JOINING THE TRIBE: Growing Up Gay and Lesbian in the 1990s by Linnea Due

JOINING THE TRIBE: Growing Up Gay and Lesbian in the 1990s

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A perceptive look at contemporary gay and lesbian youth. Novelist (Give Me Time, 1984, etc.) and journalist Due traveled the US interviewing gay young people from widely divergent backgrounds. Allyson, for instance, goes to Deerfield, a prestigious New England boarding school, while Paul's mother takes in foster kids out of economic necessity; after he tried to fondle one, the state prohibited him from living at home. Due's interviewees are also at varying stages in their coming out processes: Some have told almost no one that they are gay, while others are outspoken activists. Being a lesbian, Due has more insight into her subjects than many writers; her account is much stronger than that of Kurt Chandler (Passages of Pride, p. 826), a heterosexual journalist to whom the struggles of lesbian and gay youth are foreign and gay culture exotic. Due can empathize with her subjects; this lends a particular intimacy to her interviews. She is also conversant in lesbian and gay culture, so she doesn't mistake clich‚s for fresh revelations or develop a tourist-like fascination with commonplaces like butch/femme. Being a lesbian also gives Due a point of reference that allows her to respond to her subjects skeptically; when an award-winning young essayist tells her that college isn't important to him, she is able to look beyond his words and probe further. She learns that he is afraid to go to college, afraid to meet new people after struggling so much with his homophobic high school. Such moments occur often in Due's interviews; she shows respect for her subjects without taking everything they say at face value. Adults have much to learn from this complex look at a group of young people, who, despite the gains of gay liberation, still grow up very much on their own.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1995
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday