Friday Fodder: Interview With Matt Edition

517593_300First, stop everything you’re doing and read The Mother Company’s interview with my rad hubby, Matt.  A lot of times when they see our son wearing a dress or playing with dolls, people ask “Where’s the kid’s father?!”  To that I say, he’s right here, by my side, being equally awesome, loving and supportive of both of our sons – no matter their likes, dislikes, gender expression, gender identity, etc.

When you’re done reading the interview, be sure to come back here, we have a lot to cover this week.

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sidebar-jnd-coverAnd, the winner of this week’s book giveaway is….Teresa Kander!

Congrats, you’ve won a signed copy of Sarah and Ian Hoffman’s Jacob’s New Dress.  Email your mailing address to raisingmyrainbow@gmail.com and I’ll drop the book in the mail next week.  Yay, you!

Thanks to everyone who entered to win by letting me know what books are favorites of your gender creative and ally family.  I’ve added a few new titles to my shopping list and will create a full list and post here soon.

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This week, I found out that Raising My Rainbow is a finalist for the 2014 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction, presented by the Publishing Triangle.  The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony on Thursday, April 24, at The New School in New York City.  It’d be an honor to win.  Cross your fingers and everything else for me, please.

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photo401My speaking calendar is filling up for spring and we should meet.  Here are my upcoming events:

This Wednesday, March 19, I’ll be at the PFLAG Los Angeles meeting.  Will I see you there?

And, on Saturday, April 5, I’ll be on a panel of memoirists at Literary Orange 2014 in Orange County.  Should I save you a seat?

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Two interviews with me ran this week.  You can check them out here, if you’re not sick of me:

Interview with Lori Duron, Author of Raising My Rainbow, The Phil Factor

Q&A with author Lori Duron, Deborah Kalb Books

* * *

These news stories interested me this week:

This Gay 12-Year-Old Reveals Challenges For LGBT Youth In America, Queerty

When a Little Kid Gives Adults a Lesson In Humanity…, The Meta Picture 

The Growing Transgender Presence in Pop Culture, The New York Times

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Book Giveaway: Jacob’s New Dress

sidebar-jnd-coverWe’ve added an awesome new book to our bookshelf!

Jacob’s New Dress came out on March 1. We’ve been waiting for it and it didn’t disappoint.

Jacob loves playing dress-up, when he can be anything he wants to be. Some kids at school say he can’t wear “girl” clothes, but Jacob wants to wear a dress to school. Can he convince his parents to let him wear what he wants?

This heartwarming story speaks to the unique challenges faced by boys who don’t identify with traditional gender roles.

Want Jacobs’s New Dress for your bookshelf?  I have a signed copy to give away!

For the chance to win, leave a comment below letting us know what book(s) you think gender creative and ally families should have on their shelves.

A winner will be announced on Friday. Good luck!

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Friday Fodder: Rainbows At Play Edition

raplogoOne week ago, we launched Rainbows At Play – an online community where families raising gender creative kids and/or allies can connect to playdate and find fierceness in numbers.  The response has been overwhelming, exhausting and exhilarating.

In the first seven days, the community welcomed more than 150 families from across the US.  We have connected families and playdates are being set up in 22 states!

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

We’ve had about a dozen families join from Canada and have playdates in the works in Ontario and Quebec.

And, most surprising…we’ve gone international!  Families are arranging playdates in:

  • Australia
  • Ecuador
  • France
  • Scotland
  • Spain

The response has been so great, that we’ve brought on two moderators to help us manage the community.  Three cheers and a toast to our bestie Sarah Manley from NerdyApple.com and THE Cory Byrom.

Community members who have yet to find other families in their area are gabbing it up in the “Community Chat” area.  There, we currently have seven different conversations going about everything from school, parenting and where to get fabulous clothes for young gender benders.

We remain giddy and emotional about Rainbows At Play and the good things that are happening in the community.  Help us spread the word and the sparkle.  The more gender creative and ally families that join, the better.

Let’s Get Playing!

Lori and Kelly

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SNEP Logo 300wAlso this week, I attended the Stonewall National Education Project’s 2nd Annual Conference, where I had the chance to meet with educators, administrators and other youth-serving professionals to talk about what it’s like to raise differently gendered child.   I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference!

* * *

If you live in Orange County, join Youth Empowered to Act (YETA) and Garden Grove High School’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) at their upcoming LGBTQ Student Rights Community Forum, where attendees will learn about the protections and rights of LGBTQ and allied students.

Parents, students and community members are encouraged to attend this free event and no RSVP is required.

