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This is an email from The Digest, a newsletter by Prism & Pen.

LGBTQ Backlash News and Selfcare Advice, Fiction and Queer Crushes!

Prism & Pen Weekly — August 14, 2022

by James Finn

Selfcare during a stormy anti-LGBTQ backlash figures heavily in this week’s Prism & Pen. Writers tackle the news itself and share thoughts on how to stay centered and loving despite events. Also, fiction about a transgender Jesus and essays on faking queerness and the impossibility of separating the T from LGBT.

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— Editor’s Picks —

Governor DeSantis Fires Prosecutor Who Refuses to Prosecute LGBTQ and Women’s Healthcare

My own P&P stories this week tackle the rising U.S. anti-LGBTQ backlash. Voters defund a library near me for refusing to remove books about trans and gay people. Gay Republicans cravenly embrace Donald Trump, even likening his Florida resort to Stonewall.

Lisa’s story highlights a potentially bigger Florida threat, an authoritarian governor who may win the 2024 presidential election.Gov. Ron DeSantis makes Donald Trump looks like a silly reality TV star. DeSantis is smarter, wields power more effectively, and takes demonization of queer people to heights not even Trump dared. This story is just one frightening example:

The most disturbing thing to me is the overt police-state vibe of the press conference. Again, I would have no problem if the presser was the announcement of some task force arrest on a major criminal case. Under the guise of enforcing “all laws” with the backing of the leaders of some of the largest sheriff’s departments in Central Florida, the governor wants everyone to know he will not tolerate dissent.

Read in P&P

We Shouldn’t Care If Someone’s “Faking” Being Queer For Attention

Alex Mell-Taylor

Alex counters “trans-trending” and other queer-faking arguments made by both queer and cis/straight people.

From my perspective as someone who advocates for queer liberation, if more and more people decide to be queer, assuming that is something someone can “decide,” then isn’t that a good thing?

There are many “concerned” queer people out there who think that all of these trendy gays and trans people are giving the “rest of us” a bad name because, well, there usually isn’t much of an explanation given besides just that it’s terrible.

Read in P&P

LGB Without the T? Sister, We Have To Talk

Danni Michaeli

Alex’s piece pairs well with Danni’s, who argues convincingly that queer identities are often choices we make and must respect.

Cross-gender behavior, dress, mannerisms, past-times and interests are deeply woven into homosexual identity, and is the basis of our romantic and erotic objects of desire. Homosexual identity without transgender identity is just internalized homophobia, no matter how gender normative you are.

I remember when I first started coming out, I didn’t like going to gay pride parades; too many drag queens. They were too flamboyant, too feminine. I didn’t want them to represent me.

Read in P&P

— Memoir —

Slammed: a Memoir

John Cormier

A nightmarish bus trip from New York City through Chicago delivers a grimy, meth-crashing, nic-fitting John to the corn fields of the heartland to deliver Shakespeare to 8 year olds and parents with no access to professional theater. What could possibly go wrong?

When he released me from the hug, he really saw me for the first time.

My jeans hadn’t been washed in who knows how long. My Crazy for You show jacket — which a normal person wouldn’t be wearing on a warm summer day in June — was fraying at the cuffs and had a tear in the shoulder exposing the purplish lining underneath…

Dexter’s face became pleasant but neutral, which told me everything.

Read: Gay Meth Addict Takes a Break to do Summer Stock Theater

— Essays and Creative Nonfiction —

Do Zombies Have a Gender?

Emma Holiday

Taking this humorous horror fiction to the real world, what makes you better than a zombie?

I believe that humans are a combination of a physical body and a unique consciousness, an individual self-awareness. That consciousness is the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character. For many it is called their soul or their spirit.

Read in P&P

Get thee to a Cabaret: Pride hit Cork city and I hit Pride.

Fiona Evangeline Leigh

When the Pride festival whisked me out of the coma my daily routines had put me in, I found myself more than ready to nail my colors to the mast.

It was high bloody time, too, this comfortable landing on two high heels. It occurred to me I would just have to forgive myself all the wasted years of my not being Fiona. How can one live one’s best life when you haven’t a clue who or what you are?

Read in P&P

A Monkeypox Vaccine at My First Colorado Pride?

Logan Silkwood

I’d never been to a Pride event outside of North Carolina, so I was excited that there was spontaneously an event in Aurora, Colorado last Saturday, despite it being August.

With such a lovely lakeside event on a gorgeous day, it was understandable that there would be a very long line full of scantily clad beautiful people waiting to enter. What I wasn’t expecting was for a masked nurse to …

Read in P&P

My Michigan Neighbors Shutter “Pornographic” Public Library

James Finn

You know book banning is out of control when people fight to close public libraries. Think that doesn’t happen in the United States, that it’s only the stuff of dystopian fiction? Hear about that Iowa library that closed early this summer because … the staff got tired (and frightened) of being called groomers and pedophiles?

Last week, the story came home to me in Michigan…

Read in P&P

Why It Took Me So Long to Write a Trans Character

Grayson Bell

As a writer, I never made it a secret that I was a gay, transgender man. While I use a pen name, I have been privileged enough to be out with both my sexual orientation and gender identity.

However, when I began writing fiction, I only wrote cisgender gay and bisexual male characters. While being gay is one aspect of my Own Voices experience, it’s only one side of it. I avoided writing transgender or genderqueer characters at first …

Read in P&P

My Bewitching Queer TV Crush

Antonia Ceballos

My crush is impossible and I was desperate. My unfulfilled longing is to claim and hold feminine space and receive social affirmation of it just as my crush did. I’ll never be a cis woman like her, but she is the beautiful archetype who embodies my desire to be a woman.

