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Hello followers!

Jazz So and So has a new home! Join us at Quntfront for satire, creative pieces and other “qunty” things, all by QPoC!

You can also follow on Facebook at Quntfront Media and our Twitter @Quntfront

We hope to see you there!

 

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Juniper Leaves: Upcoming YA Fantasy Book featuring QPoC

Please Support JazzSoandSo’s “Juniper Leaves” Kickstarter Campaign!

Book cover by Aspen Aten

 

What is Juniper Leaves?

Juniper Leaves is a YA sci fi fantasy novel about Juniper Bray, kinky-haired queer nerd, who embarks on a magical adventure in Scotland after losing her grandmother. 

WHY I WROTE JUNIPER LEAVES

“A survey of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013—out of a total of 5,000—found that only 67 were by African-American authors, and only 93 titles centered on black characters. That’s the lowest number of black protagonists since 1994, when the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison began tracking that data. ” Nina Terrero of Entertainment Weekly.

Times, they are-a-changin’ and it is extremely important that our media reflect that. Growing up, I struggled to see or read about many people that looked like me, and I definitely didn’t see many queer characters anywhere. Visibility is a powerful thing and without it, so many kids and teens will go through their formative years developing the thought that they possibly don’t matter as much as the visible do. Juniper Leaves can be just a tiny part of the movement towards positive representations of PoC and queer youth simply because reading it will show how relatable an awkward teen girl can be, no matter her race or sexual orientation.

Read the first 10 pages of Juniper Leaves.

About JUNIPER LEAVES

If you asked Juniper Bray (14) why she ever believed in magic, she’d quickly blame her best friend, who just so happened to be her grandmother. But no more of that; these days magic equals fiction to the kinky-haired dreamer and astronomy geek. That’s because just six weeks ago, Juniper’s best friend died. Now she has to go on a long trip to Freeshire, Scotland with her scientist dad and mourning mom, minus the one person that means the most to her in the whole wide world.

And what’s worse, Juniper’s Scottish host family, the McKinney’s, have an evil fifteen year old daughter named Blair that seems to live to torture her. Don’t worry, their arguments come to a halt when they mistakenly fall into a cave that turns into a porthole to a whole other planet. There, Juniper learns of a sort of magic she inherited from her grandmother giving her the power to teleport. But this power comes with paramount responsibility, making Juniper a protector of the Earth overnight. Juniper’s definitely caught off guard, but she’s intrigued by the task until she learns Blair has been appointed as her secret keeper. Now they have to stick together. Just when it seems Juniper and Blair finally don’t hate each other, they are ambushed by a life threatening mission to save their scientist dads’ research, themselves, and ultimately the world. All the while, Juniper has to deal with the awkwardness of being a teenager, from socializing with the locals to experiencing her first kiss. Juniper Leaves is a magical coming of age story of a girl that learns to let go, live a little, and best of all, believe in herself, all before her fifteenth birthday.

KICKSTARTER GOAL

The money raised with Kickstarter will pay for the editing, the cover art by the brilliant Aspen Aten, e-book distribution, marketing, and the first 150 print copies of my book Juniper Leaves. It’s most important to me that Juniper Leaves be edited grammatically and developmentally at a professional level so that the final product is at its absolute best quality possible. My hope is that anyone interested in reading Juniper Leaves will have the opportunity.

If I meet my Kickstarter goal or happen to exceed my initial goal, I will use any leftover money to purchase additional books, further promote the book, and sell in other venues.

RISKS AND CHALLENGES

There is a risk of not reaching the deadline to release this book before the end of 2014. However, JUNIPER LEAVES is completely written and ready to be edited. Also, I have scheduled how long each part of the publishing process will take. I am confident that if this project is funded it will release before January 2015.

Similarly, there is the challenge of making sure the best product possible comes from this campaign. The reason this Kickstarter is taking place is to make sure the most professional quality work is released so I am hopeful that supporters will be happy with the outcome.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

Join the Juniper Leaves team by donating, telling your friends, or sharing this post! Any donation, big or small is appreciated. Tell two people closest to about the campaign and hopefully they’ll donate as well. If you have a blog, please repost and share info with your followers. Tweet it, Facebook it, talk about it! If we all work together, Juniper Leaves can one day be available to teens and young adults everywhere! So far the campaign has been featured on Afropunk and named a Kickstarter Staff Pick!

