Look for the Helpers

Earlier this year, I sat in a classroom of 8th and 9th graders in Washington State. A boy started crying. He was so afraid because North Korea had just put out a video threatening to nuke an American city. The boy’s sister lives in Seattle, and he was so scared that his sister would die in a nuclear attack.
It reminded me of being 12 and watching the movie THE DAY AFTER, and not being able to sleep for a week. To this day, even seeing a screenshot of that movie scares the shit out of me.
Notice I’m not putting a nuclear cloud up here. I’m not doing it because it’s terror porn. And you know what? The world is scary enough without terror porn. I don’t want to see a nuclear explosion, and you don’t, either. I linked the above article because it talks about how it terrified a generation of kids, not because I wish to terrify anyone else.
I didn’t know what to say to make him feel better. It is scary. And to say, “Yeah, it’s scary, but it was scary when I was a kid, too, and nothing happened, so don’t worry,” is the kind of bullshit that gets kids to not listen to adults in their lives.
I watched the news this morning about the newest North Korean missile launch and yeah, it’s scary. I’m not alone in lacking confidence about the man in the White House, and his ability to be an adult in the face of difficult decisions. I hope he will be, but his immaturity scares me. A lot.
And thinking about how to comfort myself and how to comfort any young people who are scared made me think of what Mr. Rogers would say. Because no one has ever been more comforting to me than Mr. Rogers.
For those of you who didn’t grow up with Fred Rogers, he had a show on PBS called Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He had a voice like strawberry yogurt, and his manner was as gentle as a down comforter.

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My friend David Levithan, the amazing author of books like Every Day, Boy Meets Boy, and Two Boys Kissing, was introducing me at a talk late last year when he said literally the nicest thing anyone has ever said about me.

Speaking as an editor at Scholastic, my publishing house, he said that I make it easy on them there because with authors they need to find index words, buzz words that describe what we write about. Mine, he said, are always in my titles.

Out of the Pocket


Openly Straight

Openly Straight cover

The Porcupine of Truth

porcupine cover

Honestly Ben

honestly ben cover2

Out. Openly. Truth. Honestly. This, he said, is the essence of what I write about.

I like things like that, because they’re simple and understandable and they teach me something about myself that I didn’t know. And I felt it was a great compliment because I do believe that being out, open, truthful and honest–authentic, in other words–is my life’s work.

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Becoming a Man

What does it mean to be a man?

What is a man?

Think about it for a bit. What’s your definition? When you think of a person who embodies a man to you, who is it? And why? What qualities do they have that make you think they are manly?

My thinking about this remains incomplete, but I will tell you that I’ve thought tons more about it in the last six months than I had in probably the previous 46 years. I think my idea of a man was both caricatured by what Hollywood told us, and self-denigrating. That definition, I believe, really left me out of the picture. And I wouldn’t have told anyone that, had it crossed my mind.

That definition involved bravery and courage, and it still does. But it also included unemotional. Stiff upper lip. Nothing bothers this so-called man. They take care of themselves, and they don’t struggle.

The thing they most aren’t, of course, is vulnerable.

How unlike me could this definition be? I’ve struggled lots in my life. I am extremely emotional. Things bug me all the time, self-care hasn’t always come easy, and yeah, I’m totally vulnerable. Being gay has only exacerbated for me a lot of these feelings.

Of course, that’s actually true for ALL men. All people, actually. As a character in my upcoming novel says, “If you’re acting like you’re not vulnerable, that’s all you’re doing. Acting.”

How Hollywood. We never got to see backstage with John Wayne, and I think that may be among the most damaging things about our current society. That we (some of us, anyway) still believe in John Wayne.

One of the things that has me thinking about what it means to be a man is The Mankind Project, a group I joined in May.

MKP quote

It has fundamentally changed me. I know when I say that people get uneasy, like I’ve joined a cult or something. Far from it. This group has no interest in controlling my mind, or telling me what to think. What The Mankind Project is helping me with is figuring out who I am, and what I think a man is, and how I fit that definition.

This is important stuff!

I went on what is called the New Warrior Weekend in May. It was a revelation to me. Scary and challenging and beautiful and fun. I laughed, I cried, I came to understand myself better. I have since continued in Mankind by attending what is known as an i-Group, which is a weekly group where men do work. That work is basically becoming awake about who we are, what’s going on with us, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually. No answers are foisted upon us. This is all about authenticity, and that’s individual work no one can do for us.

