Speaking Out features stories for and about LGBT and Q teens by fresh voices and noted authors in the field of young adult literature. These are inspiring stories of overcoming adversity (against intolerance and homophobia) and experiencing life after “coming out.” Queer teens need tales of what might happen next in their lives, and editor Steve Berman showcases a diversity of events, challenges, and, especially, triumphs.
Being bisexual, coming out in my early teens, and suffering through bullies and threats to my person because of it, I wanted to love Speaking Out. I never came across anything like this when I was in my teens. Granted I was drawn more towards reading horror, but I also didn’t know to look for a collection such as Speaking Out and had no idea if anything such as this existed fifteen years ago. Call me pessimistic, but I’m going to assume a collection of stories didn’t exist, and I would have appreciated coming a cross a book with this concept when I was younger.
Several of the stories I found to be entertaining, more of them were average reading for me, but mostly they were interesting and there was always that part of me being able to identify with the issues broached and the message being shared. The message? There is a life after coming out and what we all suffered in our teens, uncertainty, confusion, lack of acceptance, gets easier as we get older.
I’d like to say that’s true, to a certain degree I believe it is, but lack of acceptance, confusion, and uncertainty is part and parcel of life. What happens when we’re older is we’re just able to learn to cope with it, live with it, have a better idea of responses in regards to discrimination, and we have more freedom to choose who to be around. So for me the message was both spot on and also on the misleading side, but I guess it all depends on how you look at it, and I still feel that Speaking Out is a great read for teens when it comes to literature that can hopefully inspire and offer a certain amount of camaraderie from people who have been there.
The stories themselves visit the whole spectrum of LGBT and I find myself pleased with how much the Transgender community is represented, but at the same time disheartened by how little the bisexual community is included. Sure there is a story there about labels and the protagonist has a crush on two people, both of different genders, but that’s as far as it got and this is something I’m always on the look out for when it comes to awareness in the LGBT community, a healthy dose of acceptance for all areas.
I have taken note of the authors who have contributed to this collection of short stories and personal anecdotes, I will be looking further into their work even though I wasn’t in love with any of the stories because a lot of them still had promise, and I do recommend LGBT teenagers give this book a shot and even some adults.