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Q for Librarians: What's your favorite book celebration DSG?

Share the Celebration

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Question:

Spread the Celebration

Answer:
Listof8Steps_censored2celebrated

Is it really that easy to join the Celebration Challenge?

Yes. Let me break it down.

I Am Jazz was the most donated & gifted book during the Celebration Tour.

1. buy a book 
While libraries vary in their donation policies, most libraries prefer books that are a) new, and b) hardcover.

Choose any book that is meaningful to you. Click here for some ideas of recommended books. (Although this list is on Amazon, we highly recommend supporting your local bookstore with your purchase.)

2. go to the library
Check out your local library’s LGBTQ selection online if you can. But the great thing that I learned about libraries, and librarians, is that it is just fine to drop in. They love talking about books, and they love getting donations.

The point is that one of the great things about libraries is that they are free and open to the public. And, of course, they have lots of books to read.

CelebrationTour_CelebratingHeroes_Coopersgtown_072815Librarians are also family friendly drop-in options for summertime road trips as they often have special programs. For instance, during the Summer of the Celebration Tour 2015, the nationwide program was Every Hero Has a Story. 

3. use the [All Gender] restroom
This is both a practical suggestion, as well as a political point.

When you’re doing a road trip, libraries are easy to find in most communities, and they have convenient, clean, family-friendly restrooms. Believe me when I emphasize how important these aspects were when traveling with two kids, and our alternative – and sometimes necessary stop – was at a gas station.

Politically, I had hoped to see some All Gender Restroom signs on our travels, but I have to report that I didn’t see any. I am proud that my hometown, Austin, Texas, has joined Philly and DC in passing All Gender Restroom signage requirements for single-use restrooms.

Perhaps my next Celebration Tour will be about gifting All Gender Restroom signs. Oh wait, that’s already a thing – you can download your very own sign right here.

CelebrationTour_SparkingConversations_0621154. visit the kid’s/YA section
Initially, after our restroom visit, we headed to the kid’s section because that was fun for my young ones (ages 18 months and 6 years old during our trip).

It also gave me a good chance to familiarize myself with the books in the library collection. Many libraries also had lots of interactive activities and computers that thoroughly engaged my kids.

After visiting 21 libraries this summer, I realized that visiting these sections of the library also allowed me some time to get to explore that library’s individual nature, read some books we liked, and casually meet some other people who were hanging out there. In short, we became part of the library community during our visit.

For me, this was very important as I didn’t want to come across as a crazy person or zealot when it came time to talk with a librarian. I am, first and foremost, a parent who cares about having great books in my kid’s lives. And I believe in giving back to a community space that I have always cherished. (Indeed, I think I was a librarian in another life.)

By taking the time to honor the space and the people, it felt a lot more comfortable for me – and for them, I think – to have a meaningful conversation. This brings me to point #5.

CelebrationTour_SacoME_071615

Celebrating Families in Saco, Maine

5. talk with a librarian
This is the part that most people want to know about, and each conversation started in a different way depending on the situation. But there were some commonalities.

Most of the time, I approached someone at the desk with my Box of Books.

In this video clip, you can watch my littlest one, Azalea, fully explore our Box of Books while Tulip talks about some of her favorite books.

Other times, we met in the stacks or in the kid’s play area and started talking about something in the moment.

Each and every time, I made sure to introduce myself, briefly mention the Celebration Tour, and let them know that I would like to donate a book. I would also mention that all of the books were donated by families who celebrate their LGBTQ youth. CelebrationTour_BelovedBooks_061915Each gifted book also had a bookplate celebrating the person for whom the book was donated.

This felt particularly important to me because – even with all the censorship around diverse sexuality and gender in our culture, and in books – there are a lot of families who fully celebrate their youth who identify as LGBTQ. I wanted their names – or pseudonyms – to be celebrated in the books that were gifted in their honor.

Celebrating Community in CTAs we know, it is not always comfortable – or safe – for some families, and individuals, to be as publicly celebratory as they might wish.

