LGBTQ

Queerness, Sex, Coming Out: Stefan Mesch & Antonio Capurro (Interview)

antonio-capurro-peru-interview.

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A Peruvian journalist contacted me on Facebook:

He saw that I took part in the “Daily Portrait” photo project in 2016 (article about my experience: here)…

…and wanted to know more about my ideas on queerness, privacy, and sexuality.

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The interview will be published in Spanish at La Revista Diversa.

For my blog, here’s the (long, unedited) English version.

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Tell us about your childhood: Where did you grow up?

I’m 34. I grew up in a wealthy, rural town in Southern Germany: less than 2000 people, no train station. Everyone has a car, most people own their house. My childhood was okay – but I missed culture, diversity, intellectual life. I often point out that I didn’t interact with lesbians until 2003, when I moved away for college. There were two or three boys who were whispered to be gay in my high school – but no visible queerness.

What did you study?

I studied Creative Writing and Cultural Journalism; because I wanted to be an author and a book critic. The “book critic” part worked out great, and I’m finally finishing my first novel. There is so much culture – literature, journalism, comic books, TV shows, online projects – that’s important and relevant to me: I’m good at scouting, learning, judging and explaining, and I want to be a part of these larger cultural (and sometimes: political) conversations.

Growing up, did you enjoy being nude?

I’m not an outdoor person, nor a sports person, and I have no great memories about enjoying nudity as a child. Quite early, I often felt that nudity had to do with humiliation: Only powerless people were nude. So I tried to stay dressed and not let my guard down. I don’t tan well, my skin is quite pale, and as a teenager, I thought that people would dislike my nude body.

How did you discover your queerness?

I always liked queer characters or people who fought gender stereotypes. Also, my village was so rural and… tense about masculinity that I felt “queer” and “strange” just for reading books or being friends with girls.

Sexually, I’m more often attracted to men than to women. Romantically, I had more crushes on girls than men. I think that by the time I was 15, I understood that I was bisexual. But the first man that felt like a possible romantic partner only showed up when I was 18.

How was your first time having gay sex?

I had sex with 26, with my first boyfriend. The relationship was exhausting, but worthwhile. Our sexual mechanics never worked out that well. We have chemistry – but we didn’t have much sex.

How was your coming-out?

I was nervous about my dad and waited until 2014 (!) to tell him. He was the biggest hurdle – although in the end, he surprised me. I gradually started talking to friends and family members since I was 20. I did not enjoy coming out because it felt like I gave up power. I felt like I had to tell people: “Here’s something intimate and sexual about me that doesn’t really concern you. So: Are you okay with it? Or are you disgusted? Come on: You may now judge me.”

I came out before I had boyfriends. Today, I love to introduce my grumpy partner to people and say: “Look! He’s great, we’re happy, I’m bisexual!” But before I had a partner, it always felt like saying: “Do you want to know if I fantasize about men and/or women every time I jerk off?” I was passionate about diversity and visibility and talked about that a lot, long before being out to everyone. But my personal sexuality, for the longest time, began and ended with masturbation and some unrequited crushes.

Why did you take part in the “Daily Portrait” photo project? Did you think a lot before you decided to pose for a nude photo?

In 2013, an awesome Berlin painter, Martina Minette Dreier, asked me if I wanted to model for an oil painting. I sat for the portrait in the nude, and it felt great. In 2016, I lost a lot of weight. I always thought that very soon, I would be a balding, sad and awkward man – but when I realized that I liked my current body, I decided to take part in the project.

It still took a long time – 7 months – because I thought about shame, exposure and my credibility as a cultural journalist… but I wrote about this at length elsewhere, in a longer essay: Link.

Why did you decide to start a blog where you post nude self portrait photos?

I love selfies and quick snapshots, and in 2016, I spent much energy and time on Instagram. I don’t know what “exhibitionism” means: If you define that as “I want to surprise people by showing my penis publicly or unexpectedly”, I am not an exhibitionist at all. I would not undress in public, or annoy or shock people with nudity. To me, unsolicited dick picks are a form of sexual harrassment.

But I knew that online, in places like Tumblr and Reddit, people who like my body type sometimes LOVE nude pictures of people, quite similar to me. I have never felt very desired by friends at school. But I like myself right now, and I thought: “Here’s the target audience for your nude body.” I enjoy posting pics to that very specific audience.

Do you like erotic photography?

Yes. I don’t like classic masculinity. Also, young bodies often make me uncomfortable. I dislike many standard poses, and anything with twinks/boyish men.

Do you enjoy porn?

I love amateurs, and any kind of person who shares or overshares online. But I dislike the porn industry, the clichés, the standardized bodies, the exploitation. Lots of it feels sexist, boring and crude.

Do you consider yourself very sexual?

I’m not very sensual, I’m not very cuddly, I don’t enjoy touching many people. Also, I don’t like one night stands and I have spent many years without any sex. So I don’t think I’m “very sexual”. I do enjoy having sex and making out, though – and if I talk to friends, I’m surprised that most of them want less sex or have less energy for sex than me.

Do you consider yourself sexy or attractive?

I only have to be attractive to the one person that I want to attract right now: my partner. He likes me, so all is well. Generally, I don’t think I’m particularly sexy. But I know how to write well: I’ve learned some techniques. I think that in photography and taking selfies, there are many similar techniques. So: I’m learning how to appear sexy in photos. And I think I’m getting better.

What was the most bizarre experience in your life?

Sexuality-wise? Nothing wild. But in a gay bar in 2013, someone tapped my shoulder and said: “Sorry. A stranger just tried to piss on your shoe.” I was annoyed because it felt completely tactless and disrespectful. If you’re friendly and ask nicely (and if I have some extra shoes), I’m the person to say “Yeah – whatever gets you off. Okay.” But to try that, without asking?

What kind of feedback do you get from followers on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram?

I love giving and getting book recommendations, I want to share ideas with many people: I love my profiles and my feeds in these networks. If you ask about nudity: People pay me compliments, and often, gay men from Spain or Spanish-speaking countries contact me to say “I wish I could be as brave” or “I wish I had the confidence to show my body online”. So far, I’ve had these conversations with five or six men; and they’re all Spanish-speaking. Maybe it has to do with catholicism…?

Have you ever meet online friends in person?

