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

Queer Transformation and Transition

LGBTQ stories in Prism & Pen — May 2, 2021

James Finn
May 2 · 11 min read

by James Finn

Prism & Pen writers this week seemed to decide to focus on change — individual and societal — along with the pleasure and pain the process can provoke. Join us for an exploration of transformation and transition that probes beyond ordinary queer expectations.

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Editor’s Picks —

Creative Nonfiction
Nick Bundarin
The Agency of Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X has captivated Prism & Pen writers like he has the rest of the world. Editor Artemis Shishir says Nick’s piece may be the best of several we’ve published. What do you think?

Once again, the stagnate status quo has cornered an artist. The Conservative Cackle comes for Lil Nas X, a cub in the music industry with the roar of a lion. It’s not off-brand for the reactionaries to go after someone in the creative sphere. Even going as far as attacking the Beatles, the right wing has committed to silencing artistic voices.

Shachee Swadia
Heartening Story About Love With a Surprise Ending!

Sachee hooked me with superb storytelling and an ending that caught me by surprise even though the title warned about a twist. For anyone who loves well crafted fiction, this love story set in India is a must read.

When Sandeep came back from college, the first thing he did was go to his parents’ room. He went to the dressing table and sifted through the various items in the drawer. “Ah found it! This should look good!”

His mother walked into the room just as he was about to apply her new lipstick. She was startled and asked, “What are you doing with my lipstick?”

Chevanne Scordinsky
Sappho’s Child

Forever fascinated by her passions, Chevanne distills them into verse. Take your time with this short poem. Its few lines are not a quick read.

I want to write words
Meant to be buried
Growing rich in soil
For generations

Laurence Best

Larry gives us two chapters of his tale of growing up gay without realizing it. In A Straight Gay Boy and Woodstock Nation, a summer of lost love transforms Larry’s demure girlfriend into a hippy while he sails with the Merchant Marine and tries to prove heterosexual virility in a Mexican house of “ill repute.” To embarrassing consequence!

In A Straight Gay Boy Goes to His First Gay Bar, a sexually suspect frat brother introduces a panicked Larry to New Orleans’ pre-Stonewall gay demi-monde. But at least his gay German-language professor thinks what he’s supposed to think!

I dashed out the door, down the corridor, and out into the night. I ran in the opposite direction of the way we’d come, then hurried the dozen or so blocks to Cindy’s apartment. All the way there, I wondered how I had let things go so far and why I had not dared say no.

Cindy let me in and bolted the door. I told her everything and started to calm down. Then came a knock at the door. Will!

Creative Non Fiction Selections —

Emma Holiday
Episode 4: The 1970’s: Proving I was a “Guys Guy” but please ignore the woman behind the curtain.

When I turned 16 in 1971, my testosterone was officially raging. I was a “guys guy”. Maybe my internal anger was a factor of the testosterone and the gender dysphoria perking behind the scene. I found myself in way too many fights until around the age of 20 when I finally came to the mature conclusion that fighting wasn’t worth the jail time.

Josie Klakström
How Iceland Adapted Laws to Include Queer Citizens

In June 2019, Iceland ruled that it would now include the suffix of ‘-bur’ meaning ‘child’ for nonbinary residents of the country. The Gender Autonomy Act means that individuals can now register their gender as ‘X’ and don’t have to use ‘-son’ or ‘-dóttir’ in their surname anymore. The Act also means that parents can name their child whichever name they like from the Personal Names Register, irrespective of gender.

Nick Bundarin
Goodbye to Mel

We are here to say goodbye to one of the best publications on the Internet. I stumbled upon MEL magazine in 2019. C. Brian Smith, described as a gonzo journalist, wrote about his session with a spanking therapist. I couldn’t comprehend how someone could be so comfortable with divulging such a story. MEL explained their mission:

Emma Holiday
Episode 5: Being the “Man,” Not Being the “Man,” and Fast Forward Sunset Cruise.

