Happy Queer Endings and the Other Royal Wedding

Photo credit Alex Cayley, Vogue

On the final weekend of 2019, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris of the US Women’s National Team got married. TO EACH OTHER. This was the lesbian sports social event of the decade, and teammates like Crystal Dunn and Megan Rapinoe and family members like Ali’s brother Kyle—as well as the two brides themselves—did the rest of us a solid by sharing bits and pieces on social media.

Like many lesbian soccer fans (possibly even some of you…?), I spent the evening refreshing the #KrashlynWedding and #TheOtherRoyalWedding tags on Instagram and Twitter and sharing the fun updates with my wife and daughters. Our girls were especially impressed by the rainbow cake the newlyweds shared, even as I waxed on about the growth of LGBTQ+ rights in America in general and in the lesbian sports world in particular, as evidenced by this beautiful wedding attended by many members of the USWNT past and present.

One of my favorite tweets came from WoSo fan @thrace (rainbow gradient mine):

Not only were the brides, the cake, and many of the attendees of the rainbow variety, the reception tables were named after LGBTQ+ trailblazers like Sally Ride, Marsha P. Johnson, Billie Jean King, and Ellen DeGeneres, among others. Ali and Ashlyn, who have been together nearly a decade but only officially came out after their engagement last year, danced proudly and kissed openly on the social media feeds of their friends and family members while a production crew from Timeline Video Productions recorded their every move. Ali’s brother Kyle is a gay influencer, and he also recorded a vlog of the day’s events. Both videos are embedded at the bottom of this post for your queer viewing enjoyment.

The brides kiss as officiant Sydney Leroux looks on. Photo by Alex Cayley, Vogue.

So why am I writing a post about the Harris-Krieger wedding? Because it was more than just “catnip for queer fans,” as Christina Cauterucci writes in Slate. I mean, it was that too, obviously. But to witness queer sports icons so willing to share their happiness with the world, a healthy lesbian relationship on display for all to see, the abundant love and support of the couple’s family and friends in a country currently led by the bigoted head of a political party that celebrates white supremacists, rapists, queer bashers, and pedophiles—all of these things feel like the perfect counterpoint to the GOP’s cynical, decades-long attack on LGBTQ+ Americans from atop their hypocritical “family values” platform. This super gay same-sex wedding between teammates from the world’s number one women’s soccer team happened at the very end of a decade that permanently changed the conversation around queer love in America, and the joy of everyone involved in Ali and Ashlyn’s big day was real and visible. That shit is inspiring not just to young LGBTQ+ people but to us older ones, too.

As Kyle, Ali’s brother, pointed out in his wedding toast, queer representation in the media is still a mixed bag with mostly unhappy endings. But in the Krieger-Harris wedding, LGBTQ+ fans of the beautiful game got to see a real-life happy ending between two world-class athletes. For sporty lesbian types, this wedding wasn’t mere catnip and it wasn’t simply an inspiration. It was also a compelling portrait of hope, pride, and unapologetic joy.

We don’t get to see many fairy tales that feature members of our community experiencing love and affirmation. Instead, we are supposed to feel fortunate to be gifted with novels and films that are “poignant” and “bittersweet,” with mostly unhappy endings that critics laud as both realistic and “inevitable.” In my own writing, I try to interrogate those underlying cultural assumptions that same-sex relationships—especially the ones between women—must end badly on screen, on the page, and in real life. There is so much evidence to the contrary, even for relationships that have long been hidden: Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, AKA the Ladies of Llangollen; Anne Lister and Ann Walker; Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas; and Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer. Even Ellen and Portia have been married for twelve years, and those are just the famous unions! What about the long-term lesbian relationships no one had ever heard of until recently, like Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake?

Autostraddle has an awesome article titled “16 Lesbian Power Couples From History Who Got Shit Done, Together” that is chock full of women you’ve never heard of and some you have. Or, at least, some that I as a women’s history major at a women’s college definitely learned about. The point is, these are the relationships I want to read about, not the doomed lesbian romances depicted in uber-depressing novels like The Friendly Young Ladies or The Well of Loneliness. I want to watch on-screen love stories with happy endings like Saving Face and Kiss Me, Carol and But I’m a Cheerleader, not the ones with tragic conclusions like Lost & Delirious, High Art, A Perfect Ending, or even Loving Annabelle minus the alternate ending. (Does anyone else pause Loving Annabelle just before the sad ending, return to the menu, and select the alternate happy-ish ending to watch all while pretending the switch is seamless? Or is that just me…?)

I’m not claiming that all lesbian relationships end happily. As a 48-year-old queer person, I am well aware that just like straight relationships, LGBTQ+ unions often struggle. Marriage is difficult, and even as adults, we grow and change at different rates, which means we sometimes outgrow even what might start out as the happiest of unions. What I am saying is that not all lesbian relationships end badly, despite the messages of disaster our patriarchal culture habitually serves up. The Krashlyn wedding, with its individual parts live-streamed on social media and the entire event offered up later as a professionally produced video, serves as a valuable contrast to the consistently negative, homophobic and misogynist narratives that historians, novelists, and filmmakers alike have long produced. It’s a fairy tale ending, but at the same time, we know that it isn’t a fairy tale at all.

Krieger and Harris, WWC 2019. Getty Images.

Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris are real people, gifted athletes who have dedicated their professional lives to playing for club and country, their personal lives to a relationship that society in general—and sports fans in particular—don’t always tolerate. Their marriage isn’t an ending, either; it’s the beginning of the next stage of their already long-term relationship, one they’ve graciously opted to share with the public in the hopes of positively impacting queer youth.

The challenges Krieger and Harris have faced as queer professional athletes—spending long periods of time apart; dodging fans and media desperate for information about their private lives; trying to decide whether or not to come out publicly—provide interesting fodder for fiction. At least, that belief is what inspired me to create Emma Blakeley and Jamie Maxwell, the main characters in my Girls of Summer series and the two halves of #Blakewell. The series was actually inspired years ago by the rumors I heard about a possible real-life romance on the USWNT. The idea of two gay-leaning female soccer stars falling in love against the backdrop of professional women’s soccer made my lesbian, soccer-loving writer’s brain light up, and down the rabbit hole I fell.

Five books later, I’m still falling. The Equal Pay battle at the top level, the struggles to establish the NWSL, and of course the sports drama of losing badly in the Olympics only to (spoiler alert) become the only women’s team in history to win back-to-back World Cups—these external events provide a vivid, intense setting where Emma and Jamie can thrive (or struggle) both personally and professionally, together and apart. So while I thought book 5 might round out the series nicely, I am now finding that as long as readers show an interest, I still want to write about Jamie and Emma. I love soccer, I love these characters, and I love writing about strong female athletes who celebrate incredible accomplishments and persevere through personal and professional struggles—almost as much as I love writing about (and reading about, and watching on screen) happy endings that aren’t really endings at all.

