Just 5 Things with e.E. Charlton-Trujillo: Author of Fat Angie, When We Was Fierce, and more

Friday, June 24th! 5:45 to 6:30! At the PopTop Stage! Meet us for “It’s Not Just a G Thing: Exploring the LBTQ (and Beyond) in Middle Grade and Young Adult Literature.” In the hopes of getting you super-pumped for this panel, I’ve mini-interviewed the authors you’ll be hearing: Alex Gino, E.M. Kokie, and Robin Stevenson.Today, I’ll be taking to author, filmmaker, really-strong bear-hugger, and juggler of about a million other projjects, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo.

I had read Fat Angie while I was serving on the Rainbow List, and then, not long after, was lucky enough to hear e.E.’s acceptance speech at the Stonewall Book Awards Brunch. I think we were all blown away by her. She had the ability to totally captivate the room and connect with all of us so quickly. Really, I recommend listening to the whole thing. She’s just so warm, and funny, and completely inspiring. I think it was there, at the brunch, that e.E. kindly offered to show her new movie, At-Risk Summer, at my library in Brooklyn, for free.

To ensure a large enough audience, we contacted two schools to view the movie. Due to the large population we served, I had never seen any of the tweens and teens before, nor do I think I ever saw them again. Yet, in the short time it took to show the movie and have a Q+A with e.E., the students were talking about their concerns and fears about their lives in the most frank and honest manner. This is the effect e.E. has on people: You feel like you can tell her anything and your secrets will be safe, free from judgement, with her.

In addition, e.E. has two websites: Never Counted Out: A Creative Revolution to Empower At-Risk Youth, and Big Dreams Write, because apparently she never sleeps.

Here you go, everyone, the last of the mini-interviews:

Ingrid Abrams: When it comes to public speaking, you are a total powerhouse. Your speech at the 2014 Stonewall Brunch made everyone feel motivated, validated, and just totally inspired. Then, when you talked to the kids at my last library, after a showing of your movie At-Risk Summer, you had them opening up and participating in very honest and open conversations. What’s your secret to connecting so well with your audiences?

e.E. Charlton-Trujillo: I think the secret is seeing the value in every person I connect with, with a sincere desire to hear and understand each person’s story. It’s incredibly important not to be dismissive of someone else’s journey, and that requires actively listening. And of course, I have no shortage of enthusiasm. If I’m excited about what I do, audiences will be excited too.

IA: YA literature is becoming more inclusive with every new book, but, when it comes to protagonists, there’s a patent lack of body diversity. Fat/plus-sized characters are few and far between. Why was writing about a girl named Fat Angie important to you?

e.E.: It’s important in the way that any incarnation of a character who is struggling to be seen in the world and struggling with self-acceptance is important. And because there is no one like Fat Angie in teen lit, and young people needed someone like her. And because we all have things we struggle with, that we hurt from, that we have to fight to overcome. That’s what’s important – those are the universal truths that any reader can relate to. Angie’s story transcends race, gender, even sexual orientation.

IA:  Like the title of your movie suggests, you are juggling what seems like a thousand projects devoted to at-risk youth. What do you think is the biggest misconception about this group of kids and teens?

e.E.: The theory seems to be that these kids are uneducated, that they’re problem children, or criminals, or that they’re worthless, that they have no voice and what they have to say doesn’t matter. We lose sight of the fact that these are kids. Kids who face a behemoth of challenges, when what they really need is someone to say “I believe in you” – and mean it. They need to see their value mirrored back to them. So many of these kids have the richest, most exciting ideas. We just have to meet them where they are so they can access it.

IA: What do you do to relax? Do you relax?

e.E.: This is a tough one because I am always thinking about story or empowerment and the brains stays busy. I do meditate and often. It really clears out the noise. Anyone following my Instagram knows I document the world around me. Um, what else? Oh, I’m a music fiend … the full spectrum. And I film this little web-show on occasion called The Taste Buds with author CG Watson. We do it for fun, just because it’s goofy and people seem to enjoy some of our antics.

IA: If you could pick one fictional world to magically insert yourself into, what would it be?

e.E.: You know, if I were going to pick a fictional world it would be for my teen self. It would probably The Outsiders or The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Both are stories about stepping into your own voice and accepting and/or finding your tribe.

Just for funsies, I’m including two affectionately glitter-bombed pictures of e.E., just because I can:


e.E. reminded me of this picture from my This is What a Librarian Looks Like days, and, if you’ve seen her aforementioned Instagram, you know this is her patented default face:


Oh, hey, e.E.’s upcoming book is called When We Was Fierce. It’s gotten crazy good reviews and you can look for it in August of this year.

Lastly, once again I kindly ask you to donate to the following:

e.E. also mentioned that she has been involved with an LGBTQ Book Donation Drive. Click through to donate books to the Orlando Youth Alliance.

I hope to see you all in Orlando. If you come to the panel, please come say hi.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

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#SkipEndersGame: An Interview with Geeks OUT

I hope it’s not too name-droppy to say that the fine gentlemen of Geeks OUT are my buddies. It’s been incredible and inspirational to watch this organization, which exists to give a voice to the LGBTQ community within geek culture (among other things), start off as a fun, local NYC group. Now, they’ve received well-deserved national attention as they have called for a boycott of the new Ender’s Game movie (which comes out in November). The film is based on noted jerk-face, hate mongering, and homophobe Orson Scott Card’s book of the same title.