Thursday, March 13//6 – 8p.m.//Garden Grove High School

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Introducing Rainbows At Play!

It all started years ago when we went looking for other families like our own — families raising gender bending boys who like wearing skirts and playing with dolls.

kids_bridge

We came up with nothing…until we found each other.  Every day we are grateful for the relationships that have developed between our families.  We’ve always been aware that we have it good and, now, we are giddy as hell to help other families connect.

This blog post marks the official launch of Rainbows At Play.  Rainbows At Play is an online community that connects families raising gender nonconforming kids so they can playdate and find fierceness in numbers.

raplogo

Here’s how to join:

  1. You must be a primary caregiver of a differently gendered child.  (If you are not raising a child, please don’t join the community.  Help us keep Rainbows At Play kiddos and families safe by only joining if you are an adult primary caregiver.  We will post updates to our blogs about Rainbows At Play that will allow others to join in on the joy and happiness of the community.  You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates and fun peeks into the Rainbows At Play community.  We hate to be exclusive, unwelcoming and uninviting.  We hope you understand why we have to be when it comes to this very special project.)
  2. If you don’t already have a Lefora.com membership, go there and create an account so that you can access communities, groups and forums hosted by Lefora.
  3. Go to Rainbows.Lefora.com and fill out the application.
  4. Be patient.  Initially, Kelly and I will be reviewing all applications ourselves.  We hope to have so many families apply that it takes us a few days to get to new applications.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?  The more who join, the better your odds of finding a local playdate mate and family just like yours.
  5. Once you are accepted into the community, read the “Rules and Guidelines” and “Getting Started” topics found at the top of the Community’s homepage.
  6. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  7. Spread the word and the sparkle.

This parenting journey can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.  Let’s get playing!

Lori and Kelly

Raising My Rainbow and Living A Bold Life

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Friday Fodder: HRC and Me Edition

gender_youth_270I was honored when the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) asked me to write about my reactions to the “Supporting and Caring for Our Gender Expansive Youth” report they released yesterday.  The report compiles findings from their recent Youth Survey and was co-authored by Gender Spectrum.

You must read the report.  It’s devastating and will show you that we need to do better — we have to do better — for the sake of differently gendered kids.

And, if you have time, ready my essay, here’s an excerpt:

“Sometimes (C.J.) dulls his sparkle because others don’t know what to make of it.  He’s had people hurl homophobic slurs at him.  He’s had peers in the school bathroom try to see if he has a penis or vagina.  He’s had adults tell him to stop being a sissy and to “man up.”  Today, he was told to “go jump off of the Tyler Clementi Memorial Bridge.”  All because my seven-year-old boy likes pink more than blue, dolls more than trucks, skirts more than pants.

It’s scary raising a child; it’s even scarier raising a gender nonconforming child….

Imagine raising a child who — according to the survey – will feel less happy than their peers; is more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol; views their life goals as unachievable; believes they have to leave home in order to be accepted; feels unsafe at school; and finds religion to be unloving.”

* * *

Here are two fundraising campaigns that you might be interested in:

Quirkie Kids Kickstarter AdQUIRKIE KIDS is hoping to raise $2,500 in the next 30 days to launch a line of pink tees for girls AND boys with playful designs not normally associated with the color pink. QUIRKIE KIDS believes that all kids should be free to wear pink and is working and gives kids more options to express themselves through their clothing.  Click here to check out the campaign.

The documentary Inside Out has also launched a 30-day funding blitz.  They are asking 80,000 caring people to donate $10 (the price of a movie ticket) to fund the first feature film to go deep inside the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming children and their families. By following the journeys of five children over one year audiences will understand their hopes, fears and— often difficult— decisions. Inside Out puts a human face on these stories and, in doing so, inspires empathy, increases awareness and broadens the public’s understanding of people.  Click here to learn more and/or donate.

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My Son Has Discovered Figure Skating

Photo: USA Today Sports

Photo: USA Today Sports

In mid-January, one of my friends posted on my Facebook wall:

Friend:  I was watching that viral video of Jason Brown ice skating, and I had this sudden realization that your son is about to experience Olympic-level ice skating.

Me: He doesn’t even know what he’s in for. I am ridiculously excited.

Friend: It’s gonna be life-changing.

My friend was right — probably because if he lived closer and were 30 years younger, he and C.J. would be inseparable and a fierce force to be reckoned with.

I waited weeks for the Olympics to get underway and set the DVR to record.  Over the weekend, Matt and I sat down with our sons to watch the games.

Chase loved the snowboarding and skiing events.  C.J. only loved them when somebody crashed.   Which is rude, but honest, I guess.

