He Continues To Make A Difference:
The Story of Matthew Shepard

This program uses poetry, photographs, and creative visualization to explore the impact of Matthew Shepard’s murder on the world. In 1998, Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, robbed, beaten, and murdered in Laramie, Wyoming. Lesléa Newman was the keynote speaker for Gay Awareness Week at the University of Wyoming that year, and arrived on campus the day that Matthew Shepard died from this horrendous hate crime. She spoke to a devastated campus and community, and vowed to work to erase hate from that day forward. Her forthcoming book, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard explores the impact of Matt’s murder in a cycle of 68 poems. Written as fictional monologues in a variety of voices including the fence Matt was tied to, the stars that watched over him, and the doe who kept him company, this powerful presentation challenges audience members to look deep inside themselves and find a way to make a difference to create a safe world for everyone.

How Can You Be a Lesbian? You’re Jewish!

A reading from Lesléa Newman’s work which addresses being a lesbian and being a Jew, including her award-winning story, A Letter to Harvey Milk, which was recently read on National Public Radio by Carl Reiner as part of the series Jewish Stories from the Old World to the New, and which was the second place finalist in the Raymond Carver short story competition.

The Gender Dance: Picture Books that Challenge Stereotypes

As the author of Heather Has Two Mommies, Lesléa Newman knows how crucial it is for children to see themselves and families like theirs portrayed in literature in order to build self-esteem. In this lively discussion, Lesléa Newman presents children’s books that challenge the worn-out notion that little girls are made of "sugar and spice and everything nice" and little boys are made of "snips and snails and puppy dog tails". Starting with The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (Mahtama Ghandi’s favorite children’s book!) and working up to 10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert, the first picture book to star a transgendered child, Lesléa Newman will discuss children’s book that reflect a wide variety of gender expression. Other works that will be discussed include Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole, X: A Fabulous Child’s Story by Lois Gould, William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotov, and King and King by Linda de Haan.

Heather’s Mommies Get Married: Homophobia, Censorship and Family Values

Lesléa Newman discusses her classic children’s book, Heather Has Two Mommies: why she wrote the book, how difficult it was to get it published, the controversies that arose as it became one of the most controversial books ever published. She then discusses the rights of gay and lesbian families and delves into the history of the LGBT marriage movement. Includes a slide show (with photos from Lesléa’s own wedding!) and video.

Poetry = Life: an AIDS Reading

Lesléa Newman will read from her book Still Life With Buddy, a novel told in fifty poems about the passionate friendship between a lesbian and a gay man living with AIDS. This work earned Ms. Newman a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Reading also includes other work about AIDS, including the story, What Ever Happened to Baby Fane?