For instance, as of August 2015, there have 25 murders of trans women in the past two years. This is one example of how powerfully violence, or the fear of violence, can censor those of us who identify along the spectrum of diverse sexuality and/or gender. It also shows how courageous it is to celebrate DSG in whatever ways we can. I am hopeful that all of us can find ways – both small and big – that we can celebrate DSG despite the very real self and cultural censorship.

For all of these reasons, and even with all of my experience and comfort talking about diverse sexuality and gender for 30+ years, it wasn’t always easy to walk into a library, and talk about sexualityCelebrationTour_Celebrating_TangoMakes3_NH_072115 and gender in the kid’s section, or in communities that might censor such topics. However, I knew that I had this was a way I could step up and celebrate all those families, and youth, who might not yet be able celebrate their own diverse sexuality and gender.

Although it made me anxious every time I walked into a library, it also made me feel deeply powerful and connected every time I connected with a librarian to gift another book.

CelebrationTour_CelebrationGifts_061615The thing to remember is that librarians love books. They are also – rightfully so – proud of their libraries, and how their libraries serve the community. Though some had different policies, or a different staff member who could accept the donation, none of the librarians declined the gift of a book.

They know how precious books are.

They know how books change – and even save – lives.

WhatBookHasChangedYourLife_Twitter_Censored2Celebrated

Give Gifts
In addition to a gifting a book (or more) to the library, I gave each librarian a gift of a bookmark, a magnet, and my business card with a question on the back. I also had rainbow PRIDE bracelets, rainbow crayons, and bumper stickers as additional gifts for all the wonderful people who hosted us along the way.Celebrating Community in CT

Thanks again to Mimi for creating such a beautiful collage of our visit at the library in Darien, Connecticut showing all the fun swag we shared during the Celebration Tour.

You can download the bookmark here. We still have a few bumperstickers, and magnets left.

Connect with me if you’d like me to send you some materials. I’m also happy to send you my templates if you’d like to get copies printed for your own celebrations. The Celebration Tour is not mine. I may have started it, but it is all of ours.

11888539_10206955960360328_3447993944447683351_oThe Importance of Asking Open-Ended Questions
Each of my business cards has a different question. These simple, open-ended questions not only allowed me to learn so many interesting things, but I also got so many great book recommendations. I didn’t plan for this to be part of my visit, but I was very grateful that I had the business cards with conversation sparking questions on them.  Thanks again to Kate McCombs for inspiring this wonderful idea!

6. take a pic (or video)
Understandably, not every librarian will want their picture taken. However, all of them allowed me to feature their beautiful libraries with the gifted book. I know these photos have meant a lot to the families who originally donated the book as it is a form of public celebration.

Celebration Tour_Celebrating ChildhoodI highly recommend taking a picture or making a short video of your experience. The most important thing is to do something in a way that feels fun and celebratory to you.

Here’s one of my favorites from Fayetteville, Georgia. That teddy bear was HUGE!

7. post the #CelebrationTour pic
Not everyone can be public about their celebrations, but everyone can celebrate in some meaningful way.

CelebrationTour_MuskogeeOK_080815Once you’ve taken pic(s) or a video, find a way to share your excitement with someone who can celebrate with you. This may be through something as ephemeral as snapchat, or as permanent as sending a printed copy of the pic to your grandma. And, of course, there’s always email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, YouTube and more.

However you choose to celebrate, I would love to see it! (I want to honor you in your celebration, so please be sure to let me know if this is a private celebration, or if you would allow me to celebrate your library adventure on social media and my website.)

If you’d like to share your celebration pic/video on your own social media, please use the hashtag #CelebrationTour. CelebrationTour_SparkingConversations_061515

I hope that your visit will spark some powerful conversations.
I will never forget the joy I felt in Biloxi, Mississippi when I met Jackie at the library. She told me that no one had ever asked her about books for youth celebrating diverse sexuality and gender. She shared with me that our visit offered her the opportunity to have start conversations about DSG – something that had never occurred before among the staff or visitors to the library. When we left, she said she expected that having the book I Am Jazz would continue to spark celebratory conversations about DSG.