I had spent the bulk of my life doing what a “Man” was supposed to do. I worked. My wife did too; our financial success was a collaborative effort, and we partnered in raising our children. Proudly I never missed a birthday or soccer game … but now the kids were out of the house and I started to realize that my career was becoming an option, not a need. We were financially secure and everything was perfect.

Except for me it wasn’t, like a hurricane below the horizon, I was about to be slammed bigtime.

Fiona De Havilland
The Stations of the Tiara

Without her beauty to line my gut and mind I’m suddenly 43 years of age with my life in ruins and no family to speak of.

No blood family at any rate.

Oh and to make matters worse I’m a man.

I still pfff to no-one at that, it’s so bleeding ludicrous.

James Finn
Jade’s Story: Trans Women in Prison Are Not Safe

In prison, Jade attracted violent attention.

She tells me her experiences weren’t all bad, though. “Some of the men were very sweet,” she wrote to me in an email. “They hadn’t been close to a woman in years and they fell in love with me straight up. I had protectors, no strings attached.”

She needed protectors.

Sean Bennett
What If I Fell in Love With a Woman?

Whether we like it or not, we change in the eyes of those who know our queer identity vs those who don’t. It’s hopefully not a negative change, but it’s nonetheless important information that people have to reconcile with all of the other information they have about us, as well as with the norms of the society and culture around them.

Sarah McManus MSc
In Praise of #lesfic

Growing up as a young lesbian in a forgettable mid-sized UK town, finding any form of representation to help me adjust to my newfound identity was something of a trial. Although this wasn’t exactly pre-internet times, a combination of dial-up connection and lack of knowledge prevented much exploration. We gained a Borders bookstore (R.I.P) when I was in my early teens, and a whole new world opened up.

James Finn
Is This Young Man Gay or Bisexual?

Hey Aunt Jimothy,

I’m a 26-year-old man in California. I’ve identified as bisexual most of my teen and young-adult life. But I find it easier to get hard thinking about men than women. Does that make me gay?

Bemused in Burbank

Kyla Sawyer
Practical Magic and Me

Prior to transitioning, I was a quiet, unnoticed boy never granted positive attention from men. I was awkward and the only openly queer person in a radius of 20 miles in the small town I grew up in. The guys who were gay — but weren’t out — wanted nothing to do with me because I was “too feminine”. I didn’t kiss a boy until I was 18 years old. I was misunderstood, confused with my body, and had no idea where I fit into society.

James Finn
Trans Teen’s Dad Jailed for Testifying Too Long in Arkansas

“It was just shocking sitting there in jail thinking this is what happens when you speak to people about how their proposed laws are affecting your children,” Chris Attig told them Magazine. “They don’t want to hear it. They put you in jail.”

Chris had gone thirty seconds over his allotted speaking time March 9th before a committee of the Arkansas Legislature debating a bill banning health care professionals from providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth.

David Wade Chambers
The Genesis ‘Sin of Sodom’ Says Nothing About Same-Sex Love

What we have here is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a question of same-sex marriage or ordinary loving gay relationships. Even fundamentalist Christians must surely agree that Genesis 19 chronicles the proposed gang-rape of two men (angels) by about 500 depraved men and boys.

Lot is clearly distressed by such a proposal, saying (in verse 8)“No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them.

Emma Holiday
Gender Show Down

I am tired.

I am really tired right now.

I am tired of being transgender. I am tired of gender dysphoria. I am tired of the stress of shame. I am tired of this endless sense of guilt. I am tired of thinking about my gender almost every waking moment.

Justine L
What Makes Abuse Invisible in LGBTQ Relationships?

I fell hard and fast. Going into the relationship, I had been in an emotional dead zone and was desperate to feel something. What I felt was all-consuming, and I surrendered myself to it with very little thought.

Fast forward two years and we’re in my kitchen before we are to leave on a road trip. My hands are trembling as I make the coffee. Before I’ve even put the milk back in the fridge, she’s spitting the coffee across the kitchen bench telling me how awful it is.

Fiction Finds —

Esther Spurrill-Jones
In the Silence

Scarlet opened his computer on the rickety table and looked at the faces gathered around him where he sat in a folding chair in the gloomy basement. “I should warn you,” he said, unusually serious. “This is hard to watch.”

