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

Queer U.S. Refugees Speak Out as LGBTQ Writers Share Hearts

Prism & Pen Weekly — Sept 25, 2022

by James Finn

Prism & Pen writers share their lives this week! A gay man in his early 20s, a gay elder past 80, trans, bisexual, and asexual writers open windows into hearts. We anchor this edition with a tale of two refugees from Florida who left everything behind to seek freedom from political persecution in a New York homeless shelter.

WRITERS: I know I say this every week, but each of you can help get more eyes on The Digest by commenting, clapping, and highlighting. Can you start this week by commenting below on what our prompt should be tomorrow?

READERS: Read for free by clicking underlined links. Want to help support P&P? Click to join Medium.

— Editor’s Picks —

Meet Kody and His Mom: Homeless LGBTQ Refugees From Florida

James Finn

Every once in a while, my writing opens windows. This mother read one of my stories then reached out to me. I just had to tell her story!

I never dreamed I would meet fellow Americans who chose to become refugees right here in the U.S. Then two nights ago, I spend two hours on the phone with “Kate” and “Kody,” who just fled Florida for a New York homeless shelter.

53-year-old Kate tells me she had no choice. It was either leave or watch her 16-year-old transgender son wither and possibly die.

By the end of the call, Kody’s voice sounds more than reedy and rough. It sounds happy. Full of hope. He describes the tiny, kitchen-less room they’re sleeping in as clean and private — as if living in a homeless shelter is the least of his worries.

Read in P&P

“If we accept LGB, we will get T,” Says Conservative Christian Michael Brown

Esther Spurrill-Jones

The day I published Kate’s story, Rated LGBT Radio invited me to discuss it on the air, and one thing we talked about was how American conservatives fiercely target trans kids like Kody while keeping gay and bisexual people directly in their crosshairs. Here, Esther demonstrates how one conservative Christian thought leader is not coy about equal-opportunity hatred.

I’ve written about Michael Brown before. He couches his anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry in language that pretends to be loving; but make no mistake, he is 100% against LGBTQ+ people living and loving freely. He wants us all to know how sinful and evil we are, and he believes it is love to tell us we need to change and become straight.

Read in P&P

I Went to Southern Decadence, Where Nudity Is a Revolutionary Act

Tris Harkness

Switching gears a little, Tris writes about revolutionary queer values exemplified in the New Orleans Southern Decadence Festival she just attended. She says it was a lot of fun, but fun was only the beginning.

When I got home and read this story in the Guardian, about a woman being beaten to death by police for not covering her head, I realized we were doing a lot more than enjoying ourselves at the Southern Decadence Festival. By taking our clothes off and parading our bare bodies in public, we were participating in a revolutionary act.

Read in P&P

— Essays and Creative Nonfiction —

Gender Tweener: Being Transgender in a Decisive World

Emma Holiday

Many people are fighting tooth and nail to keep this patriarchal system in place that has served them quite well over the centuries; thank you very much. They hopelessly desire a system without the complication of transgender identity. They want to harken back to when it was men and women and the trans community was hidden — none of this messy gender identity stuff, just sex = gender.

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LGBTQ TV Roles Purged as Book Bans Surge and Kids Suffer

James Finn

Now is a great time for queer representation in media, right? Not so fast! Entertainment analyst Francesco Bacci says you’d be forgiven for thinking so based on truly great 2022 shows like the U.K. smash hit Heartstopper, the popular U.S. remake of Queer As Folk, and Hulu’s trending Conversations With Friends.

Bacci says the future, however, looks grim, writing that networks and streaming services are rapidly “purging” queer characters from their upcoming seasons.

Read in P&P

Gay Republican George Santos Disgraces LGBTQ+ Community

Meagon Nolasco

George Santos is not only a Republican who supports Trump, he is a gay man … with a fiancee and four dogs, who lives on Long Island and is the first generation among his family born in the United States.


How can you hold all those identities and stand against every one of them with your political affiliation?

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The Joy of Thrift Store Shopping with My Community (Non-Binary People)

Logan Silkwood

I want to pass as a man. I really do. Just to prove that the test is bullshit. Then, I want to wear a dress and still pass as a man with flying colors to rub it in people’s faces that they truly cannot tell what the doctor thought of my gender when I was born. I want to have the ability to pass perfectly as a cis man, then just flat out refuse to do so a lot of the time. That won’t happen for a good while though, if ever.

Read in P&P

The Road Ahead: A Closeted Gay Teen’s life in the ’70s Midwest

Judah Leblang

One day he invited me to a party –- a gathering with his fellow performers and their friends.

But I begged off. I might have used the excuse of plans with my high school girlfriend, just as I used her as a human shield to fend off my doubts about my sexuality. Besides, there would be alcohol and possibly pot, and I had enough trouble driving when I was cold sober.

Beneath my lame excuses was a door I didn’t want to open. I sensed that Duke saw something in me –-

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I want to start to come out to people…the only problem? No one believes I am transitioning.

Amber Poe

So that begs the ultimate question, how can the sports loving, gym going, drinking beers, eating chicken wings, party guy that everyone has known all their life be telling the truth? How can this guy, a guy that everyone has known for 40 years without an inkling of showing that he is LGBTQ be transgender?

The answer is simple, I didn’t know I was transgender myself so if I didn’t know how could you?

