Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tough Times for Teens

When I was a teenager, I was looking for something.

The rule in my family was that at 13 years of age, you were allowed to choose whether or not you continued going to church. We were never super-churchy people. In fact, my parents only started bringing me to church when I asked them what God was and they didn't have the answer. I think I was 3 or 4 at the time.

So, after 10-ish years of churchness I decided it wasn't my thing. Luckily, the church we went to was super-progressive and is a hugely we-love-gay, we-love-trans kind of place, so I didn't leave there with any queer guilt. Who needs that?

In my early teens, I remember going to the library and browsing all the books in the spirituality, psychology, and religion sections. I devoured those books. I don't even know how many times I read the Ramayana when I was in high school.

Somewhere in there, the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book hit the market, and it impacted me tremendously. There was a lot of life shit I was trying to reconcile, particularly around being raised in a family plagued by addiction, but also just around knowing I was... different.

You know me, right? I'm queer. So when I read that Chicken Soup for the Soul had a call for submissions out for a book called Tough Times for Teens, I gravitated back to that part of my life when QUEER was still a 4-letter word. I thought about things that impacted me, things that helped me, and I just kept coming back to the 93-year-old trans woman I met when I was 16 and worked at a discount department store.

My story "Gotta Be This Or That" was selected for inclusion in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times for Teens. If you buy the book, you'll find it in the "Sticks and Stones" section. At its essence, my story is about not fitting in anywhere--a feeling a lot of teens can relate to, I think. It's a story of shameless queerness, particularly genderqueerness, and a reminder of how much we can learn from our LGBTQ elders.

I'm really kind of honoured to be a part of the Chicken Soup family. Those books helped me when I needed them, and all I can hope is that Tough Times for Teens gives the younger generation a whole lot of hope.

Giselle Renarde Canada just got hotter!

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