‘Welcome to being LGBTQ+. Your life is inherently political.’ Stirring words from Proud by Juno Dawson (editor), an uplifting anthology of stories, poetry and art on the broad theme of Pride. 2019 marks 50 years since the Stonewall Riots and a sea change in the course of LGBTQ+ history. With the annual Pride Parades in both London and New York commemorating this half century, now is the time to press this book into your teenager’s hands and introduce them to a glorious rainbow of party and protest.
A great ‘dipper’, this illustrated collection reflects a myriad experiences and is shot through with wit and grit. I greatly enjoyed the freshness and energy of the writing and there’s something for every literary taste. Fancy an American lesbian retelling of Pride and Prejudice? Here it is, complete with ‘…a truth universally acknowledged that high school dances suck.’
Those with more fantastical tastes will appreciate The Phoenix’s Fault by Cynthia So. In Chinese culture, the phoenix is ‘yin’, the dragon ‘yang’, and together this celestial couple represent eternal marital harmony. But is it possible for a phoenix to fall in love with another phoenix, or will this lead to cosmic discombobulation? We discover the answer against a backdrop of magical Chinese lanterns and an emperor in search of a bride.
For me however, the stand-out story is Love Poems to the City by Moïra Fowler-Doyle. Set in Dublin at the time of the Irish referendum on gay marriage, it depicts a group of sparky teens, their frustration at being too young to vote, and their brilliantly creative plans to subvert hostile opinion. There’s some great writing here, and a strong sense of the city.
‘The smell of the river mixes with the mushy-pea stench blowing in from the Guinness brewery downstream.’
The muted shades of everyday Dublin are about to witness some rainbow magic, in more ways than one. A bold and important anthology. Pass it on!
Proud by Juno Dawson (editor) is published by Stripes Publishing, 352 pages.