After Kris and I got married 15 years ago, we said to each other and to anyone who asked (and many who didn’t), “What a perfect day our wedding was! We had everyone we loved around us in one place pledging their love and support of our relationship, and it was LEGAL.” That kind of celebration and affirmation is life-changing—especially for queer people who have traditionally been denied access to the privileged institution of marriage.

In her first interview back at USWNT camp a week after the wedding, Krieger said similar things: “It was amazing! It was the best day of my life, and it was an incredibly magic day. All our friends and family and obviously our close teammates were there… It was a huge celebration, and we were so happy that I just want to do it all over again.”

Hear, hear—and congratulations to the happy, badass, trailblazing couple!

Kyle Krieger’s vlog

Timeline Video Productions official wedding feature

Posted in gay marriage, LGBTQ+, Same-Sex Marriage, Soccer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Radical Acceptance; or, Elsamaren vs. The Von Trapp Family Singers

Didn’t want to post a photo of the orange monster, so here you go instead.

This morning’s headline was expected (and, frankly, inevitable) but still gratifying: The House of Representatives is drawing up articles of impeachment against Trump even as I type, signalling a new chapter in the horror story of his so-called presidency. Finally! And yet, with the GOP in control of the Senate, will anything come of this attempt to fight corruption at the highest echelons of the US government? I honestly have no idea. I also have zero power to impact the outcome. Given that reality, I must adopt an approach my therapist calls “radical acceptance,” and wait with everyone else to see what happens with the current shit show that has overtaken our nation’s capital. Sigh…

Fortunately, my therapist also taught me that distraction is a valid method of dealing with the emotional distress typically associated with situationslike our current national constitutional crisisthat require radical acceptance. Over the years, I’ve learned that my favorite forms of distraction include writing (obviously), reading, and watching movies. While writing is necessarily solitary, I prefer to share the other two forms of entertainment with others—especially movies.

Winter holidays are extra-awesome because there’s usually at least one blockbuster release to look forward to. When I was a kid, no matter where we celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving—either in Chattanooga, TN, with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, or in Kalamazoo with friends and neighbors—we could always find time to check out a movie. That’s why the big movies come out over the holidays, isn’t it? So that everyone can escape the family fray and rest their weary minds for a couple of hours in a darkened theater? One of my favorite family memories involves piling into a crowded theater with my aunt and cousins, popcorn and candy in hand, and cheering as Eowyn (played by Miranda Otto) declared, “I am no man!” right before she killed the Witch King of Angmar.

Ah, good times, good times… And yes, Eowyn is that LOTR character, the one our daughter Ellie was sort of, unbeknownst to Kris at the time, named after.

This year, Kris and I continued the Christie family holiday movie tradition by attending not one but two movies over Thanksgiving weekend: Frozen 2 and The Sound of Music Sing-along. The first selection shouldn’t come as a surprise. We have an eight-year-old and six-year-old twins, so Anna and Elsa the Sequel is necessary fare. Seriously, we already deprive our kids enough by having zero video games in the house; we can’t make them complete pop culture pariahs. I still remember how the girl next door, whose parents refused to buy a television, used to stand outside my living room when we were little watching TV through the windows, and, yeah. I think we’d rather avoid that level of Ludditism.

Kris and I were differently excited by the weekend movie line-up. I couldn’t wait for Frozen 2 because I was excited to see a sequel to the first Disney princess movie ever to focus on a positive relationship between sisters instead of on romantic love. And, I admit, because of the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend campaign on Twitter. Would they or wouldn’t they? I suspected they wouldn’t, but I was curious all the same.

Another aptly named queer anthem for Elsa: “Into the Unknown”

Meanwhile, The Sound of Music is one of Kris’s favorite movies despite the fact she’s not generally sentimental (being emotive is not popular in Minnesota) and can’t hold a tune to save her life. But it’s a lovely film—if you ignore the problematic construction of girlhood (“Your life, little girl, is an empty page/That men will want to write on”—UGH), the unrealistic depiction of the Anschluss, the lack of anti-Semitism in Nazis both onscreen and off, the stereotyped shrew character in the Baroness, and the stereotyped Jewish and gay character in Uncle Max. Still, if you don’t look too far beneath the surface, the well-loved classic has beautiful scenery, fun music, and anti-Nazi messaging, which is more than a lot of older movies can say.

Alex dressed up as Maria Von Trapp

It’s not just Kris’s favorite, either. On long road trips, we can put The Sound of Music on and know that the kids will be happy for three whole hours. Plus the soundtrack is wonderful, which helps make up for the fact that our minivan’s entertainment system has been commandeered by the DVD player. In fact, our kids like the movie so much that Alex decided to dress up as Maria Von Trapp for Halloween this year. This is why the sing-along sounded like such a perfect experience for our family.

First up, though, was Frozen 2. The day after Thanksgiving, we headed to the theater in true Christie family fashion with a party of eight—our family of five, my parents, and my mother’s sister who was visiting from Florida. We reserved our seats ahead of time on the Regal app, one welcome change from the bygone days of Kalamazoo holiday theater-hopping when we had to arrive waaay in advance to find that many seats together. Kris doled out snack bags to the kids, and we waited impatiently through various commercials (an unwelcome change from the movie days of yore) and previews until, finally, the movie started.

Normally I find my interest wandering during children’s movies. Pixar and other animation studios have honed their ability to appeal to parents as well as kids, but I often find the pacing lacking or the plot over-obvious or the character arcs not the most compelling. But as with Moana (my favorite kids’ movie for so many reasons!!) and the first Frozen, I found myself interested throughout and not checking my phone to see how much time was left. The pacing felt perfect, the intense moments not overly frightening for our sensitive kiddos, the humor engaging, and the music enjoyable. Plot-wise, Elsa and Anna once again demonstrate their individual power and mutual devotion as they [SPOILER ALERT] discover their grandfather’s atrocities against the indigenous Northuldra and, what’s more, attempt to remedy the actions that led the spirits to curse the Enchanted Forest thirty years earlier. Honestly, the plot was significantly more involved than I expected. As an article in the LA Times points out, the story “touches on grief and how to battle through near-crippling depression…. [and] also nods to worldly topics including man-made environmental disasters and colonialism.”

Frozen 2 movie posterFrozen 2 does not shy away from political issues. Does that mean Disney decided to give Elsa a girlfriend? No, of course not. But they didn’t not give her a girlfriend, either. They introduced a new character, Honeymaren, who fans (including myself) hope might one day fill the role of Elsa’s love interest. But given that the second installment in the franchise took 6 years to drop, we could be waiting a while for Frozen 3.

