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April 2021 Additions

This month’s books are memoirs of discovery and acceptance. These books explore the intersections of queerness with other identities, and the authors speak candidly about growing up and learning about themselves. Not just personal, the authors strive to forge connections with others going through similar situations or asking similar questions. The books are easily readable and seek to create connection as much as they speak truth to the world.

“Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman” by Laura Kate Dale

Although it is infrequently discussed, Laura’s book immediately mentions the fact that autism and being LGBTQ+ often go together. She grounds her work immediately in this, and mentions that because of this, she wishes to reach others like her so they might not feel as alone as she did. Also important to her is bridging an understanding gap on what it means to be someone like her. As the book progresses, she explores how her sense of self and autism interact together, and how they feel. She gives time to relating how her experiences feel, what noises or sensations are like for her to process, in order to help show an in-depth picture of what it is like. She even details her experience coming out as transgender during a meltdown.

Well researched, Laura backs up her statements with data and discusses many of the hurdles she—and others—deal with being multiply marginalized in this way. From depression, addiction, and suicide, to where a person can go to find an accepting, caring community, Laura covers common experiences in personal and moving ways, giving her own outlook and view on LGBTQ spaces. Her insights show where the overlap of autism and queerness work, and where they could use a little work.

If you’re looking to understand yourself better, you might just find yourself in these pages. Even if you aren’t, Laura’s story will capture you with its honesty and frankness. From the back of the book:

“In this candid, first-of-its-kind memoir, Laura Kate Dale recounts what life is like growing up as a gay trans woman on the autism spectrum. From struggling with sensory processing and learning social cues and feminine presentation, through to coming out as trans during an autistic meltdown, Laura draws on her personal experiences from life prior to transition and diagnosis, and moving on to the years of self-discovery, to give a unique insight into the nuances of sexuality, gender and autism, and how they intersect. Charting the ups and downs of being autistic and on the LGBT spectrum with searing honesty and humour, this is an empowering, life-affirming read for anyone who's felt they don't fit in.

“All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto” by George M. Johnson

This book is written to be accessible to young adult readers, largely because what Matt is covering his own childhood and his growth into acceptance and love of who he is. While some of the topics can get intense and are not often discussed in young adult audiences, Matt handles them honestly and genuinely, treating his audience with respect and trust. While his text is highly readable, at no point does it talk down to the reader, but rather the opposite—Matt encourages you to examine history and family in complex ways.

Open and honest, Matt’s story shows everything from familial love to the struggles of finding himself as a queer, Black kid.

From the jacket:

“In his groundbreaking young adult memoir, prominent writer and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson shares both glorious and gut-wrenching memories of growing up Black and queer in America.

From getting bullied at age five, to visiting flea markets with his loving grandmother, to the thrilling frontiers of first relationships, Johnson’s early life is a profound tapestry of everyday experiences.

As a rising star in cultural criticism, Johnson turns his passion for exploring intersectional identities to his own life by weaving questions of gender, masculinity, brotherhood, family, and Black joy throughout his stories. Posing the same questions to the reader, he invites us to consider what social influences have governed our own lives.

Most central to Johnson’s journey is how to reconcile his Blackness and his queerness—identities that are sometimes at odds in his story. The answer is a reassuring testimony for queer men of color: They are equal parts to a whole and perfectly designed person.

The bravery with which Johnson shares his story is breathtaking. All Boys Aren’t Blue establishes his legacy as an essential voice among young adults for generations to come.”

Both of these books express content warnings in their early pages and introductions for you to make informed decisions in your reading.

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