Centers the experiences, desires, and agency of a queer Black boy navigating his evolving selfhood and the challenges of society’s conditional love for his truthful existence.
Queer Black existence has been here forever, and yet rarely has that experience been spotlighted within literature aimed at Black boyhood. This is the context in which this “memoir-manifesto” begins, as Johnson, a still relatively young 33-year-old journalist and activist, debuts his unfolding life story within a vacuum of representation. These stories wrestle with “joy and pain...triumph and tragedy” across many heavy topics—gender policing, sexual abuse, institutional violence—but with a view to freedom on the horizon. Through the witnessing of Johnson’s intimate accounts, beginning with his middle-class New Jersey childhood and continuing through his attendance at a historically Black university in Virginia, readers are invited on their own paths to healing, self-care, and living one’s truth. Those who see themselves outside the standpoint of being Black and queer are called in toward accountability, clarifying an understanding of the history, language, and actions needed to transform the world—not in pity for the oppressed but in the liberation of themselves. This title opens new doors, as the author insists that we don’t have to anchor stories such as his to tragic ends: “Many of us are still here. Still living and waiting for our stories to be told—to tell them ourselves.”
A critical, captivating, merciful mirror for growing up Black and queer today.(Memoir. 14-adult)