Come Celebrate a Pride ‘Special Edition’ With Prism & Pen!

Prism & Pen Weekly Digest — June 2, 2024

James Finn
Prism & Pen

Newsletter

19 min readJun 2, 2024

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by James Finn

Happy second day of Pride! At P&P we started honing stories well before June, and we’ve got a treasure trove to share with you. Feel like a Sapphic holiday on a Greek island? How about a stroll through Beijing’s biggest queer club?

Are you a queer Christian in need of encouragement? A queer elder who wants Congress to finally pass a bill supporting people like you? Does queer homelessness anger you? Do you worry that suppressing Pride signals fast-approaching authoritarianism? Are you sick of people claiming Pride is “shoved down my throat?” Tired of anti-trans moral panic as baseless and silly as claims about space aliens on UFOs?

That’s just a sample of what we offer this week, and there’s so much more to come this Pride Season.

Ready? Let’s read!👇

Read stories for free by clicking underlined links. Want more daily stories from across the rainbow? Follow us on Medium, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Mastodon, or Bluesky! Want to help support P&P? Click here to join Medium.

— Editor’s Picks —

This Trans Woman’s Anger Trumps Her Fear during Pride

Piddling Piddles

In the U.S., the FBI has already lit the beacons about the threat of potential attacks this upcoming Pride. This is no joke — these are officials whose job it is to analyze and determine the validity of terroristic action.

Canada wasn’t far behind either, warning about the potential of “lone actors” feeling emboldened due to events like last year’s hate-motivated stabbing in a gender studies class at Waterloo University during Pride month…

My brother goes to Waterloo — he was locked down in the library on the day of the stabbing. Predictably, my parents were worried sick about him when information was scarce and possibility ran rampant. Then once the facts solidified, they turned their attention towards me, the trans sister.

Read in P&P

A Message for LGBTQ+ Christians This Pride Month

Esther Spurrill-Jones

It is always difficult to live in the intersection of Christian and queer. We are sometimes bombarded with hostility from both the church and other LGBTQ+ people. Recently, it feels like the struggle has grown more heated, with anti-queer Christians becoming louder and bolder in their hatred.

While some anti-LGBTQ+ Christians are loud and unapologetic with their hate for queer people, others disguise their bigotry in faux-loving words while telling us we have to change who we are to be saved…

Garrett Kell … lays out “six encouragements to help Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction to persevere in putting to death sinful desires and holding to a biblical sexual ethic.”

I would like to offer in response six encouragements to help queer Christians stand strong in the face of both this “gentle” bigotry as well as the louder type of hate.

Read in P&P

Suppression of Pride Is a Slippery Slope Toward Authoritarianism

John Peyton Cooke

I’ve been thinking about what Pride means to me in this chaotic election year of 2024. In a nutshell, I’m worried that those who hate us are already legislating against us and trying to intimidate us, perhaps even with violence and voter suppression. We can’t afford to let any of that happen.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) of Florida recently banned the rainbow colors of LGBTQ+ Pride from being lit up on Florida bridges during Pride month. Instead, under his latest decree, it will be red, white, and blue to celebrate Florida’s so-called Freedom Summer…

Believe what they say.

The MAGA movement and its Dear Leader are already telling us what they’re going to do. They want to take away trans rights. They want to make all LGBTQ+ folks invisible, at the very least. They call us all “groomers” and want to “protect” America’s youth from us. Could incarceration be far behind? Young LGBTQ+ people are being deprived of literally life-saving information through the banning of books, and so on.

All of the MAGA anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, of course, is propaganda designed to manipulate the easily manipulable. Others go along with it, dismiss it, or just don’t care.

Read in P&P

To Rep. Brianna Titone: My Story of Transgender Housing Insecurity

Logan Silkwood

Dear Representative Brianna Titone,

I woke up this morning to a memory of sleeping in my car after paying to live in a long-term B&B that wasn’t sanitary or safe.

