Sunday, January 26th 2-4 pm. Occidental Center for the Arts’ Literary Series presents Susan Swartz. Laughing in the Dark, her first novel, revolves around three old friends who together tackle infidelity, the latest in California dying styles and the inevitable absurdities of aging. A resident of Sebastopol and long-time columnist for the Press Democrat and other newspapers, Susan’s non-fiction includes Juicy Tomatoes: Plain Truths, Dumb Liesand Sisterly Advice After 50 and The Juicy Tomatoes Guide to Ripe Living After 50. Susan will be in conversation with fellow writer, Miriam Silver to talk about her new novel, with book sales and signing to follow. Admission is free, and all donations gratefully accepted. Refreshments, wine and beer will be available. OCA is located at 3850 Doris Murphy Way, in Occidental at the corner of Bohemian Hwy and Graton Rd. OCA’s facilities are accessible to people with disabilities. For more info: occidentalcenterforthearts.org or 707-874-9392.
From memoirs to young adult novels, 2019 brought with it a bounty of books published by LGBTQ authors. If you want to get into reading one of them but feel intimidated by the onslaught of options, don’t fret. Lambda Literary, the premier organization promoting the development of emerging queer writers, recently relased its annual list of Lammy Award Recipients.
The foundation has been issuing the awards since 1987. This year, 24 books earned Lammy awards, spanning distinct categories ranging from transgender poetry to lesbian romance. William Johnson, deputy director of Lambda Literary, explains Lammy Award categories could change depending on which books readers nominate.
Queer writers are changing the master narrative
WILLIAM JOHNSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF LAMBDA LITERARY
“A lot of the categories are submitted by the community, which is how we can track trends throughout the years,” Johnson told NBC News. “Humor used to be a category, but now it’s no longer, and we’re finding that the number of young adult books has been exploding each year, so there’s a lot more to select from.”
Johnson added that each category is judged by a panel of three or so authors who write in the same genre they judge.
“Queer writers are changing the master narrative,” Johnson said, adding that as a result, more mainstream media organizations have been taking note of LGBTQ authors’ contributions. “But at Lambda Literary we continue to provide a platform for the truly transgressive and outsider voices because highlighting these voices can help readers feel less alone.”
As 2019 closes, here are Lambda Literary’s awardees — a list that denotes some of the most impactful, provocative LGBTQ literature of the past year, according to the foundation.Lesbian Fiction
1. “The Tiger Flu” by Larissa Lai
2. “Jonny Appleseed” by Joshua Whitehead
3. “Disoriental” by Négar Djavadi; Translated by Tina Kover, Europa Editions
4. “Out of Step: A Memoir” by Anthony Moll
5. “Little Fish” by Casey Plett
7. “Histories of the Transgender Child” by Julian Gill-Peterson
8. “Each Tree Could Hold a Noose or a House” by Ru Puro
9. “Indecency” by Justin Phillip Reed
10. “We Play a Game” by Duy Doan
11. “lo terciario/the tertiary” by Raquel Salas Rivera
12. “A Study in Honor: A Novel” by Claire O’Dell
13. “Late Fees: a Pinx Video Mystery” by Marshall Thornton
14. “Chronology” by Zahra Patterson
15. “No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America” by Darnell L. Moore
16. “Beowulf For Cretins: A Love Story” by Ann McMan
17. “Crashing Upwards” by S.C. Wynne
18. “Miles & Honesty in SCFSX!” by Blue Delliquanti and Kazimir Lee
19. “As You Like It: The Gerald Kraak Anthology Volume II” by The Other Foundation and Jacana Media
20. “Hurricane Child” by Kacen Callender
21. “Draw the Circle” by Mashuq Mushtaq Deen
22. “The Lie and How We Told It” by Tommi Parrish
23. “The Breath of the Sun” by Isaac R. Fellman
In Trebor Healey’s short story, “Ghost,” included in his newly released collection, Falling, the protagonist states, “Often, I think most of my closest friends are dead writers. I talk to them all the time and they talk to me-through their books mostly. But through my dreams as well. Sometimes.” Inspired by writer Roberto Bolaño, among others, Healey’s protagonist travels to Mexico, embarking “on a pilgrimage to meet the master.” He writes, “Darshan, the Hindus call it, when you spend time with one of your teachers.”
With his sixth book of fiction, Healey is, thankfully, not a dead writer. He is, though, a writer who continues to demonstrate mastery and, therefore, teach. Falling is many things: queer, academic, political, and comedic. Most resonant, Healey’s stories are hopeful.
Numerous themes and settings bind this diverse ten-story gathering. The concept of borders, both literal and metaphorical, punctuate several offerings. “The Fallen Man” is the tale of a man who mysteriously falls off a hotel balcony in Acapulco. “He was just one of hundreds of tourists who fall each year…due to the country’s notoriously-low balcony railings,” Healey writes. With a police captain, swarms of butterflies and a wily bellhop, Healey creates a world where players are boxed in, trapped in their own mess. Readers are left to wonder if, perhaps, true freedom is just over the railing? In “Nogales,” Rick, an immigration attorney continues to nurse the wounds of a recent, middle-aged breakup. Healey writes, “I wondered if all of us have a certain amount of joy, like a certain amount of breaths, or heart-beats, or hard-ons, and when we run out, that’s it and we can only go on by augmenting with some sort of medication like Viagra, statins or insulin…” One afternoon in Mexico, Rick is almost run down by an erratic driver. Instead of merely helping another client, Rick helps himself, finding new possibilities beyond the U.S. border.
Falling also explores familial loss. In “Abilardo and Rodrigo,” The main character’s wife and son were killed in a tragic plane crash. The author writes, “Sometimes a water glass would remind me of her, or both of them-a shirt, a painting, an umbrella, or even a footstool.” Awash in grief, he periodically flees to Mexico. The protagonist, Guillermo, tells readers, “Here the dead are like other people-there are lots of skeletons, and they do everything we do: laughing, painting their faces, killing each other, living and dying. The big ugly wall, like our own border, between life and death is rent.” He begins to volunteer at a refugee house and meets two young brothers desperate for education, guidance and love. Charming them with the promise of coloring books, Guillermo eventually becomes much more than a volunteer. The piece, “Spirited Away,” follows Vic, “a minor bi-polar case” and “a minor painter.” In another custodial outburst, he takes his thirteen-year-old son, Henry, to Mexico for summer break to help him “understand ancient cultures.” While perusing a massive marketplace, Henry pulls from his father’s grip saying, “Dad, I’m not a little kid and you don’t have to hold my hand.” Vic replies, “I just don’t want to lose you, Henry. Maybe you’re holding my hand. Think of it like that.” Somehow, though, Henry does disappear, vanishing in the foreign landscape. Amid devastation, Healey prompts readers to consider the question, “how did it come to this?”
Argentina is the setting for a pair of standout pieces in Falling. In “A Geography of Plants,” readers meet Camila, a former member of the ERP, a “Guerilla group with a solid Marxist ideology…who were vaguely socialist and increasingly undisciplined.” After finding love with a fellow painter, Camila becomes pregnant and is imprisoned in the Dirty War. Many years later, she transforms her life, becoming a nun. She says, “It’s given me the opportunity to be of service with less odds of getting killed…I saw the church as my best opportunity to live a meaningful life attempting to right wrongs. I don’t agree with everything the church does, certainly, but I do appreciate that it uses a lot of its resources to bring relief to the poor, and it is allowed to. I’m still an atheist.” After meeting a young American, her past comes barreling back. Can she, once again, bury the rage and heartache that life has given her? “The Orchid” is a sprawling, gorgeous story that unfolds among the Argentinian political landscape. Felipe is “a political operative, a kingmaker” and campaign producer of sorts. With his sights on Senator Peña, a young, enthusiastic and openly gay candidate, Felipe has visions of creating a modern- day version of Juan and Eva Peron. Enter Evo, a handsome, twenty-something dancer. Felipe begins, like a puppeteer, to craft the destinies of these two men. Healey writes, “And here I was coupling two beautiful people once again, in order to create something else. Playing God. Well, what is an artist? I was either insane or brilliant, or just grief-sick and desperate. A ghost.” “The Orchid” plays with dirty politics, flailing egos and the fall of manufactured kings.
Falling is a sturdy, well-crafted collection of fiction. Healey’s characters are, in fact, plummeting. They cope with myriad misfortunes yet, guided by the author, always find some sense of vindication. In the coming of age story, “Rite of Passage,” Healey’s free-spirited protagonist asks his dying father, “…you were telling me to stop believing that there was a dog at my heels. To be the dog, right?” In Falling, life is hard. In real life, life is hard too. True masters, true teachers, they give us a little bit of hope. With Falling, Trebor Healey does so.