Most of the literature and journalism people that I’ve met since finishing university in 2009 were my Facebook friends before I eventually met them in person, yes.

Have you ever blocked people who bother you because they were only looking for sex?

I’ve blocked two or three people on Facebook because of hate speech or personal/political attacks. I never had problems with sexual harrassment. I have met all three of my boyfriends on datings sites – but I don’t like chatting there, and I often dislike the tone that German people use in „kinky“ networks like Gayromeo or Scruff: To me, German „dirty talk“ often sounds too degrading and shame-centered. „Filthy Pig“, „Worthless Fag“, „Pussyboi with Boypussy“ etc.

But even though that tone makes me run, I never personally felt disrespected, no.

What do you do when you are not working?

I love reading – books and articles and graphic novels. But as a book critic, I still can count that as work: Ideally, I just spend 12 to 14 hours a day reading, talking, learning and writing. I love cheap food and very cheap restaurants. And for a while last summer, I was in love with “Pokemon Go”.

What do you think about the new ways to make journalism – like citizen journalism?

If people are paid, they have more time and energy to write. On the other hand, there are passionate experts in every field – who can often do much deeper work because they have much more knowledge. I enjoy book blogs, wikis, fanzines, social media and all other places where people who are not trained journalists still have a voice. But I think that selecting stuff is my personal super-power: You can send me to “messy” sites like Reddit, and I will ignore the hate-speech, the conspiracy theories and the overall unpleasant atmosphere… and just focus on the good writing and the good ideas that are still there. Theodore Sturgeon said that 90 percent of everything is crap/crud. So of course, 90 percent of “citizen journalism” is crap, too. I want to focus on the other 10 percent – in every field.

I’m worried that every artistic or journalistic outlet I know is constantly asking for money: There are so many crowdfunding campaigns and kickstarters and patreon links etc. that I sometimes fear that as a journalist and writer I will never find a publisher who will pay me decently. Instead, it will be our job to constantly ask all friends for money and spend more and more time and effort on these campaigns.

Which authors or writers do you admire and what genres do you prefer?

My favorite classic novelists are Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Wolfe and John Cowper Powys. My favorite living novelist is Stewart O’Nan. I have a soft spot for Young Adult literature (here, my favorite writer is A.S. King) and graphic novels and super-hero books (Greg Rucka). My favorite German writer is Dietmar Dath. Generally, I admire people who get raw and personal. And I enjoy domestic fiction – books about grief, sadness or families, often set in suburbia.

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I took part in a queer photo project, and wrote an essay about it for the Berlin Tagesspiegel (Link). my photo for the article was taken by Mike Wolff.

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Do you remember a gay movie or gay role on TV or cinema?

There are some popular gay favorites that I don’t enjoy: Oscar Wilde, „Queer as Folk“, musicals and pop divas, and many boarding-school novels like „A Separate Peace“ or German queer-ish classics like „Unterm Rad“ by Hermann Hesse or „Katz und Maus“ by Günther Grass.

My favorite German soap opera, „Verbotene Liebe“, started when I was 12 and almost always had compelling and fun queer characters – particularly lesbians. I didn’t like their most famous gay couple, Christian and Olli, because they were both quite masculine and sporty bland characters. In 2006, I was hooked on „As the World Turns“, a US soap opera, and the (dramatic and self-obsessed) gay character Luke Snyder.

In my early teens, I liked lesbian or gender-nonconforming heroines in „Lady Oscar“ and „Sailor Moon“. Today, I love Batwoman and many lesbian or queer comic book characters, often written by author Greg Rucka.

„Ugly Betty“ is queer, cheery and has a diverse and fun cast. As a kid, I enjoyed dandyesque, foppish characters like John Steel in „The Avengers“, Elim Garak in „Deep Space Nine“ or anyone played by Peter Cushing. I liked „Brokeback Mountain“. HBO’s „Looking“ bores me. I have tons of favorite queer authors: Alison Bechdel, Marcel Proust, Hubert Fichte. I loved David Levithan’s “Two Boys Kissing”.

What is the most comfortable place in your house or outside to ne naked?

I need warmth to feel comfortable, and I need privacy to be nude. There is no warm AND private outside place where I can be nude. Inside, I enjoy taking baths or showers, and I love overheated rooms, botanical gardens, greenhouses and saunas.

Are you thinking of recording videos or to show more your butt?

I move quite awkwardly and can’t imagine filming myself stripping without having to laugh. I think my butt looks okay, but every time I try to shoot a decent photo of it, it looks pale and flabby. Celebrities often post butt pics. But my pictures never turn out like this.

What is the part of your body that men like most?

I’m not flirting a lot, and I don’t ask what men who see me in person like about me. People who see me online sometimes comment on my scruffiness/body hair. But then: hair is just a common fetish.

What is the part of your body that you like the most?

Most strangers seem to understand that I’m usually friendly and interested: I don’t think I’m super-charismatic. But somehow, my body language signals “I’m smart and alert and friendly”, and I like that. I also like my eyes, when I’m not too tired.

If a magazine offered you money to pose nude on the cover or centerfold, would you say yes?

The “money” part sounds weird: I don’t know if I ever want to feel like my sexuality or body can be bought. But yeah – I would partake in nude art, or sex-related projects.

Is there any sexual fantasy you want to make happen?

Bondage. Also, I have never done anything sexual outside/in nature.

How do you see LGBT rights in your country and worldwide?

I think visibility matters: It’s important to see and hear queer people in public, in culture and in schools. I don’t think most people even CAN be „anti-gay“ once they meet so many queer people that „I’m anti-gay“ sounds like „I’m anti-brown-eyed-people“.

I’d love to think that things get better. But the tone, aggression and hate of all these current backlashes – ISIS and Russia, Trump and European xenophobia – shock me almost every day: We can’t take civilization for granted. Or democracy. Or tolerance.

Is there more acceptance in your country?

More than when I was a kid? I hope so. There is no marriage equality yet, and gay couples can’t adopt, and too many people still think that you can’t have „Christian values“ and, at the same time, openly talk about homosexuality in schools. German politicians and pundits talk about „Leitkultur“ (a cultural standard about what it should mean to be a proper, „real“ German) a lot, and I think that as a country, we are obsessed with being „normal“ and „regular“.