Now I’ve become the community coordinator for the Central Arizona area for this group. I am typically slow to take on roles like this, but the mission statement of this group matches my own:

“We are building and supporting the emotionally mature, accountable, and compassionate male role models that our communities so desperately need.”

That’s who I want to be. The kind of man. One who is in touch with what he’s feeling and doesn’t bluster through, blind to his own emotions. One who is accountable to his community and contributes to its growth. One who has compassion for all, and also compassion for himself.

If you want this in your life and you don’t have it, I can help you find it. There is another New Warrior Weekend coming up in Prescott, Arizona from October 6-8. I will be staffing the weekend. This isn’t for everyone, but it surely was for me a huge, life-altering shift. If you think it might be one for you, too, email me at bkonigsberg@gmail.com and I’ll happily chat with you about my experience, answer your questions, and help get you signed up.

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For the (LGBTQ) Kids

A shout out to my young fans… I’ve been thinking about you this morning!

Thinking about the incredible strength and courage I see on a daily basis, in the emails you send me. You’re choosing to be authentically you in a world that still considers being LGBTQ a “left-handed path.” I’m so proud of you for standing up and telling people who you are.


As Toby explains so nicely in Honestly Ben, the world is way more comfortable when we stay on certain expected paths. When we veer from expectation, there are people who get very uncomfortable.

But here’s the thing: that’s not about you. That’s about them. They are projecting their own stuff onto you. There will always be people out there who hate the parts of them that are unusual or different. And those people will always be the first to hate on you for the ways you stand out.

One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned is this: the things that make us different? That’s our gold. Cherish your gold. It’s yours. Love it like it’s the most valuable possession you’ve got!

I’m working on another book for y’all right now. I promise to work hard so that it’s the best it can be. Because I want it to mean a lot to you.

That’s all for now!


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The Mankind Project

I’ve recently joined a group called The Mankind Project.


What I first heard about this group, the thing that intrigued me was the idea that in our society, there are no rites of passage for men, outside of gangs and fraternities. This organization offers such a rite of passage.

The basic purpose of this organization is to empower men to missions of service, supporting men to make a difference in the lives of others – men, women, and children around the world. There is a sister group called The Woman Within. I strongly suggest checking out both organizations. Both are fully inclusive of members regardless of color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, ability and religion. All are welcome, so long as they are willing to look at themselves clearly and work on themselves. In my experience so far, it is a group of warm, powerful men who are committed to being the best they can be, committed to understanding who they are, committed to owning their own stuff, and dealing with it in a healthy manner. Continue reading

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Writing and Passion

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: For a little while there, I think I lost my passion to write and to change the world.

If I had to choose a timeframe, I’d say from about November of last year until quite recently. Hmm. I wonder what happened in November that might have impacted me to lose my passion for changing the world? Hmm.

Of course no external factor is to blame for my actions, in reality. I guess it was part of a process I had to go through, and yes, I got depressed for a while, and then, once out of the depression, I floundered and felt stuck, unable to find the joy and passion I’ve had for the past decade-plus to tell, with love, stories of young people coming to understand who they are. Stories of authenticity. That’s been my jam, and it will continue to be my jam.

At some point in the future, I may talk about the major impetus for re-booting my passion; for now, I just want to get writing. But I wanted to put this out there to say to my fans that I will not let you down. I will keep writing stories and worlds which will allow you to see yourselves and allow you to see the hearts of others. That’s a powerful thing, and it’s a powerful thing for me, too. To have that connection with you, where the things I share from my heart go into yours? What an amazing gift. I never want to take that for granted again.

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Ben and Bisexuality

bi erasure

I get emails. I am mostly getting emails from readers of HONESTLY BEN right now, but this one comes from the UK, from someone who is currently reading OPENLY STRAIGHT still.

Nonetheless, it brings up an interesting issue: bisexual erasure. I’ll let the writer speak for themselves, and after, I’ll make a few remarks.


So I’m still reading ‘Openly Straight’ (on page 254), and decided to google about Ben and bisexuality and found this blog post.

(I realise this is pretty late, seeing as the other comments are from 2014, but I hope this is read by somebody and isn’t just me talking to the void–although that’s fun too, sometimes.)

With how far I’ve read so far, I think Ben is a great example of someone who’s discovering/exploring their bisexuality. The book talks, in passing, about heteronormativity which is something bi people go through too but, I suppose, in a slightly different way. There’s a lot of different circumstances, and bi people too get that assumed straight unless out (and then sometimes still assumed straight because what, bisexuality isn’t a thing?! You’re just confused/experimenting or really just gay and not all the way there yet.)

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