Author: George M. Johnson
Rating: 4 Stars
In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.
Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren't Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson's emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.
George M Johnson has written a memoir that is compelling, eye opening, heartbreaking, and absolutely necessary. I certainly cannot even pretend to know what it was like for George growing up as a queer black kid, but I can say he tells his story in an unflinching way that is still gentle and wonderful for all ages, not just for teenagers.
George M. Johnson did write this memoir as a way to reach teens and show them what it was like for him growing up as a black queer kid in the 90's, but this book is written in such a way that adults who may wonder about the issues Johnson and other kids may have gone through could benefit from this book as well.
Johnson has a calming yet sincere way of writing about his life and his family. He introduces us to his nanny, quite possibly the most influential person in his life, and his parents, his cousins, his line brothers from his frat, and so many other people who became important to him and important for him throughout his teenage years. Johnson was fortunate enough to have many family members who loved and supported him, and even though he had a lot of things happen that were heartbreaking he knew he had a support system that would stand by him. That was amazing to see, and it made me very grateful, because a lot of queer kids don't have that. Many more black queer kids have even more difficult times than white queer kids. I am certainly not saying that white queer kids don't have a hard time, but come on - you know we've never ever had to worry about things the way the black community has.
This book is so well written, and covers Johnson's life so well - it really is a must read memoir for all ages. I can't think of a single bad thing to say about this book, and would recommend it to everyone of all ages.
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