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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up - Steve Berman, et. al.



Released September 2011

Steve Berman
Bold Stroke Books

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

One of the most heartbreaking things I've experienced after 17 years of being a mom is to hear that children are killing themselves because of bullies. That truly breaks my heart. I'm not gay, but I'm repulsed at the alienation many gay teens and adults face on a daily basis. I've seen far too many religious people take pot shots at gays making me wonder where does "Love thy neighbor" come into play. I'm disgusted by the attitudes of many and was delighted to hear about Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up. The writers in this book share stories about teens who come out and the bullying they face as well as the triumphs.

Every story in Speaking Out comes from the heart. I'll admit that some of them didn't really grab me, but there were a few that truly tugged at the heartstrings and brought tears to my eyes. Gutter Ball is about a girl who is being bullied and finally gets her comeuppance when she beats her bully in a bowling tournament. As sad as the ending was, realistically the author did an incredibly job with the ending. The strength of the lesbian teen in this story shined through.

The second story actually reminded me a lot of an experience I had during senior year. A new kid transferred to our school and I befriended him. He didn't talk much about his past or why he suddenly transferred into a new school in the middle of senior year. I learned later from one of his relatives that he was gay and his father had beaten the hell out of him and thrown him out onto the streets. The fact that a parent could be so biased against their own flesh and blood horrified me. Subtle Poison touches on that discrimination dished out by a parent. In this story, a teen girl feels she was meant to be a boy. Her gender change shocks many in her school and her parents making Alex's life hell. This is the most powerful story in this collection and one that had me grabbing tissues.

The third story to really grab me was The Spark of Change. In this story, a teen girl is horrified when her father, a volunteer firefighter, and his department refuse to go to battle a house fire because the house belongs to a lesbian couple.

There are many more stories in this collection, but those three, for me, demonstrated the very worst of discrimination and the promise that it does get better. For any teen who is gay and is giving up hope, please visit the It Gets Better Project.

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