FIRST PERSON QUEER by Richard Labonté


Who We Are (So Far)
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Personal nonfiction accounts from every stripe in the rainbow and then some.

In their second anthology, Labonté and Schimel (The Future is Queer, 2006) have assembled a plethora of Canadian and American authors who share the “satisfaction of a realized sexual self,” a penchant for the pronoun “I” (though not all contributors prefer it in its upper case state) and little else. The collection winningly celebrates differences rooted in a variety of ways to the mutable boundaries of sexuality and gender. Nalo Hopkinson, who identifies herself as a “queer, poly woman,” begins by discussing her difficulties in filling out a questionnaire on women’s sexual fantasies; she found no boxes into which she “could have wedged my experience.” Gregory Woods worries that his “queer membership” has lapsed because a transurethral prostate resection at age 50 has rendered him impotent. “I am a suburban, middle-aged, neo-virgin, luxuriating in regret,” he movingly laments. “How queer is that?” Transgendered author and performance artist Kate Bornstein offers a touching, funny piece detailing the delicacy involved in describing to the “blue-haired” ladies at her mother’s funeral her relation to the deceased. Her identity was less of an issue for Mom, Bornstein writes: “I told her that one of her two sons was about to become a dyke. She preferred the word lesbian. ‘My son, the lesbian,’ she would tell her close friends, with a deep sigh and a smile on her lips.” Some selections are more successful than others, but individual snapshots matter less than the extraordinary queer panorama they collectively embody.

Whether read in a couple of sittings or savored essay by essay, this is an eye-opening vista on diversity.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-55152-227-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2007