I wasn’t struggling financially at that time. In fact, I’d never had more money in the bank in my life. We’d just sold our house in North Carolina and fled across the country to Colorado, ready to use the proceeds as a down payment on a local townhouse. Unfortunately, we’d assumed incorrectly that local discrimination protections amounted to transgender people having equal access to safe housing…

Read in P&P

GOP Oppose Elder Pride Act as ‘Discrimination Against Straight People’

James Finn

This Pride season, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives want to offer a helping hand to older LGBTQ people like me who live in isolated, rural parts of the country. I think that help is a lovely idea, and I have a personal stake in it. Sadly, it looks dead in the water in the face of Republican opposition…

I’d like to have a heart-to-heart with those leaders based on my own life…

My romantic notions about aging began to change when I learned about aging queer people without support. I didn’t know it then, but I’ve learned that many queer elders return to the closet if they enter care. It’s a demographics thing. For queer people my generation and older (I’m 62), our peers are more likely to have negative attitudes about us…

According to SAGE, at least a third of queer people in the U.S. voluntarily re-closet when they enter care.

Read in P&P

The Texas Republican Party Believes in UFOs But Not in Trans People

Tucker Lieberman

The Texas Republican Party has a new plank in its 2024 platform … It asks the federal government to “disclos[e] to the American people all pertinent information… regarding the nature and origins of non-American Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP),” better known as as UFOs…

In one sense, “non-American Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP)” exist: Any airplane or drone you don’t recognize is “unidentified.” …

The Texas Republican platform has quite a bit more to say about trans people than it has to say about UFOs.

It tries to designate us as roughly equivalent to “minor children” up to age 26. Until then, we’d have no legal ability to change our own names. Through our mid-20s, our parents would be entitled to call up our doctors to ask for our medical records and our universities to ask what we’re studying…

We would certainly not be allowed to get jobs as teachers, nor could we join the military. Books that acknowledge our existence would not be allowed in libraries.

Read in P&P

My Act Up Days Show Me Queer Pride Can Look Both Backwards and Ahead

Jean Elizabeth Glass

I came out in the eighties, but the first time anything related to being Queer crossed into my consciousness was November 27, 1978. I was 12-years-old. Harvey Milk was shot by Dan White. I didn’t understand the politics around the shooting. All I took in was that the first openly Gay Man to be elected in the United States was dead, and no one seemed upset about that specifically…

Even as win after win occurred for Queer rights across the United States, I was still a Queer in New York City. It wasn’t until I found the Lesbian and Gay Community Center and Gay and Lesbian Youth of NY that I could finally find a path toward becoming a proud out Queer.

Just as I was finding my feet, the AIDS crisis erupted. I found myself in ACT UP. I was young, and the 20 and 30-somethings didn’t quite accept me, but at least I was doing something. It was then I found people who had been fighting for Queer rights. I found friends who were not afraid to stand up and demand justice when Queers were discriminated against.

Read in P&P

My Tender Attachment to ‘Destination’, China’s Biggest Gay Club

Eki

In my second year in Beijing, on a night when the temperature was starting to drop, I finally found myself with a group of friends I’d just met, trying to hide my curiosity and excitement as we headed into Destination, Beijing’s — and possibly China’s — largest gay club.

The club is located in one of the core areas for Beijing nightlife. Unlike many semi-underground clubs or those in shopping malls, it’s a standalone four-story building, with high walls and iron gates that separate it from the outside world…

I felt a mix of fear and excitement, wanting to be seen but also terrified of being noticed. The dim green lighting only outlined their shapes, and with people pushing and shoving, I often found myself accidentally bumping into someone’s chest or face. It felt like raindrops hitting a pond, startling me briefly before calm returned.

Read in P&P

On the Cusp of Pride Month, I Ask, Didn’t God Create Rainbows, Too?

Rand Bishop

If an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God created the natural world and every creature great and small, how is it possible for that same deity to also have created unworthy, perverse evil doers?

And, assuming that IS possible, why would a loving God choose to exercise that prerogative? To what purpose?

Is it possible that the Creator is not infallible after all? Could it be that, on a fairly regular basis, our Heavenly Father dozes off at the wheel?

If so, are humans to assume that they’ve been called upon to supervise God and report on the big guy’s job performance?

Read in P&P

What On Earth is a Queer Ranch Festival? And Where Do the Goats Go …

Clay Hand

Usually the nocturnal rhythms in these parts are reserved for frogs and crickets, but this weekend, some of the finest queer DJs from capitals across Europe played from a booth made of bamboo over a dance floor made of straw.