In the meantime, here are my Elsa-is-super-gay queer subtext moments from Frozen 2. Beware, for spoilers be ahead…

  • Early on, in a scene set pre-Frozen, young Elsa and Anna are playing with little snow people Elsa created with her magic. When Anna makes the boy and girl kiss and then wants to marry all the snow people off, Elsa visibly cringes—which is totally how a baby gay would react. Just sayin’.
  • Later, when [SPOILER ALERT] Elsa and fam are hanging out with the Northuldra, the indigenous people who live within the Enchanted Forest near Arendelle, Elsa sits near a campfire with the aforementioned Honeymaren, a young Northuldran woman. A baby reindeer is curled up on Elsa’s lap, and as the women talk, they both pet the animal. At one point their hands almost touch—or maybe they do, out of the camera’s line of sight—and the whole atmosphere is so GAY that I leaned forward to catch Kris’s eye. She smirked back at me over Sydney’s head, and I knew she shared my sentiments.
  • Finally, at the end of the movie [ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT], Honeymaren is the one who says to Elsa, “You know, you belong up here [in Northuldra].” Elsa is immediately all, You’re right! I know just who can be queen of Arendelle when I abdicate! (This scene is actually on Youtube, in case you want to watch.) Again, Kris and I exchanged knowing glances. They’re actually holding hands during part of this scene (see below). How are we not supposed to ‘ship them?

This #Elsamaren moment literally happened in the movie; it’s not fan art.

The super-gayness of these exchanges did not go unnoticed by Frozen’s queer fandom, which was already sizable thanks in part to Elsa’s power ballad from the first movie, “Let it Go.” This is the song where she proclaims, “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see/Be the good girl you always have to be/Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know/Well, now they know.” Whether intentional or not, those lyrics sound like something a queer teenager might sing. Plus, Elsa’s parents’ insistence that she isolate herself and hide who she is from the rest of the world is, unfortunately, also very consistent with the LGBTQ+ teen experience. The adult queer experience, too, for that matter. If you’re interested in reading more about the queer coding in the first Frozen, check out this article “Conceal, Don’t Feel: A queer reading of Disney’s Frozen penned by queer and children’s lit professor Angel Daniel Matos.

But for now, back to Frozen 2. The credits were still rolling when I pulled out my phone and searched “Elsa x Honeymaren” on Twitter. It didn’t take long to discover #Elsamaren—their shipping name—and down the rabbit hole I immediately fell. Soon I was browsing Frozen 2 tweets, Instagram posts, fan art, fan fiction, screen grabs, you name it.

Ah, Tumblr, I’ve missed you so.

Here are some of my favorites from the newly minted Elsamaren fandom:

It wasn’t just fans who spotted these homoerotic moments, either. Three days after the movie premiered, Refinery29.com, a website aimed at millennial women, published an article called Frozen II’s Director Explains Why Elsa Doesn’t Have a Girlfriend (& This Is The Key Word) Yet. Kelsea Stahler, the writer, notes, “While Honeymaren and Elsa don’t share any explicitly romantic moments… there are hints at something more, even if the filmmakers say that wasn’t their focus.”

Reading the subtext is nothing new for queer fans. Sometimes it feels like that’s all we do, especially where blockbuster movie franchises are concerned. For once, though, it would be nice to have the subtext lead to something more than… additional subtext. An entertainment website claiming to have inside information on Disney’s plans insists that Elsa will be confirmed as a lesbian in Frozen 3, but I’m not new to this whole queerbaiting thing. While I hope #Elsamaren happens, I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t.

One reason I don’t expect Disney to come through in Frozen 3 is that homophobia is still alive and well, especially when children are in the intended audience. Just take a look at some of the comments on the Refinery29.com article:

“Leave sexual preference out of cartoons, kids don’t need to watch that,” says troll #1, clearly unable to parse that Anna’s relationships with Hans and Kristoff have already brought “sexual preference” front and center in these particular animated features.

“Bringing in lesbianism into a story like this would completely ruin the magic of these films. I don’t care about everyone’s theories or desires to make the world a one love type of place, I feel we need to let our kids be kids and enjoy the innocence that films like this bring,” says troll #2, equating compulsive heterosexuality with innocence.

To which I would respond, “Well, I feel you’re homophobic trash, so…”

I mean, seriously, lesbianism as anti-innocence? Troll #2 is basically saying that LGBTQ+ relationships are impure, sinful, not fit for children to witness. Sheesh. So many idiots on the Internet are incapable of even a little critical thinking. Twitter is full of comments like these, only ruder. Straight people make merciless fun of queer fandoms, frequently proclaim that “Not everything needs a homosexual character” (which, good thing, because Disney isn’t exactly teeming with queer representation), and/or simply denigrate us by posting vomiting emojis at the idea of Elsa being gay.

Right back at ya, homophobes.

Heterosexist and homophobic jackasses like those found on Twitter and in the Refinery29.com comments (I know, never read the comments!) are not confined to the virtual world, unfortunately. They exist in plentitude in real life, too. Case in point: The Sound of Music Sing-along.

Two days after experiencing the fabulousness of Frozen 2, Kris and I took the girls to the sing-along, excited to see the family favorite on the big screen. What we didn’t know was that the sing-along would more closely resemble Rocky Horror than a Disney film. At the theater door we were handed a plastic bag of props, and then we headed in to find seats. We picked a row near the back where we could make sure the kids could see, since it was an old theater with a stage built well before the advent of stadium seating, and then settled in, buzzing with the excitement of our new adventure.

Soon a colorfully-dressed emcee came out on stage to joke with the crowd and lead us through the audience participation callbacks. These included booing anytime the Nazis came on, waving plastic white flowers during “Edelweiss,” holding up assorted props during “How do you Solve a Problem Like Maria,” awwing every time Gretel spoke, and last but not least, hissing or making a cat sound every time Baroness von Schraeder—the Captain’s love interest before Maria arrived—was referenced or appeared on screen.

Me and the girls at the sing-along

At this last one, Kris and I exchanged a questioning look, both of us sensing something odd about the callback. But then the costume contest began, and I rushed Alex up to the stage to participate in the kids’ round. There was only one other child competing, so the emcee gave them both prizes. Looking back, that was our first sign that the sing-along was aimed more at adults than families, a fact we became increasingly aware of once the film began.

Don’t get me wrong—singing along to the words flashing on the screen karaoke-style was fun, as was some of the audience participation. The people in that theater knew the movie backwards and forwards, and sometimes they would call out funny things that made the rest of the audience erupt in laughter. But as the movie went on and the Baroness appeared more and more, the experience took a different turn. The hissing and catcalls directed at the Baroness were loud and continuous, and the mood felt increasingly hostile, as if the audience members were feeding off each other’s negativity. More than once Kris and I exchanged uneasy looks over the heads of our children. This wasn’t what we’d expected at all. We’d anticipated lighthearted fun, not aggressive heckling of a middle-aged female character.

