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Trans Women Fight Patriarchy, Gay Student Fights Censorship, Queer Hearts Share Love

A week of Prism & Pen — January 9, 2022

by James Finn

This week in Prism & Pen, Emma Holiday decries the misogyny of transphobia, a gay high school student in New York stands up to being silenced, and queer hearts from across the rainbow share stories of love, personal growth, and finding community. Join us for a look at real queer lives through real queer voices.

READERS: Read for free by clicking photos or inks. Want to help support Prism & Pen? Click to join Medium.

Editor’s Picks —

Transgender Women and the Patriarchy

Emma Holiday

Emma’s had enough. She may be a late transitioner, but she’s hardly a late learner. This cri de coeur is a must read.

I don’t want to be publicly ridiculed and insulted. I don’t want to be beaten up, raped or murdered. I just want to live my life. So, to all those that don’t accept that I am a “true” woman, that’s fine, you have your right to your opinion, just don’t ever tell me transgender women are not victims of a patriarchal society.

Read the rest

Mom Makes a Quilt for Gay Co-Workers

Coby Bronze

Returning to conservative hinterlands after a liberal education, Coby is finding family connections challenging. He experiments with prose to explore the intricacies of his conflicted relationships.

Unlike myself, her gay co-worker, Sam, is married and has a normal career. This makes the homophobia she grew up around easier to wrestle with. Though my mother is not a Trump-supporting bigot, the family we come from leans far right.

Fortunately, some traditions from our family past, like quilting and gardening, have the potential to transcend these divisive political boundaries.

Read the rest

NY Public High School Silences Gay Student and Role Model

James Finn

When Tyler’s high school principal forbade him to come out it writing to the student body, a chain of events began that might just change the tone of his conservative community.

When 17-year-old Tyler Johnson walked into Tully High School near Syracuse, New York yesterday morning, he felt anxious and unwelcome in the building. He was afraid of a talk he had to have with Principal Mike O’Brien, who’d just forbidden him to come out as gay in a school publication …

Read the rest

Memoir —

I Daydreamed of Meth While He Handled the Divorce

John Cormier

When John returns to NYC after a 42nd Street road show, he comes home to an empty apartment. What will that mean for his new-found fascination?

I was trying to distract myself from the memory of that glorious white smoke. I could not stop daydreaming about Jerry feeding me from his pipe, over and over, hit after hit. It was like an earworm that also made me horny.

It was that white smoke. Seeing it flare and roll thick in the bulb. Pulling that delicious smoke though the pipe, into me, its chemical taste hitting my senses with a kind of electric sweetness. That was it. That was all I needed to get off.

Read the rest

Essays and Creative Nonfiction —

Luster’s Last Stand: New Year’s Eve-ery at my Eyrie.

Fiona Evangeline Leigh

A sign’s a sign here in the bunker.

I survived another dose of my good self in confinement, a particularly thick bout this time round.

Too much caviar will give you diarrhea and all that jazz.

I dealt with Christmas well in the end.

Read the rest

You Should Feel Sorry for Trans Critics Because Their Hearts Are So Small

Emma Holiday

When I first started to reconcile with the actual fact that I was transgender, putting aside the shame and hurt it would cause me and those who loved me, I had the sense that those who cared but couldn’t understand would feel pity.

I never wanted pity.

Read the rest

Queer Confessions of a Former Conservative Teen


I had tried and failed to run away once, and I knew if I didn’t manage it the second time, I probably wouldn’t get another chance. I’d been a legal adult both times, but if you think the police where I lived would’ve considered it “kidnapping” for my parents to forcibly isolate me in order to prevent me from transitioning, you’re more naive than I was.

Read the rest

Our Queer Future Is Already Here

Roo Benjamin

Anyone could have been forgiven to think that apartheid would live forever in South Africa or the Cold War would continue indefinitely. And then in the space of a year, we saw a monumental dismantling of these systems of oppression.

It was easy to think, in 1990, that we were moving into a new era where the people of South Africa and Eastern Europe would live with greater freedoms and prosperity. And while the political shifts in these regions were most certainly welcome, it also just opened up a door to newer and different kinds of problems.

Read the rest

I Was Diagnosed with Munchausen by Proxy by an Armchair Psychologist

Rita Malone

Apparently, some people think we live in a world where parents of transgender children are not afraid for their kids all the time but rather they parade them about like a prized poodle trying to increase their social standing. That’s the kind of way-off-target “observation” that can only come from the outside — from someone with zero understanding of the lives we live.

Read the rest

Get Fired Up! Top Five Ways YOU Can Help LGBTQ Kids!

James Finn

Shortly before Christmas, I read a story in LGBTQ Nation about a little-known hero, a man who grew up in the rural south, was active in 4H, and whose coming-out inspired him to work for queer kids. His name is Currey Cook, and he’s spent his life working in the legal trenches to fix these problems, often for one kid at a time. I got Currey on the phone and picked his brain about how ordinary people, LGBTQ and allies, can do a world of good. I’ve got a great list for you!

Read the rest

Musings on Being a Trans Man in the South

Logan Silkwood

You know the movie I’m talking about. It’s the one so many people have recommended for me to watch after learning I’m a Southern trans man searching for representation of myself in media. I guess nothing will make me feel affirmed in my gender like watching a clone of myself get brutally murdered on screen in the name of Progress and Awareness.

Read the rest

Make the Yuletide Gay: A Look at Lifetime’s “Under the Christmas Tree”

S. Armstrong

I didn’t go into watching Under the Christmas Tree with terribly high standards.