The campaign ends October 3, 2014. Let’s make “Juniper Leaves” a reality!

Boihood: The Little Known World of Brown, Queer Masculinity, and the Book that Can Change that

bklyn boihood photo bw

Masculine of center, queer people of color; now is your time.  bklyn boihood  will be curating “Outside the XY: Queer, Brown Masculinity, “  an anthology highlighting the voices of masculine-of-center and/or trans* men of color, to be released by Magnus Books in print and as an e-book by mid 2015.  bklyn boihood is currently accepting submissions of essays, interviews, fiction/non fiction, and literary work of all kinds. No need to be a writer. Simply submit your work before July 31st, 2014, and remember, YOU MATTER.

 

We are teachers, students, doctors, scientists, writers and so much more. Bois of color are everywhere, and we always have been but in mainstream media, we’re no where to be found. And for the 90 percent of people that don’t directly know someone who identifies as transgender or gender queer, it’s almost like we don’t exist. Now with Outside the XY: Queer, Brown Masculinity open for submissions, masculine of center queer people and trans* guys of color have the chance to show ourselves the most authentic way possible–because our stories to the world will be our own.

bklyn boihood phot 2

It’s important that every marginalized community have an established array of stories readily available to the public. For example, thanks to Janet Mock’s best seller Redefining Realness, we’re able to add to the public understanding of the complexity of women that are transgender. When the public doesn’t have a story to connect to when confronted with an unfamiliar image or event, we have the tendency to link it the closest story we can. It’s our humanistic need to categorize; our natural urge to simplify. Right now, there is no go-to-narrative for MoC queer and transgender men of color, so what’s the next best thing to the mainstream?

“I would say that right now there’s this one image of us; this masculine woman that’s essentially getting boiled down to a woman in boy’s clothes. Masculinity gets oversimplified into human beings that are getting misgendered and basically thought of as grown-up tomboys. ” Mo of the bklyn boihood collective stated in a recent interview.

Of course our lives are so much deeper than that. Of course our truths are so much fuller. But until the media knows that, most of the public will be in the dark.

From the growing popularity of the beautiful model Carmen Carrera, to the complex character, Sophia, portrayed by real-life transgender advocate, Laverne Cox on the ever-so-queer Netflix hit Orange is the New Black, it’s wonderful to see the growing support of transgender people of color in our society. Never have we experience so much positive visibility and productive discussion in the media as we are now.

But it must be recognized that in spite of the transgender community growing so strong today, far too many issues persist in the transgender and queer community for us to claim success. We’re not there yet, folks; not by a long shot.

boihood photo

Outside the XY: Queer Brown Masculinity will be a historic continuation of the queer movement, and such a powerful push for queer people of color.

It doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, a professional writer, or someone who feels your story should be told, this is our time to be the facilitator of our own narratives.

 

 

 

Bi Matters: Female Bisexuality Misconceptions in the Queer Community

accepting all sexuality via VeralynMedia

NOTE: This essay is of the personal opinion of JasSoandSo. Because the author is a female-bodied queer attracted to cis women, this article will focus on female bisexuality.

When I initially met my best friend, she identified as specifically queer and avoided the dreaded “bisexual”  term like a cat avoids water. It wasn’t until recently that she confidently accepts bisexuality as a part of her identity. Why, you ask? Because bi-haters. The worst part is, I didn’t realize, for the longest time,  my own prejudice against bisexuality was no better than the bi-haters I’d actively accused.

In mainstream consciousness, the queer community is seen as a close-knit bunch. However, like any other social group, we have our own inequality issues. With the growing trans* visibility in our media,  we are (very) slowly growing in support and inclusion of transgender people within our community. But sadly, with all the progression we’ve seen with trans* issues, I find we (the queer community) are equally as stagnant, or even weakening, in the understanding of bisexual people.Seeing that the bisexuality spectrum represents the majority of the  LGBT community, it’s time we respect that fact.