“I like the Baroness,” Kris said to me at one point, raising her voice to be heard over the hissing.

“So do I!” I replied. “This feels like misogyny, especially when he’s the one who’s cheating.”

“Right?” she agreed, shaking her head.

The fabulous Baroness von Schraeder–another Elsa

At the intermission, I asked the kids if they wanted to head home early and watch the second half in our living room, but they weren’t ready to leave yet. So we stayed, and fortunately the Baroness soon recognized that it would be best if she took herself out of the running for the Captain’s heart. Even then, the audience couldn’t let her exit the scene gracefully. They hissed and laughed and shouted things at the screen. One man’s voice rose above the others: “Don’t let the door hit you on the ass!” The audience erupted in laughter as Kris and I looked at each other, shaking our heads yet again. This was really not what we’d expected.

A few minutes later, the Captain found Maria in the gazebo and they danced and sang the lovely classic, “Something Good.” But the audience, still all riled up from the previous scene, couldn’t just let it be lovely. They kept catcalling, and any time the characters came close to each other, people (mostly men, judging from the voices) would yell, “Kiss her!” Not, “Kiss each other” or even just “Kiss” but “Kiss her.” As if Maria was a literal object and the Captain the main character of the film. The obnoxious chant reminded me of some weddings I’ve been to where the guests tap their glasses and whistle at the bride and groom until they kiss, as if it’s the newly married couple’s job to perform for their audience.

Just, eww.

When Maria and the Captain did kiss, the audience members set off their theater-provided poppers in unison and cheered as if the war had been won and Hitler was dead—all because the heteros on screen had gotten together at last.

Honestly, I couldn’t wait for the movie to be over.

The kids had fun, so that’s something. But as we drove home with the Frozen 2 soundtrack playing on the minivan’s sound system, Kris and I quietly agreed that we would not be buying tickets next year to the annual Sound of Music Sing-along. We were both disappointed. Given how much we’ve enjoyed the movie and its music as a family, we had hoped that this might be the start of a new holiday tradition that combined both sides of the family—the Christie love of going to movies and Kris’s love of The Sound of Music.

Still, the afternoon wasn’t a total loss. The audience at the sing-along applauded Alex’s costume, and an older man sitting behind us gave her a high-five when we returned to our seats after the costume contest. The kids had a good time singing along with their favorite songs, and we were together. Not only that, but the hostility toward the Baroness probably went over the girls’ heads. Everyone had a good time booing the Nazis in the movie because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy booing Nazis?

I think I’ve had enough audience participation to last for a while, though. Turns out those unspoken rules most of us observe at movie theaters—don’t talk amongst yourselves or to the characters on the screen, and definitely don’t bring props from home to wave around at odd moments thereby blocking the view of the people seated behind you—are fairly decent rules.

Who knew?

Family of five at the Sound of Music Sing-along, December 2019

Posted in Family, LGBTQ+, Parenting | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Queer Eye on Parenthood

Many (many) summers ago, I was camping with friends at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park when a group of astronomy buffs showed up at the Visitor Center and invited visitors to view the stars through their assortment of high-powered telescopes. I’ll never forget the amazement I felt as I peered through one particularly impressive scope and focused in on Saturn, its rings clearly visible. I wasn’t looking at a photo or video or otherwise mediated image of the iconic planet. No, I was LOOKING AT SATURN.

Photo of Saturn

SATURN!!

That long ago weekend stands out for other reasons, too: a particularly beautiful, remote hike that required a tense drive along a one-lane logging road edged by miles of 2,000-foot drops; nights spent camping under massive Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars with the scent of evergreen needles on the breeze; and an early morning ferry ride back to Seattle that featured a pod of Orcas trailing us across Puget Sound. So many lovely things happened that it felt afterward like I had spent a long weekend inside a Mary Oliver poem. But Saturn’s rings? Wow. Just, wow.

Fast forward to earlier this month when a Facebook invitation popped up from a local organization to come to a park not far from our house and stargaze through our regional astronomy club’s scopes. I told Kris and the girls about it immediately, envisioning a memorable few hours when the far reaches of our solar system would be revealed. The event started at 6:30 p.m. on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend, which to my mind meant it might be the perfect family outing. The girls were up for the adventure, especially when they learned we might be able to see planets as well as stars.

As the day in question drew near, I grew increasingly excited. In high school, I took astronomy as an elective senior year and spent every Wednesday afternoon at the Kalamazoo Planetarium, watching the constellations shift slowly overhead. Now I would get a chance to share the joy of stargazing with my kids. I couldn’t wait.

Twins at a recent soccer game

The twins at a recent soccer game

And then, reality struck in the form of four soccer games in twenty-four hours, plus a birthday party scheduled smack dab between the final two games on Saturday afternoon. By the time we headed home, it was 5pm and the littles were practically limp with exhaustion and the usual post-birthday sugar crash. Stargazing at a park twenty minutes from home would be too much for our worn-out kids, Kris and I agreed. Probably it would be better if we all just stayed home and cuddled up for our weekly movie, which we’d missed the previous night due to the first soccer game of the weekend.

Alex, the oldest at eight, said, “But you were so excited, Mimi! You could always go to the park without us.”

“But then I would miss movie night,” I pointed out.

“It’s okay, Mimi. Really. You should go if you want to.”

I did want to. I wanted to stare through high-powered telescopes at the night sky over Puget Sound on an unseasonably warm, perfectly clear spring night. But as I pictured the night and its possibilities, I realized that what I wanted most was to share the experience with my family. I imagined leaving the house to spend the evening with strangers while Kris and the girls snuggled up on the couch with the dogs for family movie night on Mother’s Day weekend… and, yeah. I really didn’t want to miss out on that experience, either.

“I have a better idea,” I said. “Why don’t we take movie night outdoors?”

“What do you mean?” the girls asked.

“I mean, maybe we could watch a movie on our front porch.”

The light in our second growth forest

Everyone readily agreed to this idea, and within ten minutes we’d gathered together couch cushions, sleeping bags, and blankets and headed outdoors to transform our porch furniture into a soft, comfy viewing platform. There on our covered front deck we watched Happy Feet on the laptop, the five of us—and the two dogs—snuggling and laughing together while the sun set and the half-moon rose over the second growth forest that borders our property, yellow light angling low through the moss-bedecked branches of the fir and cedar trees who, after a decade and a half, feel a lot like friends.

As I sat on the deck with my family around me, I couldn’t help thinking of the evening as a metaphor for parenthood. Earlier in the day, I had felt pulled in two directions and had been certain I would have to choose between self and family. But when it came time to make that choice, I’d discovered that in this case, self and family were inextricably intertwined.

What’s in a Name?

The next morning, Mother’s Day, the kids piled into our bed as usual and we snuggled some more, alternately whispering (the kids), reading (the moms), giggling (the kids), and wincing (the moms) at overly loud, out-of-tune singing.

