’re gay.”  So it was a color to avoid–for fear of being outcast.  Today, it is THE color–not to show you are weird or different, or even “in” or “cool”–but to help others come out, and know that it’s ciccioetneo on Flickr, creative commons license  That you support and love them and are waiting for the day when they feel comfortable, and pushing for the day when there is no more bullying about anything. 

So in the Spirit of Spirit Day, let’s keep the purple flowing–as long as we can, in concerted efforts.  Let’s celebrate the color purple.  (All of these photos were found on Flickr and are part of the Creative Commons distribution license.) 

Purple has a long history of being associated with royalty, kings, priests, and even with Christ.  Lydia, famous for her purple cloths, was one of the first leaders of bible studies in the early Christian era.  Purple is a rare color in nature–but when it happens, you notice. 

kevindooley on Flickr, used under Creative Commons LicenseRight now, the climate for gay people is getting better.  However, there are still large pockets where gay and lesbian people are not affirmed for who they are, and what they bring to their communities, and society in general.  We’ve built up a long tradition of pushing men and women back for their sexual orientation, and it’s entrenched in our churches, our military, our governments, our city councils, and it finds its way into schools where kids–who can’t hide a prejudice–act on it.  We punish the kids, but they learn it from the adults. 

So, go out there and get your purple on.   Show your kids that you stand in solidarity with those who are in the LGBT community, and that you want to assure them that not only smittenkittenorig on Flickr, used under Creative Commons Licensedoes it get better, but we–every day–are making it better for them.  Slipping on a hat or a shirt or some purple shoes is the simplest start. 

Binary Ape, from Flickr, Creative Commons License What are the next steps–the day after Spirit Day, the week after Spirit Day?  The next steps may be harder, but we can do those too. 

Get a group of you to wear purple in your churches.  Ask to speak from the podium announcing something, address everyone, but specifically those gay people who may be present in your congregations–out or not–and tell them that they have someone in your church (or a group of you wearing purple) that they can count on to be supportive no matter what your church’s theology might say.  Your purple shows them that you support them right now.  

Get a group of people to wear purple and show up during a city council meeting and ask to speak in honor of gay teens. 

As a gay man, I would look for any, any sign that someone might be friendly, supportive, and understanding– the weight of our secret–our fear that being different makes us less than–is

Purple Heart by the US Army, on Flickr, used under Creative Commons License

 sometimes a lot, especially when we come from communities where there is active discrimination towards gay people.  This can take many forms:  a theology which doesn’t treat gay and lesbian people as equals in the church, a simple understanding that something “gay” is wrong or weird, or a belief that being a gay man is somehow not masculine enough. 

Our military values each soldier, but currently doesn’t value the gay ones if they say they are gay.  The soldier at the right here is receiving a purple heart–and that’s why I have him in the post.  We value what we give Purple to: kings, deities, soldiers, priests–purple is considered one of the rarest colors, hard to create, and therefore highly prized. 

by aussiegall on Flickr, used with Creative Commons licenseWhen we wear purple today–we say, “We highly prize gay teens.  We value you.  We know you have something worth giving and sharing with us.  We value what you have to say and the point of view you have.  You are loved and appreciated.  We want to see what you’ll become.  Our country is changing.  Our governments are changing.  Our churches are changing.   And it starts today.  It starts with me.”

Tesseracts 15: Young Adult Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror



Tesseracts 15 is open for submissions with a call for young adult science fiction, fantasy and horror.  NOVEMBER 30 is the deadline.  Below is the call.  


(Calgary, Alberta) EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing is delighted to announce that Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales, is now open for submissions.

Submissions open September 1, 2010 thru November 30, 2010.

This edition of the award winning series of original Canadian Speculative Fiction comes with a twist and touch of whimsy.

“We’ve decided to do something different with Tesseracts Fifteen.” said Brian Hades, owner of the EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing imprint. “This volume will focus on Young Adult Speculative Fiction – which can include science fiction, fantasy, and horror. However submissions must appeal to the YA audience and be PG-14 in content. As usual, Tesseracts Fifteen is open to both short fiction and poetry submissions.”

Each Tesseracts anthology since volume one (1985) has featured editors hand picked for each particular volume. For this volume,Julie Czerneda and Susan MacGregor have agreed to co-edit.

“We seek wonder and astonishment.” said the editors. “Stories that engage the imagination, inspire dreams, and leave hope in their wake.” Both Czerneda and MacGregor want all Canadian speculative fiction writers to “write what will become the classics for a new generation of readers, to be remembered, fondly, for years to come.”



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Rocketfuel Ignites Imaginations, the Yukon News story on my class


Photo by Ian Stewart for the Yukon News

My most excellent class of writers is the subject of a Yukon News article below.  These writers are an awesome group of imaginateurs.  I’m impressed, especially, with how they conducted themselves in an interview–thoughtful, insightful, well-read, interesting and interested in each other.  Love to start a book club with them!  