Every time queer people want to be aknowledged for NOT „being normal“, people get angry quickly: Ideally, queer people, non-white people etc. should just work hard to blend in, and not address discrimination; the idea seems to be that if everyone acts “normal” enough and never complains, no one would be discriminated against, anyways. I admire people who stand out. Or complain. Or fight to be aknowledged. That’s why I love activists, rabble-rousers and politically queer people.

Have you ever been to a gay wedding?

No. I spent lots of time in Toronto from 2009 to 2013, I’m close friends with three gay or lesbian Canadian couples, but I met them after they were married or I wasn’t in Canada when they had their ceremony. I have one German gay friend who is getting married this summer, but I haven’t met his partner yet – we only became friends last year. I wish I had more queer real-life Berlin friends, and I wish I had more older queer role models.

Single? Looking? Dating?

Since summer of 2014, I’m in a relationship with a German florist. Most of the time, I live with him in his Berlin apartment. It’s not an open relationship, and we both hope that we’ll stay together for decades. Everything is more fun when he is around. We’re crazy happy to have each other.

What do you know about my country, Peru?

For a couple of weeks in 2001, my mom had an au-pair from Peru: a very, very shy girl who was too nervous, quiet and demure. We never really established a connection, and she switched to another family. It felt like having a maid – it was uncomfortable for everyone.

I sampled and liked „The Cardboard House“ by Martin Àdán. But I don’t even know any other Peruvian literature.

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Queeres Literaturfestival “Empfindlichkeiten”: das Publikum

 

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Einlass-Stempel beim “Empfindlichkeiten”-Festival

 

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ohne, nachgezählt zu haben… rein nach Gefühl…

merke ich, im Literaturbetrieb:

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  • In Verlagen arbeiten UNGLAUBLICH viele junge Frauen.
  • In Presseabteilungen arbeiten fast NUR (unglaublich nette!) Frauen.
  • Verleger sind fast immer männlich.
  • Im Netz (besonder Twitter & Tumblr) sprechen queere Nordamerikaner*innen über ALLES.
  • Deutlich weniger queere Deutsche machen sich online sichtbar/angreifbar/verletzlich.
  • Deutsche lesbische Bekannte äußern sich online super-selten und sind oft super-zurückhaltend…
  • …und damit leider: super-unsichtbar.
  • Populäre Belletristik wird (fast nur) für Frauen vermarktet, gestaltet.
  • Meine belesensten Netz- und Blog-Freunde sind (fast nur) Frauen.
  • Die Menschen aber, die am lautesten kommentieren, auf ihrem Expertenstatus beharren, auf Facebook laut zetern, sich mit Verrissen profilieren… sind meist (eine Handvoll immergleiche) lesende Männer.
  • Je kleiner die Stadt, desto mehr Enthusiasmus für/Interesse an Lesungen.
  • Aber: Je kleiner die Stadt, desto grauer/älter das Publikum.

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Vieles ist nur ein vages Gefühl:

Ich mag, wenn Menschen nachzählen – und dabei Vorurteile bestätigen oder umwerfen, z.B. über (anspruchsvolle? anspruchslose?) Buchblogs oder Frauen auf Experten-Panels oder das Geschlechterverhältnis im Feuilleton oder LGBTQI-Figuren im Fernsehen.

Mein flüchtiger Eindruck, nach einigen Besuchen am Literarischen Colloquium Berlin: Dafür, dass das LCB *sehr* schick, bürgerlich, herrschaftlich am Wannsee thront, ist das Publikum (immer) recht jung, gemischt, urban. Aber: Dafür, dass “Empfindlichkeiten” ein explizit queeres Festival ist, sind die Besucher*innen… eigentlich die selben, die ich z.B. auch beim LCB-Sommerfest der kleinen Verlage sehe.

Oder?

Mandy Seiler vom LCB macht “Empfindlichkeiten”-Fotos – und gibt mir Kopien, für den Blog.

Ich sehe DIESES “Empfindlichkeiten”-Foto:

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…und merke auf den ersten Blick:

Etwas stimmt nicht. SO sah das Publikum aus? Wirklich?

Erst, als ich weiterscrolle, wird klar: Das Foto stammt vom Vortag – und einer Lesung von Judith Hermann. Das Publikum bei “Empfindlichkeiten” sieht anders aus. Nicht SO anders, dass ich sofort denke “Wow: Alle hier sind garantiert queer!” Aber eben doch: männlicher, punkiger, less gender-conforming.

Mich freut, dass das auffällt.

Doch mich freut auch, dass es mir zuerst eben nicht auffällt.

Ich sehe das “Empfindlichkeiten”-Publikum – und denke: ein schöner Querschnitt.

Nicht: Nische. Abseits. Schutzraum. Exoten. Minderheit. Sondern: Menschen, wie ich sie auf jeder Sorte Lesung sehen will. Oder in der Schlange im Supermarkt. #diversity #zwanglos

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Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm.

Empfindlichkeiten-Festival, LCB, 15.07.2016, Berlin. Foto: Tobias Bohm.

schwule, lesbische und trans-Jugendbücher: Empfehlungen

lgbt book recommendations

Top 10:

Fun Home. A Family Tragicomic: Eine Familie von Gezeichneten Two Boys Kissing The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Ask the Passengers The Vast Fields of Ordinary

Stuck Rubber Baby The Lost Language Of Cranes Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned This Book Is Gay Natural Order

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this blog post is bilingual (German notes in orange)

ich poste auf Deutsch UND Englisch, dieses Mal

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lgbt young adult ya books

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since 2010, I sampled nearly 200 LGBTQQIA Young Adult novels. Here are my favorites: books that I have not read yet, but that pulled me in quickly, made it to my to-read-list and will be read soon. let me know what you think about the titles and put your own suggestions (or warnings!) in the comments. [the summaries that I quote for each book have been shortened and edited.]

seit 2010 suche ich Bücher mit schwulen, lesbischen, bi-, trans-, inter-, asexuellen, queeren Figuren. hier sind die Jugendbücher, deren Leseproben mich überzeugt haben und die ich mir vorgemerkt habe: ich freue mich über Ergänzungen und Kommentare! [die zitierten englischen Klappentexte sind gekürzt.] 

