This is an email from The Digest, a newsletter by Prism & Pen.
by James Finn
Childhood is an unplanned theme in this week’s Prism & Pen. From Abbie Drake’s story noting how Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attacked trans kids right before departing the Trump administration, to theoaknotes’s memoir of childhood lost, to my own tale of a sports star teaching kids homophobia is ordinary, children feature big.
Editor’s Picks —
Larry is a retired trial lawyer who writes about the alienation that led him into the closet until he was 42 years old. In today’s excerpt from his memoir, he shares some unsettling lessons he’s learned about privilege and race.
The old car’s dried-out sun-bleached black vinyl top was cracked and curling with age, but the white-walled tires appeared fully aired up so that it seemed he could drive it off anytime he wanted. It was apparent this car had been purchased used long ago and had been treasured ever since, if not well maintained.
What was most striking to me at the time was the fact that the car’s fake wire wheel covers had been inartfully spray painted in gold gilt.
Jeff’s creative writing has appeared in The Daily Drunk, Haven Comedy, Madness Press, and elsewhere. His story today is funny and cutting at the same time. I think queer people everywhere will recognize common experiences.
After two days of crying and no sleep, I finally dozed off only to be awakened by someone shaking me. When I opened my eyes, I was staring at Becky Connor.
“Why did you describe my art like that?” Becky squeezed both of my nipples, and I bit my tongue to keep from yelping.
“What? What are you talking about?”
Liam regularly submits lyrical, sensual fiction and creative nonfiction to P&P. This week’s rare (for him) poem highlights a very important reality. Even in the midst of a global pandemic disrupting life, the power of young love is not lost.
This issue’s out of our control;
It’s not our fault, or the world’s,
But I hate it all the same,
That I can only see you
— Not sat beside me on a train —
But through the screen of a small square box,
Grinning at me in your phone,
Kept at a distance and far from home
Where I need you be,
Creative Non Fiction Selections —
Even though I didn’t know I was transgender until I turned 61, all my life I felt ashamed of what I perceived was a defect in my male gender identity. I was taught that I was male and expected to do nothing but male things all my life.
Society has rigid walls. Some are good and some are bad. Participating brings with it some hefty penalties for failing to follow the rules.
I don’t remember anything from my childhood — nothing before age twelve or so. I’m nineteen currently, to give you a bit of context. I don’t remember my primary schools, the details of my friendships beyond the names of a few people in photos, any of my crushes, what the school buildings looked like, what my old homes looked like, my teachers, the vacations I went on with my family, being any shorter than I currently am, or the classes I took.
Muttering “faggot” because you are angry or frustrated is toxic. It teaches straight/cis kids that minority sexual orientations are worthy of emotional scorn and are linked to failure. It teaches LGBTQ kids — even when the slur is not directed at them personally — that they AS PEOPLE are worthy of scorn.
Hey, Christians on Clubhouse and throughout America! I see you. I see you in your profiles and your bios.
“Daughter of the King 👑”
“follower of Christ”
“Prodigal son in the house”
And to be clear, I’m speaking to ALL Christians. White, Black, Australian. You guys are everywhere and in all colors.
Indeed, in her resignation [DeVos] references ‘impressionable children’ watching the President’s reprehensible words and actions. She’s surely setting a great example for those impressionable young people by taking so principled a stance.
Yeah, let’s get real. That same last day, in her last hours as Secretary of Education, DeVos’s office issued a memo serving to direct the Department of Education to continue to discriminate against LGBTQ students.
Believe me I have tried everything. My therapist can vouch for the tenacity of my denial and my seemingly endless list of objections. Even now I am still fighting being transgender and transitioning but with ever-weakening enthusiasm, conviction and strength.
I have come out more times than I can count. Every new job, every new friend, every party, they’re all potential repeats. Coming out is an experience that most of us in the LGBTQ+ community will have to go through over and over again throughout our lives. Sometimes it will be good, sometimes it will be bad, and sometimes it will be flat out ignored.
Fiction Finds —
This is Jeff’s second P&P excerpt from his historical drama, The Golden Ballroom, set in a gay London demimonde of a bygone era. It’s a beautiful read on its own, and for readers who’d like more, he’s linked to the beginning.
A saxophone was wailing out the last few bars of its sensuous, slow waltz as cigarette smoke lazed through the air. I looked for a table near the dance floor and spotted one on the other end of the room, by the stage. A voice cut through the music, “Henry? That’s Henry! Henry!” A slim, white hand was shaking at me through the smoke. Each finger was adorned with several rings, the wrist with several bangles, and an emerald bracelet.
Writing Queer Workshop —
Prism & Pen has begun publication of a short series of free (and we really mean free, zero strings attached, no future webinars being pitched, no sales-pitchy emails lobbed at you ) workshops on lgbtq mystery writing. These are likely to be of interest to both experienced writers and would-be writers of the genre. And even mere readers of the genre may enjoy it.
Here is creative writing professor David Wade Chambers’s first interactive workshop. P&P writers are encouraged to participate, but everyone is welcome.
I hope you guys enjoy this week’s edition of P&P! More lined up, so stay tuned. Writers! Get set for a new challenge this afternoon. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet, but I’ll pull something out of a hat.
In the meantime, could I ask you to have a look at my suggestions for spicing up your titles and images? I wrote this for all you to help you connect with more readers. (Big shoutout to theoaknotes, btw, for their mastery of images and titles, going way back before I wrote this tutorial.)
See you guys next week. Happy Sunday!
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, Abbie Drake, Alessia Autumn, Allen R. Marquez, Spencer James, Mary-Ellen Maynard, Gaby Spadaro, Elena Joy Thurston, Mina Krane, Jason Masters, Jeff Harvey, Laurence Best