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

Queer Parents and Couples Share Stories as Queer Heroes Save Kids

Prism & Pen Weekly — Sept 18, 2022

by James Finn

Prism & Pen writers examine queer worlds this week as a mom writes about her innovative new “lifestyle” raising a child with her ex-partner, a trans woman backs out of her “queer” tennis league, and a trans man wonders why so many people call him “ma’am” these days.

Plus, meet an amazing new queer youth agency that’s rushing help to trans and gay kids suffering in the Republican war on queer youth.

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— Editor’s Picks —

Rainbow Youth Volunteers Talk LGBTQ Kids Off Ledges. Meet Them!

James Finn

Attacks on queer youth are on fire in Republican states, and LGBTQ youth-suicide attempts are climbing past crisis levels. Rainbow Youth Project USA is a grass-roots, spontaneous, frontline response — combining traditional hotline support with a new model that rushes intensive intervention to families in need. I sat down with staff to paint an operations picture — a night in the life of RYP volunteers.

Hundreds of miles away, Lance sits up in bed, awakened by a SIP (suicide in progress) alert. He follows along as case manager Kristen, an RN with decades of experience as a rape-crisis counselor, marshals Rainbow Youth Project resources to keep that Texas boy alive.

Soon, an entire crisis team has the boy’s back. Brandon and Kristen are in Indianapolis, Lance is God knows where, traveling as he constantly does on Rainbow Youth business. Now, crisis experts in Texas are getting involved too. Brandon stays on the phone for a couple hours, until the boy is out of immediate danger.

That’s only the beginning of Rainbow Youth services.

Read in P&P

Almost Nobody Called Me “Ma’am” Until I Came Out as a Trans Man

Logan Silkwood

Logan muses about how few people used to use gendered language to address him. He wonders why now that he’s transitioned, people seem so apt to MIS-gender him. Intentional? Sometimes. But what about other times?

Let’s face it: masculinity is much more acceptable on women than femininity is on men, so people expect some women to dress, act, and look a lot like men. I get that. When people call my wife and I “ladies”, they’re probably thinking I’m a butch lesbian and my wife is a lipstick lesbian, making ours the stereotypical lesbian marriage at first glance.

Read in P&P

My Life Is About To Get A Lot More Queer

Jae L

Jae has written in P&P about the “unexpected joy of co-parenting” as a separated, queer parent. Now her life is about to get more queer and (she hopes) more joyful as she and her ex-partner try out a cool, outside-the-box lifestyle change.

It comes down to a question of what it really means to live a queer life. I’ve reflected before on the beauty of living on the edge of the mainstream and having the freedom to do things differently. It’s essentially an internal state of being that doesn’t depend on the outward appearance of your life.

Now and again, light emerges through a crack in the drudgery to remind me why I’m grateful that I’m not straight.

Read in P&P

— Memoir —

Slammed: a Memoir

John Cormier

Have you ever gone in for anonymous HIV testing and waited for the results with a sour stomach? I have, so this chapter of John’s memoir feels wrenching. When he gets the results, will the shock be enough to turn him away from meth and addictive chemsex?

He took my hands in his. His hands were meaty and strong. I enjoyed their warmth as they enveloped mine.

Then something shifted. His hands became less sensual. He wasn’t holding my hands any more. He was examining them. Turning them over, his face grew tense, alarmed.

Holding my hands, palms up, he looked at me. “Do you know what this is?”

Read: The Day This Gay Meth Addict Tested HIV+

— Essays and Creative Nonfiction —

School Cop Hurls Anti-Gay Slurs at Gay Kid. School, Media Circle Wagons.

James Finn

Two independent witnesses to the fight tell me the [14-year-old openly gay] boy objected to homophobic verbal abuse by telling King, “I’m going to tell my mom how you’re talking to me.”

Those witnesses and the boy himself independently tell me Deputy King’s response was, “Fuck your mom.”

The boy says he repeatedly tried to tell Deputy King that the bully was sexually assaulting girls, including his best friend, but that King would not listen.

Read in P&P

Are Polyamorous People Queer?

Logan Silkwood

Up until a few days ago, I’ve been living with a polyamorous family of mostly cis heteroflexible people. During discussions with them and other members of their polycule, or larger polyamorous family, they shied away from identifying as queer, preferring the term heteroflexible to describe their same-sex sexual interactions and relationships.

Read in P&P

Once You Know You’re Transgender, You Can’t Unknow

Emma Holiday

I am transgender.

I learned that fact after 62 years of life.

I can’t hate being transgender because it is what I am and I will not hate myself. I just wish I wasn’t.

I hate what that knowledge, coming so late in my life, has done to my life.

Read in P&P

I Quit My Queer Tennis League

Kitty Whitemore

One septuagenarian white Catholic man was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I may have made a tiny scene on my way out directed at that one guy… I can be a bit dramatic, but I have standards. His constant misogyny and that damn University of Texas Longhorns hat that I explained to him was racist that he kept on wearing were too much. On top of that, his description of an Asian man’s private parts was demeaning.