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01) NANCY GARDEN: Annie on my Mind

  • 234 pages, USA 1982
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 3.95 of 5

“Two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school, promise to be true to each other and their feelings. This groundbreaking book has been banned from many school libraries and even publicly burned in Kansas City.”

  • smart, likeable, engaging YA pioneer: cute, calm, sane
  • stilles, intelligentes Jugendbuch über eine lesbische Freundschaft

Annie on My Mind

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02) JULIE MAYHEW: The Big Lie

  • 384 pages, UK 2015
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.34 of 5

“Contemporary Nazi England: Jessika Keller obeys her father and does her best to impress Herr Fisher at the Bund Deutscher Mädel meetings. Her neighbour Clementine is outspoken and radical. And the regime has noticed. Jess cannot keep both her perfect life and her dearest friend. But which can she live without?”

  • an alternate history novel about a lesbian teenager trying to cope in a totalitarian UK
  • might be too didactic or simple
  • Nazis beherrschen England, und eine lesbische Schülerin sucht ihren Platz im Regime
  • könnte etwas platt oder simpel sein

The Big Lie
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03) AMI POLONSKY: Gracefully Grayson

  • 250 pages, USA 2014
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.19 of 5

“Alone at home, twelve-year-old Grayson glows; but at school, he’s determined to fly under the radar. He has been holding onto a secret: “he” is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body. Strengthened by an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher who gives her a chance to step into the spotlight, Grayson might finally have the tools to let her inner light shine.”

  • mainstream middle grade novel with a likeable narrator
  • sympathischer Mainstream für jüngere Leser*innen, vielleicht etwas seicht

Gracefully Grayson

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04) LISA WILLIAMSON: “The Art of being normal”

“David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms.”

    • likeable, but very slow novel about a trans girl
    • angelesen: sympathisch, aber zu langsam und, vielleicht, einfallslos/zahnlos

The Art of Being Normal

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05) KIEF HILLSBERY: War Boy

“Fleeing an abusive father, fourteen-year-old Radboy takes to the road with Jonnyboy, an older friend and mentor. On the bus, they hook up with Finn and Critter, a couple of speed-freak boyfriends. Later, Radboy stays behind in San Francisco, where the underground world inspires his own burgeoning sexual and emotional desires.”

  • deaf main character, a stream-of-consciousness narrative with Ebonics and street language… engaging, literary, likeable, but might be dated or too idealistic
  • gehörlose Hauptfigur, Straßen-, Skater-, Szenesprache (die deutsche Übersetzung kam nicht gut an), komplexer, lyrischer, aber vielleicht kitschiger Roman

War Boy

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06) BILL KONIGSBERG: Openly Straight

“Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. When he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate break down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn’t even know that love is possible.”

  • Optimistic, witty, simple and engaging: a feel-good novel for an all-ages audience
  • sonniges, schlichtes, vielleicht etwas didaktisches Buch übers Dazugehören

Openly Straight

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07) BILL KONIGSBERG: The Porcupine of Truth

  • 336 pages, USA 2015
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.05 of 5

“An epic road trip involving family history and gay history: Carson Smith is resigned to spending his summer in Billings, Montana, helping his mom take care of his father, a dying alcoholic he doesn’t really know. Then he meets Aisha Stinson, a [gay] beautiful girl who has run away from her difficult family, and Pastor John Logan, who’s long held a secret regarding Carson’s grandfather, who disappeared without warning or explanation thirty years before.”

  • mainstream novel about a straight (?) boy who crushes on a lesbian girl
  • heterosexueller (?) Junge verliebt sich während eines Road Trips in eine Lesbe
  • I also liked Konigsberg’s 2008 debut, “Out of the Pocket” (about a gay quarterback)

The Porcupine of Truth …and: Out of the Pocket

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08) ANN BAUSUM: Stonewall. Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights

  • 128 pages, USA 2015
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.04 of 5

“In 1969 being gay in the United States was a criminal offense. People went to jail, lost jobs, and were disowned by their families for being gay. There were few safe havens. The Stonewall Inn, a Mafia-run, filthy, overpriced bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, was one of them. One hot June night, when cops pounded on the door of the Stonewall, almost nothing went as planned. Tensions were high. The crowd refused to go away. The raid became a riot. The riot became a catalyst and triggered an explosive demand for gay rights.”

  • YA nonfiction: slim, but informative introduction to the gay pride movement’s history
  • kurzes, schlichtes Sachbuch, das erklärt, wie es zum Christopher Street Day etc. kam

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights

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09) KEN SETTERINGTON: Branded by the Pink Triangle

  • 155 pages, Canada 2013
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 3.91 of 5

“Germany, especially Berlin, was one of the most tolerant places for homosexuals in the world. When the Nazis came to power, raids, arrests, prison sentences and expulsions became the daily reality. When the concentration camps were built, homosexuals were imprisoned along with Jews and any other groups the Nazis wanted to suppress. The pink triangle, sewn onto prison uniforms, became the symbol of the persecution of homosexuals, a persecution that would continue for many years after the war. A mix of historical research, first person accounts.”

  • YA nonfiction: slim, informative, suitable for all ages… and with reprints of pictures and documents. It’s annoying that there’s no German edition.
  • kurzes Sachbuch mit vielen Bildern und Dokumenten. absurd, dass es keine deutsche Version gibt.

Branded by the Pink Triangle

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10) APRIL SINCLAIR: “Coffee will make you black”

“Set on Chicago’s Southside in the mid-to-late 60s, April Sinclair writes frankly about a young black woman’s sexuality, and about the confusion Stevie faces when she realizes she’s more attracted to the school nurse — who is white — than her teenage boyfriend. Stevie is a bookworm, yet she longs to fit in with the cool crowd. Fighting her mother every step of the way, she begins to experiment with talkin’ trash and “kicking butt”. With the assassination of Dr. King she gains a new political awareness.”

    • likeable historical mainstream novel
    • sympathischer Zeitgeschichte-Roman fürs breite Publikum

Coffee Will Make You Black

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11) BENJAMIN ALIRE SÁENZ: “Aristotle and Dante discover the Secrets of the Universe”

“Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all. As the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives.”

