Season 2, Chat 3 features PFLAG Austin Board President, and fashion maven, Anna Nguyen.
RSVP to tune in for the Blab with Anna and Melita on Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 3 pm CST here, or watch it right here on this webpage.
Why Join Us for the Live Blab? Our webcasted conversation is an opportunity for allies and advocates of the LGBTQ community to gather. Together, we will explore how to connect in order to support – and celebrate – each other around diverse gender and sexuality.
Through this webchat, Anna will offer her experience and insights to gender variant people considering transitioning or is in the process of transitioning. Join us live to learn and jump in to ask questions!
About Anna Nyugen I am a transgender woman from Austin, Texas. I started transitioning in December 2013 and came out in July 2014. I am the current President of PFLAG Austin, which is co-sponsoring the Transgender Day of Remembrance event at Austin’s City Hall on 11/21.
I am a software engineer. I currently own a small software company that publishes fashion-related applications.
Anna Nguyen, modeling a Halloween costume of her own design
PFLAG Austin had provided a supportive and welcoming environment during the early stages of my transition for which I am very grateful. I serve on its Board as a way to give back, to ensure that PFLAG will continue to be a supportive and welcoming environment for all those who need it.
Check out Anna’s personal website here. Connect with Anna here.
A quote that inspires Anna Nguye
More on What We’ll Be Talking About in Season 2 Each month in Season 2, we’ll be diving deeper into our discoveries from the Celebration Tour 2015.
In September, for Chat 1, we talked with author and educator Sally Ember, Ed.D. Watch the video clip with Sally here.
In October, for Chat 2, we learning more about what author Amy G. Dalia is up to, as well as got a chance to see her in-depth lists of LGBTQ books and films. To launch our new season we wanted to explore some of the most common questions we covered last year in Season 1, 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 the Rainbow Video Clip Q&A series with Melita about Celebrating Diverse Sexuality & Gender
Get all the Censored2Celebrated news delivered to your in-box: Sign up for emails 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
Get all the Censored2Celebrated news to your in-box: Sign up for emails here.
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 herefor 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.
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.
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.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.
As 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 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.
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.
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 meif 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.
I 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.
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 Jazzwould 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 Mindto 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!
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.
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, shecourageously 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.
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.
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!
With gratitude to Amy Pittel for donating this book that has allowed so many individuals, libraries, and communities to move From Censored to Celebrated!
“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.”
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:
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.
To that end, Kate writes articles and facilitates workshops on how to build amazing relationships. Click here to find out more about Kate McCombs & SexGeekdom.
Check out the #Censored2Celebrated interviews all in one handy place right here.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Click here for 8 Easy Steps to gifting a book to your local library
A 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
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
“And it is because I no longer fear: the outcomes, the medical interventions, the bigotry, that I will not be filing this birthday letter in a box in our attic with those of earlier years.
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.