July in London brings the annual Pride Festival and Parade, a joyful celebration of LGBT culture and history. It’s the ideal opportunity to highlight This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson, a warm and supportive guide to all aspects of LGBT life. There’s no doubt that fizzing hormones and emerging sexuality can lead to tumultuous times. If that sexuality feels different or ‘other’ to the mainstream, then embracing it must sometimes seem impossibly hard and terrifying.
At least one person in your teenager’s classroom will identify as non-straight. Maybe it’s your very own child. Juno Dawson knows that young adults grappling with sexual identity can be confused and anxious, and says ‘…what if there were a whole bunch of people who’d been through it all before, to mentor you through this funny old patch’. How reassuring that would be.
We learn not only about the spectrum of sexuality but also gender. LGBT is an umbrella term for the whole community, and all it’s members are included here, but the emphasis is on sexuality. Despite the serious subject, the tone is warm and often funny, punctuated with witty illustrations. Things that did not make you gay: musical theatre, Satan, a pushy mother, toilet seats.
History, biology, and politics are examined in an easily accessible way. The dehumanising nature of stereotyping is addressed, and a chapter entitled ‘Haterz gon’ hate’, discusses homophobia and ways to deal with it.
Many pages are devoted to ‘coming out’, and it feels like Juno Dawson is the reader’s own counsellor, along with a clutch of personal testimonies from a wide range of perspectives. Be aware that it is sexually explicit in parts. This book feels like a reassuring friend for LGBT teenagers and all who love them.
…You’re FREE now and don’t have to HIDE….you’re joining a vast collective of cool, happy, inspirational people, each with a story to tell