I…was not expecting what we actually ended up with. I was not expecting the nuanced and overtly queer story that was wrapped up like a little Christmas gift and dropped in all our laps.

Read the rest

I Jumped Out of an Airplane and Came Out as Trans

Stephanie Moga

For my 48th birthday, I did something I had always wanted to do. I jumped out of an airplane by myself and lived to tell the tale. I had always been a thrill-seeker. I had always pushed that envelope and pushed my luck. I didn’t do these things out of a sense of machismo or bravado, and I did it because I felt that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance that the universe would see to it that my life would end.

Read the rest

Medium — My LGBTQ Link


It hit me this morning while reading James Finn’s recent article and writing prompt that I no longer have a local connection to the LGBTQ community. In fact, I don’t even know if there is a local LGBTQ community. I miss them and I wonder if we’ll ever find each other again.

As an ally, I depend on Medium, and particularly Prism & Pen, to keep me informed about and connected with the LGBTQ community.

Read the rest

The Cowardice of Transphobia in the Queer Community

Sean Bennett

Transphobia is a betrayal of the basic ideas on which our community is based. The tenets of togetherness and support on which Pride and queer identities have been built are being undermined with concerning regularity, even in our own ‘safe spaces’.

How could this be allowed to happen?

Read the rest

My Two First Lovers — The Birth And Death of A Committed Triad

The Wordsmith™🏳️‍🌈🇺🇸

By the end of the first hour, I was undeniably and hopelessly in love — in love with each of them for the particular person and personality he was, and with the distinct entity that was the two of them in tandem.

People doubt that love at first sight is real. Before I met them, I would have said it is but only because I’m a romantic and want such things to be. After meeting them, though, I know it to be real.

Read the rest

Tipping the Balance: The David-Debbie Spectrum.

Fiona Evangeline Leigh

I’m going to wear sparkly eyeliner from now on. I have a nice healthy wardrobe and every morning gives me the opportunity to glitter now my take on femininity has become chic and rock and roll.

On the spectrum of apparitions I’m somewhere between David Johansen at his peak with the New York Dolls and Debbie Harry.

Read the rest

Understanding My Non-Conforming Gender Identity


What we don’t often hear about is the messy middle or the stories that don’t end up with a neat and tidy resolution. We don’t see a lot of blogs entitled, “I quit my corporate job to run a doggy-day-care but the business failed and now I’m back as an entry-level accountant because I have to pay my rent and I have no idea what to do now.”

Read the rest

Random Acts of Kindness

Judah Leblang

Hmm. I’d noticed the driver in the car in front of me handing over two singles and change to the toll taker and wondered what he was up to. Now a new question formed in my mind — why was this mysterious stranger paying my way? I decided to take it as a good omen, a promising start to my trip.

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Poetry Picks —

Sisterhood and Sensibility

Rebecca Herz

My cat is sniffing my feminist anthologies
He wants to be educated by the intricacies
of Rich, the complexities of Lorde, or,
hungry, he wants to devour the morsels
of insight like my younger self, before …

Read the rest

How to Come Out (To the Jasmine First)

E. Katherine Kottaras

Whisper to the tomatoes:
Did you know already?
Did you know before me?

The bougainvillea are hardy listeners.

Read the rest

That’s it for this week! Readers? If you enjoy a story, can you tell the writer so in a comment? You’d make their day. And writers? Don’t forget we have a prompt running: Lepers or loved?


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, 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, James Patrick Nelson, Brigid Maloney, Gabriela, Presley Thomas, Evan McCoy, Loren Olson, Ken Wilson, Chandler Myer, NaNa’sworld, Arabelle J., Liam Heitmann-Ryce, 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, Chevanne Scordinsky, Reis Asher, Jahleel Wasser, Jaimie Brickey, Doody Richards, Patrick Paul, James Fox Jeffries, Alexander Petrovnia, Elaine D Walsh, ƒ Michael Wells, Jack Herlocker, Lindsay Soberano-Wilson, Don Orr Martin, Jackson Banks, Martin Friend, Coby Bronze, Cate Talley, Damian Delune, Emilly Olivares, Sree Jaya, Sogen Ohata, David Arias, Kayla Vokolek, G. L. Balend, Anthony Eichy Eichberger, Shanker Mahadev, Jenna McRae, Jay Rose Ana, Kevin M. Casin, Linda Caroll, Unzip It, Judy McCord, Eric Beach, Dr Jeff Livingston, Topher Bigelow, Christopher Kelly, Joseph Coco, Jordan Michael Becker, syys, Eilís O’Keeffe, Meghan McKie, Rand Bishop, Ryan Doskocil, Jacob Green, JULIAN GRACIANO NUNEZ, Marcus Davensky, Rebecca Herz, Alexander Tan, X.S., Ken Scout, Kitty Whitemore, Ellison O., Ed Guzzo, KP_the_writer, Judah Leblang, Arthur Keith, Jess Whitehall, Takoda Leighton-Patterson, S. Armstrong, Elena, Dunollie, Rita Malone, Nicole Stewart, Amanda Laughtland, Stephanie Moga, Tyler Albertario, Na.tasha Tr.oop, Suzanna Alastair, Lorelei Weldon, Victoria Stagg Elliott, Staten Blogging, Jaimie Hileman, Roo Benjamin, I. J., Helianthos, Brynn Tannehill, Lari, Amelia Harlow, Mary DeVries, Alyssa Ferguson, Anna, Casey Lawrence, Meagon Nolasco, spoorti, Antoni(a) Ceballos, A. T. Steel, Logan Silkwood, E. Katherine Kottaras




Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling

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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.

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