Tag Archives: Celebrate

Celebration IS the way through.

Celebration Quotes & Questions

Quotes and Questions_MIN_Censored2CelebratedI’ve been collecting quotes and questions on Pinterest,
and also wanted to post some of my
absolute favorites on the website.
Enjoy!  
~Melita

Quotes & Questions for You…

Quote_Celebration IS the way through_MelitaInaraNoël_Censored2Celebrated

Celegration IS the way through

Why isn't this a gender nonspecific restroom sign?

Why isn’t this a gender nonspecific restroom sign?

AudreLordequote_Made verbal and shared_PeeInPeace_Censored2Celebrated

Audre Lorde on speaking one’s truth

bell hooks on power

bell hooks on power

"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

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

What’s your favorite children’s or young adult book celebrating Diverse Sexuality and Gender (DSG)?


 

Parenting Tips from Remi Newman

Remi's Parenting Tips

Remi’s Parenting Tips

Remi Newman Parenting Tip 1- Impart Your Values_Censored2CelebratedRemi's Parenting Tip #2 - Start EarlyRemi Newman Parenting Tip 3 - It's Never Too Late
Remi Newman Parenting Tip 4 - Be honest
Remi Newman Parenting Tip 5 - Make a Plan


More Favorites…

Quote that Inspires Amy : "The best is yet to come." - William Shakespeare

Quote that Inspires Author Amy G. Dalia

Celebrate DSG

Celebrating Diverse Sexuality and Gender

This work is truly world wide_Joel Baum and Mexico City_Gender Spectrum_Censored2Celebrated_July2014

Joel Baum on connecting with 140 people in Mexico City via the Censored2Celebrated-facilitated webcast during the Gender Spectrum conference: “This work is truly world wide.”

Censored2Celebrated_AhaMoment_MNCantu

What’s an aha moment you’ve had recently about Diverse Sexuality and Gender?

In response to this meme: "Normal is a setting on a clothes dryer." - Dr. Sally Ember

In response to this meme: “Normal is a setting on a clothes dryer!” – Dr. Sally Ember

Censored2Celebrated_98vs2_MNCantu

Do you agree? 98% commonality vs. 2% difference?

Celebrate all the people in your life.

How Melita wraps-up every webcast: “Celebrate ALL the people in your life.”

#ItGetsAwesome #CelebrationStories #DSG

“It doesn’t get better. It gets awesome.” – Mimi Lemay

Celebrate Inspiration to Live Life Fully

Celebrate Inspiration to Live Life Fully

What does DSG mean to you?

What does Diverse Sexuality and Gender (DSG) mean to you? Share your thoughts – and favorite quotes too! – with us in the comments here.

Sally & Melita dancing

Sally Ember, Ed.D.: Featured Guest for Chat #1 (Season 2)

Season Two launched with a special guest we met along the way during our Celebration Tour!

Season Two officially launched with special guest Sally Ember, Ed.D., author, educator, and HOA host of Changes: Conversations Between Authors.

We celebrated live on Thursday, September 17, 2015, by webcasting on Blab!

Check out the replays:

  • Look at the live comments and watch the video of our 55 minute chat here.
  • Listen to the audio recording here.
  • Watch the video clip here.

    Video Clip: Defining Sexual Identity

    Video Clip: Defining Sexual Identity

Connect with Sally here.

What We’ll Be Talking About in Season Two
Each month in Season Two, we’ll be diving deeper into our discoveries from the Celebration Tour 2015.

To launch our new season we wanted to explore some of the most common questions we covered last year in Season One, give you insight into the many reasons we align ourselves with the rainbow, and lay the groundwork for our next-level conversations focusing on the Celebration Tour.

Click here for a Rainbow Video Clip Q&A with Melita about DSG

Click here for a Rainbow Video Clip Q&A with Melita about DSG

Get all the Censored2Celebrated news to your in-box:
Sign up for emails here.

Day 8_EveryDay_C2C_May15

Day 8: Every Day

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DAY 8
Every Day
by David Levithan

Day8_EveryDay_Censored2Celebrated_May15_YouTube


This book has not yet been gifted for the Celebration Tour!

Donate it using our handy Wishlist here.