Baselines usually heard in sweaty basement clubs in Berlin drifted across the valleys of the Greek island of Lesvos until dawn broke, turning the zaffre skies pale blue.

The three-day festival — the first of its kind on the island — was the brainchild of Ohana Collective, in collaboration with Anaïs Carayon, founder of Paris’ Brain Magazine and producer Audrey Saint-Pe.

Read in P&P

Transphobes: No One Is Shoving Pride Month Down Your Throat

Amber Poe

I am sick and tired of the vitriol, frankly the lies, spouted by the Republican Party about trans folk and the LGBTQ community as a whole. I am sick and tired of having to defend myself for being me and living my life. I am sick and tired of being told how I should live my life. Talk about forcing it down someone’s throats!

I will not lie to you. I am worried about a future where people are told who they can love and what to believe. I am worried about a future where gender-affirming care is banned for not just youths but adults. I am worried about living in a futuristic The Handmaid’s Tale nightmare where women’s rights are stripped from them.

Read in P&P

— Essays & Creative Nonfiction —

Handlebar Mustaches, Leather, and Captain’s Caps: Gay 70’s Influencers

Matthew Bamberg

Three men — Tom of Finland (Touko Valio Laaksonen), German Peter Berlin, and American Robert Mapplethorpe — used art forms to change the stereotype of gay men from repressed effeminate castaways to a proud community of diverse sexualities.

These models and artists’ skills illustrate tremendous talent in multiple visual and performance artist genres and methods. For example, Tom of Finland’s gouache-on-paper illustrations, Robert Mapplethorpe’s staged flower photos, and Peter Berlin’s self-portraits stage immaculate creative visions in composition, storytelling, and perspective.

Yet it is the content — gay male art — that made them famous.

Read in P&P

My Dad, a Veteran, Would Be Shocked by Today’s Anti-LGBTQ Bigotry

Amy Kaufman Burk

Every Memorial Day, I think of my father.

Dad was in the Marine Corps during World War II — Okinawa and Guadalcanal. He brought home malaria and dengue fever — six feet tall, 120 pounds. He recovered, regained strength, lived.

I learned that my father pointed his gun at soldiers fighting for Hitler, and once at fellow Marines who were about to rape an adolescent in front of her grandparents. I learned that my father pulled men from the brig, citing their suddenly discovered expertise needed for his platoon — men in confinement for being “caught” with another man. I learned that my father — a screenwriter — chose the pen over the sword as he rebuilt his life, postwar.

Read in P&P

The Trans Journey to Untangle a Scrambled Identity

Piddling Piddles

The trans life as palimpsest is a series of endlessly compounding identifiers, often hastily scribbled and cribbed from our friends and family — a natural identity scraped away in favour of a falsehood we expect others to want out of us.

Such an experience also remains universally queer, and any person can, of course, face pressure to cover up themselves for the sake of others.

Simultaneously, the trans predisposition towards having good cause to squirrel away the self doesn’t mean we all become hide-and-seek champions. Even a trans person can escape the trap of overwriting identity.

Read in P&P

An Ode to My Chinese-Immigrant In-Laws During Pride Month

Cory Allen

Three years ago, if you told me we would wed in front of our parents, we would be nervously awaiting the birth of our first child, and we would be preparing to cohabitate with my husband’s parents, I would have said you were out of your mind.

Three years ago, my then-boyfriend came out to his parents. I embraced him the moment he got back to our house, knowing it hadn’t gone well. They had ignored the tell-tale signs that their children were gay, as many parents do, and upon being faced with reality, dramatic outbursts occurred, along with irrational fears and hurtful words.

His parents were born and raised in Guangzhou, China, immigrating separately to the U.S. around 1980…

Read in P&P

Reading Gay Secondhand Books — Unique Legacies for New Generations

John Peyton Cooke

I’m grateful to own all of these books. I see my used gay books as a legacy passed down from older generations of gay men. These were owned and read and re-read by other LGBTQ+ people whom I never knew, and perhaps even by other open-minded folks sympathetic to our community. Coming from different eras, these books represent a range of advances in gay artistry, gay publishing, and gay literary history.

