A timely, affecting collection of first-person accounts of the lives of sexual minority youth, In Your Face
grew from Mary Gray's thesis work in anthropology. In collaboration with groups of young people (some of them from queer online chat groups), she designed a series of questions and then arranged for her subjects to interview each other on tape, hoping the answers would be more open and interesting than those she could elicit as an adult. The resulting book contains its share of the inevitable horror stories of growing up queer in America, but it is also refreshingly candid and spirited (and, yes, ungrammatical), with memorable details. Alan Wiley, for instance, remembers keeping a journal in his sophomore year of high school in which he referred cryptically to his gayness as "Problem No. 1." As Gray argues in her introduction, "combined homophobia and ageism, fixtures of our social landscape, have effectively rendered the realities of lesbian, gay, bi and transgendered young people invisible to both the queer and straight worlds." From the hopeful to the bleak, the queer youth of In Your Face
help fill in the picture. --Regina Marler
The title captures neither the tone nor the objectivity of the personal stories that make up the book. There is no saliva-spraying militancy or flag-waving obstinacy anywhere. Instead, the book reads like a spontaneously intimate conversation with new acquaintances in which inhibitions dissolve and truth, sometimes surprising but seldom threatening, emerges as both universal and new. In this "oral essay collection," Gray presents 15 gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens who share their experiences awakening to their sexual identity, coming out to family and community, clarifying their religious beliefs, searching for love, and sharing their take on what constitutes a gay community and what the future holds for them. The recording of their words verbatim introduces occasional profanity that flows directly from the speaker's stream of thought, but it also adds a rich authenticity to each voice and makes the emotions more palpable. Just as important, the narrators express themselves, especially about first sexual encounters, with great diplomacy, never sharing details inappropriate to young readers. Their backgrounds and experiences are vastly different, but the teens share concerns true of all youth: the desire to be loved, to find acceptance, to understand themselves, and to discover what they can contribute to the world. What sets these teens apart is simply that the context of their lives has made their personal and social journey more treacherous. It's unfortunate that the bold honesty of this book may keep some school librarians from ordering it, for it is apt to become a landmark text that defines gay teens of this generation and helps them find the support that apparently many still mistakenly believe is beyond their grasp. Pair this with Adam Mastoon's The Shared Heart
(1997), in which gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens also speak out. Roger Leslie
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.