"...the book has some problematic aspects, and may be at odds with some of our queer values today. This seems to be by design, conveying a much different world for queer people."
— Rachel Lange, Senior Editor, QueerPGH
If you were ever part of a children's classroom drama group or were in a choir or rock band as a 4th grader, you may have encountered the "review that isn't really a review". The kind where the writer discusses how adorable your group was and how earnest you all were up there on that stage, and how cute your costumes were. The names of the lead singers or the performers in the primary roles are all dutifully mentioned, and the writer will generally find some nice things to say about the precision of the delivery or how nicely all in tune you were. But you don't get scathing criticism or a pointed comment on how your group chose to stage it, because the writer figures that no one goes to those things to hear the music or watch the dramatic tale unfold.
So-called "third party" politicians often get the same treatment when they run for office. If they get interviewed and covered at all, the questions are softball questions: "Tell me about your main issues", or "What made you decide to run for office?"; the interviewer rarely probes the marginal candidate's most politically vulnerable spot to see if the candidate has a good answer, like "You say you would close the town widget factory because of the toxicity levels. Seven hundred local citizens have jobs there; what's going to happen to them? And where will the airplane industry get their greasy widgets from, won't the cost of air travel jump through the roof if you do that?" They don't ask because the writer doesn't assume it matters to the voters, because this candidate isn't going to win the election anyway so who cares?
Rachel Lange of the queer publication QueerPGH apparently takes me seriously. Not only that I have something to say to the LGBTQIA community but that people might pay attention to it, that it might have some impact. In her interview with me, she asked some of the most provocative and probing questions I've faced.
She isn't wrong in her summary statement: I wrote GenderQueer not to add my voice to the chorus of voices that were already out there, but to add a different voice. To tell a story about an identity that was not already being explained and given a name. And she's quite right—I have often found myself at odds with activists who represent some of the other shades of the queer coalition rainbow, because some of the concepts they use are injurious to the identity I'm writing about. Some of the rhetoric they like to use erases people like me. I'm not unaware of the existing social dialog, so in rising to my feet to present my tale, my dissent with them is indeed by design. Not that I'm out to antagonize or deliberately cause dissent in the community, but because that erasure of which I spoke needs to end. I'm not out to negate anyone else's identity, and I hope readers of my book will see that. But I very much appreciate the candor and seriousness of the questions.
Book Review: Gender Queer: A Story from a Different Closet
You're secluded in quarantine, and all the performances and events have been cancelled, so it's a good time to read a book!
My book, GenderQueer: A Story From a Different Closet, has been published by Sunstone Press. It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook, and as ebook only from Apple, Kobo, and directly from Sunstone Press themselves.
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