I wonder what effect they had on their owners. Everyone’s experience reading a book is informed by their own life and its challenges. I can never re-live these stories through the eyes of their original owners. Nor could they ever have imagined I’d be the one reading them after they were gone.

Read in P&P

Where Was the Judy Blume for Queer Kids?

Astra Cassells

As a teenager in the late 1980s, I could never find the story I wanted, the one I could relate to. I was searching for the story different to all the ‘boy meets girl’ teenage tales. The one where the girl fancies her best friend, who is also a girl, and is in agonies about these strange new feelings. Just like I was. Nobody in the books aimed for the teenage market in the 1980s ever felt like I did.

In the UK in the late 1980s and 1990s we had that lovely law, section 28. It was passed in 1988 by a Conservative government and stopped councils and schools “promoting the teaching of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”.

Read in P&P

As an Older Trans Woman, I Just Got Big Boobs & They Hurt Like Hell

Simply Sophia

Every human begins as a female. That’s why men have nipples.

I’ve wanted what romance novels called “ample bosoms” since I was four and reading the bodice-ripper books beside Mama’s bed. Later, as a much more grown-up nine-year-old, I’d put on Mama’s bra and stuff it with socks. Then I’d stare at myself in the bathroom mirror and wish and mourn.

Mama knew I was a girl; I told her often, but she made me keep it a secret. The world thought I was a boy.

Because of the ultra-conservative evangelical world I grew up in, I continued to play the role of a male for decades. Of course, I was always a girl on the inside …

Read in P&P

PRIDE: Speaking Out When We Have the World’s Eyes On Us!

Saoirse

It’s insidious, but it is real. Over the past three years I have witnessed the light and focus on LGBTQ and especially transgender issues change to a sinister hue. I began to notice first when many of my feeds went dark. I had to seek out favorite writers who are bravely still sharing their experiences and perspectives on private platforms.

Then, I stopped seeing opinion pieces in the New York Times by trans woman, esteemed author, and family/parenting columnist Jennifer Finney Boylan. I don’t believe this was coincidental, as the Times shifted to Pamela Paul, who consistently writes lopsided opinion pieces that dismiss transgender people as real and ignore the majority of medical/scientific consensus.

Read in P&P

The Fear of Writing — for the LGBTQ Community

Michael Horvich (he, him)

Usually, writing does not scare me but sometimes I do have a fear of writing. I sit at my computer almost every day, religiously — although I am more spiritual than religious — and write anywhere from one to three hours depending on how productive I am on any given day.

I love writing for my gay community for altruistic reasons: perhaps my experiences, lessons, awarenesses, and insights over the 79 years (turned this year — I am almost 80, you know) can be helpful to others, especially in the difficult area of letting them know they are not alone for whatever reason!

Read in P&P

Knowing Their “Place”: When a Gay Couple Stands Up to Harassment

Terry Barr

“I get knocked down, but I get up again. They’re never gonna keep me down….”

We didn’t select the song because of its message; it was just a fun song that I used to play for my daughters back when we were all much younger. Still, listening to lines like that, I think it’s more than a feeling, more than a sound.

It’s a Mantra for Pride, or at least the one I’m hanging onto this June for a Pride month where so much is at stake, and when there is so much doubt about our lives and our country.

Read in P&P

Remembering LGBTQ+ Military Who Didn’t Return

Michelle Paquette

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, about 15% of respondents were veterans of military service, about twice the rate of the general population. I am one of those transgender veterans.

I joined to serve my country, with the misguided hope that it might, somehow, help me to “man up.” A few years earlier, I had spent the last year of high school receiving corrective treatment for an “attachment disorder,” the odd idea that I might be happier as a woman than a man. A pediatrician prescribed testosterone injections. I received [electric shock] aversion therapy, and about 2 years of regular counseling from a Catholic priest. After I had been in college for a year, the treatments ended, and I was pronounced cured…

Read in P&P

Art Is The Vehicle To Combat LGBTQIA+ Hate & Discrimination

Stephanie Parry

Our book launch is taking place on June 27th at 6–8 pm at Under the Umbrella — a queer bookstore in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I will be there, along with my other fellow queer authors and our fabulous editors, promoting the launch of our book, combating injustice and discrimination in the way that only queer artists can…

Recently, the FBI and State Department have warned our queer communities about serious threats of anti-queer violence in June.
Pride is under threat for us. What does that mean for you? What will that mean for our stories? Our lives?