The witch, Samantha Stevens, Elizabeth Montgomery’s character, in the 1960s sitcom Bewitched, has been my intermittent TV crush for nigh on five decades.

Read in P&P

Is It Okay to Self Medicate for Queer Doom Scrolling?

Logan Silkwood

I developed both a fatalistic and pessimistic attitude while living in the South that affected a lot of my decisions throughout my life, if unconsciously. That constant state of fear that had long become normal was the reason why my wife and I moved across the country recently.

I visited my first legal marijuana dispensary shortly after completing our move to Colorado. I hadn’t expected to visit one.

Read in P&P

My Healthcare Plan Doesn’t Cover Transgender Affirming Surgeries

Stephanie Moga

This crushed me: My healthcare plan doesn’t cover transgender affirming surgeries. Nothing. It’s devastating news. It has broken my dreams of completing this transition. I don’t have a spare $30K to pay for this out of my pocket. The cruelty of health insurance in the US cannot be underestimated. I have paid into this healthcare system for decades. And now I want a little something out of it. Is that asking too much?

Read in P&P

Mar-A-Lago is Stonewall? Gay Republicans Grovel for Trump.

James Finn

Yesterday, the Log Cabin Republicans sank to a new low. The Log Cabin crowd joined a chorus of Republicans complaining about the FBI executing a search warrant on Trump’s Mar-A-Lago golf resort, where he lives during the winter.

Can we talk about The Stonewall Inn? Stonewall stands for freedom for the powerless. The Mar-A-Lago warrant fights privilege for the powerful.

Read in P&P

I Almost Had My First Queer Kiss in the Snow

Logan Silkwood

I couldn’t figure out which house I had grown up in, until I recognized his old house across the street from mine. Looking at it, I could almost taste the cherry coke he’d bought me shortly after I’d moved in at age 14. I could feel the cold mint chocolate chip upside down concretes we’d eaten together at the place catty-corner to the farmer’s grave. The cashier would hold the cup full of custard upside down for you just to prove it could be done.

Read in P&P

How I’m Holding Up Through the Anti-LGBTQ+ Backlash and My Self-Care Routine

Tre L. Loadholt

And since all I can do to not dwell in the darkness of shadows is brace myself for life’s trials and tribulations, I must remember … I have humor in animated movies, I can embrace my work crush in daydreams and fantasies, I will sip the goodness from a mug filled with pour-over coffee, and I play musical moments with my senior dog who only wants me connected to her at all times.

Self-care is what it is. It is self-love. It will sustain me.

Read in P&P

Who is Emma? A Transgender Tale.

Emma Holiday

Who is Emma?

She is a woman who never had a chance to be a little girl.

She is a person inside a person. Her thoughts were always censured by a binary filter in order for her words to be accepted by the world she grew up with.

She is a soul that has never seen her face in the mirror.

Read in P&P

LGBTQ+ Folks Resemble an Army When Standing Together

Meagon Nolasco

I have never been a politics type of gal. Let me rephrase. Until 5 years ago, I was not much of a political gal. I was uneducated and thought my vote and my voice didn’t matter. My statements and advocacy wouldn’t matter in a country where money talks and the rest, not just bullshit, walks.

Then, Trump was elected.

Read in P&P

A Gay Buddhist’s Approach to Self Care

Henry Lee Butler

Have you ever stood naked in front of a mirror and told yourself as another that you love them? That you love you? If you have body image issues, this can be difficult, but standing there, naked with only yourself, using your mother tongue to say the words you give to others in affection and point them at yourself is powerful medicine. It is affirmation and a gateway to self love. You have to mean it, though. You have to feel it.

Read in P&P

Dementia Doesn’t Discriminate Against LGBTQ! Tips To Help Support Your Partner

Michael Horvich

I am often asked, “What would you tell someone who just found out their spouse or parent or sibling or friend was diagnosed with Dementia/Alzheimer’s?”

Here is some of what I learned over the forty-one years my life partner Gregory and I were together in a committed relationship and over the twelve years that I walked the Dementia/Alzheimer’s Path with him.

Read in P&P

— Fiction Series —

Bread and Stones — A Transgender Messiah is Tempted in the Wilderness

Esther Spurrill-Jones

“My name is Yasha,” he says.

The stranger’s face is hidden in shadow, but somehow Yasha knows that he is smiling. “You may call me Loukios.” He crouches in front of Yasha, and his face comes into focus. It is ageless and beautiful and perfect, but there is something malevolent in the depths of his eyes, and his smile edges into a sneer. Picking up a dusty stone from the ground, Loukios turns it over in his soft uncalloused hands. “If you are the Son of God, could you not command this stone to become bread?”

Read in P&P

End-of-Summer Texas Hookup Part 3

JULIAN GRACIANO NUNEZ

I was startled, the lady came out of nowhere and asked about my boyfriend.

“Yeah, who are you?” I replied, trying not to be defensive.

She described how everybody in the town knew her family and started to tell her cheerleader life story. Her name was Jennifer. She had been engaged to Jamie, then broke it off and threw him out of their apartment.

Each word fired out of her mouth like rounds from a semi-automatic assault rifle. They came at me like rapid fire. I wanted her to stop talking and zoned her out.

I know Jamie is bi, but how could he have been engaged to this skank-a-doodle bottle blond? Why couldn’t she just shut up?

Read in P&P

Thanks for reading! Whether it’s an essay or fiction, I hope you find a favorite from this week’s stories. If so, could you reach out and let the writer know? You will make their day!

Writers? Prompt day tomorrow! Our most popular prompts always come from Prism & Pen writers like you. Hit me up in the comments? Let me know what you want to write about!

See y’all next Sunday. ❤

Jim

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James Finn

James Finn

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