My Recent “Aha” Moment about DSG
One of my favorite questions to ask guests on the Censored2Celebrated monthly webcast is about an “aha” moment they have had recently in their work or personal life about Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG). My most recent “aha” moment this week came about when I read David Leviathan’s book for young adults entitled Every Day

Censored2Celebrated_AhaMoment_MNCantuThis book not only entranced me as a story, but it also explored difference and sameness in an unusually compelling way. (I also celebrate that this book features a delightful, very much in love transgender and cisgender teen couple. I am not sure I have ever seen this!)

Here’s a synopsis in a review by Noah Towne – a High School Sophomore in Buffalo, NY:

The fascinating concept that Levithan has based his story around is a peculiar choice, even for the genre of fantasy. The plot revolves around a teenager named “A,” who is forced to travel between bodies every day. Whenever “A” wakes up, he/she needs to quickly adjust, as he/she will have to live the life of that person. One day, our protagonist finds himself controlling the body of a rude boy named Justin.

Despite a vow to never interfere with the person’s life he/she inhabits, “A” ends up falling in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon, who Justin emotionally abuses. After “A” gives her the perfect day, he/she comes to the realization that Rhiannon’s heart will be broken after Justin returns to his bullying ways. “A” continuously returns to her in different bodies, and eventually reveals the truth about his/herself and how it wasn’t Justin that was so kind to her that day. The rest of the book involves the blossoming romance between “A” and Rhiannon, and how it is a struggle for both of them to see each other, due to the freakish circumstances.


While I am a big fan of Young Adult fiction, and science fiction and fantasy in particular, I appreciated how unusual it is that this book’s premise allows the reader to explore difference in so many ways. The differences explored by “A” include: gender identity, ethnicity, class, immigration status, sexual orientation, and mental health.

This exploration of difference and sameness is explained beautifully by “A” here:

It’s only in the finer points that it gets complicated and contentious, the inability to realize that no matter what our religion or gender or race or geographic background, we all have about 98 percent in common with each other.

Yes, the differences between male and female are biological, but if you look at the biology as a matter of percentage, there aren’t a whole lot of things that are different. Race is different purely as a social construction, not as an inherent difference. And religion— whether you believe in God or Yahweh or Allah or something else, odds are that at heart you want the same things.

For whatever reason, we like to focus on the 2 percent that’s different, and most of the conflict in the world comes from that. The only way I can navigate through my life is because of the 98 percent that every life has in common.

Censored2Celebrated_98vs2_MNCantuMy “aha” moment came about as I reflected on the 98% in common and 2% that’s different that “A” experiences in the different lives he/she/they inhabits for a day at a time. When put in such stark numerical terms, it struck me how powerful that 2% “difference” is. Some fear these differences, some tolerate, some accept, and some celebrate them.

The aha moment for me came when I connected some disturbing dots about how the fear – often communicated through censorship – effects those of us who identify with marginalized gender identity and/or sexual orientation.


 

About Books, Censorship, and Suicide Rates
Not surprisingly, with the Celebration Tour road trip taking off from Austin on June 13th, I’ve been thinking a lot about celebration, censorship, and books. Although Every Day isn’t on the banned book list, the quote about difference and commonality made me thinking more about the fear of difference that often seems to behind censoring books about DSG.

In the #aBookaDay blog, I have been surprised at how many books that we’ve been celebrating for kids and young adults have been challenged, or banned outright. (I wrote about this quite a bit on Day 3 with And Tango Makes Three.)

Cultural & Self Censorship
How does this cultural censorship of books effect those whose difference is rarely – if ever – celebrated by the culture around them (i.e. those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ or DSG)?Censored2Celebrated_CulturalCensorship_MNCantu Is there a connection with intensive cultural censorship, and self-censorship? Is this cultural and self-censorship related in any way to the high suicide rates we see in youth – especially those who identify as LGBTQ+ or DSG?

Using data from the CDCThe Trevor Project reports that:

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24.
  • LGB youth are 4 times more likely, and questioning youth are 3 times more likely, to attempt suicide as their straight peers.
  • Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt.
  • LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

Censored2Celebrated_SelfCensorship_MNCantuWith such high rates of self-harm and suicidality among LGBTQ+ identified people, it is not a surprise that cultural censorship – such as banning books about DSG or throwing youth out of the house who come out – may turn inward and manifest as self-censorship. With this culture of censorship, how do we experience internal love worthiness when we are so often found unlovable by those around us?


