PASSAGES OF PRIDE: Lesbian and Gay Youth Come of Age by Kurt Chandler

PASSAGES OF PRIDE: Lesbian and Gay Youth Come of Age

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The textured perspective that emerges in candid and quirky interviews with gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth is marred by a reductive approach to sexuality. Journalist Chandler follows six teenagers over a few years, through crucial points in their coming-out processes. (The book grew out of a series of articles he wrote for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.) Attempting to give a broad overview of the sexual-minority youth experience, Chandler devotes some chapters to the young people's (and, in some cases, their parents') personal stories and some to broad generalities about homosexuality and young people. The teens' narratives are often powerful; though there is a good share of coming-out clich‚s (""I always felt different,"" ""She was always such a tomboy,"" etc.), the author also includes the kinds of particularities that bring such stories to life. One girl, for instance, takes her mother to a gay nightclub so she can see what it's like; in another celebratory family moment, a father delights his daughter and her friends by joining them in a raucous lesbian-sex joke-telling session. Chandler, who is heterosexual, negotiates the diversity of queer youth culture more open-mindedly than most mainstream journalists, neither avoiding nor reviling drag queens, tattooed girls, and shirtless young women at pride marches. Unfortunately, the Homosexuality 101 sections are simplistic; in a chapter called ""The Roots of Homosexuality,"" Chandler reassures his readers ad nauseam that gay people do not ""choose"" to be gay and that an individual's essential sexual identity is fixed and unchangeable. Chandler's approach to homosexuality has the effect of unnecessarily distancing these kids from readers, who he seems to assume are straight and have never questioned their heterosexuality. The personal narratives here are compelling, but unfortunately, Chandler seems determined not to let his readers identify with his subjects.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Times