Honestly, when we walked into the Biloxi library, I had no idea what to expect. It was our second day of the trip, and the second library we visited. I had been so nervous in Lake Charles, Lousiana that I forgot to ask for a picture when we donated Annie on My Mind to the wonderful teen librarian there.

We had chosen to stop in Biloxi because it was lunchtime, and we needed a spot to eat our picnic lunch. (We learned that libraries have great playscapes in addition to excellent restrooms for kids and families.) Jackie was so welcoming and engaging from the moment my kids and I walked in. Our conversation felt magical in how direct, honest, and heart-warming it felt. It continues to be one of the most powerful experience of our trip, and it gives me chills every time I think about it. Thank you Jackie!

Check it out:
You can see how many of our pics come up when I googled #CelebrationTour here. What conversation will your picture/video spark? 

8. celebrate!
Dance a dance, sing a song, march in a parade, donate another book, hug yourself, or your family member or friend, who identifies as LGBTQ, share your story.


Are you inspired to join the Celebration Challenge?

Some Inspiration…
CelebrationTour_CelebratingCivilRights_061615

Celebrating Courage at the Rosa Parks Library & Museum

Rosa Parks was a 42-year-old African American woman, who worked as a seamstress. On a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, she courageously said “No” to injustice, and “Yes!” to civil rights for all.

I am a 41 year old white, queer-identified woman with a family who says “Yes!” to talking about and gifting books that celebrate DSG. (I say “Yes!” to books that celebrate diversity beyond DSG, too. For instance, check out the indie publisher Flamingo Rampant.)

Rosa Parks took her stand (or rather seat) on a bus. This summer, I took my stand in libraries, through celebrating my joy of books. All of the librarians, and all of the people we met along the way became part of our story. All of you reading these words are part of our story.

Each time I had a conversation, or gifted a book, I felt that much more powerful. Imagine if each of you gift  a book to a library, or have a conversation, or wear a PRIDE bracelet in support of celebrating DSG. Imagine how amplified the celebration will be when it ripples out across social media and into our conversations and actions in our communities.

Share your library adventure:
Email me, or connect on facebook, or any of the #censored2celebrated social media spots.

Flag waving & Songs of Celebration for you!

Flag waving & Songs of Celebration for you!

Hey…before you go off and do your celebration dance, would you do me a favor?
I would be honored if you would help me share the celebration by clicking on the social share buttons on this page. 

We appreciate all who are able to celebrate DSG with publicly. We also celebrate all who celebrate DSG privately.

Remember: All celebration is powerful. All celebration can change the conversation, our communities, and the world.

In celebration!
Melita, Tulip, Azalea Javi

"What one reads becomes a part of what one sees and feels." Ralph Ellison #CelebrationTour

“What one reads becomes a part of what one sees and feels.” Ralph Ellison


Would you like to keep up with
our celebrations throughout the year? 

Sign-up for our Email List here.


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Growing Our Green Garden_Melita and Javi_April15

Growing Our Garden in Austin, TX
Four springs ago, my life partner, Javi, and I officially became business partners at the Javier López Cantú Artworkstudio. Our romantic relationship began in 2006 when a mutual friend suggested that we get together for coffee. She told me that Javi was a big supporter of her sexuality education non-profit, and that he was also doing an amazing job raising two teenage daughters.

When I saw his vibrant website at JavierLopezCantu.comI knew that I wanted to know the man and father behind the art. I bypassed the meet-for-coffee plan and immediately emailed him to ask for a tour of his Artworkstudio – located on South Congress at the time. There’s more to our love-at-first sight story, and I’m happy to share. But let’s just say that the rest is history – and includes a lot of tasty homemade breakfast tacos (which are a Javi specialty).

Fertile Ground
Austin has been fertile ground for many artists, and Javi has been creating art here since 1999. What I didn’t realize when we met is how challenging it can be for a community to know how to support its local artists. I also didn’t realize how challenging it can be for artists to know how to meet the community members who will and can support them.

What happens when you have a gorgeous garden, but no one comes to see it? What happens when people come to see and enjoy it, but don’t know how to help the gardener sustain it?

Javi is passionate about making his art accessible to all – especially by making it affordable.