Love Worthiness
I recently attended the Conference of Contemporary Relationships here in Austin, Texas. I was struck by a phrase shared in a workshop on Love Worthiness, presented by Amelia Coffman, MA.

My memory of the phrase is: “A person has to earn the right to hear your story.”

Earning the Right to Hear Your Story
In this day and age of the examined – and some might say over-shared – life on social media, this phrase struck me forcefully. In this world where so much is shared, the boundary between public and private often becomes even more sacred.

What does it mean for someone to earn the right to hear my story, or your story? What does that look like when the boundaries are often so blurred by social media, and the instant clickability that can so easily make our communications – like emails, texts and videos – go viral? What do we keep to ourselves, or choose only to share with our intimate circle of friends, family members, lovers and other significant others?

In the book Every Day, Rhiannon earns the right to hear “A’s” story through trust built on communication, connection, and a leap of faith. There is a sense of the sacred in their connection – something that – literally – transcends the body. Something that transcends the fear of the 2% difference. This allows them to move beyond self-censorship – particularly “A” who had never told anyone his/her/their story before – to celebration, as well as continued challenges by their unusual situation.


Books, Books and More Books
There is a funny paradox about how books create such an intimate internal world, but are words that are (usually) publicly available. It is amazing to me how an author’s words can connect with my inner world and become something unique to me – but also connect me with the author and the community of readers who have read this book. As a reader, I find such joy when an author chooses to share their story with me (and the rest of the world). As a result of their choice to publish their work, I have earned the right to hear their story. Stories are sacred.

When I have felt alone in some challenge – especially in my youth – I often turned to books in order to “see” myself. It is a form of celebration to see yourself in the books you read. You realize you are not alone when you can see a glimmer of that 2% that makes each of us different connecting with another person’s experience in a book.

Given all this, I am saddened – but not surprised – that books are challenged and banned. I am so grateful for all the librarians, authors, educators, and readers who celebrate censored books. These are the powerful stories that so often can help us move from cultural and self censorship to celebration.

I cannot wait to get on the road to hear more about what librarians are hearing from their communities about diverse sexuality and gender!


Have you ever asked your local librarian about banned or challenged books in your community?  Let us know what they said!

A Book Can Change A Life

It is my joy and pleasure to be doing this work. I know how much books have changed my life for the better. I see how they have impacted my 6 year old daughter as well. She has pored over It’s Not the Stork (featured on Day 4) for many years now, and always comes up with new and interesting questions for me based on her reading. Books can – and do – change lives.


An Outpouring of Support
We’ve had the great fortune to receive 13 children’s lit and Young Adult books gifted for the Celebration Tour in the past few weeks. I love receiving the private messages with suggested titles to add to our Wishlist, and with the promise of more colorful books, wrapped in lovely brown paper packages, winging their way to our door.

Our goal is to be able to gift at least one book in every state or province that we will visit, for a total of 24 books gifted to public libraries from Austin to Montreal and back again by way of Chicago and St. Louis. With the help of our supporters, we are well on our way to meeting that goal by June 8th.

If we will see you along our route, please check out the Wishlist online, but purchase the book from your local bookstore. We will be happy to pick the book up from you in person during the Celebration Tour!


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my #aBookaDay blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

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Red: A Crayon 's Story

Day 7: Red

DAY 7
Red: A Crayon’s Story
by Michael Hall


With gratitude to Alexis for gifting this powerful, colorful
“story about a crayon I know.”

Alexis dedicates this book to:
Maria – 
for always knowing her true colors.

Many thanks to the author, Michael Hall, for donating an additional
11 hardcover, library-bound copies to Censored2Celebrated!

Watch the video:
Red: It’s about being true.

We will update when & where these generously donated books are
gifted to libraries here.


Day7_Red_Censored2Celebrated_May15_YouTube


From: BookReview.com
Red: A Crayon’s Story

Red is feeling blue. Literally. He can’t understand why nothing he does comes out red. It says ‘Red’ on his label after all, but he just can’t get the hang of it. Nothing he draws is right.

Strawberries are blue. Fire engines are blue. Red ants are … well, blue.

Perfect for kids learning about colour or individuality or being true to oneself or just looking for a story that firmly sits outside the square, this is entertaining as it is brain-expanding. I particularly enjoyed the gorgeous, naive-style illustrations and Michael Hall’s author voice–hip, current, utterly kid-friendly and dry.