    • philosophical and big-hearted coming-of-age novel, super-popular with schools and educators
    • Pädagog*innen und Schulen lieben dieses weitherzige, nachdenkliche Buch über Freundschaft

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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12) ALEXANDER CHEE: Edinburgh

  • 224 pages, USA 2001
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.22 of 5

“Twelve-year-old Fee is a gifted Korean-American soprano in a boys’ choir in Maine whose choir director reveals himself to be a serial pedophile. Fee and his friends are forced to bear grief, shame, and pain that endure long after the director is imprisoned. Fee survives even as his friends do not, but a deep-seated horror and dread accompany him through his self-destructive college days and after, until he meets a beautiful young student named Warden and is forced to confront the demons of his brutal past.”

  • intense and very literary coming-of-age novel about trauma. I’m intrigued – but Alexander Chee can be stuffy and boring in his essays
  • literarischer Roman über Musik und Trauma. Chees Essays/Nonfiction-Texte sind oft recht langweilig – aber das Buch wirkt vielversprechend:

Edinburgh

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13) ADAM SILVERA: More happy than not

  • 293 pages, USA 2015
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.23 of 5

“In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto. When his girlfriend Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings. Aaron considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out.”

  • urban novel about grief, with some sci-fi elements: I liked the tone
  • Großstadtroman über Trauer, mit Sci-Fi-Elementen: mir gefallen Ton und Stimmung

More Happy Than Not

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14) MICHELLE TEA: The passionate Mistakes and intricate Corruption of one Girl in America

  • 192 pages, USA 1998
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 3.84 of 5

“The turbulent adventures of one girl in America as she moves from Boston’s teenage goth world to whoring in New Age Tucson before finally arriving in San Francisco’s dyke underground. Honest, sarcastic, lyrical and direct, Tea’s writing is possibly the most literate and sophisticated treatment of underground dyke culture ever written.”

  • fast, gritty and literary underground novel
  • schneller, gut geschriebener Underground- und Drogen-Roman

The Passionate Mistakes and Intricate Corruption of One Girl in America

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15) L.P. HARTLEY: The Go-Between

“Summering with a fellow schoolboy on a great English estate, Leo encounters a world of unimagined luxury. But when his friend’s beautiful older sister enlists him as the unwitting messenger in her illicit love affair, the aftershocks will be felt for years.”

  • calm, melancholic and very popular classic coming-of-age novel with a main character that might or might not be queer/gay/bisexual
  • traurig-schöner Coming-of-Age-Klassiker. ist die Hauptfigur bi/schwul? oder doch nur “verliebt” in das erwachsene Liebespaar, für den es zum Botenjungen wird?

The Go-Between

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16) PAUL RUSSELL: Sea of Tranquility

  • 384 pages, USA 1994
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 3.96 of 5

“An extreordinary novel that traces a disintegrating nuclear family across two tumultuous decades of American life – from the early ’60s to the ’80s – and is told in a quartet of voices: astronaut Allen Cloud, his wife, their gay son, Jonathan, and his friend/lover, ranging in time and emotion from the optimism of the first moon shot to the dark landscape of the age of AIDS.”

  • engaging domestic fiction / family novel
  • Familienroman mit zwei schwulen Figuren: kein Jugendbuch, aber viel Coming-of-Age

Sea of Tranquillity

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17) ZOE WHITTALL: Bottle Rocket Hearts

  • 189 pages, Canada 2007
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 3.85 of 5

“Montreal: Revolution seems possible when you’re 18, like Eve. She is pining to get out of her parents’ house and find a girl who wants to kiss her back. She meets Della: mysterious, defiantly non-monogamous, an avid separatist, and ten years older. On the night of the 1995 referendum, politics and romance come to a head and Eve’s naiveté begins to fade.”

  • political coming-of-age novel set in French-speaking Canada
  • politischer Coming-of-Age-Roman in Montreal

Bottle Rocket Hearts

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18) ROBIN TALLEY: Lies we tell ourselves

  • 384 pages, USA 2014
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.05 of 5

“In 1959 Virginia, Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal. Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.”

  • a lesbian mixed-race couple in a school in Virginia? this seems slow-moving, but intense.
  • lesbische Schülerinnen – eine weiß, eine schwarz – in den Südstaaten? der Roman beginnt langsam, aber ich habe hohe Erwartungen.

Lies We Tell Ourselves

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19) ANDREW SMITH: Stick

  • 292 pages, USA 2011
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.10 of 5

“Fourteen-year-old Stark McClellan (nicknamed Stick because he’s tall and thin) is bullied for being “deformed” – he was born with only one ear. His older brother Bosten is always there to defend Stick. But the boys can’t defend one another from their abusive parents. When Stick realizes Bosten is gay, he knows that to survive his father’s anger, Bosten must leave home. Stick has to find his brother, or he will never feel whole again.”

  • one of the most popular gritty/sardonic/inventive/issue-pushing YA authors, I’m sure that Smith has smart things to say about abuse, family and homeless youths.
  • Smith ist einer der progressivsten und originellsten US-Jugendbuchautoren. ich bin sicher, er hat kluge Dinge zu sagen über misshandelte, obdachlose Teenager.

Stick

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20) SCOTT HEIM: Mysterious Skin

  • 292 pages, USA 1995
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.08 of 5

“At the age of eight Brian Lackey is found bleeding under the crawl space of his house, having endured something so traumatic that he cannot remember an entire five–hour period of time. He begins to believe that he may have been the victim of an alien encounter. Neil McCormick is a teenage hustler and a terrorist of sorts.”

  • a thriller about child abuse, with hypersexualized characters: this might be pretty trashy… but pretty unique.
  • ein Thriller über schwule Teenager und Kindesmissbrauch: könnte trashig und durcheinander sein – ist aber auf jeden Fall originell.

Mysterious Skin

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21) KIM FIELDING: Motel. Pool.

  • 206 pages, USA 2014
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.15 of 5

“In the mid-1950s, Jack Dayton flees his working-class prospects in Omaha and heads to Hollywood, convinced he’ll be the next James Dean. But poor decisions ultimately find him at a cheap motel off Route 66, lifeless at the bottom of the pool. Sixty years later, Tag Manning, feeling hopeless and empty, flees his most recent relationship mistake and finds he’s transporting a hitchhiking ghost. Jack and Tag come to find much-needed friends in each other.”