John’s stomach swooped, and he clenched his hands together, digging the fingernails of his right hand into the back of his left.

Chevanne Scordinsky

Her gaze was cutting and sharp. Breaking eye contact only to sip her wine, she fixated on me again. A part of me was certainly in that glass.

It was relaxed here, a slice of freedom in a world where I needed to be flattered by a man’s attention. In a dimly lit Manhattan apartment on Saturday night, a dark-haired and intense beauty could size me up.

Enjoy our stories this week, guys!

And writers, I’m extending our challenge so I can hurry on to chicken soup, hot tea, and sleep. I’m thrilled to have received my second covid jab yesterday, but it’s treating me rough! Can you contribute to our Police States and Police Brutality prompt?

See everybody next Sunday!

— Jim

Esther Spurrill-Jones, BFoundAPen, Zayn Singh, Ainsley L, Kathy Lee Tolleth, Brian Pelletier, Fred Shirley, Ikedi Oghenetega, neil chapman, David Wade Chambers, Artemis Shishir, alto, Sean Stephane Martin, Gabriela Penelope Carolus, Lois Shearing, b.henriques, Carl Rebeiro 🏳️‍🌈, Rodney Frazier, Simon, Carl Rebeiro, Brian Fehler, Deneishia Jacobpito, Chris Hedges, Ronald C. Flores-Gunkle, Kathy Lee Tolleth, Brian Pelletier, Alex David Bevan, Ikedi Oghenetega, David Wade Chambers, Sean Stephane Martin, Gabriela Penelope Carolus, Lois Shearing, Valentine Wiggin, b.henriques, Carl Rebeiro, Rodney Frazier, Simon Z. Brian Fehler, Cassie Brighter, Deneishia Jacobpito, Ronald C. Flores-Gunkle, James Patrick Nelson, Brigid Maloney, Gabriela, Presley Thomas, Evan McCoy, Loren Olson, Ken Wilson, Chandler Myer, NaNa’sworld, Arabelle J., Liam Heitmann-Ryce, Edis Rune, Prickly Pam, Dawn McGrath, Jonathan | sex & theology, Tabitha Lowndes, Emma Nwosisi, Melissa Speed, Dr. Thomas J. West, Till Kaeslin, Dave Smurthwaite, Ellie Rebecca, Zoey Milford, Edris Quinn C., Dennett, Michael Constable, Jim Martens, Stephen Foster, Kravitz M. Kristen Nadel, William Kuhn, Denisa Bogdan, MSci, Rafaela Mempin, Tre L. Loadholt, theoaknotes, Rachel Brindell, Elle Fredine, Jess Darnell, Emma Holiday, Gabe Evaristo, Joshua Mackey, Steve Alexander, Stevie Wilkinson, Andy Killoran, Nick Bundarin, ElMehdi El Azhary, Bradley Wester, Stella Luna (they/she?), Chuy G. Gonzalez, MS, Aaron W. Marrs, Zada Kent, Tima Loku, Cam, The Transgender Therapist, Sean Bennett, Ty Bo Yule, Alessia Autumn, Allen R. Marquez, Spencer James, Mary-Ellen Maynard, Gaby Spadaro, Elena Joy Thurston, Mina Krane, Jason Masters, Jeff Harvey, Laurence Best, Don Stouder, J. S. Richards, Fiona Feng, Yvonne Borgquist, Sarah McManus MSc, Annabelle Rose, Laura Silverstein, LCSW, Kyla Sawyer, Ellen Caminiti, rowen maeve, Rafaela Mempin, Punch Drunk Cola, Jeff Poole, Mrs. Capricious, Justine L, Patsy Fergusson, John Westphalen, Curtis Harding, Phoenix Huber, Val Servino, Jadon-Maurice Forbes, Molly Martin, Henry Lee Butler, Grey Alexander Crawford, Les Campbell, Casira Copes, Niki Madore, Shachee Swadia, Josie Klakström, Chevanne Scordinsky,

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