Quirk and colour at its best.

From an interview with the author, Michael Hall, about the power of picture books:

My favorite picture books are the ones that you can revisit over the years and continue to find something new and relevant. I think of picture books as more than a stepping stone to other kinds of reading, but a legitimate form of literature — and art — in their own right. I hope that my books have something in them for all ages. For children, I hope my books will help them broaden their sense of wonder, celebrate their differences, and come to know the power of their imaginations.

On a personal note, I can relate to how the author sees the world (and also bumps into people and things!) as he is also blind in his left eye. Michael Hall notes:

Early on, I became interested in making images that are built to exist on a two-dimensional page rather than using perspective and light and shadow to suggest three dimensions.

Actually, my world is relatively flat. I lost the vision in my left eye about fifteen years ago, so my depth perception is lacking. I still occasionally run into people on my left side from time to time.

From the author’s website, here’s a fun video clip about this lovable crayon.


Our Favorite Quote
My family and I really enjoyed this book – it is simply done with a powerful message.

It’s actually hard to find a great quote as the story cleverly interacts with a number of different colored crayons – representing family, friends, teachers – with varying opinions about “Red.”

This book is best when experienced. We hope you get a chance to read and enjoy Red!


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my #aBookaDay blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

Day 3_And Tango Makes Three_C2C_May15

Day 3: And Tango Makes Three

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DAY 3: May 17th
And Tango Makes Three
by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell & Henry Cole


With gratitude to Amy Pittel for donating this book that has allowed  so many individuals, libraries, and communities to move From Censored to Celebrated!

Amy writes:
“I’m thrilled to be able to help bring stories like these to kids who so need to find characters with whom they can identify.”


Day3_Tango_Tulip Lavender_Censored2Celebrated_YouTube

Three is a powerful number in this book due to baby penguin, Tango, born to Roy and Silo, a family of male penguins, at Central Park in New York City.  According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), in 2014 it was also third on the list for attempting bans in communities across the USA. And it is my pleasure to celebrate And Tango Makes Three on Day 3 of our #aBookaDay preparations for the Celebration Tour in June.

I have to admit that I was surprised when I realized the extent that Tango had been censored, not just in its early years, but even through 2014. The reasons given for challenging it are listed as follows: “Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group….and promotes the homosexual agenda.” For these reasons, “Tango ranked as ALA’s most frequently challenged book for a record four years in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010.” Check out this timeline from the American Library Association for a visual history of banned books in the US.

As I mentioned, my family and I read this book without realizing thow much it has been banned over the past 9 years. Given that my daughter, Tulip, was born in 2008, and that she has a mother with a Master’s Degree in Sexuality Studies, it is not surprising that she didn’t find this book to be controversial or unusual. We both loved it, and had a great chat about it here.


While Tango engaged both my 6 year old and 16 month old, it also had the added benefit of finally helping us name our very large penguin – a much beloved and bemusing gift from Grandpa. (Our family penguin is now, yes, “Tango Lavender.”)

Tango also allowed us to further explore how families can grow and thrive when they have a safe environment where their strengths, innovations, and connections are recognized, and, yes, celebrated.

My Favorite Quote
Out came their very own baby! She had fuzzy white feathers and a funny black beak. Now, Roy and Silo were fathers. “We’ll call her Tango,” Mr. Gramzay decided, “because it takes two to make a Tango.” 


Many people have read this book on video. Here Tango is engagingly read by staff at Seattle’s Sanislo Elementary School during Banned Book Week: 

Here’s a fun, more adult video clip with staff and visitors to the Central Park Zoo about how Roy and Silo became a committed couple, and had baby Tango.

Finally, I appreciate the sentiment shared on this version of the video
“Everyone should have the right to see themselves & their families in the books they read.”


How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

  • Do you have a favorite book that celebrates diversity?
  • Have you read the And Tango Makes Three?
  • Why do you think it’s been challenged so often?

Share in the comments how this, or another book, has changed – or even saved – a life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my a-book-a-day blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

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Change a Life, Donate A Book

A Book Can Change Your Life

How can a book change – or even save – a life?
As my family and I prepare for our Celebration Tour in mid-June, we will be featuring  a book-a-day. Each donated book will be gifted to a library in one of the 25 states and 2 provinces we visit.

