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Hope & Power in Love_Is_Love
By The Editors
Too many kids grow up believing that whom they love is wrong. That's why Emma Eden Ramos—a writer, editor, and teacher based in New York City—knew there needed to be more voices representing resilience in the face of hatred. Ramos curated a mixture of poetry, short stories, and art in an anthology called Love_Is_Love. Emma hopes that the book, which features the work of adult writers and artists, will resonate with teens struggling to embrace their identity, and also fundraise for The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is a national non-profit that offers suicide prevention and crisis intervention services to LGBTQ teens.
In our interview with Ramos, we got a chance to talk about the process behind the anthology and consider ordering a copy for someone in your life or for yourself.
Tell our readers about this anthology and your inspiration for it.
Love_Is_Love is a collection of poems, short stories, and visual art for LGBTQIA+ teens. All of the proceeds are being donated to The Trevor Project, an organization that has been working with struggling LGBTQIA+ youth since 1998.
As someone who works with young adults (I teach high school), feels passionate about LGBTQIA+ issues, and is enraged by the recent attacks on the community, I feel it is my duty to do something, no matter how small, to be of service. Adults tend to underestimate teenagers, assuming they don’t follow the news or keep tabs on what’s going on in the world. I have lost track of how many times students have asked about the transgender military ban, what will happen to LGBTQIA+ rights if the GOP stays in power, and how they can help their friends who feel attacked, bullied, and powerless. The Trevor Project has trained counselors answering calls and texts from LGBTQIA+ teens in crises 24/7. These counselors work tirelessly to help young adults deal with their fears, their rage, and the pain that comes from feeling marginalized and attacked. Love_Is_Love was created to honor both LGBTQIA+ teens and an organization that helps them in their time of need.
How do you think literature can benefit LGBTQ teens?
There is a reason why authors like Jacqueline Woodson, Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Angie Thomas are so popular with young adult readers. These authors don’t shy away from writing about real-life problems. There is, of course, a place in YA literature for vampires, fairies, and teens with magical powers. Many teen readers, however, want stories they can relate to, stories about characters whose lives mirror their own.
The importance of LGBTQIA+ literature, like the importance of other literature that seeks to explore issues of marginalization, is two-fold. There’s a quote by crime writer Anne Perry that has always stuck with me. “A good writer,” Perry said at a conference for writers in Toronto, “can give you a multitude of lives that you can have and share without having to carry the scars.” A reader doesn’t necessarily need to personally relate to a story or a character to develop a profound connection. LGBTQIA+ literature can help teens (and adults) who do not personally identify as LGBTQIA+ understand the struggles of those who do.
What are some stand-out pieces in Love_Is_Love?
There are many pieces that stand out from Love_Is_Love. One poem that I think will resonate with many young adults is a poem by Robin Anna Smith titled “droplets of revolution.” I, with Robin’s permission, would like to share this stunning piece that first appeared in Burning House Press before making its way into Love_Is_Love:
"droplets of revolution"
By Robin Anna Smith
ideas require darkness and a steady drizzle to germinate. letters and syllables mingle. seeping layer by layer into the ground. entwine and thrive deep in the earth. forming stories which push their way up. they present themselves without shame. basking in sunlight. continuing to grow. shouting the brightness of their names. for as long as we tend to them…
rainseed I feed words to the cloud
The way we communicate, specifically with stories, is part of what makes us human. It’s how we know about our past, how we investigate and work through our present, and how we can contribute to the future. By writing our own narratives, we take control instead of allowing them to be written for us. As with growing plants, timing is important in the process of culminating and sharing our stories. This process is a way we can work through conflict and maintain the power of our identities—our resolution for revolution.
You can find more of Robin’s work at www.robinannasmith.com.
How do you hope LGBTQ teens will think and feel after reading Love_Is_Love? Do you imagine this is something they will read cover to cover once or in bits and pieces as they're looking for guidance and inspiration?
I hope that LGBTQIA+ teens, after reading Love_Is_Love, will feel understood, acknowledged, and, most of all, respected. I hope that, for instance, Tianna Hansen’s poem titled “Love is love is love” will comfort LGBTQIA+ young adults who may be feeling invalidated. I hope teens will read the poems by Caroline Grand-Clement and feel inspired knowing that they were written by an established seventeen-year-old poet. I hope that young adult readers will read Kevin Craig’s short story titled “This Is Me In Grade Nine” and find comfort knowing that the writer, now an adult, faced similar hurdles as a teenager.
What was the process of curating work for the anthology?
I began accepting submissions for Love_Is_Love in October. There are a number of wonderful journals that focus on publishing writers from underrepresented communities. I connected with writers who had written for Rose Quartz Magazine, Neon Mariposa, The Brown Orient, Rhythm & Bones Press, and others to see if they would be interested in submitting. I received many amazing submissions!
Why did you choose The Trevor Project as the charity that would benefit from sales of this book?
I have known about The Trevor Project for many years now. Charity Navigator gives The Trevor Project an A rating which indicates how effective and responsible they are.
There was an interview in The Daily Beast in 2017 with Amit Paley, the CEO of The Trevor Project, in which he discusses the harm the Trump administration has caused the young LGBTQIA+ community. This article, “The Trevor Project Hears Every Day How President Trump Is Putting LGBT Teens In Danger,” made me want to help in any way I could.
What are your current plans for Love_Is_Love? How are you getting the word out there about it?
We are currently working on spreading the word and encouraging people to learn about The Trevor Project. Journals, magazines, podcasts, book blogs, fellow writers, and activists have been incredibly helpful! We’ve been featured on Women Writers, Women’s Books, Savvy Verse & Wit, and Vox Poetica’s 15 Minutes of Poetry radio show. We’ve also had shout-outs on social media from The Establishment, Luna Luna Magazine, Trans Media Watch, Brooke Axtell, and Patricia Arquette. I’ll be discussing Love_Is_Love on a podcast called Being LGBTQ in the coming weeks.
Where can our readers get a copy of the anthology?
Readers can get a copy by visiting https://loveislovebook.weebly.com/the-book.html. The anthology will also be available on Amazon shortly.
Anything you'd like to add?
The title for Love_Is_Love comes from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2016 Tony Award speech. I urge everyone to read or listen to the sonnet Miranda wrote and recited to honor the victims of the 2016 mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida:
“We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer