I’ve been collecting quotes and questions on Pinterest,
and also wanted to post some of my
absolute favorites on the website.
Quotes & Questions for You…
I’ve been collecting quotes and questions on Pinterest,
and also wanted to post some of my
absolute favorites on the website.
We celebrated live on Thursday, September 17, 2015, by webcasting on Blab!
Check out the replays:
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.
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Yes. Let me break it down.
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.
Librarians 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.
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.
4. 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.
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. Each 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.
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 sexuality 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
Once 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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With gratitude to Alexis for gifting this powerful, colorful
“story about a crayon I know.”
Alexis dedicates this book to:
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.
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.
Thank you for your generosity!
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.
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.
Join us in celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender!
A Book A Day
Until we head out for our celebratory road trip adventure, I will:
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.
Thank you for your generosity!
Geeking Out in April 2015
I had a fantastic time talking with Kate McCombs about how it came about that she started Sex Geekdom in 2012. We also chatted about the importance of “linguistic precision” including the difference between being sex mandatory vs. sex positive. And I couldn’t wait to hear what a Tea & Empathy party looks and feels like! There were so many gems in our chat that I encourage you to watch the whole interview – multiple times.
If you’re short on time, skip right to the video clip.
What is Sex Geekdom?
Watch here as founder, Kate McCombs, talks about what Sex Geekdom is, where the hubs are all over the world, and what the events are like.
Who is Kate McCombs
Kate McCombs, MPH is a NYC-based sex educator and speaker who’s geeky about empathy and connection.
Ultimately, all of her work is about helping people feel more comfortable talking about sex and feelings. She believes that meaningful conversations and accurate information can help us create a healthier and more joy-filled world.
Check out the #Censored2Celebrated interviews all in one handy place right here.
Along with many of you, we have been especially inspired by the series NBC has been doing on Transgender Kids. Today, we are focusing on celebrating Jacob and his family.
Here’s a powerful excerpt from a letter that Mimi wrote to her son, Jacob, on his 5th birthday:
Rather, momentarily, I will set these words free — relinquishing my control over their trajectory and destination. Their intent is to provide comfort and strength to another mother or father with an aching heart. To provide the message: It doesn’t get better. It gets awesome.”
At From Censored to Celebrated, we believe that it is vital to celebrate powerful stories about diverse sexuality and gender (DSG). We believe that celebrating can be a powerful way to dramatically decrease self and cultural censorship, and counteract the deadly effects of censorship.