Sunday, January 26th 2-4 pm. Occidental Center for the Arts Book Launch Series. Local long-time columnist/writer Susan Swartz presents her first novel, Laughing In The Dark. On-stage conversation with close friend/writer Miriam Silver. Q&A, book sales and signing. Free admission, donations happily accepted. Refreshments by donation, beer/wine for sale. OCA: 3850 Doris Murphy Way, Occidental, CA. OCA’s facilities are accessible to people with disabilities. For more info: occidentalcenterforthearts.org or 707-874-9392.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, by Olivia Waite, is a gentle, lushly written story of sapphic love, which romance readers are sure to enjoy.
It’s 1816 and Lucy Muchelney’s life as she knew it is officially over. It’s been six months since her father died and not only has her best friend and long-time lover gone and married a man, but her brother, Stephen, is now thinking of marrying Lucy off too. Stephen doesn’t care that she wants to continue her father’s legacy of creating star catalogues because he knows that, as a woman, she won’t get taken seriously as an astronomer. Luckily, he takes off for a few weeks, giving Lucy time to figure out what to do and, even more luckily, inspiration comes to her in the form of a letter.
Catherine Kenwick St. Day, Countess of Moth and widow to the brilliant astronomer and world traveler George St. Day, has written with condolences about the loss of Lucy’s father and to ask whether Lucy might be able to recommend someone who could translate a French book of celestial mathematics by an astronomer named Oléron. With Stephen out of the way, Lucy immediately packs up and heads off to see the Countess in London to make the case for herself to translate Oléron.
Although Catherine is shocked when Lucy arrives, she lets Lucy stay at her home and puts her forward as translator to the Polite Science Society. After all, Lucy had done all the math in her father’s most recent charts and she obviously has a brilliant mind. Plus, Catherine’s words should have weight with the group, since she’s providing funding for half the printing costs of the translation. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, the society balks at the notion of a female translator, and even goes so far as to question whether women are capable of astronomy (among other similar, equally offensive assumptions), so Catherine withdraws her funding and sponsors Lucy independently.
If you’ve been looking for a historical lesbian romance with all of the “smash the patriarchy” feels, this is the book for you. Lucy is plucky and brilliant, refusing to be put in her place by her brother or the Polite Science Society. She also has a worthy champion in Catherine, who uses her money and influence to support Lucy in translating and expanding on one of the greatest scientific texts of their time, ensuring it’s accessible to any reader, including (gasp) women. And yet, while the patriarchy smashing is satisfying—especially considering that anyone who isn’t affluent, straight, and white still has to fight to get the recognition they’re due today—there’s so much more to this book.
Waite’s writing is often gorgeous and evocative, sometimes bringing in imagery from astronomy, making it easy to want to highlight passage after passage. For example, after Catherine takes Lucy to visit her Aunt Kelmarsh (her mother’s former companion, who Catherine finally realizes was her mother’s lover), they have this exchange:
“Do you think . . .” Lucy swallowed hard. This was a terribly impolite question to ask, but the truth often mattered more than manners, no matter what the etiquette books said. “Do you think your mother was happier with your father, or with Mrs. Kelmarsh?”
Lady Moth stayed quiet so long that Lucy began to despair she’d truly offended. She was trying to compose apologies in her head—difficult when you couldn’t openly acknowledge how you’d erred—when the countess spoke again. “I don’t think love works like that. You might as well ask the earth whether the sun or the moon is more important.” She blushed a little pinker and raised her eyes, star-bright. “You can’t always judge by what came before. Sometimes, there is a revolution.”
The words burst over Lucy like sunlight, or the flare from a newly discovered comet. She stared, dazzled.
There are also many beautiful descriptions of Catherine’s exquisite embroidery, which sounds like it could be boring, but truly isn’t, especially when she’s embroidering something for Lucy. Waite is occasionally quite funny, too, like when Lucy experiences translation woes.
She cast a bitter eye over the scribblings of her latest efforts. Oléron deserved so much better, and Lucy was beginning to despair of capturing even a third of the crystalline clarity of the original. Two months of consistent translating and expanding still hadn’t made the frustrating compromises easier to bear. She put down might for this verb’s translation, frowned at it, crossed it out, wrote might again, and then in parentheses added should with a pair of helpless question marks.
