Though somewhat heavyhanded, these poems are sure to instill much-needed empathy and awareness to gay issues in today’s...

OCTOBER MOURNING

A SONG FOR MATTHEW SHEPARD

Nearly 14 years after the unspeakable tragedy that put Laramie, Wyo., on the hate crimes map, lesbian literary icon Newman offers a 68-poem tribute to Matthew Shepard.

Readers who were infants on October 6, 1998, may learn here for the first time how the 21-year-old Shepard was lured from a bar by two men who drove him to the outskirts of town, beat him mercilessly, tied him to a fence and left him to die. Ironically, months before Shepard’s murder, Newman had been invited to Laramie to speak at the University of Wyoming’s Gay Awareness Week and actually delivered her keynote address on the day he died. This cycle of poems, meant to be read sequentially as a whole, incorporates Newman’s reflections on Shepard’s killing and its aftermath, using a number of common poetic forms and literary devices to portray the events of that fateful night and the trial that followed. While the collection as a whole treats a difficult subject with sensitivity and directness, these poems are in no way nuanced or subtle. For example, Newman repeatedly employs personification to make inanimate objects, such as the fence, road, clothesline and truck, unwitting accessories to the crime, and she imitates William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just to Say” false-apology format no fewer than four times with mixed results.

Though somewhat heavyhanded, these poems are sure to instill much-needed empathy and awareness to gay issues in today’s teens. (Poetry. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5807-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future.

A QUEER HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

An adaptation for teens of the adult title A Queer History of the United States (2011).

Divided into thematic sections, the text filters LGBTQIA+ history through key figures in each era from the 1500s to the present. Alongside watershed moments like the 1969 Stonewall uprising and the HIV/AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, the text brings to light less well-known people, places, and events: the 1625 free love colony of Merrymount, transgender Civil War hero Albert D.J. Cashier, and the 1951 founding of the Mattachine Society, to name a few. Throughout, the author and adapter take care to use accurate pronouns and avoid imposing contemporary terminology onto historical figures. In some cases, they quote primary sources to speculate about same-sex relationships while also reminding readers of past cultural differences in expressing strong affection between friends. Black-and-white illustrations or photos augment each chapter. Though it lacks the teen appeal and personable, conversational style of Sarah Prager’s Queer, There, and Everywhere (2017), this textbook-level survey contains a surprising amount of depth. However, the mention of transgender movements and activism—in particular, contemporary issues—runs on the slim side. Whereas chapters are devoted to over 30 ethnically diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual, or queer figures, some trans pioneers such as Christine Jorgensen and Holly Woodlawn are reduced to short sidebars.

Though not the most balanced, an enlightening look back for the queer future. (glossary, photo credits, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5612-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Important for its frank sex talk but far less inclusive than it aims to be.

THIS BOOK IS GAY

An exuberant guide to LGBT life takes the stance that “being L or G or B or T or * is SUPER FUN.”

Speaking with candor, humor, and enthusiasm, Dawson addresses topics from coming out to sexually transmitted infections to sex apps. With irreverent chapter titles like “Stereotypes Are Poo” and a chatty narrative voice, the tone is largely upbeat, though the author also touches on “some MEGA-SAD FACE topics” like discrimination. Easily readable tables and humorous cartoons further liven up the presentation. To add more perspectives, segments from interviewees who represent areas of the LGBT spectrum not represented by the author himself are also included. Chapters on sex and apps like Grindr are helpfully matter-of-fact, and readers hear from people who choose casual sex as well as those who prefer emotionally intimate relationships. The book is a U.K. import, and while U.S.–based readers shouldn’t have much trouble understanding Briticisms like “fancy” or “shag,” some of the anti-discrimination laws referenced won’t apply. More troubling, the book’s efforts to support transgender readers are undermined by persistent, thoughtless affirmations that biology really is destiny—for instance, when the author debunks the myth that “gay men are ‘girls’ ” with a jokey “Penis? Check! Yup, gay men are, in fact, male.”

Important for its frank sex talk but far less inclusive than it aims to be. (glossary, resources) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4926-1782-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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