Before I was even aware that an Ender’s Game movie was going to be made, I was fairly well informed of Card’s stance on the LGBTQ community. If you have no knowledge of his views, click here and inform yourself. And it’s not just that he spouts of his mouth in a very dangerous manner (imagine being a gay or trans* youth reading one of his YA novels. Imagine how damaging it could be to know that a beloved YA author thinks you’re a national threat), he’s also a member of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). As a librarian, it’s hard to figure out where I stand on his books. On the one hand, I want to protect my LGBTQ patrons and teen patrons in general. On the other hand, I know Card’s books have literary merit and I’m a staunchly anti-censorship (though, it should be clear that censorship and boycotting are two totally different beasts. Let’s not get that confused).

When it comes down to it, here’s how I feel: In the library, I must co-exist with Orson Scott Card’s books and his views. Even if they concern me. Even if I wonder if they’re harming my patrons. So yes, when it comes time to replace those Card paperbacks, I will re-order them. I’m not in charge of ordering DVDs for my library, but if I were, I’d have to purchase copies of this film. In my private, non-library life, I have no use for his books or his upcoming movie. Not a dime of mine will ever line this awful man’s pockets.

Enough of my views. I briefly interviewed Jono Jarrett of Geeks OUT. I believe that librarians need to be involved with this conversation (granted, I think librarians should be part of every conversation), and luckily, Jono was happy to oblige.

Ingrid Abrams: Why is the boycotting of Ender’s Game important to Geek culture, as well as LGBTQ culture?

Jono Jarrett:  I think the idea of standing up and making your voice heard is important for any culture, specially the youth who are still finding themselves the way both Geek and Queer are doing. Boycotting the Ender’s Game film is about understanding where your money goes in a real-world way; supporting him financially benefits the National Organization for Marriage and their extreme antigay agenda—is that where you want your money going? It’s important for both cultures to consider that question, because both cultures are heavily marketed towards, and as consumers our only real vote is our dollar.

Geek culture is up and down creativity, enthusiasm, imagination, and self-expression. How does supporting homophobia and antigay activism fit in there? Sounds pretty queer to me.

Happy Pride Month: The Beginnings of a Display

It’s Gay Pride month and therefore time to bust out another library display. I delved deep into the LGBTQ and Gay Pride tags of Tumblr, looking for a nice mix of informative, uplifting, and humorous. I got lots of advice from librarians to not forget the T+Q of LGBTQ (that being Trans* and Queer), so I hope I didn’t disappoint.

Will it get vandalized? Or worse, ignored? We’ll see. I’ll put it up, complete with a serious coat of sequins when I have time for it, on Monday. It’ll go up in some empty display cases in the Young Adult section.

Until then, here’s a look at what I managed to get done today:

Just some pre-used foam core board, covered up in cardstock. Over that? Color print-outs of Tumblr pictures that were cut out with fancy edged scissors.
Just some pre-used foam core board, covered up in cardstock. Over that? Color print-outs of Tumblr pictures that were cut out with fancy edged scissors.
While I think marriage equality is an important issue, I didn’t want it to be the *only* issue addressed in this display.
I tried to include images that dealt with gender identity as well as sexual orientation.
Various terminologies can be overwhelming to decipher and embarrassing to ask about, so I tried to have a variety of terms represented.
Your average YA patron probably doesn’t know what Cissexism is, so here you go.
Infographics can be an accessible path to facts.

I also included some pictures and facts about the Stonewall riots. What would you have added? Do you have a Pride display at your library? Please share in the comments!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

Better Know a Badass Librarian: Wick Thomas

I would love for this to be a regular feature on my blog, where I can tell you about the amazing work that librarians are doing for libraries, youth, and communities at large. Think of this as a Movers and Shakers award, but for like, rad people.

I first met Wick at Urban Librarians Unite’s Urban Librarians Conference (say that three times fast) and was immediately and totally in awe. I don’t tend to fangirl over other librarians because I’m too much of an egomaniac, but I was so impressed and inspired by all the work that Wick does. I haven’t mentioned yet it on this blog, but I’ve recently started volunteering for the Ali Forney Center, which provides a variety of services to homeless LGBTQ youth. Providing a welcoming library atmosphere for LGBTQ youth and patrons experiencing homelessness has been very much on my brain lately, so when I saw Wick’s list of accomplishments, I knew we had to be best friends whether he liked it or not. Wick’s a youngin in librarian years, but he’s gotten so much done: he’s received the Creating Change award from the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce for work organizing around LGBTQ issues in rural Missouri and Kansas; he’s the President of Empowering Queer Activists and Leaders (EQUAL), which provides activist and leadership training for queer and allied youth; in 2008 he was named the best activist in Missouri; and is a self-proclaimed riot grrrl. Oh, and this is all in addition to being a librarian. Do you feel inadequate yet? I do.

I found his talk at the UL Conference so freaking inspiring and motivating, I had to interview him so that you all could know how great he is and get some new ideas about the possibilities for better library/patron/community interactions.

By the by, I noticed that Wick uses a number of different pronouns when referring to himself. When asked about his preferred pronoun, he answered: “I like all of the pronouns and none of them. Really, I’m not too picky when it comes to that.” So, I’m using he and him, because I’m not very imaginative and this whole PGP thing is admittedly very new to me. But I’m trying. So I hope that’s OK with readers.

Here’s Wick:

Wick Thomas

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