Book suggestions for teens that are coming out as LGBQ or T
February 9, 2015 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I'm working (as a therapist) with a young man (17 y/o) who has recently acknowledged that he is gay. He asked, during our first session, if there were any books I would recommend. I realized that, although I had done extensive reading on a clinical level, I hadn't explored materials for whom young people, as opposed to clinicians, were the target audience.

Are there any books that you might recommend (or other media, for that matter) that would be useful to young people that are wanting to explore this aspect of who they are and what lies in front of them.

I would be interested in both fiction and non-fiction. Thanks in advance, I trust fellow MeFits more than a bunch of strangers on Amazon!

If it is culturally relevant, I'm in the U.S.
posted by HuronBob to Society & Culture (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Dangerous Angels, by Francesca Lia Block. It's five novellas in one volume. You can start at the beginning of the book, but it might be more relevant to your client if he begins with the prequel, Baby Be-Bop, which tells the story of one character's realization that he is gay.

Note: this is magical realism written for a teen audience, so if your client is someone who would be put off by, say, a recurring genie character, it might not be a great fit.
posted by corey flood at 8:29 PM on February 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm not familiar with exactly the right books for a young gay man, but just wanted to say that some of the books that helped me the most as I acknowledged my own queer/lesbian-ness (in the years between 18 and 21) were collections of personal coming out stories. I'm a huge fiction reader, and LGBT fiction was good too, but it was experiential stuff that really got me at that moment. Reading the stories of a variety of people was another key point for me. (I read a lot of lesbian-feminist personal-is-political collections of personal narrative. This was in the mid-2000s. I didn't care about datedness, as long as it was first-person experience. YMMV with that, though!)

Maybe something like Boys Like Us: Writers Stories or (and this one is definitely dated) ...And Then I Became Gay: Young Men's Stories? (On second thought and a look at the Amazon reviews, the latter might be a bit too academic. But it certainly has the same kind of title as the books I used to go for!)
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:53 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

For films, I'd suggest The Broken Hearts Club which, while being pretty 90s, covers a lot of coming out and gay community stuff. ...But I'm a Cheerleader is also an excellent inoculation against the "pray away the gay"/you can change bullshit he may be experiencing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:59 PM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

i'd recommend decolonizing trans/gender 101 for when mainstream white ideas about gayness and transness are part of the problem and not the solution.
posted by thug unicorn at 11:34 PM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

As a queer teenager into 80s punk music I think I read Baby Be-bop upwards of 100 times. Enthusiastically seconded.
posted by town of cats at 8:07 AM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh and a close friend realized he was trans reading Stone Butch Blues.
posted by town of cats at 8:08 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

This doesn't speak to gay experience directly but Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese helped me unpack some internalized homophobia I had going on in my brain. The main character has internalized some negative stereotypes and tries to distance himself from them in ways that are harmful to himself and others. Fun Home is a really complicated graphic novel about family relationships and LGBT experience, but might not be great for someone who’s in the middle of processing this.

But I’m a Cheerleader, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, were sort of the classic movie canon that I was shown but they are a bit dated at this point, if he doesn't have other gay friends yet these are good places to start to feel like someone knows where you’re coming from. But I'm a Cheerleader for me had an interesting thing where I watched it while I was first coming and the plot was super charged and fraught (and good) and if when I watch it 10 years later it's hilarious.

Are you/he looking more for coming out stories, or life can be relatively normal once you get past this crucible stories, or just an overall view of a variety of different gay experiences?
posted by edbles at 8:29 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Whipping Girl by Julia Serano is a great option for any and all of the spectrum. I hear it recommended more and more frequently, and it is, indeed, a great read. I wish I'd had it available when I was coming to terms with everything.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:08 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

At a certain stage in my young queer life, I found queer "baby blogs" - blogs by queer parents - to be really comforting. At the time I was pretty sure that marriage and kids were what I wanted, and it was nice to see that that can happen for queer people, to read about their mundane, settled, but fairly happy everyday lives with their partners and kids. Most people don't get to see gay/lesbian families modeled, so if that's something he thinks about for his future, it might be comforting to him.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:31 AM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I'll check each of these out and compile a list for my client..
posted by HuronBob at 1:28 PM on February 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hi op, i am a gay trans girl. I'm 23. When I was 17 I thought i might be a gay man but i wasn't sure. I could easily have imagined talking to a therapist about it like how you described.

I want to say this:

rocky horror and hedwig have very strong themes of transfeminine genders being drag, deception and tragedy.

this is misogyny, this is transmisogyny. this contributes to this kind of culture for baby/queer/trans kids.

even if both you and your patient agree and are correct about him being cis, thats no excuse to socialize him into queer identities rooted in these ideas.

if anyone is looking for more discussion of these ideas, i suggest they read whipping girl, especially the media criticism sections. this book has its problems but its still one of the best mainstream books of its type. reading it in 2011 was a huge turning point in how i thought about myself.

No matter what their problematic faves are, older LGB folk have a duty to baby gay/queer/trans kids. Please make sure your recommendations don't fail transfeminism 101, trans women are women and deserve respect and basic humanity.
posted by thug unicorn at 8:50 PM on February 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Everyone is Gay is a delightful and helpful and supportive website with lots of resources. Their Parents Project site is also awesome and offers This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids which would be an excellent resource for both parents and their kids. I honestly can't recommend them highly enough. Life-changing content with a lighthearted approach.
posted by donnagirl at 6:57 AM on February 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Queer: the Ultimate LGBT guide for teens - Kathy Belge
Rapture Practice: a True Story about Growing Up Gay in an Evangelical Family - Aaron Hartzler
GLBTQ: the Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens - Kelly Huegel
It Gets Better - ed. Dan Savage &Terry Miller

Speaking out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up - ed. Steve Berman
The Vast Fields of Ordinary - Nick Burd
Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green
My Most Excellent Year - Steve Kluger
Boy Meets Boys - David Levithan
Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan
Hero - Perry Moore
Shine - Lauren Myracle
Boyfriends with Girlfriends - Alex Sanchez

Helpful lists (I love the Diversity in YA tumblr):
Gay with out the gay angst: 12 Books about gay/bi/queer boys (broken up by sci fi/fantasty and realistic fiction)
YA and YA-friendly books about LGBT characters of color and More YA and YA-friendly books about LGBT characters of color
10 young adult books about LGBTQ people by LGBTQ authors
10 young adult books that feature queer couples on the cover

Great Gay Teen Books from Alex Sanchez

Also, check out the Lambda Literary Awards. Make sure to look at all the finalists, not just the winners. Unfortunately, the YA & Children's stuff is mixed together which can make it harder to sort out.
posted by carrioncomfort at 11:00 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

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