Every Voice Can Be Powerful No Matter Its Volume

PFLAG Moms come in all shapes, sizes, colors, personalities, temperaments and advocacy styles. One of my all-time favorite PFLAG Moms, Lisa, has a personality and advocacy style that are quiet, gentle, kind and steady.

She’s an elementary school teacher near our home in Orange County where she runs a gender expansive classroom. Better than gender neutral environments, gender expansive environments affirm all children no matter then gender identity or gender expression and allow them to express their interests, find confidence in their strengths and expand their conventional understanding of gender.

PFLAG Mom Lisa helped me create the “Tips for Educators” found in the back of my book and which I use when I speak to youth serving professionals.

Following is a letter she wrote to our local PFLAG chapter. The letter shows Lisa’s spirit, her way of educating and that every voice can be powerful no matter its volume.

“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” — Anne Frank

I love those quizzes on Facebook. You know the ones… you answer a series of random questions and it gives you your flower, the personality you most embody, your spirit animal, etc.

For the record, I’m a sunflower, lawful good, and my spirit animal is a buffalo. They tell me what I already know about myself. I’m somewhat reserved, not a mover or a shaker, but passionate about justice, and a peacemaker. Sometimes, I wonder how to reconcile my rather sedate personality with the need to be an activist for the cause of LGBTQ equality.

Last week in the teacher’s lounge I sat with my colleagues having our leisurely 25-minute lunch break. We were talking, as we often do, about our children and what they are doing. I mentioned that my son and his boyfriend had just gone to Catalina and had a great time. A couple of my colleagues visibly twitched at the phrase “my son and his boyfriend.” One of them said that she had trouble with the whole “gay thing” because she was a Christian. I mentioned that I was Christian too. She asked respectfully, “What kind of Christian are you?” I replied, “The good kind!,” we all laughed, and that was that. There was a quiet understanding that maybe Christianity has a broader definition. There have been other conversations, and there will be more.

Each of us, living our lives and sharing our daily experiences with others, taking advantage of those “teachable moments,” is quietly making a difference. We’re helping others understand that we, and our loved ones, are not necessarily who they think we are.

Don’t get me wrong. We do need equality activism. We need strong and aggressive attorneys to fight for the civil rights of our LGBTQ loved ones in the classroom, in the workplace, on the athletic fields, and elsewhere. We need Pride Parades and rallies. But, we also need the gentle activist. It’s all necessary and important.

I know there will be many other conversations, but even that brief conversation gave my friend and other colleagues some food for thought. Living our lives without shame and having open conversations without filtering them is one way to open hearts and minds.

I’ll be marching in the Pride Parades for years to come. I’ll be walking at the AIDS Walks. But, I’ll also continue to have lunch with my colleagues and chat about both of my kids, because it’s a good way to spend 25 minutes and begin to change the world.

I may not be a rose and my spirit animal is not a lion, but I’ll embrace my inner sunflower and know that quietly proud can sometimes get the job done.

PFLAG Mom Lisa

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Raising My Rainbow….In Italy!!!!

I’ve been a wee bit massively busy lately, as you may have noticed. C.J. and Chase’s last day of school is today, my day job is busier than usual and I’ve been working on a side project that I can’t wait to tell you about some day. Don’t you hate it with people vaguely allude to exciting news and then reveal nothing?

Here are some things I can reveal…

Raising My Rainbow is being released today in ITALY!!!! I am not fluent in Italian, so I will not be able to read it. But, if you can, you should. Click here to order it.

Stonewall-Book-AwardThis weekend I’ll be in Las Vegas for the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, where I will be presented with the 2014 Stonewall Book Award-Israel Fishman Non-Fiction Award. I’m seriously so excited! What should I do while in Vegas? Suggestions welcome!

Last but not least, PFLAG national reblogged my Father’s Day post to their A Note To My Kid website. A Note to My Kid is a project of PFLAG National that gives parents, families, friends and allies of the LGBTQ community the opportunity to share their unconditional love, via notes, photos and videos. It’s such a touching project. Check it out and write a note to your kid.

More soon, I promise.  Maybe a photo or two from Vegas?

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This Is How A Father Should Love

When I met Matt, I wasn’t looking for a husband or father for my future children. I was 17. I was looking for a prom date.

He asked me to prom. He asked me to marry him. He asked me to start a family. I always said yes.

IMG_0242In between all of life’s milestones and years, we slowly made our life, wrote our story. We learned everything about each other. Then we learned some more. Just when we think there’s nothing left to learn, we prove ourselves wrong again.

I’ve learned that Matt was born to be a husband and father. It’s what he’s best at. And, he’s good at a lot of things. His love for Chase, C.J. and me has always been loyal, forgiving, unconditional and fierce. I’ve never met anyone who can love like Matt can.

When our youngest son started playing with dolls, wearing dresses and acting effeminate, I foolishly wondered if Matt’s love would be less for him that it was for us. Now, four years after our son picked up his first Barbie and refused to put her down, I’ve learned that C.J.’s gender nonconformity has made Matt an even better husband, father and person.

Last year at Orange County Pride, we each picked up some of those iconic Human Rights Campaign stickers — the yellow equal sign in the blue square. I used mine as a bookmark. Without saying a word and while no one was looking, Matt put his proudly on his truck’s bumper. When I saw it, my heart melted, my eyes watered and I took a picture to save on my phone forever.

“What did the guys at work say about your HRC sticker?” I asked him later. I imagined him driving his massive, lifted truck into the police department lot and possibly getting some stares or slurs. I worried that he took a stance when he didn’t really need to.

“Nobody said anything and I don’t care if they do,” he said, matter-of-factly.

We took Chase and C.J. to Disneyland on Easter Sunday. We only had 30 minutes to spare before our dinner reservations. We were trying to cut quickly across the park to ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds. We were stopped in our tracks by Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. We had to go right or go left. We had to hurry. Chase was impatient. Matt saw Ariel atop a float, headed down Main Street straight for us. He whisked C.J. up, onto his shoulders.

“You take Chase and ride The Matterhorn. I’m staying right here with C.J. so he can see the princesses. We’ll meet you at dinner,” he said.

“But…” I started to argue.

“No. Go,” Matt said, looking at the approaching princesses, not me.

IMG_8533Later he told me that C.J. screamed uncontrollably and clapped wildly as the princesses came into his view. He waved to the princesses and lost his words in the thrill of the moment. He was overcome with happiness, and so was Matt.

“You should have seen him. He was out of his mind when he saw them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him like that. And, I’m glad it was me who was with him. Just me and him,” Matt said over dinner when the kids weren’t paying attention.

Initially, I felt a tinge of jealousy because I hadn’t been there to witness C.J.’s unbridled reaction. The jealously faded quickly. I’m glad they shared that moment, forever in their minds. A father and son and the Disney Princesses.

The four of us like to watch Modern Family together. We sat down to watch Mitch and Cam’s wedding. As they were saying their “I Dos,” I remembered something irrelevant and unimportant that I wanted to tell Matt. As I turned my head to him, he turned his head to me and asked, “Why is this making me emotional?” We watched the rest of the episode in happy, sweet silence.

Matt has learned that love is love. Between a father and his effeminate son. Between same sex partners.   Between people.

The HRC sticker on his bumper, his steadfastness in the presence of princesses, his emotions when watching two men marry, these are the little moments when I look at my husband — my hyper-masculine, jock, cop, tough-guy of a man — and think I could not have picked a better partner for life or father for my children.

Happy Father’s Day, Matt. I love you. xoxo, Lori

 

 

 

 

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Friday Fodder: Winners and More Giveaways!

On Tuesday, I gave you all the chance to win a copy of the Raising My Rainbow audiobook (released on May 27 by Audible). To enter, all you had to do was tell me something you’ve learned from my book/blog. I had a hard time picking just one winner, so I picked two. Here they are…

SamThis blog helped me become more proud of my choice to try and become a therapist with specialization in the field of gender studies. People may look at me funny when I explain that I want to work with gender creative people and people who are trying to figure out who they are, but that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that someone is out there willing to listen and offer a kind word when so many in our society are fine ignoring or chastising their fellow humans.

LauraOnly one thing I learned from your book/blog?! Finding your blog was like coming home. I struggled for so long to make sure I was being the best parent I could be to my gender creative son and your blog and book validated so many things for me. His Pre-K teachers are reading it and my parents have my copy. My Dad told me the other day that if I wasn’t planning on meeting with my son’s Kindergarten teacher to talk to her before school started that he would! You give me confidence and helped me give my son his voice.

If you didn’t win here, never fear! My two besties are hosting giveaways on their blogs. Check them out here and enter:

My other bestie (not really), Queen Latifah is hosting a giveaway of the audiobook book as well. Read the story about Raising My Rainbow on her site, at the bottom you’ll read how to enter:

In the news this week:

Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting an awesome family that has been blessed with a trans son. Watch this video about them. It’s really moving.

AGENDER: PORTRAITS OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO IDENTIFY AS NEITHER MALE OR FEMALE, FeatureShoot.com

The Transgender Tipping Point, TIME

 

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Raising My Rainbow Audiobook Giveaway!!!!!

The audiobook version of Raising My Rainbow was released by Audible today.  Yay!

Want a free copy?  Cool, read on to learn how to enter to win.

photo-40Now, I share with you the top five things I learned while narrating the audiobook:

1.  My stomach growls.  A lot.  Loudly.  Even when I’m not hungry.  And, that’s not conducive to the recording process.   Also, the more I think about my stomach growling, the more it growls.  There might be a monster living in there.

2.  Talking for six to eight hours a day over the course of multiple days will make your head hurt worse than your throat.  Go figure.

3.  I pronounce several words incorrectly and use those words quite often when I write.  So, I had to sit and say those words over and over again until my producer got a version that was suitable for use.  No, I will not tell you what those words are.