Let Future Lucy make the ultimate decision during revisions to the text. Future Lucy was always so much more decisive, somehow. Maybe because she was ever-so-slightly closer to death than Present Lucy?
The relationship develops fairly easily between Lucy and Catherine, flourishing in their private, quiet moments, and they become a couple fairly early in the story. Because it takes place during a time when romantic friendship between women was very much an accepted thing, it’s entirely believable that they’re able to forge such a strong, loving bond under Catherine’s roof, and thankfully their relationship isn’t threatened by outside forces for no reason other than to create drama. If there’s one issue to be noted, however, it’s that, while the main conflict remains external to their relationship, there’s a small crisis near the end that could have been resolved by Catherine and Lucy sitting down and just talking to each other.
One other element worth noting is that Catherine is dealing with PTSD from having been in an abusive marriage. There isn’t any abuse on the page, but if that is an issue for you, just know going into this book that she still has a lot to unpack and work through. In time, as she heals, Catherine comes into her own best self with her embroidery and a long-held interest in botany that had been denied during her marriage. Catherine’s journey is a nice parallel to Lucy’s, with each woman thriving under the other’s attention, respect, and encouragement.
The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics is the f/f romance that queer readers needed in the 1980s, 90s and beyond, when we were swiping Julie Garwood and Judith McKnaught titles from our mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. Even that cover alone is heart-stopping, familiar in style and yet nearly unbelievable because it has two women on it.
Acclaimed cartoonist Howard Cruse, 75, has died. Cruse died on November 26, 2019, due to cancer. He is survived by his husband Eddie Sedarbaum and his daughter Kimberly Kolze Venter.
Born in Springfield, Alabama in 1944, Cruse was an avid fan of newspaper cartoons. He spent his adolescence constantly doodling, in an effort to reproduce the magic he found in his favorite “funny papers.” He attended Birmingham-Southern College in the 1960s, where he studied drama. His time studying the theater arts never hampered his desire to draw cartoons. Throughout college, he created humorous illustrations for both his school newspaper and several noted national periodicals.
After college, Cruse worked in television at a local Alabama TV station, both in production and art direction, where he often used his graphic art skills to create promotional materials for locally produced shows. Cruse also had a prominent side job creating cartoons for the comics section of the Birmingham Post-Herald.
Cruse moved to New York City in the 1970s, where he hit his creative stride. He immersed himself in the underground comic book scene, that while often transgressive was not readily queer. Using some of the underground comics’ boundary breaking content as an inspiration, but not as a thematic guidepost, Cruse created work that was sexually forthright, and yet filled with humanity, humor, and insight. In the 1980s, he edited Gay Comix, a groundbreaking comic series that centered gay and lesbian cartoonists, and he created the topical Wendell series for The Advocate. In the 1990s, he reached both a critical and artistic high point with the publication of his emotionally complex Stuck Rubber Baby.
Thanks to Cruse’s big-hearted art, readers have received an expansive vision of gay life in the latter half of the 20th century.
|Sunday, December 1, 3:30–5:00 p.m. San Francisco Public LibraryLatino/Hispanic Meeting Room, Lower Level100 Larkin St., San Francisco Free |
A public reading, cosponsored by the GLBT Historical Society in honor of World AIDS Day, celebrates the lives of Steve Abbott and Karl Tierney, two gifted Bay Area writers prominent in gay literary circles who were both lost to AIDS. Editor Jamie Townsend will read from a new collection of Abbott’s work, Beautiful Aliens: A Steve Abbott Reader(Nightboat Books, 2019) which brings together a cross-section of Abbott’s work over three decades, including poetry, fiction, collage, comics, essays and autobiography.
Tierney’s work will be shared by Jim Cory, the editor of the new poetry collection Have You Seen This Man? The Castro Poems of Karl Tierney (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019), a time capsule of San Francisco in the 1980s and 1990s that ranges from observation and humor to hunger and fear with razor-sharp wit. Free and open to the public; no reservation required.
Right after the Weather, Carol Anshaw’s fifth book, opens in a warehouse in Chicago, where Cate, a forty-something set designer, searches for the perfect desk to “pump up the visuals” of the play she’s currently working on, a play that, in her colleague’s words, “sucks.”