Article is by James Munson for the Yukon News.


Zeb Berryman has some demons he’d like to share.

The 18-year-old scribe is an aficionado of the “dark side” in his literary circle, a dozen Whitehorse high school students known as Rocket Fuel.

“The darkness and violence is what makes it beautiful,” says Zeb, referring to one of his current anime reads.

Zeb’s comment elicits a few nods from his fellow science fiction enthusiasts sitting around the table in the FH Collins library.

These young adults have an encyclopedic knowledge of the fantasy genre, and can discuss the intricacies of alchemists, monsters, gods and goblins at length.

“It’s like literature discussion about a whole bunch of books you never get to hear literature discussions about,” says Jerome Stueart, a science fiction writer who started Rocket Fuel two years ago.

But more impressively, it’s their own literary creations they’re the most familiar with.

Ask any one of these students about their works, and it won’t be long before another interjects.

Franz Krabel, 12, tends to kill off his characters a lot, says Santana Berryman, Zeb’s 14-year-old sister.

Santana, for her part, has an obsession with the afterlife, says Stueart.

These writers know each other inside out.

Read the rest of the article

Fantasy-Filled Young Readers Give the Season Imagination

Rocketfuel, the youngest group of science fiction and fantasy writers in the Yukon, showcased their own writing (and art and music) Dec 4th at the Frank Slim’s Building at Shipyard’s Park.  It’s a nice venue with a roaring fireplace.  Makes it cozy.  Snacks were had, parents were entertained.  Must have been about twenty people there.  

About the readings–wow.  Okay, I know, I’m biased, but even I was blown away that night.  My boss, Mia Lee, was also amazed.  And the parents were too.  The writing was great, and fun.  We had readings about a day in the life of one of the heads of Cerberus, an alien abduction, a psychiatrist who knows a bit too much about Hell, an amulet that everyone wants, and other writings of imagination. 

Even the parents got to play when we brought out Justin Whitney’s patented Story Seeds, guaranteed to jump start a story, and starting playing the game around the room.  

I’d like to thank all those students in our Rocketfuel afterschool writing program–Franz, Hal, Santana, Zeb, Kylie, Erica, Kalyna, Renyka, Aubrey–and our emeritus writers Ashley, Bailey and Victoria.  We really do believe that writing contributes to the well-being of a young adult, and that fantasy and science fiction are part of our culture–a vivid part–that contributes to our cultural identity.  It can also change the way we see our world.  

Every culture holds dear a story that has supernatural elements in it, and this story defines and contributes to that culture.  Someone had to write about the dragon, Grendel and his mother, chomping on knights in the King’s Hall, or a Monkey to bring back the wisdom from the West, or captured a Djinn in a lamp, or brought a people across a sea split by the hand of God, and someone defined vampires, werewolves, ghosts and the Devil for a culture that enjoyed hearing the dark stories as much as the light ones….  Fiction even changed the way we celebrate Christmas. When our young writers write fantasy they are contributing to a long line of fantastical stories–to explain their world, even as they live in ours.  

The Young Author’s Conference understands this, and every summer, when the writers gather with our high schoolers, those writers read the works of our kids and at least half of them are fantasy and science fiction.  It’s important to develop a vivid and detailed imagination.  This is how adults solve problems—by imagining the solutions AND how to get there.  

Watch for the Yukon News article on Rocketfuel on Dec 23rd!  Woo-hoo!  

In January, TWO Rocketfuels start back up after school.  One at Porter Creek on Tuesdays and one at FH on Wednesdays.  If you think someone in your family might enjoy this, sign up through the Parks and Recreation, City of Whitehorse Leisure Guide or by calling Mia Lee at 668-8327.  

Rocketfuel Blasts Off, 10 and Rising

The fantasy writers of tomorrow are sitting in a high school French Library looking at photographs on a table. Their task is to first pick a photo that appeals to them out of the twenty or thirty scattered there. Then, they have to tell who this person is, what’s happening in the picture, and what that person wants. After writing for fifteen minutes, I tell them to switch gears. I tell them to keep the same person they’ve written about but change the setting to a science fiction or fantasy one, give them a new situation. Keep the real person, though…

Rocketfuel started with six students and now has nine students and next week will have ten, and we meet at FH Collins High School to work on Fantasy and Science Fiction writing. So far, it’s green lights all the way! Snacks seem to be the fuel for this writing –and there’s a lot of good writing going on. And enough enthusiasm to make an hour and a half zoom by. They are a great group.

Thanks to all those who spread the word–and if you are still thinking of signing up, or telling your son or daughter about Rocketfuel, have them meet us on Wednesdays at FH Collins Library at 3:30. We’ll get them on board.