Read in P&P

UK Government Further Restricts Access to Puberty Blockers

Sarah TC

The Tory election campaign, led by Rishi Sunak, is playing out like a bad political satire. Truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction, and things have gotten silly. As people struggle with the cost of living and the state of the NHS, Sunak proposes compulsory national service and an end to “Mickey Mouse degrees”. Even the best satirist could not write this stuff.

Then things took a dark turn. Health Secretary Victoria Atkins passed last-minute legislation restricting children’s access to puberty blockers. The finishing post for the dissolution of parliament was tantalisingly in sight, and Atkins seized the opportunity for a few ill-gotten votes.

Read in P&P

Caitlyn Jenner Disagrees with NCAA Coach of the Year on Trans Women

Joanna Mills

The night before the championship game, Coach Staley was asked how she felt about the alleged threat transgender athletes pose to women’s basketball by an Outkick reporter. Outkick is a conservative sports and political commentary website run by Clay Travis…

Dawn Staley’s response — measured as it was — has elevated her already lofty status as a Two-Time NCAA Player of the Year, 1991 Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Five-Time WNBA All-Star, Olympic Gold Medal Winning Head Coach, and now Three-Time NCAA champion coach and amazing human being. She was also named the South Carolina honoree for the 2022 USA Today Woman of the Year.

She is an incredible woman.

Read in P&P

Gender Dysphoria: Honesty in the Darkness of Gender Lies

Emma Holiday

The effect of gender dysphoria on a transgender person can range from a minor mental itch to a red-hot emotional spike being driven into your consciousness, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It can be relentless.

I started my writing journey five years ago trying to verbalize what it was like for me.

Read in P&P

Ultra-Conservative Idaho Slaps the Hurt on Anti-LGBTQ Bigotry!

Rand Bishop

“Why did no one arrest the man in a dress who flashed his genitalia to minors and people in the crowd?” Bushnell wrote in the Spring of 2022. “No one said anything about it and there’s video. I’m going to put up a blurred video to prove it.”

Then, true to her promise, Ms. Bushnell proceeded to upload a video of Eric Posey, performing in the guise of drag persona Mona Liza Million. In the footage, the performer’s waist and groin area had been made opaque by way of the Bokeh effect.

Due to the way Bushnell introduced and presented the video, viewers were falsely led to presume that the blurring was to prevent explicit exposure of Posey’s private parts.

Read in P&P

— Fiction Series —

The Medellan Conspiracy

Click here for an intro and chapter links

By Grayson Bell

Ardyn and Jevan are in love, bonded, and unexpectedly telepathic with one another. Ardyn’s people are recent arrivals on the planet, and Jevan’s are supposedly indigenous. A secret society keeps trying to kill them for poking around into the past. And now … it looks like important history is about to be revealed!

Ardyn turned his attention back to the screen. “…we’re making this video as a record for future generations. Hopefully, one day we’ll figure out a cure for this stupid condition of ours and then you can know exactly why we got stuck here on this planet. If we can find a cure, maybe one day we can go back to Earth, or even to one of the colonies. Just, please… don’t try to go back if you haven’t been cured yet. You won’t be safe if you do.”

A soft murmur rippled across those in attendance, and Ardyn noticed Amyra and Tamaryn raise their ears to full attention.

Read Episode 69: Kin
Read Episode 70: Unveiling

That’s all for Prism & Pen this week, folks, so happy reading!

Writers, have you seen our new Pride prompt? Pride Is Under Threat. What Does That Mean for You This Year? We’ll be telling Pride stories all month. Join us!

And we’ll see y’all next Sunday for another Pride special edition. ❤️

— Jim

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James Finn
Prism & Pen

James Finn is an LGBTQ columnist, a former Air Force intelligence analyst, an alumnus of Act Up NY, and an agented but unpublished novelist.