Where Do We Stand Now? Two LGBTQ Perspectives

Speaking OUT: Queer Youth in Focus
by Rachelle Lee Smith, Graeme Taylor, and Candace Gingrich
PM Press, 2014

Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion
Edited by Ryan Conrad
AK Press, 2014

Book Cover of "Speaking Out."As state after state approves gay marriage, it can be tempting to jump to the conclusion that the most pressing issues for LGBTQ people have been “solved.” Taken together, these two books offer an illuminating reality check. Speaking OUT, a photo essay that pairs photographic portraits with handwritten reflections from youth who identify as queer, offers a glimpse of the wide range of experiences that comprise life for queer youth today. Some teens express a sense of deep joy about the loving support they received from their entire community upon coming out (“the response was 100 percent supportive—100 percent!” exclaims contributor Graeme Taylor), attesting to the meaningful shifts that have taken place culturally within the last half-century. But others describe experiences of physical assault, rejection, and discrimination, attesting to the continued lived realities of homophobia and transphobia in the current era.

Book cover of "Against Equality."Ryan Conrad’s anthology, meanwhile, offers a hard-edged political analysis of the many forms of oppression that mainstream efforts such as the marriage equality campaign will never solve. The book’s essays are culled from the online archives of the Against Equality collective, an anti-capitalist group that uses the “greater-than” symbol to convey its commitment to liberation for all rather than to achieving equal rights for gay men and lesbians within a fundamentally unjust society. With its mixture of provocative pamphleteering and deeper political analyses, this anthology is sure to challenge even progressive readers with its radical queer and trans critiques of “the holy trinity of mainstream gay and lesbian politics: gay marriage, gays in the military, and hate crime legislation.” Whether or not you agree with all the essayists’ claims, it’s worth engaging with this book’s insistence that “queer resistance is not only against the oppression of people defined as queer, but against all disenfranchisement.”

(To return to the Spring 2015 Table of Contents, click here.)

tags: Books, Reviews   
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