“I can’t wait to give you your present, Mimi,” Alex said when we finally decided it was time to start the day.

“Me too!” Ellie called, with Sydney soon following suit.

“You three are so sweet,” I said, ruffling Alex’s hair and smiling at the twins as I slid out of bed.

This was the first year that Mother’s Day would be my day and not Kris’s. At least, the first year that the kids would remember it as such. For the first couple of years after we had Alex, Kris and I shared Mother’s Day. But once Alex was old enough to start preschool and be directed by an adult outside the family to make cards and other gifts, we decided to split up Mother’s and Father’s Day so that each of us could have a special day of our own. Otherwise, neither of us would get to be truly pampered by the rest of the family. Kris, at my urging, would have Mother’s Day. I, in turn, was happy to have Father’s Day—or Mimi’s Day, as the kids immediately christened it.

The day of happy mothers…

That worked until a couple of years ago when Mother’s Day fell on Kris’s birthday. Maybe in the future, we could swap, she suggested. This year, we did.

As soon as Mother’s Day began, however, I realized why I had avoided claiming it: Turns out I don’t completely identify as a traditional mother. Father’s (Mimi’s) Day has always felt like a better fit, but even it isn’t quite right. My long-term ambivalence over squeezing myself into ill-fitting, heteronormative gender roles is why I struggled to find a word that adequately reflected my role in my children’s lives before and even after they were born. Kris carried our girls in her body and went through the painful, incredible, beautiful process of bringing them into the world. While I am absolutely their parent, I don’t feel like a mother like she is. Not in the traditional sense of the word.

Let me pause here for a moment and state definitively that I don’t believe that biology conveys legitimacy when it comes to parenting. I’m only saying that for me, as the non-gestational female-ish parent of children that my wife conceived with donor sperm that I helped choose, the cultural terminology around parenting is more difficult to navigate.

Part of my lack of personal connection to the word mother also arises from being nonbinary, or genderqueer. This part of the puzzle crystallized recently when my sister-in-law G. and I were discussing the various legal protections that parents like me have access to in 21st century America and, specifically, Washington State. When I told G. that my parental rights were firmly established under state and federal law but that a bigoted judge could still rule against me, she said, “But you’re their mother!”

“Eh,” I said, tilting my head sideways even though she couldn’t see me through the phone line.

“Seriously, Kate? You have to know you’re their mother!”

“That’s not what I meant,” I said. “I’m obviously their parent, and not just because the courts say I am. But mother is such a loaded term. If I don’t identify fully as a woman, then how can I identify fully as a ‘mother’ when that identity is so closely tied to biological womanhood?”

“Oh,” she said, understanding in her tone. “Got it. Well, in that case, you’re their parent, no matter what any judge says.”

Homodramatica book coverUnfortunately, I’m not sure the fact that I am one of the only two parents our daughters have ever known would help were I ever to come under the purview of a homophobic judge. Fortunately, as I explained to G. (and as I detail in my book Homodramatica), I have the law on my side. In the wake of a 2009 expansion of domestic partnership rights, Washington State began operating on a policy of “legal presumption of parenthood” that holds that both parties in a domestic partnership or same-sex marriage are presumed to be the legal parents of children conceived during the relationship. A related 2017 federal Supreme Court ruling requires all 50 states to extend the presumption of parenthood to legally married same-sex couples. This means any discriminatory ruling against my parental rights would likely be reversed on appeal, even outside our home state of Washington.

As a writer, I’m drawn to analyzing terminology, of course. Non-biological mother, non-gestational parent, nonbinary gender identity—these are all terms whose definitions literally rely on absence rather than celebrating what is present. That’s why I prefer genderqueer to nonbinary. Why I prefer Mimi to non-bio mom. When Alex was learning to talk, she came up with what she and her sisters call me, almost as if she understood even then that I wasn’t like other mothers. It’s just a bonus that the word Mimi actually means something else in a foreign language: Beloved. To me, my child-chosen parent name is perfect.

In the middle of Mother’s Day, which was lovely—my parents came over for brunch and Kris made blueberry waffles for the whole family; I got to take a walk with the girls and a good friend; another dear friend dropped by for a visit; and I fixed a broken fence panel in our backyard without injuring myself or others (BOO-YAH)—I mentioned to Kris that I felt a little uncomfortable taking ownership of Mother’s Day.

“Maybe we should declare a non-bio mom’s day,” I joked. “Or genderqueer parent day, maybe?”

“Isn’t there already a non-bio mom’s day?” Kris asked, entirely serious.

“Oh, right.” I nodded slowly. “February first.”

For those who haven’t followed this blog long (or who understandably don’t remember a post I wrote eight years ago!), February 1, 2011, was the day that Washington State began to allow non-gestational mothers to be on the birth certificate as a legally recognized parent. Twenty-two days later, Alex was born. Good timing, we’ve always thought.

“We celebrated that first one,” Kris pointed out. “Maybe we could keep the tradition going.”

And maybe, in the future, we will. Or maybe I’ll keep Father’s/Mimi’s Day. Mimi’s Day works in a way nothing else does, and honestly, I don’t mind modifying an existing holiday. As long as the kids don’t mind, either, we’ll probably keep doing what has worked in the past.

Me & the girls, Mother’s Day 2019

These types of questions usually come up for Kris and me around Hallmark Holidays, as we refer to them—culturally determined (and named) days that would otherwise remain unremarkable. Like most people, I generally wonder less about the terminology around parenting and more about how I’m actually doing as a parent. As someone with a parental role that has long been contested in courtrooms and in public opinion, I may or may not question my adequacy more than the average cis heterosexual parent. My guess? I probably do. When so many people question your fundamental rights, it’s difficult not to internalize at least some of the hate speech and underlying assumptions.

That cultural criticism is why something that happened a few months ago made me especially happy. We were trapped inside by winter weather one weekend day when the kids overheard Kris and me discussing a Facebook post making the rounds. I don’t remember the post exactly, but I do recall one of the questions: What would your kids report is something you say a lot? Kris and I were sitting on either end of the couch riffing on the possibilities—Turn off your bedroom light! No talking about farts at the dinner table! Is everybody buckled?

“Mimi says I love you a lot,” Ellie announced from the other couch, not even looking up from the picture book she was leafing through. Alex and Sydney, who were drawing at a nearby table, both nodded in agreement.

I share this story not for the knee-jerk need to prove that a non-biological parent is a valid parent, too, but because… Well. Huh. That actually might be precisely why I’m sharing this story: as a reminder both to myself and to all the countless other people like me that parenting is NOT determined by biology; that love, as the saying goes, truly is what makes a family.

Lucky for me, my daughters agree.