Javi and our youngest daughter

Javi and our youngest daughter

As Javi says:

“Each artwork has its home, and when a person sees the piece that grasps their heart and squeezes, I want to do everything I can to support that artwork findings its way to its true home.”

 

 

 

 

Planting A Seed
When we decided to deepen our roots by planting the seed of co-ownership in the fertile garden that is his Artworkstudio, I was committed to create as many opportunities for friends, family and our community to see Javi’s gorgeous garden of artwork.

I lovingly planted this seed with hope and a prayer for abundance to sustain and grow his work as a artist while also growing our family. We dreamed that, together, we would be able to blossom Javi’s mission to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world.

The Challenges & Joys of Growing a Garden
Four springs later, I know a lot more about the art business, and a lot more about my life and business partner. Believe me when I say it is not always easy to work with your life partner! And yet, planting these seeds at the Artworkstudio have been powerful for us as a family, and in our communities. I have learned from Javi that there is power in following your passion.

After a few (very challenging) years of Javi trying to create art in a makeshift studio in the garage, we uprooted his art supplies and original paintings and relocated the Artworkstudio to a lovely space in East Austin with a courtyard.

Courtyard at JLC Artworkstudio during EAST

Courtyard at JLC Artworkstudio during EAST

In this physical space and online, we have experimented with new business ideas and strategies. We have also had the opportunity to visit over 25 art museums in the US, Canada and the UK.

Courtyard Artworks May 2015We have been proud participants of the annual East Austin Studio Tour (EAST). We have forayed into the art event world with Art on the Roof benefits for non-profits in Austin and Boston. We have donated art, prints and gift certificates to non-profits doing great work around the country. Most recently, we have embarked on hosting the collaborative community art event – Courtyard Artworks –  this spring with Wade ArtRoom and art therapist DeAnn Acton.

Can you blossom without passion?
Clearly, we have a garden with deep roots and some lovely blossoms. What we didn’t have was an Art Business Manager – that would be me – who knew what her own passion was. I don’t know about you, but it’s a challenge for me to support another person – even my life partner – as they follow their passion when you don’t know yours.

It created conflict as Javi watched me withering while trying – and failing – to nurture our Artworkstudio garden. With the conflict came frustration, decreased inspiration, and a need to step back from this particular garden to focus on other parts of our life. When does a gardener know that it’s time to pause or move to a new garden, to find new soil and new seeds to plant?

I knew I had been planting lots of seeds throughout my life, but it never occurred to me that I had been planting a professional garden. For example, Javi has known that he was an artist since he was 3, illustrating the family encyclopedias with his drawings. I’ve always been good at lots of things, and been proud of all the good work I’ve done in the world with schools and non-profits. But what passion did I have that could ever match Javi’s passion for creating art?

Planting Another Garden
What happened next surprised both of us. And it all started with a few conversations.

Convervations Spark Celebrations Video

Last year, I planted a new batch of seeds, and my passion bloomed – right along with the creation of our much-anticipated second child.

I coordinated and facilitated a comprehensive sex ed class for middle and high school students at our church – aptly named Wildflower Church.

Then, with Javi’s blessing and support, I attended a conference in California, while hugely pregnant, and had a conversation. Then I went to another conference in Austin, as a new mama leaking with milk, and had another conversation.

thehumanempathyprojectorg_logoThen I had lunch with a former colleague, with our 6 month old baby in my arms, and had another conversation.

These conversational seeds quickly blossomed into joining the Board of The Human Empathy Project.

After all of these conversations, my passion for amplifying the conversation around diverse sexuality and gender became clear.

 

In September 2014, I officially launched my business From Censored to Celebrated where I explore diverse sexuality and gender – one (webcasted) conversation at a time.

Censored2Celebrated banner

Click here for more info about my joyful work with #Censored2Celebrated.

Vibrant Abundance
The crazy thing is that although I am busier than ever with 1 life and business partner, 2 young kids and 3 businesses to nurture, I feel myself blooming with happiness and purpose. Connecting with my professional passion, right along with the birth of our second daughter, has felt like vibrant abundance.

