Monday, November 22, 2021

QUEER AS ALL GET OUT: 10 People Who've Inspired Me, inspired me in my turn

QUEER AS ALL GET OUT: 10 People Who've Inspired Me

Street Noise Books
$18.99 trade paper, available 23 November 2021

Rating: 5 shining, proud, delighted stars of five

The Publisher Says: Take a walk with one queer artist from Texas and explore the lives of ten LGBTQ+ people from history.

What does it take to live your truth? And how do we each navigate the struggle for personal acceptance within a society that is so often intolerant? In this galvanizing story of resilience, Shelby Criswell takes us by the hand and leads us through the lived experiences of ten inspiring people. Each an example of how to find your way as your own authentic self.


My Review
: This US Thanksgiving, or "Happy Holocaust of the Native Americans" Holiday as I am prone to call it, I wanted to offer something I am truly thankful for: Young Queer creators telling their authentic stories from the places they live. It's not a luxury I had; it's not a luxury to be taken for granted anywhere, if you listen to Scholastique Mukasonga; and so it should be celebrated as much as we're able to do so.

This is a strong open, the simple act of getting one's order in a coffee shop made without awkwardness or fuss or hostility. The kindness of simply not assuming anything and still making the effort to be polite is, sad to say, still revolutionary and worthy of comment and praise. But it's a fruitful moment: It gives birth to the concept, "who came before me? who else struggled with the world's pig-headedness and intolerance?" As the marketing material offers this list of people profiled in the book, I can do no better than to offer it to you in my turn:
  • Mary Jones (mid 1800’s);
  • We’wha (1849-1896);
  • Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935);
  • Dr. Pauli Murray (1910-1985);
  • Wilmer “Little Axe” M. Broadnax (1916-1994);
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973);
  • Carlett Brown (1927-?);
  • Nancy Cárdenas (1934-1994);
  • Ifti Nasim (1946-2011);
  • and Simon Nkoli (1957-1998)

  • Comprehensive! Impressive! I loved the profiles, as brief as they were by necessity, because they were handsomely illustrated and clearly selected for Author & Artist Creswell's personal connection to their message(s). First up is late-life out lesbian Nancy Cárdenas:
    I found the story of Cárdenas's coming out so touching, that she was inspired to do it by the horrors of the AIDS plague (Beauty Salon came out the same year she died of breast cancer). It is an ongoing tragedy that breast cancer's ravages deprive so many of us of people we love, and the world of so many bright and shining stars. Cárdenas led an exemplary life and I'm delighted to meet her here.

    The other nine protagonists are equally well-chosen, equally share their space with the everyday bravery of a trans person living in Texas well. The idea of being openly anything in Texas is something that slightly stuns me. Yes, I grew up in Austin; I wasn't ever really *in* so coming *out* wasn't very necessary; but it was always, always clear to me in 1970s Texas that I was suffered to exist and that sufferance was revocable at any time.

    That young Shelby Criswell isn't as threatened in their environment thrills and delights me. This lovely book exists because they made it; they made it because it spoke to a need in them; and that need, as is so often the case, is the normal human need to see yourself in the world, past and present.

    Anyone out there who needs to hear this, here's the message in lovely images and direct words without fear or judgment. If you know someone who's got a tablet who needs to hear this message of being seen, being valued and valuable, being the heir to a lineage of ancestors, here's a #Booksgiving treat to gift to them.

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