Posted in LGBTQ+, Non-Biological Motherhood, Parenting | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

A Little Disguised: Queering the Canon, One Classic at a Time

Note: This post discusses my upcoming series “Queering the Canon” from Second Growth Books. If you’re interested in helping crowdfund the series, please visit my Patreon profile. For a limited time, those who sign up at any level ($1/month minimum) will receive a free electronic copy of the first book in the series, Gay Pride and Prejudice. Those who sign up at $3/month or above will receive free electronic copies of all #QueeringTheCanon titles released.

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Recently, a reader who has become a friend and regular correspondent about books, ideas, and life mentioned that as a Jane Austen fan, he had been somewhat worried about my P&P adaptation, Gay Pride and Prejudice, in which I added roughly 10,000 words to Austen’s novel in order to shift the classic love story from supposedly heteronormative to distinctly homo. Not everyone in Gay P&P is queer, you understand, but enough characters are switch hitters (or, as it was apparently known in the eighteenth century, practitioners of “the game of flats”) to tilt the novel’s central romance off-center—a revisionist choice that more than one reader has disliked. Intensely.

This wasn’t the first time someone who generally likes my writing confessed their doubts about my goal of queering Austen’s best-known novel. Prior to writing and publishing Gay P&P, in fact, I very much shared those concerns. I hesitated for more than a year to attempt an LGBT rewrite of P&P because, well, JANE AUSTEN. But at last I grew tired of waiting for the novel I’d always longed to read, and went ahead and adapted the mother of all romance novels to make it queer.

GPP-3dbookTo my surprise, doing so wasn’t all that difficult. Austen’s text is rife with hidden commentary, queer and otherwise. Those who take her writing at face value as unequivocally reifying heterosexism and the patriarchal marriage tradition strike me as people who are likely content with the status quo and unaware of the many cultural and societal systems exerting power over their own lives. Mostly, I suspect, these folks are straight and therefore accustomed to seeing themselves in every story ever written. For LGBTQ+ people, on the other hand, reading ourselves back into stories and history is almost second nature.

Even as a self-published title with next to no promotion, Gay Pride and Prejudice has sold consistently well since I published it in 2012, and even garnered a shout-out on NPR recently in a review of Unmarriageable, a new P&P adaptation set in Pakistan. Gay P&P’s modest success over the years has convinced me that there is an established fandom eager to read “queerified” classics. So in the next year or so, I’m hoping to finally launch a project I’ve long wanted to pursue: queering additional classics of the Western literary canon. Once Book Five of my soccer series, Girls of Summer, is out in a few months, I will turn my attention to converting more straight peopl—er, literary characters to the queer side of the spectrum. And because I’m going to actually try to promote the series, I’ll be using #QueeringTheCanon. Ad nauseum, probably.

The next classic novel in my sights is another Austen title, one I’m sure many people could guess due to its obvious lesbian tendencies: Emma. In preparation for tackling more LGBTQ+ adaptations, I’ve been downloading assorted scholarly articles from JSTOR and other digital clearinghouses that discuss relevant issues. Thanks to a few historians and graduate students who are fighting the good fight, finding queer takes on Austen and others is easier now than it was twenty years ago—or even seven years ago. If you’re interested in reading more about my research, I recently penned a Patreon post for subscribers called “’I Saw You’ Antiquity Edition: Adding Queer Folks back into the Western Literary Canon.” The Patreon essay picks up where this post ends, and includes additional details on my approach, discusses more canonical titles I’m planning to adapt, and links to some of the academic texts I’ve stumbled across in my research process.

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It’s only been in the past year as I’ve thought more deeply about creating an entire revisionist series for queer readers that I realized I should probably investigate some of the relevant scholarly work out there. In 2012, I approached P&P without considering the plot or characters or historical context at all. I simply downloaded the public domain text from an online clearing house, copied it into Word, and started revising it to suit my readerly tastes. My lack of preparation and winging-it approach can be seen in some of the well-deserved criticism of the end result. The famous Darcy and Lizzy scene where he shows up at Mr. Collins’s house and proposes (the first time) doesn’t really work in my version, which is probably why I rewrote that scene more than any other I worked on. I suspect that a more organized approach to other titles will improve the finished result. Plus, reading of any kind is fun and inspirational, even supposedly dry academic tomes. At least, in my opinion.

Several of the essays/graduate theses I have read quote the same line from Emma as evidence that Austen very much knew what she was doing when she intertwined homosocial and homoerotic themes into her works: “Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.” Of course we’ll never know what she actually intended, especially since her family destroyed the bulk of her personal letters after she died, but as a fan of her work, I have always believed there was more going on beneath the surface in her novels. That’s likely because as a queer person I have been trained since early adulthood to look for subtext both in the media I consume and in real life.

If my #QueeringTheCanon project sounds interesting to you and you have even $1 per month to spare, I hope you will consider helping to crowdfund the series on Patreon. As a subscriber, you’ll get behind-the-scenes glimpses of my research and writing process and early access to excerpts and book blurbs.

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My #QueeringTheCanon imprint

Most subscribers also receive free advance e-book copies of anything I release through my Second Growth Books imprint, including all #QueeringTheCanon titles. Plus, you’ll get the knowledge that you are supporting a radical act of queer revisionism and promoting #OwnVoices literature with a twist. Because why should the literary past be any less twisty and turny than actual human history? Or, as I say in the blurb for Gay Pride and Prejudice, “Because Queer People Deserve Happily Ever After, Too.”

Posted in #QueeringTheCanon, Queer books, Second Growth Books, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Homophones, Synonyms, and Queer Folk, Oh My

A couple of nights ago at dinner, Kris was telling us about a book she’d just finished: My Squirrel Days, a collection of personal essays written by actor Ellie Kemper from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. At one point, Kris explained, Kemper envisions herself on her death bed surrounded by her future children and grandchildren. One of her granddaughters is named Cabinet, Kemper writes, and the other Morph, short for Metamorphosis, because “popular girl names don’t get any less weird in the future.”

“Cabinet?” Sydney echoed.

“Metamorphosis?” Alex repeated, her eyes narrowing doubtfully.

I mean, really, how do you explain a concept like metamorphosis to elementary schoolchildren?

Ellie, however, wasn’t hung up on words she didn’t recognize. “I’m not named after anything,” she announced.

We all looked at her, because the story of how she got her name is a family favorite that involves one parent gleefully recognizing the similarity between “Elowyn” and the name of a character from Lord of the Rings (me), and the other parent fortunately not clueing in until after Ellie had been named (Kris).

“Yes, you are,” several of the dinner table’s occupants said in unison.

“I know that,” she said. “I’m named after a tree. An Elm tree.”

“In what language?” I asked, curious to see if she knew the answer.

“Welsh,” she said confidently.

“If someone asked you where your name comes from, would you know?” I asked, continuing with the ever-popular Socratic parenting method.

