Hope. Fear. Desire. Despair. Promises. Betrayals.
Lesbian. Gay. Bisexual. Transgender. Questioning. Intersex.
This anthology of short stories gives voice to the rising generation as they define what it means to grow up queer in the twenty-first century. What is it like to grow up in a society that embraces you in certain ways but discriminates against you in others? How do you choose a label from the alphabet soup, and should you even have to? By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, comical and caustic, these stories, imagined and told by youth across America, provide a snapshot of queerness at the dawn of the new millennium.
I had big hopes for this book. The blurb promises a tangible look into the lives of modern young LGBTQI individuals.
But at times, I’ll admit, it felt like I was reading a teenage-written Mills & Boon novel.
Take a step back, though: is that necessarily a bad thing? OMG Queer does not promise a fluent work of literature. It promises a first-hand account of a young generation. Considering that most of the stories are written by high school or college students, should we expect literary mumbo-jumbo?
I guess not.
Maybe part of the reason the anthology annoyed me a little was that it wasn’t that different from the sappy (straight-themed) narratives I used to write as a lovesick teenager who felt ostracised by society.
And maybe that is one of the most wonderful things about it: that the romance, fears and tragedies of LQBTQI youth are experienced the same as those of straight teens. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everybody understood that?
Some of these pieces are told with wonderful wit, some are incredibly sad. Some of them are a little crude (be warned) and some of them illicit a lack of comfort – teachers crushing on students and little children exploring.
As I mentioned, some of the stories are a little annoying – best friends realising they are in love, and being afraid of the school bully but becoming more successful than them and being able to rub their face in it, that kind of thing. But again, in terms of levelling the playing field, perhaps it is not so out of place.
If you read this book, start with Jelson by Brenna Harvey (it’s the first piece in the book). It is hilarious and intelligent. For a more literary piece, read My Lips by Joseph Aviv, an almost poetic tale.
I read Yes, I am! and expected this to be similar. It wasn’t, not really, but then the authors of those stories were older, and had different stories to share. Nevertheless, this book would be a great acquisition for a school library (although currently it is only available as an e-book). OMG Queer can play a massive role in obliterating ignorance about LGBTQI communities.
Above quote from Ignite the Sky by Julie R. Sanches (one of the pieces in the anthology):
“Wouldn’t it be better to go like this? If we live our lives as an adventure, there’s only one proper way to end them. Don’t you feel it? We’re young and free and beautiful and brilliant and so perfectly alive. We’re burning bright and fast, like supermassive stars, you know? And we can go supernova, ignite the whole sky in a fiery explosion when we die. Or we can just grow old, wither, let our outer layers float away as we wait for death to take us.”
Disclaimer: I received this as a galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.