Enjoy Spring at Courtyard Artworks

Celebratory Art Created at Courtyard Artworks

In and around all of this vibrancy, I have reconnected to my strong desire to support Javi in his passion as an artist. As a team, we have reengaged with our mission to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world. We are especially excited to connect with other local artists and the East Austin community through the collaborative Courtyard Artworks events this spring.

Growing Our Garden

 

Growing our Garden at Home

On top of all of this springtime growth and blooming, I have actually gardened for the first time since I first moved to Austin as a single woman in 2004. I keep wondering if all this professional seed planting has been the inspiration to plant our own vegetable, herb and wildflower garden with the kids. Regardless, I cannot wait to see what our gardens will grow this year and into the future.

What’s Growing in Your Garden?
As you may be able to tell, I am all about the conversation. The blooms resulting from such conversations inspire me to do good in the world. I invite you to connect with me to see what celebrations will be sparked by our conversation.

1. What’s growing in your personal and professional gardens?

2. What makes art, and artists, feel accessible to you?

3. What makes you want to celebrate your passion?


I invite you to come and enjoy our Artworkstudio garden this May. I look forward to hearing all about your garden.

When you RSVP here, and private message or email me, I will have a specially chosen, complimentary JLC Art card with your name on it at the event.

Courtyard Artworks in #ATX May15

  • RSVPs are requested so we can ensure having plenty of art supplies and snacks for all.
  • The event is free to community members of all ages.

Finally, I want to give a BIG thank you to each and every one of you that supports Javi and other local artists, musicians, dancers, celebrators and all kinds of creative types. Our gardens are inspired by our connection and conversations with each of you, and grow abundantly because of your support.


WHAT IS JLC*ART?
The Javier López Cantú Artworkstudio mission is to make thought-provoking art accessible to all while doing good in the world. Javi’s work may be purchased in a variety of formats to fit your budget: original paintings, posters, art cards and with donations to benefit a non-profit that is a difference-maker in its community.

We invite you to opt-in for
JLC Artworkstudio news & special offers by email.

Join the JLC Art email list!

Click here for interviews with the artist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Find out more about Censored2Celebrated here.

Celebrating DSG

Celebrating the diversity of sexuality & gender, one (webcasted) conversation at a time.

#Censored2Celebrated offers a monthly webcast expanding the global celebration of sexuality & gender diversity, one conversation at a time. 

Webcasted interviews feature a wide range of guests who celebrate the diversity of sexuality and gender, both professionally and personally. Melita and her guest(s) have a “come as you are” conversation once a month online for 30 minutes – join us!

The webcast is FREE to all in order to expand the conversation using the accessible, global medium of Google Hangouts on Air (live webcast) and YouTube (replays).

Video clip about DSG with Josh McAdams:

On the #Censored2Celebrated webcast we discuss topics such as:

  • The LGBTQ+ Alphabet Soup of Sexuality Orientation & Gender Identity, including newer terms like #DSG (Diverse Sexuality & Gender)
  • Aha moments that our guest(s) experience in their professional work (for example: at DSG conferences, in research, in volunteer work) as well as in their personal life
  • How to find inspiration to move from from censorship to celebration around Diverse Sexuality & Gender

If you want to learn about how you can experience more celebration – and less censorship – in your professional and personal life, join us as we explore the alphabet soup of sexuality and gender.

We look forward to expanding the conversation with you!

In celebration~

Melita Noël Cantú, MA (Sexuality Studies, SFSU)
Host, From Censored to Celebrated


P.S. If you’d like to be on the EMAIL NOTIFICATION LIST to get notified about future #Censored2Celebrated shows and when video replays and show notes are posted.

CLICK HERE: Join the *Free* Email List for Exclusive Opportunities

You may also ping us on Google+, Facebook or Twitter with a request to be added to the G+ #Censored2Celebrated Circle for upcoming notifications.


Thanks to Javier López Cantú for the use of his digital photograph in #Censored2Celebrated images.

Photograph Title: Stand By Your Dan (2007)
More info, images & video at: www.JLCart.com

All rights reserved by the  Javier López Cantú Artworkstudio.

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