  • corny, but amusing and original gay romance road novel.
  • Trash/Kitsch, aber originall und amüsant: eine schwule Road-Romanze mit Geist.

Motel. Pool.

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22) JOSEPH OLSHAN: Nightswimmer

“Ten years ago, Will Kaplan and his lover went for a night swim in the Pacific Ocean—but only Will emerged. In the decade that followed, Will relocated to the other end of the continent, filling his days with shallow and pointless affairs, unable to come to terms with the bizarre disappearance that could have been a tragic drowning, a well-planned abandonment, or both. Immersing himself in New York’s gay bar and disco scene, and a hedonistic Fire Island culture darkened by the grim specter of AIDS, Will meets Sean Paris, a young man as tortured and damaged by the past as Will himself.”

  • melancholic, maybe kitschy relationship novel of the AIDS era
  • Liebe in Zeiten von AIDS: melancholischer, aber vllt. kitschiger Beziehungsroman

Nightswimmer

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23) MADELYN ARNOLD: Bird-Eyes

  • 240 pages, USA 1988
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 3.89 of 5

“In 1963, being different can be illegal-as sixteen-year-old Latisha, a lesbian runaway, discovers when she is sentenced to treatment in the locked ward of a mental hospital for being “incorrigible” and a threat to society. Her best friend in the ward is Anna, an older deaf woman committed for depression. Although she’s forbidden to communicate in sign language, Anna teaches Latisha and gives her a name: “Bird-Eyes.”A brilliant novel of friendship and defiance, of passion and resistance.”

  • dark and gripping coming-of-age novel
  • düsterer, mitreißender Coming-of-Age-Roman

Bird-Eyes (Stonewall Inn Editions)

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24) JO KNOWLES: See you at Harry’s

  • 310 pages, USA 2012
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.09 of 5

“Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. Mom helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a “surprise” baby, the center of everyone’s world. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart.”

  • feel-good, intelligent middle-grade novel
  • intelligentes Wohlfühl-Buch für Leser*innen zwischen 11 und 14

See You at Harry's

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25) MARY RENAULT: The Charioteer

  • 352 pages, UK 1953
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.06 of 5

“World War II: Laurie Odell is sent to a rural veterans’ hospital in England to convalesce. There he befriends the young, bright Andrew, a conscientious objector serving as an orderly. As they find solace and companionship together in the idyllic surroundings of the hospital, their friendship blooms into a discreet, chaste romance. Then one day, Ralph Lanyon, a mentor from Laurie’s schoolboy days, suddenly reappears in Laurie’s life, and draws him into a tight-knit social circle of world-weary gay men. Laurie is forced to choose between the sweet ideals of innocence and the distinct pleasures of experience.”

  • one of the earliest gay mainstream novels: a well-written romance
  • populärer Bestseller aus den 50ern mit schwulen Figuren, kompetent geschrieben

The Charioteer

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26) LARRY DUPLECHAN: Blackbird

  • 225 pages, USA 1986
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.05 of 5

“A funny, moving, gay coming-of-age novel about growing up black and gay in Southern California. The lead character, Johnnie Ray Rousseau, is a high school student upset at losing the lead role in the school staging of Romeo and Juliet; his best friend has been beaten badly by his father, and his girlfriend is pressuring him to have sex for the first time. All the while, he’s intrigued by Marshall MacNeill, a fellow drama class member.”

  • likeable and quick slice-of-life novel with a gay black main character.
  • sympathischer Alltags- und High-School-Roman mit einer schwulen Hauptfigur of Color.

Blackbird

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27) TOM SPANBAUER: Now is the Hour

  • 480 pages, USA 2006
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.10 of 5

“The year is 1967, and Rigby John Klusener, seventeen years old and finally leaving Pocatello, Idaho, is on the highway with his thumb out and a flower behind his ear, headed for San Francisco. Now Is the Hour traces his gradual emancipation from his strictly religious farming family and the small-minded, bigoted community.”

  • this could be overblown hippie trash… or a lyrical and grandiose coming-of-age opera.
  • sehr dick aufgetragen: könnte toll sein – aber vielleicht auch nur selbstverliebter Hippie-Trash.

Now Is the Hour

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28) MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM: A Home at the End of the World

“Two boyhood friends: Jonathan, lonely, introspective, and unsure of himself; and Bobby, hip, dark, and inarticulate. In New York after college, Bobby moves in with Jonathan and his roommate, Clare. Bobby and Clare fall in love, scuttling the plans of Jonathan, who is gay, to father Clare’s child. Then, when Clare and Bobby have a baby, the three move to a small house upstate to raise “their” child together and, with an odd friend, Alice, create a new kind of family.”

  • Cunningham can be didactic and one-dimensional – but I like the themes of this book, and I’m eager to see if the characters are more than clichès
  • Cunningham kann didaktisch und dümmlich sein – aber die Fragen des Romans interesssieren mich, und ich bin gespannt, ob die Figuren mehr sind als Klischees.

A Home at the End of the World

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29) CHRISTOPHER BRAM: “Surprising myself”

“A brilliant debut novel about the relationship between a boy and his homosexual friend. After four years of living with relatives in Switzerland, seventeen-year-old Joel Scherzenlieb finds himself in the United States for the summer, working at a Boy Scout camp. There, he meets nineteen-year-old Corey Cobbett, a fellow counselor. Soon, Joel’s sarcastic, distant CIA father shows up and whisks him away to live with his mother, grandmother, and older sister on a farm in Virginia. As his dreams of going to college vanish, Joel faces his longest year yet. But everything changes when Corey returns to his life.”

  • it’s long, and it has elements of a conventional romance novel – but the author wrote “Gods and Monsters” too, and I like the style.
  • vielleicht zu lang, vielleicht zu konventionell – aber der Autor hat die Vorlage zu “Gods and Monsters” geschrieben… und hat Stil.

Surprising Myself: A Novel

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30) JAMES DAWSON: All of the Above

  • 319 pages, UK 2015
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.31 of 5

“Sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school and meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the coolest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. That’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band. Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there’s Polly…love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles.”

  • I liked James Dawson’s self-help guide “This book is gay”. His novel has a goofy narrator and might be slightly immature – but so far, the constant joking is endearing.
  • Sehr viele Kalauer, recht pubertär – aber so schreibt James Dawson auch in “How to be Gay”, einem Ratgeber für Schüler*innen, den ich mochte.

