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When I Knew Paperback – May 31, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; First Edition edition (May 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060571462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060571467
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.3 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #702,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When I was six," writes Tammy Lynn Michaels, "I loved my first grade teacher so much I knew I would have to grow up to be a boy so I could come back and ask her to marry me." Documentarian Trachtenberg (American Masters: On Cukor) brings together the comical, sometimes bitter and always poignant moments when gay men and women first realize (or admit) the truth about their own sexual preference. Trachtenberg has gathered some famous names for his collection (Gavin Lambert, Arthur Laurents, B.D. Wong, Simon Doonan), but perhaps the freshest stories come from voices unknown. What surprises is how often these moments stem from confrontations with an ostensibly heterosexual mass culture: TV, Broadway, the movies, organized sport—all of which are represented in the lavish set of collaged color illustrations that fill most every page, along with comics and candids of the contributors. Eugenio Zanetti recalls watching Miyoshi Umeki being kissed by Brando in Sayonara, in a theater in Buenos Aires in the 1950s, and leaning back in his seat "at the exact same angle as Miyoshi." For Eugenia Kurt, it was a mesmerizing encounter with Rosalind Russell in the nun comedy The Trouble with Angels. This book is composed of equal parts insight, shame and soul. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–A collection of anecdotes by 80 gay men and women about that moment when they first knew at some level the truth of their sexual orientation. Each story is accompanied by a photograph or cartoon that helps make the book visually appealing. Some of the selections are comical; others are poignant, like the one about the grandmother who made her grandson cry when she denounced parents who couldn't accept the truth. These people tell their stories with humor, courage, and defiance. There is plenty of food for thought and discussion within these pages.–Peggy Bercher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

I would recommend it to anyone regardless of their persuasion.
Kelly J.
I found myself very much enthralled by this book and the poignant stories that are sad, happy, funny, cute and disturbing.
HM
I'm very glad I bought the book...and I'm very glad that I read the book.
M. Reynolds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on June 18, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Robert Trachtenberg's compilation of stories from gays and lesbians entitled, "When I Knew", is a beautiful book. The accounts telling of that special moment when one first knew he or she was gay reflect a wide spectrum of emotion.....some are funny, others simply poignant or moving. Trachtenberg reminds us, especially, of a time when being gay was substantially more difficult than it is today, but it's also a reminder that those difficulties still abound. "When I Knew" should be required reading not only by men and women who have had, or do now, struggle with their sexual identity, but it should also be read by those who wish to make gay people's lives harder. When one reads these mostly short contributions it's hard not to feel empathy, love and concern. I highly recommend this book, not only for its beauty but also for its timeliness.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By S. L. Patterson on September 2, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I left this book on the kitchen counter and at least a dozen people have picked it up, thumbed through it or just sat down right there and read it. I caught many of them laughing--even my mother.

This book is just plain entertaining--from the great artwork and photos, to the typography and layout--and mostly for the poignant and often funny anecdotes describing when each writer first discovered that he or she was "other than heterosexual".

A well-designed and -written book that goes beautifully on the coffee table and breaks plenty of ice.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By The Mighty Hudson on February 14, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"When I Knew" is as much about graphic design as it is about the literary content, so the oversized dimensions make sense. The anecdotes shared herein are brief and easy to read, printed in large type against colorful backgrounds and often accompanied by childhood photos of those interviewed, many who are minor celebrities.

These brief glimpses into the early lives of gay men and women are mostly humorous ones, interspersed with the occasional poignant or sad sketch.

Unfortunately the entire book can be consumed in one short sitting. It's breezy and entertaining, but I wish there had been a little more depth -- and a lot more material. Even for a "fun" read, the overall effect is thin. Still, pick it up and it's hard to put down.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Reynolds on July 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm quite sure I saw this book's author on the Oprah Show. I immediately browsed Amazon to find it because I wanted to give it to my son as one of his Christmas presents in 2006. My son is a 21 year old gay man and "came out of the closet" when he was about 16. Although I made it very clear to him that he is my son and I love him - and that his sexual preferences did not matter to me, I felt that he might have thought that I was somehow ashamed of or even bewildered by him. When he opened this book for on Christmas day, the look on his face and the way he hugged me and thanked me was exactly what I was hoping for. I'm very glad I bought the book...and I'm very glad that I read the book. It is insightful, informative and sometimes humorous. A very good read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By HM on December 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
My best friend 'came out' a few months back, but I always knew. Everyone did, probably before he did. I purchased this book after reading it at a bookstore, and I sat and read the entire thing. I found myself very much enthralled by this book and the poignant stories that are sad, happy, funny, cute and disturbing. I highly recommend this book to anyone you may know who is coming to terms with their sexuality or for someone who may need to understand that gays are human too.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Shopping Pro on July 19, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My teenage niece was confused and did not know what to do and I did not know how to communicate with her, but I knew something was wrong I bought her this book and she not only came out to me but it has made our relationship stronger. She said that it helped her be true to herself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By H.L. Sudler on October 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Many of us can remember our first kiss, our first day of school, even our first memories. But what about the instant you knew you were gay? In a sleek softbound coffee table book titled When I Knew, Robert Trachtenberg has assembled a brilliant collection of anecdotes and short tales surrounding this very topic.

From actor B.D. Wong to stage and screen composer Mark Shaiman (Hairspray), and from comics to agents and producers, dozens of contributors offer their very personal tales, resulting in both a laugh-out-loud and insightful work. While nearly all of the contributors here are in the entertainment and media industries, the stories are poignant and spare, and are accompanied by the masterful and complimentary original artwork of New Yorker illustrator Tom Bachtell.

Readers will recognize names such as Billy Porter, Chip Kidd, Stephen Fry, Marga Gomez, Michael Shulman, Steve Kmetko, and Lypsynka alias John Epperson. The tales that these and others contribute offer up a naked vulnerability that includes freedom, fear, and revelation. Exposed is a certain liberation-either by intent or accident-that is comedic and quietly profound, as if the point of this book was to induce a trip down the memory lane of self-discovery, a bittersweet time in each of our histories that exposed our naivete, our awkwardness, and our determination to be ourselves, sometimes despite ourselves.

Also included are stories about when parents knew, when everyone else knew, and a few coming out stories.
Read more ›
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