Read in P&P

Unexpected Gender Euphoria

A Breath of Elena

Jessica left the consulting room and was again to take a seat in the waiting area between invariably cis women. She felt something inside her loosen up and it was as if there was suddenly a rainbow in front of her eyes. All the fog she usually felt had largely disappeared. And suddenly she knew that all this was right.

Read in P&P

Anguish: The Transgender Experience Defines It

Emma Holiday

According to the American Psychiatric Association, gender dysphoria creates a “clinically significant distress or impairment related to gender incongruence.”

Both definitions, although clinically precise, don’t come close to what I have felt and, from what I gather, I am far from alone with that experience. I personally prefer the word “anguish” to be my simple definition of the pain caused by gender dysphoria.

Read in P&P

Will Somebody Please Think of the Children? Conservative America Won’t.

Tyger Songbird

Conservatives love to say trans people and drag shows are a danger to children, even though they are as harmless as can be.

All the while, they love to bully trans kids, subject kids to school shootings due to not regulating gun purchases, send kids to prison for life as a human rights violation, send kids to conversion therapy if they are LGBTQ+, allow for child marriages that lead to abuse, and do corporal punishment that is nothing more than abuse.

But hey, think of the children, right, America?

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My Early Years B.G. (Before Gay) in the Mid 20th Century

Michael Horvich

I was number one in my graduating class … procession order being based on height … shortest to tallest, not intelligence!

I do remember that the desks were bolted to the floor, the hole for the inkwell long abandoned with the advent of cartridge ink pens followed by the new fangled ballpoint pen. We practiced “cursive” in earnest every morning for 30 minutes.

Read in P&P

Sense of Place: How it Feels to Belong Somewhere as a Young Gay Man

Liam Heitmann-Ryce-LeMercier

Some relationships form before you are even aware of them. Love at first sight is perhaps the most overused example of this, but it can also manifest itself as a song that stays in your brain for days after you hear it only once, or it could be an overriding need to explore a city as soon as you step of the airport.

These relationships are connections with the unexpected that consolidate themselves instantly and secretly. There’s just something about them that feels right without being able to quite say how. You just know that you know.

Read in P&P

The Dirty Little Family Secret: The LGBTQ Battle to Exist

Emma Holiday

A note on the back of the photo said, “Tom and his friend,” in handwriting from a different era. The ink was from a fountain pen.

My cousin said Tom was my grandmother’s cousin and that my grandmother told her that he was their family “black sheep.” Tom went out West with his “friend,” and the family lost touch with him.

My grandmother said they were “homosexuals.”

Read in P&P

Texas Christians Terrorize Church Supporting Transgender Christians

James Finn

Protect Texas Kids protestors are expected to show up today outside First Christian Church at about 5pm Houston time. A group of Christians who say they hate the “LGBTQ agenda” will begin screaming profanities at Christians working to welcome and support beleaguered transgender people. Only one of those groups of Christians seems to remember Jesus’s words in the Gospel of Matthew …

Read in P&P

Gender Policing Harms All Women and Girls

Kitty Whitemore

I’ve been a feminist for my entire adult life. I just couldn’t tell anyone. I watched my mom subjugate herself to my father my entire childhood. My mom did try to break the cycle of violence and fear. She left my father and went to her family home in Tacoma from Virginia. I was young so I don’t know exactly how my father found us, but he did. My mother went back to the abuse.

Read in P&P

— Fiction Series —

Anastasia the Nonbinary Dragon

Sieran Lane

Shape-morphing dragons and cows who spend part of their lives as humans. And a nonbinary dragon with neo pronouns! Sound fun? This high-fantasy/allegory is lovely entertainment with layers that peel away as you go.

Ero nuzzled against Ana’s haunches. He had shifted back into a calf, as he felt oddly vulnerable in human form.

Lucille glanced at her son and looked like she was about to say something. But she frowned and turned her head away again. Lance and Demiel had shifted to human form, as a courtesy to the queen, and because they were huge.

Ana was small enough to not have to transform. Plus, ze was royalty and did not need to conform to these rules. This was zir home, after all.

Read: Chapter 7: An Ominous Change

— Flash Fiction —

At 4 am, She Calls for Comfort (Bisexual Flash Fiction)

Tre L. Loadholt

After a few moments of standing, holding Cari in my arms, she finally speaks. I feel her body shake. As she breathes in and out, I feel the heaves of her chest. I don’t want to let her go. Her head lifts up and out of my embrace. She speaks …

“When Sabrina was a little girl, I was her everything. I couldn’t even move from room to room without her attached to my hip or tagging along, cuffing my lower legs…”

Read in P&P

Sweet Red Berries (Bisexual Flash Fiction)

Esther Spurrill-Jones

We tasted berries on each other’s lips like forbidden wine.

I was strawberries, peeking out from hiding, so sweet upon the tongue. You were raspberries, full and rich and bold.

Do you remember how we dove into the lake, shrieking at the shock of cold? I couldn’t take my eyes off you, dripping wet and laughing on the dock. We lay in the sun for just a moment, then …

Read in P&P

Those are stories this week, offered in a sincere hope of understanding. Want to see more? Subscribe to Prism & Pen for new stories every morning.

Writers, it’s prompt day tomorrow. Tell me in comments what you want to write about for the next two weeks?

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.