All of the Above

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31) EILEEN MYLES: Cool for you

  • 200 pages, USA 2000
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 3.84 of 5

“Grainy and stripped, this gritty novel traces the downbeat progress of a Catholic, working-class lesbian coming of age in Boston.”

  • sounds dark and depressing – but Myles in amazing stylist, and I enjoyed reading the first chapters.
  • klingt düster und deprimierend – aber Myles ist eine großartige Stilistin, und die ersten Kapitel machten mir Spaß.

Cool for You

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32) MICHAEL THOMAS FORD: Suicide Notes

  • 295 pages, USA 2008
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 4.05 of 5

“Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff’s perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on: the crazies start to seem less crazy. Suicide Notes is a darkly humorous novel that examines that fuzzy line between “normal” and the rest of us.”

  • humorous mainstream YA novel about mental illness
  • Mainstream-YA-Roman über psychische Erkrankungen; humoristisch

Suicide Notes

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33) NON PRATT: Trouble

“When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant via her ex-best friend, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness: Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.” Told in alternating perspectives between Hannah and Aaron, Trouble is the story of two teenagers helping each other to move forward in the wake of tragedy and devastating choices.”

  • comedic, but intelligent recent YA novel
  • aktueller Young-Adult-Roman: auf Pointe geschrieben, aber intelligent

Trouble

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34) K.M. SOEHNLEIN: The World of normal Boys

  • 282 pages, USA 2000
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 3.96 of 5

“It is the late 1970s in suburban New Jersey, and while “normal boys” are into cars, sports, and bullying their classmates, Robin Mackenzie enjoys day trips to New York City with his elegant mother. He dutifully plays the role of the good son for his meat-and-potatoes father, but everything changes in one, horrifying instant when a tragic accident wakes his family from their middle-American dream and plunges them into a spiral of slow destruction. As the MacKenzie family falls apart, Robin embarks on an explosive odyssey of sexual self-discovery that will take him into a complex future, beyond the world of normal boys.”

  • competently written, atmospheric coming-of-age
  • Coming-of-Age-Roman, atmosphärisch und stilsicher

The World of Normal Boys

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35) ARIN ANDREWS: Some Assembly Required: The not-so-secret Life of a transgender Teen

  • 256 pages, USA 2014
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 3.93 of 5

“Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning memoir. He had been born in the body of a girl and there seemed to be no relief in sight. Arin reveals the challenges he faced as a girl, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes, both mental and physical, he experienced once his transition began. Arin also writes about the thrill of meeting and dating a young transgender woman named Katie Hill and the heartache that followed after they broke up.”

  • likeable and easy, but not very political memoir
  • Autobiografisches Buch über eine Geschlechtsangleichung: sympathisch, süffig, aber nicht sehr politisch

Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen

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36) EDWARD VAN DE VENDEL: Die Tage der Bluegrass-Liebe

  • Dutch YA novel, no English translation
  • 192 pages, Netherlands 1999
  • Germany: Carlsen Verlag, 2008
  • Goodreads: 3.79 of 5

“Ein Feriencamp in den USA. Tycho und Oliver, die dort in ihren Sommerferien arbeiten, verstehen sich von Anfang an besonders gut. Sie können wunderbar miteinander reden und lachen. Doch dann merkt Tycho, dass er mehr für Oliver empfindet als bloße Freundschaft. Nach der ersten Unsicherheit fühlt er sich zusammen mit Oliver stark, fast unbesiegbar. Daran kann auch der Rauswurf aus dem Camp nichts ändern.”

  • two teens fall in love in a US summer camp
  • sympathischer Mainstream

Die Tage der Bluegrass-Liebe

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37) FLOORTJE ZWIGTMANN: Ich, Adrian Mayfield

  • Dutch historical YA novel, no English translation
  • 510 pages, Netherlands 2005
  • Germany: Gerstenberg, 2008
  • Goodreads: 4.27 of 5

“London 1884. Adrian Mayfield ist keine 17 und Lehrjunge bei einem Maßschneider in Soho. Als er eines Tages seine Anstellung verliert, findet er Unterschlupf bei einem Kunstmaler namens Augustus Trops und beginnt, Modell zu sitzen. Beim Modellsitzen bleibt es nicht, zu Adrians allergrößtem Erstaunen: Ja, er liebt Männer! Im London dieser Zeit ein Verbrechen. Durch Trops erhält Adrian Zugang zu den erlesensten Künstlerkreisen Londons, an deren Spitze Oscar Wilde im Café Royal thront. Adrian beginnt Gefallen zu finden an dieser dekadenten Gesellschaft.”

  • historical novel about a witty gay upstart in London
  • nicht meine Ära, nicht mein Stil. aber es hat SEHR gute Kritiken und viele Fans.

Schijnbewegingen

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38) JULIE ANNE PETERS: Keeping you a Secret

“Being gay doesn’t have to be a secret anymore. With a steady boyfriend, the position of Student Council President, and a chance to go to an Ivy League college, high school life is just fine for Holland Jaeger. But when Cece Goddard comes to school, everything changes. They have undeniable feelings for each other. But how will others react to their developing relationship?”

  • I don’t like Peters because often, she is too slow and too on-the-nose. this resonated with readers, though, and I’ll give it a try.
  • gefällig, etwas langsam: ich bin kein Fan von Julie Anne Peters. das scheint eines ihrer stärkeren Bücher zu sein.

Keeping You a Secret

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39) JULIA WATTS: Finding H.F.

“Sixteen-year-old Heavenly Faith (H.F.) discovers she has a crush on a local college professor’s daughter, and embarks on a search for her missing mother.”

  • lightweight but likeable lesbian YA novel
  • recht leicht, aber liebenswert: YA-Novel über eine junge Lesbe

Finding H.F.

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40) EMILY M. DANFORTH: The Miseducation of Cameron Post

  • 470 pages, USA 2012
  • Germany: –
  • Goodreads: 3.96 of 5

“When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl. Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in. Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship — one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to ‘fix’ her niece.”

  • the lesbian YA title I’m most eager to read
  • das lesbische Jugendbuch, in das ich die größten Hoffnungen setze

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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15 books that I did not enjoy and won’t recommend / gelesen und nicht gemocht:

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You Maurice A Wolf at the Table Between Mom and Jo Are You My Mother?