This moment sets the scene for what plays out over the course of the novel. Cate is good at her job, and has stayed in the profession as her “cohort of theater friends… came and went along”—getting married and having children and acquiring steady jobs. She has a nice-enough apartment, though her ex-husband is currently camped out in her spare bedroom recovering from a breakup by obsessing over conspiracy theories. She’s dating a woman she really wants to be “the one” despite the obvious warning signs, and attempting—unsuccessfully—to disentangle herself from an ongoing love affair. All of which is to say, she knows she’s adrift and each effort to anchor herself only pushes her further adrift.
The one sturdy thing in Cate’s life is her long-time friendship with Neale. Neale is beautiful, and sweet, and Cate adores her. So when Cate walks into Neale’s home one afternoon to pick her up for yoga class and discovers a couple of local drug addicts assaulting Neale, the resulting violence irrevocably alters both of their lives, as well as their friendship.
Because fate is as kind as it is cruel, the assault occurs in the same breath as Cate being selected by two lesbian playwrights to put up the set for their next New York show. This unexpected coup has the potential to finally launch Cate’s career—but it also provides an emotional (and physical) escape from the trauma she and Neale lived through in Chicago. Though it is her “big break,” the event and the resulting time away echo Cate’s inability to resolve anything in her life. When she wakes the morning after the assault, “She understands she has arrived on another side of everything. No one is over here with her.” What she claims to want and what she pursues remain at odds.
Set in late 2016 through early 2017, Right after the Weather captures a world in midst of crisis. Politics play a role in the book, along the edges—these characters are upset about the recent election, they worry about the turns the world might take—they are aware that the easy lives they have long led are under threat.
But the novel isn’t about politics, not really. It is about the psychology of ordinary people who are put through extraordinary circumstances. Anshaw’s sentences are beautiful, and her characters are complex; the plot builds towards a slow climax, which then falls into a slow spin and a somewhat abrupt finale. Anshaw’s meticulous attention to the quiet, inevitable impact of the assault on Cate’s life and her friendship with Neale’s gives Right after the Weather its main drive. But despite her best intentions, Cate cannot alter the course that fate has set her on.
Right after the Weather is a sensuous and layered book. Though its pacing is subtle, Anshaw is a deft writer and her details are insightful, intelligent, astute, and subtly humorous. Cate—who may seem hapless to some—perhaps merely lacks the insight to see that the artistic, if sometimes aimless, course of her life is actually a beautiful meander. She remains true to herself, even when it looks ridiculous to those around her. In the final scene, a ripple of an epiphany blows through her—not enough to change her, but perhaps enough to allow her to see she’s doing just fine.
Right after the Weather
By Carol Anshaw
Hardcover, 9781476747798, 272 pp.
It seems apt to call Jeanette Winterson’s Frankissstein a pastiche, in both content and form. It’s about the future of transhumanism–the idea that we can create immortality for our consciousnesses beyond our bodies–and its roots in the dream of Frankenstein. Winterson’s scope encompasses different genres, melded with abandoned: there’s postmodern satire; there’s romance; there’s historical fiction, and a close history of Mary Shelley. It’s fitting, then, too, that one of the novel’s protagonists, the scientist Ry, is trans and nonbinary (using the pronoun “he/his”). His lover, the scientist Victor Stein, muses that Ry’s nonbinary identity prefigures some future transhumanism: an existence as brains uploaded to the Cloud, without bodies or gender identity at all.
The book opens in the past, with Mary Shelley at Lake Geneva in 1816. Readers follow her as she embarks on the project that would be Frankenstein. It then flashes forward to a “Tech-X-Po” on robotics attended by the second protagonist and viewpoint character, Ry. He draws the connection for us rather baldly: “It’s why we’re here […] Frankenstein was a vision of how life might be created–the first non-human intelligence.” Ry is also there to interview Ron Lord, who makes sex bots. If that sounds a little flip for a novel engaged in weighty topics, it shouldn’t: themes of sex and love underlay the whole of the book. Without love, Winterson implies, why would we wish to live forever?
The scenes set in present day, centered around the expo, feel almost cartoonishly satirical, with shades of Tom Wolfe. There’s a lot of dialogue, much of it very funny. There’s a religious character, Claire, who strikes up an unlikely partnership with the sex-bot manufacturer, Ron Lord. Lord himself is a fascinating character. He is, in some ways, a naif: his reaction to Ry’s gender identity is simple confusion leavened with unmalicious bigotry. He accepts Ry gradually, after some persistent misgendering. Similarly, he bumbles into profundity in his explanation of why people want sex-bots and what they want from them, and what it means for the future of humanity. There’s a refreshingly feminist perspective from a journalist at the expo, who debates what sex-bots designed by primarily cis male engineers might do to society. Her concerns, though, seem swept aside in the unstoppable rush forward, toward progress. These characters each express distinct viewpoints, but they come across as little more than mouthpieces for those views; it’s an entertaining read, but Winterson sacrifices character for idea in her scenes set in the modern era.
