Author: George M. Johnson
Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux
First Published: April 28, 2020
Genres: Essays, Memoir, Queer
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.
All Boys Aren’t Blue is a powerful memoir about one young man’s reckoning with his identity as a queer black man. The book explores the intersection of race and sexuality and the difficulty of finding one’s identity in a society that systematically oppresses people that fall outside of what is considered “normal.” It is open, honest, and deeply personal, I found myself tearing up many times while reading.
“Navigating in a space that questions your humanity isn’t really living at all. It’s existing. We all deserve more than just the ability to exist.”
I wish that I had a book like this when I was growing up. As a victim of abuse, as a woman still not fully sure of her own identity, as a friend that was ill-equipped to fully understand and help the queer black boys that I knew growing up during their times of need; this book provides much-needed insight into the experiences of LGBTQIA+ people of color.
The greatest takeaway from this book is how intimately connected people are, and how our words and actions no matter how good or bad or big or small have a ripple effect in the lives of others. How important it is to have a voice, to see others like ourselves and likewise be seen, to have the freedom to explore ourselves without the weight of other people’s expectations. To learn from the experiences of others to save ourselves from pain and heartache.
Warnings: homophobia, transphobia, sex, sexual assault, molestation