4.  I was fighting off a cold and the sweet baristas at the nearby Starbucks introduced me to a drink called The Medicine Ball.  I dedicate the audiobook to them (and Matt and the boys and my brother and you).

5.  The “corporate headquarters” of Gretchen Christine, the company founded by Real Housewife of Orange County Gretchen Rossi are next door to the studio where I recorded.  I never saw Gretchen or Slade, try as I might.

To enter to win a copy of the Raising My Rainbow audiobook, leave a comment below telling me one thing you learned from my blog and/or book.  A winner will be announced this Friday.

And, everybody, if you are on Audible, you should totally consider writing a review for the audiobook.  Also, you do not need to have an Audible.com membership in order to buy the audiobook.

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David Burtka + Lori Duron = Raising My Rainbow Audiobook

Guess what happens on Tuesday?  The audiobook version of Raising My Rainbow will be released by Audible!

Guess who the narrator is?  Me!

I’m grateful that Audible allowed me to narrate the book. It would have been weird to hear someone else owning the words I wrote about my family.  (I just had to get over hating the sound of my own voice.)

Here’s an excerpt from the book before it is released:

Guess who narrated the audiobook’s foreword?  The one and only David Burtka!  I’m forever thankful for the support I’ve received from the Burtka Harris family.  (I like David’s voice much more than my own.)

Listen to David read the book’s foreword here:

   

And, audible has named Raising My Rainbow an “Editors Select” book for May 2014.  Here, my editor explains why it was selected:

Editors Select, May 2014 – I have been a fan of Lori Duron and her blog, Raising My Rainbow, for a few years now. When I learned that Audible Studios was producing her book based on her blog, I jumped at the chance to review it. Duron’s book (and blog) shares her and her husband’s funny, heartwarming, and at times heartbreaking experiences in raising a gender nonconforming son. C.J., their youngest son, is a boy who prefers stereotypical girl things – girl toys, girl activities, girl clothes. I’m not a parent, but the open and honest way that Duron writes about her family, and in particular C.J., is utterly engaging, and provides excellent advice and life lessons for any human being. Narrated by Duron herself, Raising My Rainbow is full of content that never appeared on her blog – more hilarious C.J. stories, more of her and her husband’s struggles with their parenting decisions, and even a disturbing account of bullying experienced by their older son. This brave memoir teaches that it’s important to fully love the people in your life…no matter what. —Katie, Audible Editor

You can pre-order the audiobook now by clicking here .  (You don’t need to have an Audible.com subscription to purchase the book.)  

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Tuesday Fodder: Tom Goss, Illuminate the Dark Edition

Things that recently caught and held my attention…

You have got to watch the latest music video from indie musician and human rights activist Tom Goss.  Illuminate the Dark shows that beauty takes many forms and that each individual possesses the ability to be vibrant. With the video, Goss hopes to “help people see one another through the eyes of those that love them.  People judge others all of the time, but if we take the time to see people as their mother, lover or sister sees them, we will begin to see what makes each individual dynamic and beautiful.” Look for an appearance by yours truly, a fabulous redhead and an awesome big brother. 

* * *

This Sunday, I’ll be at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Studio City as part of a panel discussing gender.

What does it mean to be transgender? Gender nonconforming? Gender creative? Genderqueer? What is the gender spectrum and how does it affect the way we live, the language we use, the laws we need, and even our social media interactions?”

Join us to learn from a panel of experts, who became experts through their own personal experiences, including:

  • Lori Duron, author/blogger, RAISING MY RAINBOW
  • Marsha Aizumi, author, TWO SPIRITS, ONE HEART
  • Aiden Aizumi, educator/advocate

Bring your questions, your openness, and your willingness to learn! We will work to create a safe environment where there are no dumb questions!

Click here to learn more about the event, which starts at noon, is free and open to all.

* * *

I’ve been named one of BlogHer’s 2014 Voices of the Year! BlogHer, a 100 million-strong blogging community, received thousands of submissions and selected my blog post “When The Boys’ Room Isn’t Safe For A Boy “ as a winner in the “Heart” category. As a result, WordPress Freshly Pressed the same blog post. Thanks BlogHer and WordPress! Click here to read more and learn who my fellow 2014 Voices Of The Year are.

BH14_VOTY_Selected_150X15

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The amazing people behind Camp Aranu’tiq (a camp for transgender and gender variant youth ages eight and older and their families) have announced a new fun-filled weekend camp for LGBTQ parents/guardians and their children of any age. Extended family members are welcome, too! Click on a camp name to learn more about Camp Aranu’tiq and/or the LGBTQ Family Camp.

* * *

Headlines…

Title IX protects transgender students, federal agency says 

Parents of young boy in England pulling their child out of an after school club because the club won’t let him wear dresses

The Lord Looks At The Heart: When My Son Became My Daughter

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I hope all of you mothers and adults who mother a child had a very happy Mother’s Day.  C.J. made me a card at school that says he loves me most when I’m cleaning the house. So, there’s that.

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