In which today just goes away

Totally had plans to do all sorts of stuff tonight but it all got derailed by having to spend over two hours trying to put together a five minute video for class tomorrow, a project that should have taken no more than fifteen minutes but kept running into truly stupid tech-related delays. And now it’s 9:30 and I haven’t done shit since I got home and all I want to do is go to bed.

One plus side of today, though: got asked, by a pair of the kids, to sponsor a LGBTQ club at school. THAT was unexpected and interesting. I agreed, of course.

On the new newness

After several years where I was reliably getting a new phone every single year and basically coming to terms with the fact that I’d become That Guy, I waited three full cellphone generations– from the iPhone 7+ I’ve been carrying around forever to today– to upgrade my phone, and finally caved and came home with an iPhone 11 Pro Max in the Midnight Green color. I told myself I was going to wait until I could walk into the store and walk out with a phone, and that happened today. What ended up getting me to jump was the massive improvement in the cameras– I’m super psyched about getting to play with the new triple-camera setup, and the damn phone is gorgeous, to the point where for the first time I’m getting a clear case. It’s currently in my bedroom transferring all of my settings and apps and photos from the original phone, a process that was originally projected to take two hours, then 24 minutes, so I figured I had time to come out into the living room and write a blog post before going back and checking on it.

This was a long and interesting week; I was out of my classroom for two days at that rarest of beasts, a really interesting professional development opportunity, and I had parent-teacher conferences Wednesday night, which was the busiest I’ve ever been at PTCs– I had a line out my door for two hours and fifteen minutes– and then I had a parent-teacher conference for my own son on Thursday. Today most the kids actually had a recess as a little reward for surviving the first quarter, and a dozen or so of them organized an honest-to-God, flag-waving-and-chanting impromptu gay pride parade (!!!) on the soccer field. This is the first year of my career where I’ve had more than one or two kids who were conspicuously and un-selfconsciously out of the closet– there are a lot of 8th graders in my building who are somewhere on the QUILTBAG spectrum and don’t seem to give a damn who knows it.

A genuine oddity: they exist alongside the rather large contingent of more typical 8th-grade straight boys who enjoy nothing more than ceaselessly calling each other gay, and yet I have never once— and I’m watching, God damn it– seen any anti-gay bullying of any of the actual gay kids, and there are at least two boys in the 8th grade who are gay at twenty feet, if you know what I mean. I’ve never seen anyone call either of them names, even the kids who are quickest to toss “gay” at any of their straight friends.

So there may be several posts this weekend, is what I’m getting at, depending on whether I decide I want to talk about these things more. The training, at least, will probably get a post tomorrow or Sunday.

#REVIEW: THE OUTSIDE, by Ada Hoffman

The headline for this piece is a lie– which would have been a clever reference to the events of The Outside, had I meant to do it when I started writing the sentence rather than realizing it halfway through. I actually have no intention of writing a full review of this book, which is really good and which I started reading last night and finished today. I’m tired and my thinkmeats are all askew and I’d rather just give you the basic genre of the book and then if you aren’t reaching for a credit card with one hand and navigating the interwebs to Amazon with the other we probably can’t be friends.

The genre, according to author Ada Hoffman, is “queer autistic cosmic horror space opera.” It may also be relevant to your interests to know that Hoffman is both queer and autistic.

That’s all. You may go now; I know you have more important things to do.

Turns out this isn’t complicated

Around a year ago, give or take, Instagram suggested I follow what was clearly a secondary account for one of my friends. It was a new account, with one picture on it, and in that picture my friend was wearing eyeshadow. My friend was not the type of person for whom randomly choosing to be photographed in eyeshadow was a terribly surprising thing, so I thought nothing of it and followed the account, then forgot all about it.

A few days later my friend’s wife texted me and asked if I had any questions about her — and this is the point where I can’t come up with a coherent way to not choose gendered words, so for the moment I’ll go with “husband,” because at the time that was the word I would have used– making the decision to transition.(*) Apparently that account wasn’t really meant for full public attention yet. Whoops! I laughed and said that I’d found it in suggestions and followed it and not thought about it for another single second and then went on to have the type of conversation that you typically have when an adult makes a decision like that.

My son is seven. He and their youngest son are just a couple of weeks apart in age, and have been best friends for more or less forever despite them having moved a couple hours away a few years ago. They regularly communicate via the Facebook Kids Messenger app and play Roblox together. My son is aware that his friend now has two moms, and has literally never asked a single question about it or displayed the slightest bit of confusion about it.

The other day I was sitting in my recliner while he was on the couch talking to his friend, and the iPad is loud, so it’s kind of hard to not overhear their conversations and I try to keep half an ear on him while he’s on the thing anyway just because, y’know, parenting. And I hear his friend tell him that he has decided to change genders and be a girl, and that he wants to use feminine pronouns now, and be known by a different name. And, well, I went from paying halfassed attention to listening carefully quick.

And … my son says “Okay,” and immediately starts arguing with her about whether “dude” is a gender-neutral term or not, and whether “dudette” is something that he should be using now, because that’s where his priorities lie, and went right back to playing Roblox.