The books celebrate themes of Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG), and are all gifted from our incredibly supportive community. Many of these books are gifted in honor of a family member or friend. Books can – and do – change lives.

Laverne Cox says it so clearly when she writes about Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings’ book I Am Jazz:  “I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions.”

Laverne Cox quote about "I Am Jazz"

Like inspiring people, like art, like music, books don’t just change lives – they even save lives.

HRC Research on 10,000 Youth
According to recent ground-breaking research by the Human RIghts Commission, 92% of LGBT youth “say they hear negative messages about being LGBT” mainly from “school, the Internet, and their peers.” 42% of the youth surveyed report that they live in communities that are not accepting of LGBT people. If you would like to hear more in-depth experiences from these youth, watch this video clip from my interview with Amy André, sexuality educator and advocate.

What happens when we counter these harmful, censoring messages by offering gifts of celebration? With words that are freely accessible in every community, but still private enough to access without fear of censorship? Libraries can offer such a safe haven, and books offer such a celebration.

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Join us in celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender!


A Book A Day

Until we head out for our celebratory road trip adventure, I will:

  1. share a donated book-a-day
  2. give gratitude to its donor, and
  3. share a favorite quote

Read all the #aBookaDay posts here.

How Do You Celebrate Diversity?

Share in the comments how books have changed – or even saved – your life. I will be highlighting your celebratory quotes about books I feature in my #aBookaDay blog.

Click to find out how you can support the Celebration Tour.

Thank you for your generosity!

In celebration~
Melita

PS: Click here to gift this book, or another book, to a library along the Celebration Tour!

Tulip Lavender on Libraries

Support Libraries & Librarians by Supporting our Celebration Tour!

Alaina Szlachta_difference quote_censored2celebrated_May15

Talking Diversity with Alaina Szlachta

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Check out this video with Sexuality Educator & Researcher: Alaina Szlachta, MEd, PhD.C
Alaina Szlachta You Tube Image 05.12.15 #Censored2Celebrated

Watch right here.

Sign up for future After Party chats & other Exclusive Opportunities here.

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Tulip & Azalea Lavender on the #CelebrationTour

Introducing Tulip Lavender

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It is a pleasure to introduce my daughter, budding author, Tulip Lavender!
6 year old Tulip Lavender has been working on a trilogy for the past few weeks. She sat down with me in her writing chair, and again in our garden, to talk about her writing, libraries, and where we’re going on our Celebration Tour this summer.


Celebrating Geography in the Kitchen & on Car Trips
Tulip is also a big fan of geography, and writes about her passion for studying time changes as well as longitude and latitude at school. She tracks every state she and her sister have visited on our kitchen map with color-coded stickers.

In this photo, you can see Tulip telling Azalea about our trip from Austin to the Bay Area last summer. (In case you’re wondering, “Azalea” is her little sister’s pen name. Tulip wanted them both to have flower names. As explained in the interview, Tulip Lavender is also a self-selected pen name.)

Tulip is very excited not only to meet more librarians, but also to add some colors to this map by visiting more states and provinces during our Celebration Tour car trip this summer.

Celebration Tour with Tulip Lavender

Celebrating libraries & authors from Austin to Montreal!

Gardening
As you can tell, we are a family that enjoys reading, talking about maps, and traveling. We are also a family that has collectively gotten excited about gardening this year. (For the record, my partner, Javi, has always been a wonderful gardener. It is the rest of us who have grown green thumbs this spring.)

You can see our thriving garden behind Tulip in this video clip interview. Here’s a little bit more about how we started, and what we’ve been growing in our personal and professional gardens.

Growing Our Garden

Where are we going on the Celebration Tour?
This is a question we’ve been getting a lot recently. Tulip shares a few of the places we’ll be visiting, from Austin to Montreal, during the interview. These are just the seeds of our trip as this Celebration Tour has been growing new blossoms every day!

We hope to share more of the blossoms with you in the next week about our Celebration Tour path!


Tulip on the Last Day Celebration Tour
(And now she’s 7!)

How can I help support #Censored2Celebrated with the Celebration Tour?

