A positive, highly personal addition to the body of LGBTQ+ stories.

QUEER AS ALL GET OUT

10 PEOPLE WHO'VE INSPIRED ME

Criswell’s debut graphic novel blends memoir with minibiographies of global LGBTQ+ changemakers.

Rather than attempting a comprehensive history, the illustrated biographical sketches provide a well-researched, if slightly disjointed, catalog of 10 queer people the author finds especially inspirational. This broad selection offers a starting place for readers seeking meaningful connections with the past. As White, nonbinary college student Criswell wanders around San Antonio, Texas, they unpack the complexities of Southern identity and begin to research, draw, and discuss significant icons with friends. Accompanying them on this journey, readers meet history-makers who are often overlooked by mainstream U.S. sources—people who broaden Criswell’s understanding of the difficulties facing those who have fought for LGBTQ+ justice around the world. This approach effectively anchors contemporary life to these influencers. At times the transitions and interjections are a bit stiff, but what is lacking in flow is countered by Criswell’s crisp drawings and eye for details. The choice of subjects reflects diverse perspectives—Nancy Cárdenas, Ifti Nasim, We’wha, and Dr. Pauli Murray, among others—and the biographies address how intersectional identities ground the subjects’ experiences of injustice. As this is a narrative of individual awakening and learning, the framing of the narrator’s reactions to their discoveries sometimes feels naïve, and readers may wish Criswell included more reflection on aspects of their own identity. The tight scope and clear, sequential illustrations will appeal to many who are seeking a window into LGBTQ+ histories.

A positive, highly personal addition to the body of LGBTQ+ stories. (glossary, further reading, resources) (Graphic nonfiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-951491-07-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Street Noise Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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