Prism & Pen
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Prism & Pen

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

Treasure Chest of Real Queer Tales

LGBTQ storytelling from Prism & Pen — December 6, 2020

by James Finn

Prism & Pen storytelling strikes it rich

New P&P writer Aaron W. Marrs gives us two pieces of gorgeous poetic prose. Danny Jackson H. and theoaknotes ponder unaccepting family members, a painful subject for many queer folks during the holidays. And theoaknotes dares to provide frank (and scarce) info to transmasculine folks who don’t know what to expect “down there” when they go on T.

Add in fiction, poetry, stories about biphobia, queer parents, and being trans late in life, and this week’s edition is packed with queer treasure.

If you’re not a Medium member, please click on the underlined links to read for free. If you can afford a membership, you help support your favorite writers.

Editor’s Picks —

Creative Nonfiction
How Cool Kids Spread Biphobic Toxins
James Finn

I’m not biphobic, really! My first crush was bisexual, and I’ve always been cool with bisexuality. So why have I been spreading biphobic toxins most of my life? My deliciously flaming friend Howie and our gender-rebel pal Carla help explain.

“Oh, stop, darling,” Howie trilled one day after Jill kissed him on the nose between bites of red velvet cake. “I’m getting the vapors, sweetie. People will suppose I’ve changed teams!”

He wasn’t serious of course, and Jill knew that perfectly well. She’d laugh along as Howie and I prattled through a practiced schtick about finding sex with women icky and scary. If you’re a gay man, you’ve heard the jokes. If you’re not, let me tell you now they were tasteless and probably misogynistic, but we thought we had a pass because we were gay men with girls as besties.

Starting Over

If you’ve read BFoundAPen’s fiction, you already know he has superpowers. He breathes so much sparkling magic into stories you just have to hold your breath and dive in. If you don’t know his work, now’s a great time to start.

He held the door open for a woman and her young daughter before entering behind them. The store’s cool air smacked him in the face.

He hurried to pull the hood down before taking too many steps into the store. An old friend’s voice entered his head. Don’t give them any reason to be suspicious, he warned.

Lonely Sailor

Tima Loku is new to P&P, but clearly not to poetry, dealing in metaphors that resonate powerfully with me, and I suspect with queer people at large.

I have made my way
into the deep ocean
trusting the sails on my boat
it might be lonely out here
but I would never tell this
to the ones I left behind
my pride is stubborn
it doesn’t admit defeat

Creative Non Fiction Selections —

How it Feels to Struggle for Parental Love
James Finn

I was actually sweating through crisp air conditioning when I walked in. How intimidating to have love on the line and face down a finger-drumming older woman in a business suit sitting beside a young man in a tie holding a clipboard.

The boy who had become part of our family ran to his social worker Gloria — the third person in the room — as soon as we walked in. He was all smiles and hugs in his brand new chinos and polo shirt, but she cut him short. “Brent, go sit over there with Jason and Jim, please.”

What’s Going On Down There?

I’ve noticed something recently. My nether regions look different. Please don’t click away. I don’t know how better to word that statement. Genitals are typically a taboo subject, and I am charting unknown territory for the sake of providing resources that I have had no luck finding for myself.

I am aiming to be the appropriate amount of open about this subject while also respecting my personal boundaries because I am not over the moon about the idea of discussing my private parts on the Internet. However, this article is for the greater good — for the transmasculine nonbinary and gender non-conforming individuals who are desperately lacking a voice in this particular field.

like a child.
Aaron W. Marrs

I need not describe to you how the tree saplings twist and quarrel with each other, day in and day out, for a spot alone in the glowing bask of sunshine at the top of the forest canopy, for we know the lust for life like a child.

I need not remind you of how it feels to fall, the gritty mud rough like a cat’s tongue on your skin, observing in quiet shock the starlight dancing and churning across the bruised, weary sky, for we know sweet pain like a child.

The Transgender Shoes on the Wrong Feet
Emma Holiday

We have all worn painful shoes at some time in our lives. It makes life unbearable. Suppose for a moment from the day you are born, your parents reversed the shoes on your feet. They put the left on the right and the right on the left.

As a baby you had no clue but as you got older you whined and complained. The shoes really hurt. At various times you parents tried to sooth you or scold you. They bought new shoes, which they again put on the wrong feet.

Can You Accept Yourself and Be Trans?

I decided to give my aunt a chance. I hoped that she had a baseline understanding of trans identities because I didn’t spend time breaking down the genderqueer terms in my post. Even so, Googling terms such as “AFAB,” “top surgery,” and “genderfluid” is free and takes less than five minutes.

I forwarded the link to my Gender Update post to my aunt along with the standardized message that everyone else who received the article had gotten.

Is It Bad That I Don’t Want to Come Out Until After Christmas?
Danny Jackson H.

Even before 2020, when real-life holiday gatherings became actual death sentences, this time of year could be rough for just about anyone. The happiest of families can still face some tension when members of all ages are all together at one table.

Holiday dinners have always been awful for me, even before I knew I was queer.

he’s everything, if you will
Aaron W. Marrs

He’s energy, if you will.

This sort of breathless exhilaration, five shots of espresso, sitting in the passenger side of a Volkswagen van on a perpetual journey to nowhere and everywhere, and

He’s August, if you will.

Fiction Finds —

I’ve been serializing a short story to raise awareness of homeless queer youth. While I’ve fictionalized the tale and moved it up into the now, it’s based on real people I knew and loved in NYC.

20-year-old gay Luke narrates as he and 19-year-old trans woman Marissa try to survive while keeping 16-year-old Bobby safe from the worst of the abuse they suffer.

Here are links to the first three of ten chapters. All the chapters are linked, and the story is finished if you want to help me remember my friends. Or just click on P&P’s fiction header to see all the chapters.

Luke and Blow Jobs in Church Basements

Paying the Rent the Hard Way

LT’s Love, Bobby’s Blood

Master Classes —

Writing Queer Crime Fiction

Reminder! Creative writing professor David Wade Chambers will be offering a workshop in January on the queer crime fiction genre, if interest is high enough. Don’t miss his fascinating introductory essay — more than worth a read whether or not the workshop is for you.

In the pages below, I have provided a very brief, mostly non-literary, introduction to some of the more interesting writers in the queer detective genre currently available to readers. The great majority of the authors identify as queer themselves or at least would place themselves somewhere on the non-binary lgbtq spectrum

That’s our storytelling week! We hope you enjoy.

Writers, we’ve got a “blazing” new challenge coming out later today. Get set!

See y’all 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



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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.