Thank you for asking! There are two ways you can help support us celebrate libraries, librarians and authors of books about Diverse Sexuality & Gender

  • Buy a book and gift it to your library!
    8 Steps to Gifting a Book Celebrating DSG

Click here for 8 Easy Steps to gifting a book to your local library

  • Celebration Tour needs supporters and funding.
    We are in the start-up phase, and gratefully accept monetary donations to support our celebration of diverse sexuality and gender. ($7 and $20 are our most popular donation amounts – every little bit helps!) 

Celebration Tour Support Levels

  • DSG  (count the letters)    $3.00 USD
  • LGBTQIA  (count the letters)    $7.00 USD
  • Number of…Countries worldwide with marriage equality    $20.00 USD
  • Number of…US states with legalized same-sex marriage    $50.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Burlington, VT to Montreal, QC    $94.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Vass, NC to Philadelphia, PA    $464.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Austin, TX to Boston, MA    $1,965.00 USD

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!

How can we celebrate you?

  • We would like to give you a shout out online about your support when you donate funds and/or donate a book to the #CelebrationTour

Laverne Cox on "I Am Jazz"

Do you have questions for Tulip Lavender, or would you like to see me interview her about a particular topic?

She loves being interviewed, so let me know!

In celebration~
Melita

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Celebration Tour_T dancing_July14

Songs for Celebration

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Dreaming My Garden – The World I Want to Live In
I was driving home from a meeting last night at Wildflower Church about a scholarship for High School Seniors who are Dreamers – youth whose families brought them to the USA as children. It was a challenging meeting as we were making the hard choice about who the scholarship recipients would be for the 4th annual Dream Sabbath. It was also a rewarding meeting as we will be able to offer – and celebrate – two tenacious and brave students with funding assistance for college. I am proud to be part of a faith community that supports the – often underserved – community in this way.

As the cherry on top of a great night, I got the pleasure of  having 30 minutes of singing and dancing in the car – all by myself.  Much as I love my kids, and I love singing with my kids in the car, it is a rare pleasure to be all my myself in the dark of night – just me, the car, and the music rolling along at high volume.

These experiences at Wildflower Church, and alone in my car, showed me that this is the kind of world I want to live in. A world where we can support each other to achieve our dreams of something better. A world where we can bring change through the celebrations that make our heart sing – just like the Celebration Tour that I am about to embark on with my family this summer.

Singing & Driving
As is often the case, last night in the car, I had one of my favorite CD mixes on, turned up very loudly, and was singing at the top of my lungs. Some people sing in the shower, but in my family we’re car singers and steering wheel dancers. I learned the fine art of creating music mixes for traveling from my Dad. In my childhood, we still played 90 minute tapes in the car, and those cassettes are the treasured soundtrack of my childhood. It is clear to me that music has shaped every aspect of who I am, and how I grow my personal and professional garden.

Songs In My Garden
As a child, these songs – from Broadway to Folk to Jazz Standards to Motown – shaped my ideas about life – including what it means to explore and celebrate sexuality and gender. I remember wondering about what really makes a Natural Woman. (Sung here by a whole bevy of divas including Aretha Franklin and songwriter Carole King.)

I also remember my 3 year old sister questioning if Tracy Chapman was actually a man because of her deep voice, and her name. When I told her that, as far as I knew, Tracy was a woman, she firmly declared that her name should actually be Tracy Chap(wo)man. I remember listening to Tracy’s debut album over and over on a family trip to the Grand Canyon. Her song Baby Can I Hold You made me wonder about domestic violence, and why people hurt one another in “love” relationships. Her song, Talking’ Bout a Revolution, inspired so many of us coming of age in the 1980s.

Songs for Celebration
These days, I make CD mixes for the car, and playlists on my various devices for everywhere else. With our upcoming Celebration Tour, my girls, partner, and I have started dreaming about our music mix for the big adventure from Austin to Montreal, and back again.

#ItGetsAwesome #CelebrationStories #DSGI started putting the Celebration Tour #ItGetsAwesome playlist together this week on YouTube. As you can see, they won’t all fit on one CD, so this year we will have to make a few volumes of Songs for Celebration for the road!

Yesterday, I was working with JCruz, who is the talent behind all the video editing at From Censored to CelebratedAs a recent graduate from high school here in Austin, TX, J. had

some – shall we say – more updated suggestions for songs and artists to add to the playlist. I am now a big fan of Yuna. If you haven’t heard her sing, I highly suggest you listen to Live Your Life, which is on the playlist. What songs should we add to the Songs of Celebration?

