TANGO by Justin Vivian Bond


My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels
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A brief yet remarkably candid memoir of growing up different, by a world-renowned cabaret performer and transgender advocate.

Prompted to recall his childhood after learning of his neighbor and longtime tormentor’s arrest for impersonating a police officer, Bond remembers in vivid detail his unusual adolescence, including the peculiar relationship he formed with the now-jailed local bully. Living in suburban Maryland in the ’70s, the author obsessed over Rita Hayworth and other stars of her time, danced like Ginger Rogers and enjoyed wearing lipstick out in public, all of which continued despite his parents’ best attempts to “straighten” him out, including wallpapering his bedroom with a cowboys and Indians theme, to Bond’s despair. Throughout this time, he hid a deep secret: a years-long, often abusive sexual relationship with Hunter, a popular, older boy who tantalized, humiliated and even threatened him. Beginning at age 11 on a boy scouts camping trip, Bond and Hunter had sex in pools, snow forts and tree houses. Accused by Hunter’s mother of “using” her son for his pool, Bond remembered the sexual favors he would perform with Hunter for the opportunity to enjoy the pool. Outside of their physical encounters, Hunter either ignored Bond or harassed him, calling him a “fag” and spreading ugly rumors at school. Generally friendless except for a girl, who later took an overdose of pills, Bond’s situation gradually improved in high school—he got his first car, decorated his room according to his tastes and even dated a girl. He finally broke it off with Hunter, threatening to out the older boy if he continued to demand sex.

Poignant and funny, Bond offers insight into the childhood and mindset of gay and transgender individuals, but the graphic depictions of sex between young boys may frighten some readers.


Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55861-747-6
Page count: 136pp
Publisher: Feminist Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2011


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