Monday, May 14, 2012

The Letter Q: Queer Writer's Notes to Their Younger Selves: Sarah Moon, ed.

"To hear the more than 50 contributors tell it, one might think that queer adults mostly end up living in ritzy corners of New York and becoming published authors."  
Kirkus reviews.

"YES!  You actually get to be PUBLISHED!  And you get to be friends with some of your HEROES!  Like oh not to name names but like MAURICE SENDAK!  I know!  I KNOW!  SCREAMMM!"
Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked (among other books) and contributor to The Letter Q.

The Letter Q is associated with The Trevor Project, which in turn is a spin-off of the It Gets Better project.  It Gets Better is a website targeted to LGBTQ youth who are struggling with a lack of acceptance or sometimes outright hostility from those around them. On the It Gets Better website, the message is that "it" (life as a LGBTQ adult) can turn out better than you'd think when you're in high school and people are spitting on you and throwing eggs at your house (or worse).  That queer adult life can, with any luck,  turn out to be not just better but surprisingly rewarding.  Of course, it probably doesn't hurt to have talents like some of the writers here to help you shape a bright, beautiful future.

I feel sad that we still need books like this.  Reassuring as this book is, warm and funny as it sometimes is, understanding as it is, it's still not fair for kids to have to wait to feel good about themselves. It's interesting the importance of coming out to one's family has in these small autobiographies--most contributors had to face lots of angst over this, and some families take years to come together again.

"It will take a good long decade after that first terrible coming out conversation.  (Hang on, Arthur, I swear.)  There will be years when the tension between you and your folks will be nearly unbearable.  But very, very gradually, it will begin to ease."
Arthur Levine

"You will reassure Dad that you don't hate men, especially not him.  He will love you fiercely until his last breath, a shallow inhale that comes just hours before your son is born.  Mom had no intention of pushing you away.  After today, she will tighten her grip, pulling you torture you.  She will continue to power away at you, doing everything she can to convince you that you are not a lesbian....It will take five years, but Mom will finally realize that she can't change you back...She will cut her losses and love her two grandbabies--and you.

One day many years later you will ask her if she wishes you were straight.  She will hesitate, then say,"I love you just the way you are." You will never forget that."
Linda Villarosa

I don't think this book will have much of an audience outside of its target one--it's a book with a specific purpose, and that's fine.  Most of the contributors are actually not primarily writers for teen readers, and I'm not sure how many of them most teens would recognize.   For queer teens who are currently unfortunate enough to find themselves in difficult circumstances, though, these frank, gentle and understanding messages could be a lifeline.

Here's the somewhat earnest publisher's trailer:

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