MYTH- Bi people are just gay people that haven’t come out yet.

Today many of the people that once identified as bisexual now associate more with “queer,”  due to the growing understanding and redefining of gender.  Unfortunately, mainstream society hasn’t caught up with queer culture, and as of now we’re still known as LGBT and sometimes Q. Furthermore, the term “bisexuality” holds the weight of dozens of types of attraction that are far more queer, or genderqueer, than the term implies. The B in LGBT could mean anything from a person that is equally attracted, romantically and sexually, to both extremes of the gender spectrum (cis men or cis women), to a person that enjoys sex with both men and women, but is only romantically attracted to men.

MYTH- Bisexuals are indecisive or confused.

According to Buzzfeed’s quiz, ” How Gay are You,” I am “very gay.” Why thank you Buzzfeed, for confirming that for me. But in all seriousness, there is some validity in the phrase “very gay;” just refer to the Kinsey scale of sexual attraction.  I’m a Kinsey scale 6, meaning I have no attraction to the “opposite sex” ( in terms of the gender binary). I’ve found over my time, as an out Kinsey 6, that I’ve felt I had some sort of right to condemn those on different parts of the sexuality spectrum than myself. I’ve been, dare I say, elitist, about something as natural and innate as sexuality.

Full Disclosure:

When I learned the news that actress, Michelle Rodriguez, and stunning model, Cara Delevingne,  were dating, the most ridiculous thought came into my mind; That relationship’s not going to last- they’re probably just experimenting.  Umm…WHAT?

First of all, who am I to put a marker on the demise of anyone’s relationship? Second of all, their sexuality is not up for questioning by anyone but themselves. It sounds crazy, but there is a such thing called gay privilege.  I find myself deciding which bisexuality is okay and which is “unacceptable”, as if I have any say in the matter. My privilege as a gay person is that my defined sexuality leaves little to no room for question from possible naysayers. Bisexuality, on the other hand, is by definition, far more fluid. The fluid nature of bisexuality makes people feel the right to question anyone that identifies as such, as if their attractions are less valid, simply because it is not as black and white.

I believe other “very gay” people like myself, when met with bisexuality, find it difficult to know where on the bisexuality spectrum our romantic interest stands, in order to protect ourselves from getting too emotionally involved, in case that person is not interested or capable of romantic attraction to us.

  • Are they “experimenting?”
  • Am I their guinea pig?
  • Are they “confused”, or do they really know that they want me?

All thoughts that have crossed my mind when met with the possibility of dating a bisexual woman #notproudofthis.  From that discrimination, I, and many others like me, have grown unreasonably prejudice against all bisexuality.  Now my critique is coming from very personal experiences with self- identified bisexual women. I do not think i’m speaking for all lesbians or female bodied queers, but I do believe many can relate to this issue.

The issue with cherry picking which bisexuality is “okay” is that we should not be discriminating at all. You see, these discriminatory thoughts encompassed me, as if the question as to whether someone is actually interested doesn’t come up regardless of that person’s sexuality. Any relationship begins with insecurity of newness and the unknown. Just because I’ve had a few bad relationships with bisexual women doesn’t mean I should discount all people that identify as bisexual.

MYTH: Bisexual women only do it to turn straight guys on. 

A lot of how we understand sexuality is fueled through porn. Bisexual women in porn are almost always portrayed as hyper feminine women that hook up with other women, specifically for a male audience. Jezebel wrote an article denying the widely agreed upon belief that all women are, at least,  “a little bi.” But consider this article, because this is exactly the angle porn and most other media portrayals of female bisexuality reinforce; bisexual women are best compatible with straight, cis men. The queer community faces the negative repercussions of constantly seeing this trope perpetuated, because whether consciously or not, we may learn to understand female bisexuality as hetero-centric, a.k.a- not queer. Though a very dangerous perception sexuality, I fear that’s kind of what’s happened.