Read in P&P

New LGBTQ+ ‘Agenda’ PAC Attacking Far Right Extremists

Meagon Nolasco

It has long been said that LGBTQ+ people have a gay agenda, something along the lines of “grooming” children and turning all the straights of the world into raging queers.

This is false.

We do have Agenda now though, both a political action committee and mindset to push back the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and hate by dousing the Republican extremists’ fires.

Read in P&P

Conservative Christianity Wants to End Same-Sex Marriage

Esther Spurrill-Jones

Who’s being hurt?

Today, I ask the question I never considered in my youth: how the hell does same-sex marriage affect straight people?

Anti-abortion activism I understand: they think they’re saving lives. But who’s being hurt if Adam and Steve can get married to each other?

Read in P&P

My Transgender Community Has Warm Beating Hearts

Emma Holiday

My queer world in made up of an online community of transgender and other friends who understand and accept us for who we are. It is absolutely remarkable. I write often about them but not often enough. So many of them have lit candles in my darkest world. They are unrestricted in their caring, understanding and love. They don’t set rules. They don’t set conditions. They accept without restrain. I try to reflect their love back as best I can.

Read in P&P

Oops, I Retroactively Changed Your Sexuality by Coming Out as Trans

Logan Silkwood

Last night, I had the sort of violent nightmare that is really common for a trans person. It’s the kind of nightmare that’s a reality for so many of us at any given moment. It’s why navigating the dating world outside my immediate trans community feels scary.

I dreamt that I ran into an ex-boyfriend, and he recognized me. I watched it slowly dawn on him that I was really a man.

Read in P&P

Christian Post Calls “Transgenderism” a Cult of “Irreversible Harm”

Esther Spurrill-Jones

Kamman uses inflammatory terms meant to invoke emotional knee-jerk responses in her readers: “body mutilation,” “body-disfiguring,” “experimental hormones and surgeries,” “immense regret and bodily harm,” “cult,” “indoctrinated,” “dissociation and chemical disintegration,” and “child abuse.”

The tone of the article is meant to shock and anger. Kamman wants us to be angry and ready to fight. She is instigating violence.

Read in P&P

A Trans Woman Reflects on Pure Love, on Danny’s Love

Emma Holiday

Danny is a special needs friend… to everyone. He is now in his sixties, but there isn’t a child in my community who doesn’t know and love Danny. His entire being exudes happiness to know you … simple joy to be in your company.

He reminds me that love is eternal.

Read in P&P

Transgender Callouses: The Bright Side of the Comments Section

Kitty Whitemore

Some days, I can’t deal with the hatred. I have to take days off because the sheer number of haters on trans articles is overwhelming. I’m fortunate that I haven’t met anyone like these people in real life. I imagine they would be way less vocal in a real-life encounter. But online people are very angry about my existence. I try to gently explain to them that trans people exist and we aren’t a threat to anyone.

Read in P&P

LGBTQ+ Rights Thrive Amongst Citizens of Malta

Meagon Nolasco

Malta offers LGBTQ+ individuals more equality rights than many countries overseas. Rights, it should be noted, that similarly to America are given at birth to their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts. Not only are their citizens accepting and fighting for these rights, but their Prime Minister and government are also leading the way in advancing LGBTQ+ equality.

Read in P&P

Persecuted Trans Folks: Entertainment or Human Beings Worthy of Support?

James Finn

If social media and other news-distribution algorithms have people trained to click on things that outrage them, how do you engage people on critical issues that aren’t outrageous? How about this? Are action statements effective when married to content designed to produce anger, or is high readership on those kind of pieces just an illusion?

Read in P&P

Transgender Marriage Is Complicated: Making Cupcakes Together, Examined

Kitty Whitemore

My wife and I used to enjoy making cupcakes together… I enjoyed the closeness we shared when we were baking. The physical act of baking cupcakes was never that important. It was the feeling of togetherness and love that baking gave me.

Things change.

My wife went through some physical changes, and she didn’t care for baking cupcakes anymore.

Read in P&P

What’s the problem with ‘Transgender?’

Stephanie Moga

The number of trans people in the United States is equivalent to a city of a million, the size of Austin, Texas, or San Jose, California. Do they have crime? Do they have problems? Sure. How could they not? Do we condemn all the residents of Memphis, Tennessee, for the abduction and murder of Eliza Fletcher? We don’t. And yet there is the inclination to blame the trans community for everyone who has ever claimed to be trans.

Read in P&P

— Poetry Picks —

Memories of My Husband

Michael Horvich

Memories of earlier times arrive
No longer to be there for me or us
So I sit at computer and compose
And console self as best I can.

I sit on the summer warmed balcony …

Read in P&P

Noisy Quiet and Chaotic Stillness

Michael Horvich

We have come to expect that things will always be and stay the same.
We expect that nothing will change or be rearranged in our lives.
But in one day, all is different and unrecognizable and incomprehensible.
And change is upon us; want it, like it, or not — we never expected this.

Read in P&P

Those are stories this week! We hope you find something inspiring, educational, entertaining, or beautiful. We’ve got a little of all that in our mix

And, writers? We’ve got a prompt running. Wanna play?

Seeya next Sunday!

Jim 🥰

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James Finn

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