Editor Sarah Moon somehow had letters from queer elders to help her through her tormented adolescence. She was aware that other LGBTQ teens did not have that luxury, and she wanted to change that. She and contributing editor Lames Lecesne got more than 60 LGBTQ authors/artists to write "notes to their their younger selves." Among the contributors are some heavy hitters like Amy Bloom, Michael Cunningham, Jewelle Gomez, Armistead Maupin, Eileen Myles, and Jacqueline Woodson, and the creator of my favorite piece, cartoonist Jennifer Camper.
Jen's piece stands out (we're friendquaintances, so I'm first-naming her) because the younger self plays an active role and wants some credit for who the older self became. Titled "Still No Jetpacks," the comic is playful with the idea of what younger Jen might want to know about the future. SPOILER coming (look for the large "spoiler over" way below and continue from there)
She has her two selves make out, which I find to be utterly audacious and self-loving.
Sarah Moon's intro and her own entry are moving--and clever, like how she refers to her high school "bastion of mean suburban conventionality." The other pieces that most spoke to me are by the lesser known contributors, I think because there's not as much chance for "it's okay that you're suffering now; you're going to win prizes/be famous/be rich."
I appreciate how the pieces by authors of color like Linda Villarosa are intersectional (I know, right?), unable to separate sexuality issues from race.
I know you're afraid. You're scared that you will first lose your family and then, little by little, everybody else in your life. Especially every other black person. If the "community" -- which means every black person you know, have ever met, or will meet -- finds out that you're a lesbian, THEY will take away your black card. ...
... In your mind, you can't be black and gay. In the world you live in, all the gays are white, and all the blacks are straight.
And Jewelle Gomez harkening back to earlier and predicting future struggles, connecting race politics and sexuality.
I know that the Civil Rights Movement has really heightened your awareness of the politics of being who you are, even as a kid. ... Being a lesbian feminist means you'll get to help steer through and shape the change like those people you see marching on TV and on the six o'clock news. So jump in, the water's tumultuous and always will be.
As always when reviewing a YA book, or a book otherwise not written for my gaze, I need to acknowledge that. I read this book as literature, not as a lifeline.
One book production complaint, some of the text was hard to read. The copyright page is so light it's nearly illegible. I wonder if that's all copies or the one I borrowed from NYPL was part of a funky print run.
You can read it on Scribd, login required.