“No.”

“It’s from Wales,” I told her. “People in Wales speak Welsh.”

“They speak it in Wales?” Ellie repeated, half-smiling like she suspected we were trying to pull a fast one on her.

“Yes,” Kris confirmed.

“Really, people in Wales?” Ellie insisted, her eyes comically wide.

“Yes, really.” I frowned, trying to parse her expression. “Wales is a country in Britain, near England.”

Her face cleared. “Oh. I didn’t know that.”

And all at once, I realized: “You thought I meant people inside whales, the animal, didn’t you?”

She nodded, her smile now more mischievous than confused. “I totally did.”

“So did I,” Alex chimed in, while Sydney nodded beside her, mouth too full of angel hair pasta to speak.

Turns out that when I said people in Wales speak Welsh, my children pictured this:

welsh-whale3

Thanks a lot, Disney Pixar.

Actually, that’s what the twins pictured. Alex, our eight-year-old, wants me to tell you that while she momentarily imagined a whale with humans in its belly, she then moved on to envision a seaside village with whales roaming the shoreline. So there’s that.

Scenes like this one happen all the time in our household. But and Butt are of course favorite sound-alikes (of our children, not of their moms), as are new and gnu, which Kris and I actually pronounce the way it ought to be with a hard “g” up front, obviously. I’m amazed by how many homophones—as opposed to homophobes—are animal names: fowl and foul; hare and hair; lynx and links; mussel and muscle; moose and mousse. The poor kids. They never know if we’re talking about bodies or shellfish, baseball or ducks.

Maybe that’s why they call Kris’s hair product “mousse hair.” Clearly, they think she’s using the hair of the moose.

Then again, they probably don’t know the meaning of most of the words above. At least, not the twins. Three-quarters of the way through kindergarten, they’re starting to read Level One books to us with minimal assistance. Before long they’ll be reading chapter books like Alex does, devouring them so intently that they don’t even hear us when we’re talking to them. Like mothers, like daughters.

Unfortunately, teaching kids new words isn’t always such a fun experience, as any member of a much-maligned minority knows. A few months ago, the girls and I were using the restroom at a convenience store when a less amusing conversation took place. The restroom key had been attached to a giant metal serving spoon so that it couldn’t be misplaced, which the girls thought was hilarious.

“Yeah,” I said, smiling as they giggled, “I guess it is kind of weird.”

“If it’s weird,” Alex helpfully supplied, “then you could call it queer.”

I, a genderqueer lesbian, paused in washing my hands and stared into the innocent eyes of my second grader. “Excuse me?”

She blinked, looking less certain as she took in my expression, which no doubt reflected the creeping horror I felt. “Um, I said you could call it queer?”

I took a calming breath as I dried my hands. “And where did you learn that queer is a synonym for weird?”

“From my teacher.”

Another deep breath, because, really? “Why was your teacher talking about the word queer?”

“It was in a book. She was reading to us from The Boxcar Children.”

I have since learned that chapter six of the original Boxcar Children novel (published in 1924) is titled “A Queer Noise in the Night.” To be fair, weird is indeed a synonym for queer, according to Merriam Webster, my go-to source for most word-related questions. In addition to “worthless, counterfeit, questionable, suspicious, differing from what is usual and normal,” and “not quite well,” Merriam Webster’s definition of the word queer also includes this:

queer-def2

Other synonyms in MW’s thesaurus entry include the following: bizarre, outlandish, crazy, kooky, peculiar, odd, and wacky. The first words MW lists as related to queer? Aberrant and abnormal.

“Your teacher isn’t wrong,” I told Alex, crouching down to her level. “But ‘queer’ has more than one meaning. Have you heard me use it to talk about myself and our family?”

“Yes,” she said, nodding.

“I think I’ve also mentioned before that ‘queer’ is a word that some people call gay people in order to be mean and hateful, right?”

She nodded again, and so did the twins.

“The reason gay people use it about ourselves is so that we can reclaim it and make it not as hurtful. I know that probably sounds confusing—” (because let’s face it, I’m 47 and I still can’t entirely wrap my brain around that logic)—“but that’s how the word is used now. Did your teacher mention any of that?”

“No,” Alex said.

“Okay. I just want to make sure you know that your teacher didn’t mean that I’m weird, or that our family is weird.”

“I’m sorry, Mimi,” she said, looking down. “I’m really sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry. No one did anything wrong.” Well, except her teacher. I stood up and gave her a hug. “I’m glad we talked about it. You’re still learning lots of new words, and you will be for a long time. I still learn new words regularly too.”

All three kids looked up at me in disbelief. “You do?”

“Yeah. Like, I recently learned that ‘fizzle’ is another word for fart.”

Mission accomplished—all three kids immediately cracked up. Even Alex, who is so quick to tell us she’s sorry, to take on blame, to worry she has somehow disappointed someone somewhere. Kris says she was like that when she was younger, too. Like mother, like daughter.

Kris was just as horrified when I relayed this conversation to her. So was G, my wonderful sister-in-law, and many other friends. A queer Smith alum on Facebook encouraged Kris and me to talk to the teacher, so we did at the very end of our next teacher’s conference. queer-noiseI’d barely gotten out the well-rehearsed sentence, “We’re worried that our daughter may have received the message in your classroom that our family is somehow weird” before the teacher was speaking over me to assure us that she isn’t homophobic and that she has family members who identify as queer.

She didn’t apologize, and she didn’t respond to my suggestion that there might be a use for an inclusive curriculum at the elementary school level to help teachers navigate these kinds of issues. Instead, she flipped the script and asked in a disbelieving tone if we’d actually experienced any homophobia in our school or district. Kris and I floundered, of course, and so did the conversation. We left soon after, legitimately surprised by the reaction we’d received from a lovely woman who had been nothing but welcoming to us and who had a rainbow flag displayed prominently on her desk.

To be clear, Alex adores her teacher and has flourished in her classroom this year. Other than this single incident, Kris and I have really liked and appreciated her, too. Still, in this case, she definitely missed a teaching moment. The Boxcar Children may have been written at a time when queer commonly meant something else (although good ole Merriam Webster assures us that the pejorative use of the word began in 1894, well before the novel was written), but that doesn’t mean the term’s derogatory meaning can be glossed over in a contemporary classroom where at least one student has queer family members. Alex’s teacher absolutely had a responsibility to explain to our daughter and her classmates that they and others shouldn’t use the word queer now because it’s an offensive, disparaging term intended to hurt a minority group. But that would have required her to engage in a classroom conversation about LGBTQ+ people, a conversation our school district has roundly refused to have at the elementary level.