When figure skating came on, I watched C.J.

“Is this still the Olympics?” he asked confused.  How could we have possibly gone from barreling down a mountain on a board to dancing gracefully on glimmering ice?

We were watching Meryl Davis and Charlie White compete for the U.S.

“Are they in love?” C.J. asked me.

“I have no idea.”

“If they kiss we’ll know for sure that they are in love,” he assured me.  They never kissed.  They must not be in love.

Photo: Ottowa Sun

Photo: Ottowa Sun

We watched Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond perform.

“She’s really good,” I said when she was finished.  Stating the obvious.

“Well, she’s 18, what do you expect?!” he said as he turned to give me an exasperated look.  When he took his eyes off of the screen the judges delivered her results.

“Go back, go back, go back!  I want to see her skirt and her score!”

I grabbed my laptop and pulled up the video of Jason Brown’s long program at the U.S. National Championships last month.

“Wait.  A.  Minute.  I love his ponytail and glitter costume.  I like his style,” C.J. exclaimed.

He watched the video, entranced for seven minutes and 22 seconds.  At one point he was clapping as he watched.

“What are they throwing at him?!” he asked at the end.

“Flowers.”

“Why?”

“Cause they liked him so much.”

“Awwwwwwwwweeeeeee…….”

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

At night, while C.J. was in bed, I watched Jason Brown skate the same performance at the Olympics.  It was perfect, except that he had a small fall.  My heart broke, for Jason and my son.

The next night C.J. wanted to watch Jason Brown at the Olympics, so I turned it on.  C.J. watched the television and I watched C.J.

Jason fell.

“What?  What was that?!  What just happened?  Was that part of the routine?” C.J asked not taking his eyes off of the screen.

“No, he fell.  And, then he picked himself up and kept on going.

“Well, it’s okay, maybe nobody noticed.  Yeah, maybe nobody noticed.  Maybe everybody thought that was one of his fancy tricks,” C.J. said trying assure himself that everything was going to be okay.

It was time for Jason’s score.  153 point something.

“Well that’s good.  Anything over 100 is really good because 100 is a lot.” C.J.’s hand was on his chest in relief.  We know nothing about figure skating scoring, but Jason was smiling and seemed happy so we were too.

My friend Nerdy Apple sent us a video of Jason Brown skating at the Olympics with fart noises strategically overlaid.  Farting Figure Skating.  I tried to show it to only Chase, but Chase was laughing so loudly that nosey C.J. came running downstairs inquiring about what was so funny.

“Show him, show him, you’ve got to show him!” Chase said through a crying, pee-your-pants laughter.

I showed C.J.

“Is that for real?  Was he farting the whole time?” he asked very seriously.

“No, it’s a joke.  He wasn’t farting.”

It took a minute for him to accept it and get over the shock.  Then he smiled.

“Play it again,” he said.

I did and he laughed too.   A fart joke aficionado, C.J. now loves Jason Brown even more.

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Happy 7th Birthday, C.J.!

IMG_0290C.J. turned seven on Saturday.  My baby is growing up.  He’d been planning his birthday celebration for three months – the amount of time he usually puts into preparing for big life moments like his birthday, nobody else’s birthday, Christmas, Halloween and the end of the school year.

This year’s celebration took the cake; we may have peaked with his seventh birthday party.

We spent the night before at our friend Marie’s house in her RV in her backyard, which is one of C.J.’s favorite things to do.  He loves glamping.  We woke up and walked across the backyard into the house where Matt and I prepared birthday cake pancakes.  As with most things I get off of Pinterest, the results were sub-par.  But, like a good mom will tell you, if the worst part of the day was pancakes that wouldn’t cook all the way through, it’s a good day.

We took our time getting dressed and primped.  C.J. had his outfit laid out for a week.  He selected: his black Chuck Taylor All Stars, gray super skinny jeans, a pink-leopard-print skinny belt, a studded Monster High t-shirt and a pink oxford shirt.  He decided not to chalk his hair because he was afraid it would detract from the birthday crown he knew he would be getting.  He also dressed his American Girl doll, Julie, in a party outfit that he pulled together for her after much thought.

IMG_0262All of the party goers loaded into Marie’s van (thanks for driving, Marie!  I still owe you gas money).  C.J.  Me.  Marie.  Marie’s daughters Grace and Kate.  My friend KK and her daughter Saige.  And we were off….to the American Girl Place at The Grove in Los Angeles!!!!!!!!

I had booked a 12:30 p.m. party in the American Girl Café.  I don’t know who was more excited: C.J., me, Marie, Grace or KK.  Kate and Saige were trying to play it cool because they are 13 and 10 and way too cool for dolls, but they were excited deep down inside.

When I called American Girl in December to make a reservation (it’s a tough one to get), I was pleasantly surprised when the American Girl customer service rep asked, “What is the birthday child’s name?  How old will the birthday child be turning?”  She didn’t assume that the birthday child was a girl.  I told her that the birthday child was a boy and there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation.

“Do you a lot of boys celebrate their birthdays at the American Girl Place?” I asked because I’m always curious.

“It’s not common, but it happens frequently,” she replied, not skipping a beat.

“Do you do anything differently depending on whether the birthday child is a girl or a boy?” I asked.  They didn’t.  I was pleased, again.  I like it when things seem easy.

IMG_0287Uncle Michael and two of his friends met us at the American Girl Place.  C.J. was given the pink, glittery birthday crown that he had been waiting (and not-hair-chalking) for.  American Girl Julie also got a crown.  And, they both got a sticker that said “Happy Birthday!”

We were seated at our table for 10.  This is where our crowd really went wild.  Everybody who brought a doll got a high chair for their doll so that all dolls joined us at the table.  If you didn’t bring a doll, you could borrow one from the Café’s shelves.  C.J. had me borrow Ivy.  She is Julie’s BFF and he wanted the girls to be together at his party.  But, he also wanted to spend some time with Isabelle, the 2014 American Girl of the Year.  So, he let (made) Uncle Michael borrow Isabelle.

So, there we were, 10 humans and six dolls.  The server walked over to greet us and say happy birthday to C.J.  Then, she said, “What does the birthday girl want to drink?”

C.J. looked at me, wide eyed.  I put my hand on his arm and said “The birthday boy would like an Arnold Palmer.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” the server said.

IMG_0285Out came our drinks and each doll got a tiny teacup and saucer.  C.J. and Marie smiled and squealed.  Out came our appetizers.  All miniature foods.  More smiles and squeals.

The Café manager approached our table.

“Are you the birthday girl?” she asked C.J.  He looked at me.

“He’s the birthday boy,” I said.  This was getting exhausting.  I usually don’t speak for him so often, but I wasn’t going to let anything dampen his day.

We ate.  The dolls ate.  The cake was placed in front of C.J. and we sang Happy Birthday.  He leaned back, drew in a breath, his cheeks puffed out, be began to blow and, then, he stopped suddenly.

“Oh, I need a minute, I didn’t make a wish,” he said with concern.  Pink candles were melting onto the pink and white cake.  I was fighting the urge to rush him.  He must have come up with something, because he blew out the candles and we erupted in applause.  My boy beamed.

There's a holder for your doll in the bathroom stall so that she can watch you pee.  Not weird at all.

There’s a holder for your doll in the bathroom stall so that she can watch you pee. Not weird at all.

After lunch we entered the two-story American Girl Store and C.J. was more overwhelmed than I have ever seen him.  There was so much to look at and so much he wanted.

We stopped by the doll hospital, where you could check your doll in for healing (repairs).  We visited the doll salon where dolls were getting elaborate up-dos.  Uncle Michael in particular was fascinated by this section of the store and snapping pics with his phone.  Then, a moment that C.J. had been waiting for arrived.  Julie got in line to get her ears pierced.  You can watch your doll get her hair done, but you can’t watch her get her ears pierced.  I’ve heard that’s because they use a drill to make holes in her head and that would prove traumatizing for children.  I haven’t shared this information with C.J.  I stood with him in the waiting area and when Julie was presented to us with small shiny stars in her ears, he was all happiness.

IMG_0266Uncle Michael spoiled him with the American Girl gymnastics equipment set; KK and Saige bought him a skirt; Uncle Michael’s friends bought him and Julie a white dog named Coconut; and I bought him a wheelchair for his doll.  Presumably to use as she recovers from some injury incurred on the gymnastics set – although, once home, he put Julie in the wheelchair and pushed her down the stairs (more than once or 15 times).

The American Girl Place was overwhelming for all of us and we weren’t disappointed to leave after three hours.

C.J. fell asleep in the car as we headed home to celebrate the big “7” with Matt, Chase and my parents.  He continued to luck out in the gift department.  He wanted Monster High dolls and Lego Friends sets…and he got them.

When I went to work on Monday morning a coworker asked me if everything went okay at the American Girl store and if people were staring at C.J. because he was a boy celebrating his birthday at doll store.   I don’t know.  I don’t know if people were staring at us, because I was staring at C.J.  And the view was fabulous.

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