The reader is treated to emotional connection once again when we meet Victor Stein, the enigmatic scientist who becomes Ry’s lover. He is also obsessed with immortality, and uses Ry to help him obtain human body parts for his experiments. The parallel drawn to Mary Shelley’s protagonist is clear and intentional. Winterson’s juxtaposition of past and present, as well as some of Victor Stein’s explicit dialogue, put it to us that there is something prefigured about humankind’s yearning toward this particular sort of immortality. It is a wish that has lain latent for centuries or even millennia, waiting for its technological vehicle. Christian mythology, the Platonic realm of the Ideal–these concepts of transcending the physical indicate that human beings have prefigured its attainment.
Less abstractly, we watch Mary Shelley grapple with the deaths of her children and husband. In the modern era, Ry contends with transphobia, including a violent incident. The tragedies of the characters’ lives, though, don’t take up the meat of the narrative. They’re incidental, as if the whole book were being written by an AI trying to synthesize human feeling.
The story takes a turn for both the creepy and the meta-fictional as it winds toward a (somewhat inconclusive) conclusion. Fictional characters might be real. There might be a contemporary scientist working his own ghoulish resurrection. In one dramatic scene, our characters find themselves trapped in an underground room as water begins to rise… but there’s no need for spoilers. The beating heart of the novel, or rather its lightning-strike, is in the ideas it explores. It is not a perfect book, but it is a deeply affecting one. If you want to lie awake at night thinking of the future of humanity, the future of gender and indeed selfhood, and the implications of sex dolls with sentience… if you loved the Black Mirror episode “San Junipero”… Frankisssteinis for you.
Queer children’s Author Slams Illinois School for Cancelling her Visit over Reference to Harvey Milk
Queer author Robin Stevenson has condemned an Illinois school for cancelling her visit in response to a complaint from a ‘homophobic’ parent.
Robin Stevenson is the award-winning gay Canadian author of Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change. She was due to give a talk about the book at Longfellow Elementary School in Wheaton, Illinois.
The school’s vice president asked for a list of the activists mentioned in the book, then abruptly informed her the day before the visit that they would be cancelling without explanation.
Stevenson later learned that the reason was one parent’s objection to their child reading the book, which includes a chapter on the childhood of Harvey Milk, a politician and gay rights pioneer.
“This action sends a very harmful message to students, particularly students who are themselves LGBTQ+ or have family members who are part of the LGBTQ+ community,” Stevenson wrote in an open letter to the school.
“It says their lives can’t be talked about, that their very existence is seen as shameful or dangerous. It says that no matter how significant their accomplishments, or how much they contribute to the world, they can be erased and made invisible because of who they are. It reinforces ignorance and bigotry.”
Stevenson added that the decision has had a “real, immediate and distressing” impact, revealing that a closeted LGBT+ student at the school reached out to her two weeks after she was due to give the talk.
“They wrote that they had been thinking about finally coming out, but as a result of homophobic comments made by adults in their community regarding my book and cancelled visit, they are now feeling apprehensive and afraid to do so. I hope this concerns you as much as it does me,” she said.
School officials have reportedly attempted to distance themselves from Stevenson’s allegations, claiming that the parent had complained about “the process we utilise to inform parents about author visits and the contents of the presentation and promotion.”
The local book store that sponsored the visit expressed doubt that there was any reason for the cancellation other than Harvey Milk’s chapter, telling The Daily Herald that this is only the third time in 30 years that the school district has cancelled on an author.
Stevenson also rejected the school’s explanation on Twitter.
To be clear, parents were given the usual notice. They were told an author was visiting, and given an opportunity to order a copy of Kid Activists. Were parents specifically warned that not all the activists in the book were cis and straight? No, and this should not be necessary.
“In choosing to cancel the presentation … you legitimised a concern rooted in homophobia, gave this priority over the wishes of the school administration and staff who had requested the visit, and made the climate in the school less safe for LGBTQ+ staff and students,” she wrote.