The Mysteries of Pittsburgh While England Sleeps The Body of Jonah Boyd Back Where He Started Leave Myself Behind

A Separate Peace Spätsommer. Hate: A Romance Skim I Am Not Myself These Days

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people love Andreas Steinhöfel’s kitschy, overwrought and emotionally fake “Die Mitte der Welt”/”The Center of the World” (Germany, 1998). I can’t recommend it at all / keine Empfehlung:

The Center of the World

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…and Hubert Fichte is one of my favorite authors – there has not been a book of his that I didn’t like, so far – but I would not classify him as “YA literature”: very, very literary and demanding coming-of-age novels / sperrige, tolle deutsche Klassiker über Identität und Coming-of-Age… aber keine “Young Adult”-Bücher: Hubert Fichte, einer meiner Lieblingsautoren:

Detlev's Imitations The Orphanage

gute Goodreads-Liste mit weiteren deutschen oder ins Deutsche übersetzten Titeln, zum mit-Voten: Link

selfie mai 2015

LGBT Graphic Novels: Recommendations for Teens & Young Adults

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Good Graphic Novels for school libraries, teenagers and a Young Adult audience… with GLBTQ themes?

Over at “DC Women Kicking Ass” (Link), one of my favorite feminist super-hero blogs, author/webmaster Sue opened an interesting discussion:

“A while back, I got a request for a list of LGBQT Young Adult graphic novels for a High School library.

So far I have Young Avengers, Runaways, Pedro and Me, Tough Love, Strangers in Paradise, Skim and Batwoman.

Please let me know your recommendations and I will compile a list and publish it.

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I read lots of “literary”, more serious graphic novels this winter (recommendations here, Link), so for starters, here are some strong, personal recommendations:

Inclusive, serious, engaging titles for a young audience that will work well in a school setting / book club / discussion group:

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1: JUDD WINICK, “Pedro and me”, 192 pages, 2000.

gay main character  |  HIV prevention  | activism  | reality TV  | gay-straight friendship  | Cuban immigrants  |  autobiographical

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2: ALISON BECHDEL, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic”, 232 pages, 2006.

lesbian narrator / main character  |  coming-of-age  | suicide  | identity politics  | family secrets  | living in the closet  |  homosexual parents  | autobiographical

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3: HOWARD CRUSE, “Stuck Rubber Baby”, 216 pages, 1995.

gay narrator / main character  |  journalism / documentary  |  coming-of-age  | civil rights  |  discrimination, politics, activism  |  1960ies small-town USA  |  pre-Stonewall

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4: DAVID SMALL, “Stitches: A Memoir”, 326 pages, 2009.

straight narrator / main character  |  throat cancer  | identity politics  |  coming-of-age | family secrets  | suicide  |  lesbian parent  |  living in the closet  |  autobiographical

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5: DAN PARENT, “Archie Comics presents: Kevin Keller”, 160 pages, 2012.

gay main character  |  middle school audience  |  coming-of-age  |  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell  |  cartoon / slice-of-life / humour  |  harmless / bowdlerized / non-sexualized

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queer-positive YA books with a focus on trauma, loss, bullying or teenage alienation:

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6: DANIEL CLOWES, “Ghost World”, 80 pages, 1998.

friendship between girls  |  alienation  |  dark humour  |  everyday life  |  post-high school career  |  small-town USA  |  hook-up culture  |  loneliness

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7: JOE KELLY, “I kill Giants”, 184 pages, 2009.

middle-school female narrator  |  alienation  |  magical realism  |  everyday life  |  friendship between girls  |  personal trauma  |  cancer  |  anger / abandonment issues

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8: SARAH LEAVITT, “Tangles: A Story about Alzheimers, my Mother and me”, 127 pages, 2010.

lesbian main character / narrator  |  Alzheimer’s  |  family secrets  |  mother-daughter-dynamics  |  loss  |  leaving for College  |  coming-of-age  |  everyday life  |  autobiographical

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9: BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY, “Lost at Sea”, 160 pages, 2003.

teenage, female main character  |  magical realism  |  coming-of-age  |  friendship  |  soul-searching  |  alienation  | road trips  |  acceptance  |  everyday life

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super-hero books with gay and lesbian heroines:

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10: GREG RUCKA, “Gotham Central: Half a Life”, 168 pages, 2005.

lesbian main character  |  police procedural  |  coming out  |  lesbian relationships  |  second-generation Puerto Ricans in the US  |  Batman  |  psychological thriller

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11: GREG RUCKA, “Batwoman: Elegy”, 176 pages, 2010.

lesbian main character  |  Batman  |  magic, monsters, horror  |  Don’t Ask Don’t Tell  |  power fantasy  |  family dynamics  |  military families  |  self-acceptance  |  loss

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in 2011, the – mediocre, crass and often poorly-written – monthly YA super-hero comic series “Teen Titans” (Link) added a gay character, Bunker (Link). I can’t recommend the series, per se. But the character has gained a vocal following, and some media attention:

Notes from Bunker, Link (Tumblr)

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another note-worthy and worthwhile read / discussion is this (Link) letter column / exchange between Marvel writer Christos Gage (Link) and an anti-gay reader unhappy with teenage gay and lesbian characters in the “Avengers Academy” series (Link).

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notable series / titles that I cannot recommend (because the LGBT part is marginal or the overall writing is too weak):

  • “Buffy: Season 8” (Joss Whedon, Link)
  • “Y: The Last Man” (Brian K. Vaughan, Link)
  • “Friends with Ghosts” (Faith Erin Hicks, Link)
  • “Scott Pilgrim” (Bryan Lee O’Malley, Link)

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titles I have not read myself, yet:

  • “Runaways” (Brian K. Vaughan, Marvel Universe, Link)
  • “Young Avengers” (Allan Heinberg, Marvel Universe, Link)
  • “Strangers in Paradise” (Terri Moore, Link)
  • “Revolutionary Girl Utena” (Chiho Saito, Manga, Link)
  • “Wandering Son” (Takako Shimura, Manga, gender-nonconforming, transsexual (?) elementary school kids, Link)

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and finally: five LGBT prose novels / literary fiction for a High School audience that I enjoyed:

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