Since Alex entered school two and a half years ago, I’ve written letters and attended school board meetings where I’ve advocated for an inclusive, intersectional elementary curriculum that teaches tolerance and respect toward people of different races, ethnicities, and religions as well as gender identities and sexual orientations. I’ve argued to anyone who would listen (and several who wouldn’t) that HRC’s Welcoming Schools program is well-suited to a district like ours, where there is inclusive programming at the middle schools and high schools but nothing at the lower levels. The Welcoming Schools program actually has a web page that would have helped Alex’s teacher navigate The Boxcar Children incident in a more inclusive way. “Defining LGBTQ Words for Children” recommends sharing the following definition for the word queer: “People use this word as a way to identify with and celebrate people of all gender identities and all the ways people love each other. When used in a mean way, it is a word that hurts.”

HRC-Welcoming-Schools

In fact, Washington State mandates an LGBTQ-inclusive elementary school curriculum. But most districts pick and choose which state requirements to fulfill because, as more than one administrator has explained to me, there are so many mandated by the state that it’s impossible to meet them all. I’ve also been told by these same administrators that the pushback from the Christian members of our local community would be difficult to overcome if the district were to institute an elementary curriculum that presents LGBTQ people and relationships in a positive light.

I don’t doubt that both of these statements are true. However, I also don’t accept either as a legitimate reason to not include anti-bias instruction at the elementary level, which is why I intend to keep trying to push our district toward inclusion.

In the meantime, here’s a lesson for any educators out there to keep in mind: Please don’t use the word queer in class if you’re not prepared to explain its meaning and usage adequately. Chances are most of the kids in your class have already heard the term being used in a disparaging way. Even if they haven’t, odds are that at least one child in your class is related to an actual queer person—or might one day realize they are LGBTQ+ themselves.

Assuming they haven’t already.

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Author Announcement: Some of you may have noticed that I’ve added a new page to my blog called My Patreon. As the page explains, a reader suggested I start a creator account on Patreon to crowdfund support for a series I’m planning called Queering the Canon. Please have a read if you’d like to contribute. My lowest tier is $1 per month, and any and all contributions are very much appreciated!

Posted in Education, Family, LGBTQ+, Parenting | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

So about that GoS book #4 cover…

**2/22/19 UPDATE: The pre-order had to be canceled due to a glitch–okay, a GAFFE on my part. Anyway, I reuploaded the book, and the good news is that you can order and read it TODAY (Friday) instead of having to wait until Monday! I am changing links fastly and furiously. Here you go: NEW ORDER PAGE ON AMAZON**

Happy Valentine’s Day from snowy Western Washington, where my children are currently on their sixth snow day! Over the past week, we’ve had a grand total of–trumpets, please16 inches. That’s right, folks, six days of no school because a little more than a foot of snow decided to land on our neck of the woods. Have you seen that meme that compares the local reaction to different snowfall amounts in varying parts of the country? Probably the only thing King County has in common with the south is that with a foot of snow, we declare a state of emergency. The Seattle Snowpocalypse is real, y’all.Road-to-Canada-kindle

Anyway, on to book news. You know how I always say I reserve the right to change the cover before publication? Well, book #4 of the Girls of Summer series now has a new cover–and a new title: The Road to Canada. I’ve said before that Jamie and Emma have minds of their own, so it might not come as a surprise to some of you that they’ve once again hijacked the story. Girls of Summer will now be book #5, though it keeps the (slightly tweaked) cover with the flag. Good thing, too–Kris, my wife, loves that cover.

So why the change? In short, Girls of Summer was either going to have to be considerably longer than the other books in the series or I would have had to limit the story that Jamie and Emma keep insisting they want to tell. Instead of grappling alone with this decision, I created a SurveyMonkey that I shared with a focus group. The survey asked the readers to choose an option: one super-long novel that wouldn’t be available for several months OR two shorter novels, one of which was almost complete. The results: Books #4 and 5 will be published separately, but I will also make them available as a box-set for those who would prefer to read them together as one super-long book.

For now, though, The Road to Canada (book 4) is available for pre-order on Amazon. Publication is set for February 25. I’m still planning to wrap up Jamie and Emma’s current storyline in Girls of Summer (book 5), due out in May, but obviously #Blakewell may have different ideas about that… I (and J & E) will keep you posted. Oh, and I added a box set of Girls of Summer books 1 to 3 on Amazon for anyone who needs to catch up. Pass it on if you get a chance!

In the meantime, Happy V-Day, and happy reading. And if you happen to be in the Pacific Northwest, happy sledding…

snow-day-sm

Me and the girls in our normally snow-free forest

Posted in Lesbian Fiction, Queer books, Soccer, USWNT | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Girls of Summer cover reveal + giveaway

So. Election day is over–sort of, if you don’t count Georgia and Florida. Despite the “Big Win” a certain tweeting madman immediately claimed, the Democrats managed to flip the House of Representatives, which is allowing most of us in the LGBTQ+ community as well as other minority groups to breathe a bit easier. There’s still the looming constitutional crisis that accelerated yesterday with the firing of Sessions, the specter of a conservative Supreme Court for decades to come, and serious questions regarding the hackability of our electronic voting infrastructure, but hey. At least we’ll be able to subpoena the crazy dude’s taxes, am I right?

Sigh… I know, it’s always darkest before the light. I’m just afraid we haven’t gotten truly dark enough yet to qualify.

GoS-kindleAnyway, on to writing news, specifically regarding the upcoming fourth book in my USWNT soccer series, the Girls of Summer. Honestly, submerging myself in fictional 2014-15 America–when Obama was still president and gay marriage was about to be legalized across the entire nation!–has been a wonderful balm to my anxiety-ridden 2016-18 self. I hope my books might offer the same sort of refuge for some of you, as well.

As I mentioned in a message to my mailing list last week, the fourth (and possibly not final) book in my soccer series, Girls of Summer, is due to be released in December or January. The new cover is at right, though of course, I reserve the right to change it (as per usual) before publication. I’ll be giving away 2 copies of Girls of Summer one week before the novel is available for download. To qualify for the drawings, read on!

I’ve released three titles in the past few months:

To be entered in the first drawing for a free, early copy of Girls of Summer, you need only have purchased a copy of one of the three books listed above. To be entered in the second drawing, pen a review on Amazon or Goodreads for one of the three books listed above. Once you’ve purchased one of these books or written a review, send a note to kate (at) katejchristie.com, and I’ll add your email address to the giveaway(s). The deadline to sign up is December 1, so that gives you some time. On December 2, I’ll draw the winners and notify them by email.

I’m relying on the honor system, so no proof of purchase or review is necessary. But please do consider writing a review if you haven’t already done so. Word of mouth helps books find readers, especially in a smaller niche like lesbian fiction.

In the meantime, happy reading and keep resisting. Also, best wishes to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on a speedy recovery! And I mean, speedy…

 

Posted in Giveaways, Lesbian Fiction, LGBTQ+, Queer books, Women's soccer | Tagged , , | 6 Comments