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Friday, October 25, 2013


Lesléa Newman

BRADFORD, Pa. – Lesléa Newman, the prolific poet and children’s book author who wrote “Heather has two Mommies” will give two talks Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

At noon, she will present “It Takes a Village to Raise a Children’s Book Writer.” At 7:30 p.m., she will present “He Continues to Make a Difference: The Story of Matthew Shepard.” Both presentations will take place in the Mukaiyama University Room and are free and open to the public.

Newman is the author of more than 40 books for children and young adults, including “Heather has two Mommies,” the first children’s book to portray lesbian families in a positive way. Other popular youth titles include “Hachiko Waits,” “Fat Chance” and “A Sweet Passover.”

The evening program uses poetry, photographs and creative visualization to explore the impact of Matthew Shepard’s murder on the world. In 1998, Shepard was kidnapped, robbed, beaten and murdered in Laramie, Wyo.

Newman was the keynote speaker for the Gay Awareness Week at the University of Wyoming that year and arrived on campus the day that Shepard died. She spoke to a devastated campus and community and vowed to work to erase hate from that day forward.

Her most recent book, “October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard” explores the impact of Shepard’s murder in a cycle of 68 poems written as fictional monologues in a variety of voices, including the fence he was tied to, the stars that watched over him and a doe who kept him company.

She is the author of many books for adults that deal with lesbian identity, Jewish identity and the intersection between the two. Other topics she explores include AIDS, eating disorders and sexual abuse. Her award-winning short story “A Letter to Harvey Milk” has been made into a film and adapted for the stage.

Newman’s visit is part of Pitt-Bradford’s Spectrum arts series. It is co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies program and the LGBTS Alliance.


Anonymous said...

Proliferation of ungodliness.

Anonymous said...

Nothing more than pushing an agenda on children! Sick!

Anonymous said...

The two nitwits who posted earlier seem to believe that it would be better to not address these issues and instead deny the rights of homosexuals until they come around to some christian ethic. Unless it's the speakers Jewish identity that they find sick and ungodly?

First off, they're not children, they're college students. They have the option to attend this event, so no agenda is being pushed and certainly not on children. For the children of gay and lesbian parents, the childrens' books are ways of finding acceptance in a nation that still is having a hard time accepting them. And if you believe it is sick to advocate for the acceptance of those who's lifestyle choices and viewpoints are different from yours than your world view is tragic. But I'm sure that world view is buttressed by some perverse christian ideology that assumes childish things like gays go to hell, a burning pit of eternal suffering, and unless they come around to accepting Jesus that's their fate. I'm sure the 10's of thousands of homosexuals in this country would love to change their genetic sexual predisposition and turn straight like the rest of us. If only they could find the infinite love of Jesus!!

What I find perverse and sick is that so many people seem to take a literal view of a text that advocates that every child born in this world is somehow guilty of a sin that they never committed and unless they accept some ahistorical characters divinity and unless they follow the devolving moral compass of Christianity they are destined to go to hell (a concept by the way adapted from regional religions in the middle east like Zoroastrianism, which really has no place in Judeo-Christian doctrine).

Go on hating people because they're different from you. Go on hating people because they choose a different set of ethical principles to base their life on. You both are Christians because you were born in a Christian nation, most likely in a Christian family. If you were born in India, Japan, Germany, you would believe something very different. But be content in your narrow mindedness of the world and other how other people choose to live their lives.