Release Party Post #4: LGBTQ Youth and Charities + Excerpt

August 11, 2014

Welcome back to my release party!

I’m getting a little serious here, so if you want to skip down to the excerpt I’ll understand. It’s a little serious too, though, so I wanted to warn everyone. The book deals with some serious and potentially triggery subject matter, and this is just a little hint at what Phil and Lee have to deal with before they get their HEA.

I’ve seen a few authors in this wonderful genre we all love talking about giving characters happy endings that the people they knew in real life weren’t able to enjoy. The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds does that, in a way.

Parts of Phil’s backstory are taken from a friend of mine who spent some time in foster care during her childhood. She and her little brother were taken from their mother and spent a few weeks in separate foster homes. Luckily, their grandmother fought for custody of both kids. My friend’s story started me thinking about all kinds of “What if” scenarios.

But those are way too spoilery to talk about.

I can’t talk about nothing, though (not for long, anyway ;) ), so I’ll talk about a real-life issue—the lack of services and safe spaces available for LGBTQ youth. Even in places known for being liberal, LGBTQ youth (and adults, for that matter) have problems with acceptance, which often leads to unstable life situations. Oregon is no exception. Depending on the study you read, at least half to two-thirds of Oregon’s homeless youth are LGBTQ. Places like Outside In, and SMYRC (Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center) are among the organizations doing great work to change that in the Portland area.

SMYRC is a program of Portland’s Q Center, and they provide youth aged 12-23 with a safe space to hang out, participate in activities from community involvement to music and art, and access services from life skills education to job readiness and counseling. They also provide a lot of the basic necessities of life that most of us are lucky enough to take for granted, like toiletries and warm winter clothes. Last year I spent almost five months knitting and donated a large bag of hats, scarves, and mitts during their annual clothing drive. I didn’t have money to spare, but I had yarn!

As soon as the NFL pre-season gets going I’ll be back at it. Charity knitting in front of football games is one of my favorite things about the fall.


Do you have a favorite charity that helps LGBTQ youth?

If so, I’d love to hear about it. If you give or volunteer there, I want to hear about that too. Toot your own horn, and help raise awareness of all the great work being done around the world to help our kids grow up knowing their worth.




They sat in silence for a few minutes. Phil thought Jerry was waiting for him to ask another question. He had one but wasn’t sure how to ask it.

“Your scars aren’t you, Phil. It’s possible they won’t make any difference to Lee at all.”

Phil shook his head, scooted back on the bed, and pulled his legs up under the folds of his robe.

“You don’t have to tell him, or anyone, about them unless you want to.”

“But that means….”

Jerry leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. “No, it doesn’t mean you can’t be intimate. It means you choose what to tell and when. You can tell it all, or you can just say they’re old scars, you’re fine now, and you don’t want to talk about it.”

Phil thought about it longer than Jerry could stay in that position. Jerry stood and stretched his back, hung his sport jacket in the closet, and sat in an old wing chair on the other side of the room.

“I-isn’t that l-l… dishonest?”


Jerry’s tone suggested he wanted Phil to turn around, so he did, and then scooted near to where he sat.

“You don’t owe anyone an explanation, Phil. You don’t have to say anything you’re uncomfortable with. And while we’re on the subject, you don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with either. You decide what to do and when to do it. Understand?”

Phil nodded and then looked up—he was afraid he would cry from frustration. “But I d-do want to.”

Jerry nodded. “Then you should.” He smiled. “Lee’s a good guy, and it’s clear there’s something between you, so just go until you have to stop and then start again when you can.”

Jerry had a knack for making things sound simple. Not easy, but simple.

“C-can I ask you something else?”

“Phil, you can ask anything, anytime. You know questions only bother me when I don’t know the answers.”

Phil smiled and his chin shook, which started the rest of him shaking again. “I never… I mean, I never thanked you for h-helping me. Why did you? I don’t mean to s-sound ungrateful—”

“Hold on. You don’t sound ungrateful. It’s a logical question. And the answer is simple, unlike everything else in your life: you needed someone to fight for you, to help you, and I was in a position to do it. I’m glad I was. What you went through—nobody should have to go through anything like that, and especially not alone.”

Phil swiped at his cheeks, but even though they burned, they were dry.

“I know you wanted to give up, more than once or twice, but you didn’t. What happened to you would’ve broken a lesser man. You know that, don’t you? I’m proud of you, Phil. It wasn’t easy, and may never be easy, but you’re still standing.”

Jerry stood and slowly approached the bed. Phil looked up, and when he realized Jerry would hug him, his eyes stung, but at the same time he felt like smiling. When Jerry wrapped both arms around his shoulders and pulled him close, Phil hugged him back.

They stayed like that for a few minutes, and then Jerry moved away the half step he usually let stand between them. He smiled and then sniffled.

“Thanks, Phil.”

“I was just going to s-say that to you.”

Phil wasn’t sure what Jerry was thanking him for and didn’t want to ask. The day had been exhausting, and he was ready to burrow into bed and read until he fell asleep. He was relieved when, after a moment’s pause to give him a chance to ask another question if he would, Jerry turned the conversation to food.


Don’t forget to comment with your favorite LGBTQ youth-based charity for a chance to win a copy of Strange Birds or a charm bracelet and your very own strange bird!


Buy The Nesting Habits of Strange Birds:



Rattle my cages, I’d love to hear from you!

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5 Responses to “Release Party Post #4: LGBTQ Youth and Charities + Excerpt”

  1. Susan says:

    I live in a state that does little for LGBT youth, unfortunately. I help out by supporting the Trevor Project.

  2. Sula says:

    I know of groups that supports local university students and there is a group called SexYouAlity and part of a larger group called Consortium. This group started out as 2Byou and still does support young LGBT people under 25, and offers courses to local schools, but now they have expanded to support all LGBT age groups.

    There is a also a council run group called Connextions, which support all young people and also give advice to help etc and a counselling service called Centre 33.

  3. Sula says:

    I should have said that the group is a charity and is run by volunteers.

  4. Trix says:

    Even though the You Can Play Project isn’t youth-oriented exclusively,I know a lot of high-school and college athletes work with them regarding team sports and coming out…

  5. H.B. says:

    I’m not aware of many youth based charities. I usually just donate to the Trevor Project.

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