Undoubtedly, popular culture understands female bisexuality as a form of a cis-male arouser. I know many self-identified “straight” women that have made out with other women “for the fun of it,” while in front of cis male comrades. Consider Katy Perry’s song ” I Kissed a Girl,” in which Katy explains that while she just found out she loves kissing girls, she also hopes her boyfriend doesn’t mind. Then there are the countless female celebrities, often “straight-identified,” that make out with each other for the wildly exaggerated publicity that follows such a stunt.

Bisexual-haters be like…

Glee, Judging You via PhotoBucket
Glee, Judging You via PhotoBucket

 

My prejudice is driven by fear. I fear bisexuality because of the complexity of the term; the idiosyncrasies that cannot be assumed simply based on someone identifying as “bi.”   Fear is always the culprit behind prejudice, and my discrimination against bisexuality is no exception. So what if some bisexuality is a Kinsey scale 2 and others are 4? Is it not best we make each romantic decision on an individual basis rather than rely on faulty stereotypes to explain an entire group? Bisexuality is no less valid than gay, queer,  pansexual or otherwise. To make overarching assumptions of bisexuality is to devalue the person that identifies as such, and that’s just not cool.

Love is love is love… Love you, bi family.  – Jaz

UPDATED- March 16th, 2014- Jaz added note before article and also a title change.

Sharing Time!

First of all, I have such a huge aversion to telling people about things I’m doing. This may be a silly aversion, or in fact totally validated- I just know when I go on my blog to yap about things I’m doing I can’t help but feel like an obnoxious little beetle. So instead of making this a shameless promotion-fest, I’d love for us all to get involved! Below, I’ll share with you some things I’ve done recently,and in the comments I’d LOVE for you to tell me what YOU’RE doing, so I can check it out. And seriously, I really will check it out. 

Jas’s article on Black women, Queers and Sex Ed was just featured on Bitch Magazine. (See the original here)

Story Time! Jas’s short story, “Next Joke” is now a The-Toast.net thing

And finally, finally, finally- Check out the new JasSoandSo Facebook page. Jas will buy you a house filled with kisses if you like it. Figuratively, of course.

This has been a shameless promotion brought to you by Jas Joyner. Murp.

Thank you all so much for reading! Now, post you’re cool things below because I can’t wait to read about them!

Smartest Queer Black Women Series (Twitter Included)

Fast Company recently released their 2013 “Smartest Women on Twitter” list in which you will find no, I repeat, no black women. At all. So, in honor of  black-queer greatness, here’s a new series to present to you amazing, intelligent  black, queer women that are smart enough to be on anyone’s “Smartest” list. These women have greatly impacted the fight towards black LGBT visibility,social justice, and all around wonderfulness- and as a nice touch, all will have Twitter accounts.

Stacyann Chin- Poet, Writer, Activist- Twitter/stacyannchin

Staceyann Chin, a native Jamaican,  has written a number of  thought-provoking poems and even had a one-woman show at New York City’s  Nuyorican Poets Cafe.  She was co-writer and original performer in Russel Simmon’s Poetry Def Jam on Broadway. She wrote a memoir entitled “The Other Side of Paradise,” and was featured on “The Oprah Show” where she expressed the difficulties coming out as a lesbian in Jamaica.  She has spoken openly about her pregnancy through In vitro fertilization, and proudly represents as a single, lesbian mom.

Don’t Speak: On Black Women, Queers and Sex Ed

 A version of this article was featured Bitch Magazine. Check it Out!

 

Black Queer Couple

Being the queerio I am, I have this pass time of regularly Googling queer sex related topics in the news for fun. Hey, who knows, maybe there’s some new sex toy I need to learn about #possibleTMI. Well this time, I was met with less than awesome news; Black women are less likely to get HPV Vaccines. According to a recent Health article,a  only 18 percent of black women from 18 to 24  as opposed to one third of white women ( across all income lines), have started taking the vaccine.

“Given that cervical cancer is more common and associated with higher mortality in African-American and Hispanic women than in white women, it is especially important to understand the barriers to HPV vaccination for these populations.”

Black women, as I’ll further explain, have a history of doing less when it comes to sex protection. So in the words of the ever-dope Salt-n-Pepa,  “let’s talk about sex”, people. No not that sex. The boring sex; sex education.

HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus, and it is the most common sexually transmitted infection of them all. To clarify, the HPV vaccine only protects against two out of the 40 different kinds of HPV. However, these two types, 16 and 18,  are the most likely to cause cervical cancers down the road.  I must be honest, for the longest time I thought it was far more difficult for one to contract HPV in lesbian sex than in heterosexual sex. Sadly though, it turns out we can catch it just as easily, and in similar ways, as can a straight person. According to the Cancer Network, we can catch cervical cancer through genital on genital contact, touching partner’s genitals then our own, or sharing uncleaned toys. Bisexual women and even some self-identified lesbians have also had sex with men, which increases the risk of HPV even more so.

As a black person from the conservative south, I understand that it’s not really a big thing in black culture to discuss sex. I notice more of a “mums the word” approach. In high school, I remember discussing with a few female friends, all black, the ever-awkward “talk” parents give. You know, “the talk.” I was stunned to find my mother was the only one out of all my friends to have given me some version of the talk when I turned ten. Though my mother’s awkward ramble was totally hetero-centric (as I was not out and proud at the mere age of ten), I’m so thankful today that she even went there for me, as I learned not a lot of parents do. I’ve noticed as I grow older that no matter how liberal sexually a black woman is, it is more respectable and acceptable to keep it to ourselves than to vocalize. In a poignant article from Bitch Magazine, Tamara Winfrey Harris further discussed the active silence black women practice when it comes to the subject of sex.

Respectability politics work to counter negative views of blackness by aggressively adopting the manners and morality that the dominant culture deems “respectable.”

Acting overly prudish whether we (black women) actually are or not,  is meant to work as a neutralizer for us when compared to non-black women, as we are already attached to so many other negative stereotypes. But I must ask, is it really beneficial to express virginity if you know that’s not what’s up? I think not, because it hurts us as black women on a fundamental health level, as you can see from these statistics, courtesy of WomensHealth.gov –

  • Chlamydia rates that are more than seven times higher
  • Gonorrhea  rates that are about 16 times higher
  • Syphilis rates that are 21 times higher

However, the avoidance of sex ed talk doesn’t just go for black folks.  Queers in general seem to have this air about us that implies some sort of magical-STIs- shield, more so than straight folks. I say this from a completely personal perspective, as my experience in relationships and conversations with close friends have illustrated this idea to me. It is as if we feel since we are not having hetero sex, we’re safe. That is why it’s important to broaden our understandings of what sex actually is, so that we stay protected in all sexual situations. Especially when facts like these exist; lesbians (of all colors) are far more likely to develop cervical cancers than are heterosexual women.

Full disclosure, I hate all doctor’s visits, let alone doctors that have total V.I.P  access to my who-ha. Nothing sexy about it. I especially don’t like having to wonder whether my doctor is LGBTQ friendly, because if they’re not, the whole experience can be quite traumatizing. Who wants discrimination while simply trying to be healthy? Well, I come to you with great news. Queer allies have got our backs when it comes to pre-sexy-time woes.  The Human Rights Campaign has created an annual Healthcare Equality Index in which hundreds of gay-friendly hospitals and clinics make themselves known. Also, many LGBT centers all over the country offer or support companies that offer free and low-cost HIV testing specifically for our community on a regular basi

Consider all those times you had sex and protection didn’t once cross your mind. Mhmm. It happens. But the fact is, it should. I agree, depending on what you’re into, it can be harder to protect against STIs as a vagatarian; Yep, I went there. But in the long run, caution is really the best way to go. I’m not saying we all need to run out and get that HPV vaccine like, now, as there are precautions and arguments against it, let alone the many qualms some people have with vaccines in general. The real concern this Health News article raised was the overarching need for women and queers of color to do so much more when it comes to sex education and protection. As much as I like to think of us queerios as some sort of superhuman species within ourselves, we must accept the fact that no one is invincible. We’re all subject to contracting a sexually transmitted infection. The great thing is, if we’re careful and responsible, there’s a lot we can do to avoid them.