Ping me here if you’d like to offer a suggestion.

Seeds of Change
While conversations with my guests on the #Censored2Celebrated webcast constantly spark celebrations, I am in awe of how powerful music can be as a force for celebration and change. Music can inspire us Convervations Spark Celebrations Videoto stay awake during a long car trip, improve our mood – this video of my daughter’s school performing Happy works every time for me, celebrate the birth of a child, or mobilize us to march for social justice.

For instance, the song I Know Where I’ve Been, a civil rights anthem sung by Queen Latifah in the movie Hairspray, has been recently performed on Glee featuring the gender-expansive character, Unique, supported by a choir comprised of 200+ transgender singers.

The UK’s Independent notes that “Many of the choristers admitted that they had never met so many other trans people in one place before.”  I can only imagine how life-changing that was for everyone in the room – transgender and cisgender people alike!

Alex Newell (aka Unique on Glee) also performs the song live with the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus at Jordan Hall. This performance has a special place in my heart as I had the pleasure to perform at Jordan Hall as a high school student in the New England Conservatory’s Youth Chorale.

The connection between the music of civil rights from the 1960s and music celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG) is not a surprise. Berniece Johnson Reagon, Civil Rights activist, historian, and the founder of inspiring musical group Sweet Honey in the Rocksays: “To this day, I don’t understand how people think they can bring anybody together without a song.”  Does this ring true for you?

What songs are in your Garden for Celebration and Change?
What music has made a difference in your life? What songs would you put on a playlist Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender?

Connect with me here to talk about music, DSG and/or offer your suggestions to the Songs for Celebration playlist.

Celebration Tour_T dancing_July14

JOIN US IN CELEBRATION!

Support the Celebration Tour of Diverse Sexuality & Gender

  1. Purchase a book (or more!) before June 8, 2015 to donate to a public library.
    Here’s our Censored2Celebrated Wish List.
  2. Celebration Tour needs supporters and funding.  We are in the start-up phase, and gratefully accept monetary donations to support our celebration of diverse sexuality and gender. (Any level of support helps – $3, $7 or $18 can buy a great book or a meal to keep us fueled on the Celebration Tour!)

Celebration Tour Support Levels

  • DSG  (count the letters)    $3.00 USD
  • LGBTQIA  (count the letters)    $7.00 USD
  • Number of…Countries worldwide with legalized same-sex marriage    $18.00 USD
  • Number of…US states with legalized same-sex marriage    $37.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Burlington, VT to Montreal, QC    $94.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Vass, NC to Philadelphia, PA    $464.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Austin, TX to Boston, MA    $1,965.00 USD

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Until we meet again…

Celebrate all the people in your life. Every bit of celebration helps #ItGetAwesome.

In celebration,

Melita

Celebrate All the People in Your Life_c2c

 

What is the Celebration Tour?
Sexuality Educator & Webcaster, Melita Noël Cantú, and her family will embark on a Celebration Tour for two months this summer. They will seek out – and share – great books Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG). During their visits with librarians in public libraries in the US and in eastern Canada, they will gift a book celebrating themes of DSG. The more books that are donated to the Celebration Tour, the more books they will gift to libraries!

Celebration Tour_Austin to Montreal_Censored2Celebrated_YouTube

Ping Melita with any recommendations for us to dance and sing along to on our car trip from Austin to Montreal. We will be finalizing the playlist by June 8th.

 

 

 

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Celebration Tour of Books

Announcement: Celebration Tour 2015

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I have been planting lots of seeds over the past four years. It’s been quite a journey growing this personal and professional garden. These days, it is amazing to me how all those chilly winter months and April showers have made their impact, and my life has burst into bloom like a flower in May. Even more amazing to me is that the blooms are popping up from Austin to Montreal.

Blooming with Celebration 
Today, I am thrilled to announce that my family and I will embark on a Celebration Tour for two months this summer. Specifically, my family and I will seek out – and share – great books Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender (DSG). We are big fans of our local libraries, and are excited to visit with librarians in public libraries in the US and in eastern Canada. Our goal is to gift a book celebrating themes of DSG to each library we visit.

Laverne Cox on "I Am Jazz"Here you can see my 6 year old daughter reading one of her favorite books: I Am Jazz. This book celebrates the life of an American trans teen, Jazz Jennings. Jazz is the founder of her own mermaid tail company Purple Rainbow Tails.  Her mermaid tail company raises money for the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation – of which she is an honorary co-founder. In addition to I Am Jazzthere are an increasing number of books being published by and for youth about DSG.

Growing Our Summer Garden

In June, I am excited to embark on the Celebration Tour to talk with librarians about DSG literature and the conversations they are having with their communities. In July,  I am excited for the opportunity to delve into the history and variety of children’s and YA literature celebrating DSG during an interview with Dr. Sally Ember on her globally-accessible webcast Changes. In August, we will make the journey back to Austin – with a different route and more visits to libraries. We will be sharing pictures and adventures along the way on social media and some special extras for the #Censored2Celebrated email list. Would you like us to take a photo just for you along the way?

Why seek out librarians?
Quite simply, librarians are some of the most interesting people to talk with not only about books and research, but also about their communities. Indeed, during a recent Censored2Celebrated interview with author and sexuality educator, Cory Silverberg, I spoke with Cory about his parents who are a librarian and a sex therapist. In response to my own surprise that I had zeroed in on his librarian parent, Cory noted how interesting librarians are.


Cory & Melita talking about librarians – all cued up right here.

Ever since my chat with Cory, I’ve been thinking a lot about librarians. Two of my mentors from middle school were librarians, and I still treasure a kid’s book by Alice Walker that they gifted to me at graduation. When I lived in San Francisco as a young adult, I did some work with the San Francisco Public Library, and remembered how much I enjoy librarians.

Now I have children of my own. We love going to our public libraries in Austin. We love talking with librarians. They know so much about books and their communities. My inquiring mind wants to know what communities in the US and Canada are talking and reading about diverse sexuality and gender. It’s clearly time to talk with some librarians in as many communities as possible. Lucky for me, my family is up for the adventure!

We would like to gift a book to every library we visit on our trip from Austin to Montreal, and back again. Can you help us celebrate DSG by spreading more seeds to bloom at libraries in the US and Canada this summer?

Visiting Lbraries from Austin to Montreal and Back

Click here to see some of the states & provinces we’ll be visiting!


How can I help support #Censored2Celebrated with this Celebration Tour?

Thank you for asking! There are a few ways you can help support us to celebrate diverse sexuality & gender on our Celebration Tour.

  1. I have a great book celebrating DSG to add to your Censored2Celebrated Wish List!
    Great! Contact Melita here.
  2. Will you purchase a book (or more!) before June 30, 2015 to donate to a public library?
    Here’s our Censored2Celebrated Wish List.
    (Books are automatically sent to Melita in Texas, and will be donated to a public library in the US or Canada.)
  3. Are you an author of a book celebrating DSG? Would you like to donate a signed copy of your book(s) to donate to a public library?
    Great, we’d love to support & celebrate your work! 
    Contact Melita here.
  4. Can you help us spread the word?
    Please click here to share about our Celebration Tour.
  5. Celebration Tour needs supporters and funding.  We are in the start-up phase, and gratefully accept monetary donations to support our celebration of diverse sexuality and gender. ($3, $7 or $19 can buy a great book or a meal to keep us fueled on the Celebration Tour.)

Celebration Tour Support Levels

  • DSG  (count the letters)    $3.00 USD
  • LGBTQIA  (count the letters)    $7.00 USD
  • Number of…Countries worldwide with legalized same-sex marriage    $19.00 USD
  • Number of…US states with marriage equality  – JUST UPDATED!   $50.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Burlington, VT to Montreal, QC    $94.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Vass, NC to Philadelphia, PA    $464.00 USD
  • Number of Driving miles from…Austin, TX to Boston, MA    $1,965.00 USD

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How can we celebrate you?

  • We would like to give you a shout out online about your support when you donate funds and/or book(s).
  • We would like to acknowledge your generosity with a dedication bookplate in the front of each donated book. Check out our Book Wish List Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender here. All books will be read, celebrated & gifted to a library!

Communication is sexy!
Please connect with Melita by email or on Facebook with your preferred way for us to celebrate you.

We’re always open to your questions, comments, and celebrations for us, too!

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