Now, has he been great about not deadnaming his friend? No, he hasn’t– he’s pretty much sticking with “dude” most of the time, and I’ve definitely heard far more uses of the original name than the new one over the last couple of weeks. And there was a brief discussion between the two of them later about whether his friend could really be a girl or not, because girls can have babies and boys can’t. This led to the only parental intervention I’ve had to make in this entire process, where after they were done with the conversation I pulled him aside and explained the difference between gender and sex, to which he reacted by absorbing the information and shrugging and saying “Oh, okay.”

We were over at my parents’ house earlier this week and their family came up in conversation. My mom was aware of the parental transition but not the kid’s, and after a few minutes called my son into the room and asked him what he thought about it.

“Oh. Yeah, he changed genders. He’s a girl now.”

And that was the end of it. He was done talking.

So … okay, not great on pronouns, but he’s seven. It was as if his friend had changed favorite colors or something. In my son’s head, it’s no big deal.

This is the second time in a few weeks that my son has encountered the concept that people exist who are other than cis and straight, and just like the first time, he just rolled with it. And it’s not because either my (cis, straight) self or my wife’s (cis, straight) self are some sort of woke paragons of allyship. We aren’t. I’m pretty sure we’ve literally never had a direct discussion about sexual orientation with him. It’s because this isn’t actually all that complicated to explain to kids and because if kids see their parents treat something as normal they will too.

Some kids have two dads.

Some kids have two moms.

Sometimes men love men, and sometimes women love women, just like Mommy and Daddy love each other.

Sometimes people decide that they aren’t boys or girls anymore, and sometimes people decide that they’ve always been a boy or a girl and that it’s okay to let the world know that too.

“How do we explain this to our children?” is a cop-out, and it always has been. It’s just not that goddamn complicated. You just treat it like it is: normal.

Happy Pride Month, y’all.

(*) If at any point in this post I fuck up my phrasing, call me out on it and I’ll fix it.

GUEST POST: I Refuse to Apologize

Luther again: this is the second post that my student asked me to put up; as I said earlier, I thought the first one deserved to stand on its own for a bit before getting Bigfooted by this one.  Go read that first, if you haven’t already, then come back.


When the news about Jussie Smollett came out about a month or so ago, my organization, the Queer Students of Color, decided to post a fundraiser to raise money for queer youth of color that experience violence everyday. We wanted to so something while people were paying attention. 

We were fooled. And we’re not sorry for it. 

We’re not sorry for believing a victim. We’re not sorry that there was an example of hate crimes that finally gained mass media attention. The only thing we’re sorry for is that we were lied to by someone we thought we could trust. 

The fact of the matter is this: whether or not we were lied to doesn’t take away from the truth that is violence against LGBTQ+ POC. For that reason, the fundraiser is still on, and we’ll be advocating for it until we meet our $10,000 goal, and everyday after that. We are representatives of a community that is the one of the most vulnerable demographics in the world.

Jussie Smollett took advantage of the vulnerability of millions of people. He spit in the faces of trans women of color that have been murdered. He spit in the faces of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean – stole attention from their story in favor of his own selfish goals. That enrages us, saddens us, and makes us even more passionate and dedicated to our cause. 

The Queer Students of Color is a collection of youth with the voice and power to bring attention to the very real fears of people that feel like they don’t have a platform. We are loving, caring people who want to use our intelligence and resources to better the world, so that we don’t have to live in fear any longer. Jussie Smollett spit in our faces. We are not ashamed, we are emboldened, and we will not stop our advocacy just because one person decided to do a bad thing. 

For those of you that feel like LGBTQ+ people of color owe you an apology: fuck you. The fact that you’re attacking us because we believed someone is just that – an attack. Why should we apologize to people that have always thought that we were predators, criminals, liars? Why should we concede to your twisted idea that we’re just attention seeking hypocrites? I’m most definitely not. I’m un-apologetically black, genderqueer and bisexual. If anything you should be apologizing to us for using the instance with Jussie to spew your homophobic vitriol. I have never had so many attacks on my character until I was accused of starting a fundraiser for the Trevor Project – a third party organization whose mission is to provide care to young LGBTQ+ people. The money never went into my hands, it will never go into my hands. The money goes to programs that want rights for LGBTQ+ medical insurance, for LGBTQ+ safe spaces, etc. Google is free, y’all. Use it. 

I’m angry, that much should be obvious. But I’m not angry at my own people, I’m angry that there are some saying “Ha! This is proof that those faggots are liars!” I’m angry that we’re receiving hate instead of support, when Jussie’s lie affected us more than anyone else in this country. That there are some thinking that this debunks all of the very real testimonies of violence that LGBTQ+ POC have finally had the chance to bring to light. I’m angry that straight cisgender black people are the main perpetrators of this awful, awful rhetoric. I’m so fucking angry that after this, people will feel emboldened to hurt us because they’ll feel like they’ll get away with it. 

I’m. Mad.