The Page Boy

By E.B. Boatner October 8, 2010

Categories: Books, Our Affairs

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Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation
Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman
Seal Press
$16.95

A generation ago, author, playwright, and performance artist Kate Bornstein’s groundbreaking Gender Outlaws gave voice to people whose gender and attitudes had not before found a venue for expression. Now, 15 years later, trans is not unknown, but it and genderqueer continue to proliferate, pushing the boundaries of perceived cultural, social, and sexual “norms.” These 50 pieces include an “Introduction,” “Interlude,” and “Epilogue” by Bornstein and Bergman. The contents range freely and untrammeled through cartoons (“transcension,” by Katie Diamond and Johnny Blazes); essays (“The Manly Art of Pregnancy,” by j wallace); and biography (“Glitter, Glitter, on the Wall, Who’s the Queerest of Them All?,” by local academic and performer Esmé Rodríguez, AKA T. Kupin-Escobar). In short, something will amuse, shock, titillate, please, and instruct any passing reader. As original gender outlaw Bornstein sees it, “People are STARTING from further that I got to when I’d finished writing Gender Outlaw. That’s EXACTLY what I hoped to live to see.”

Let’s Get this Straight: The Ultimate Handbook for Youth with LGBTQ Parents
Tina Fakhrid-Deen with COLAGE
Seal Press
$15.95

Author Tina Fakhrid-Deen is the first to acknowledge the vital input of her participants, voices from individuals ages 8 to 36. Her “coauthor” is COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere), a national “movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) parent(s).” This book is a marvelous tool for anyone—especially children (between 10 and 14 million of them are estimated)—who have at least one gay parent. Fakhrid-Deen herself was such a child. This book has been aimed at ages 10 and up, written throughout at a fourth- or fifth-grade level, though by no means talking down or condescending to the adult reader. Parents are warned that the topics are complex and real. While issues may make LGBTQ adults uncomfortable, they are ones that parents will face with their kids: coming out to them, school bullying, couple breakups, and dealing daily with “being different.” It’s a gutsy, important, useful book.

On Location: A Rita Farmer Mystery
Elizabeth Sims
Minotaur Books
$25.99

Rita Farmer is on the hunt again with her three favorite men: Daniel, her gay best friend; George Rowe, her PI boyfriend; and Petey, her 6-year-old son. From an innocuous read-through of a bad script in LA’s Griffith Park, she finds herself on a frantic hunt through flooded wilderness in Washington State, searching for her sister, Gina, and her boyfriend, lost on location for the film of said script. Like even bad scripts, life can get complicated. Gina’s boyfriend, Lance, is the brother of the would-be film director, Kenner de Sauvenard. The brothers are heirs to a timber fortune in the very forests of those Northwest wilds. Unknown to all but the perpetrators, however, dirty work is afoot: murder, skullduggery, kidnapping, and dark family secrets that only can be put right by an axe-wielding Rita and her posse—especially the preternaturally savvy Petey. Lance and Kenner’s Mom is a marvelously-drawn, not-so-minor character. Here’s a satisfying page-turner by Lambda Award-winner Sims.

Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade
Justin Spring

Farrar, Straus & Giroux
$32.50

While Samuel Steward’s name (and pseudonyms) have been known to some, the full scope of his life (1909-1993) only became public knowledge through the happy circumstance of the discovery of his vast trove of papers, memorabilia, and meticulous cataloguing of sexual encounters by author Justin Spring. This “Stud File” might have been only compulsive note-taking had it not included Rudolph Valentino, yet-to-be-stage-named Rock Hudson, Oscar Wilde’s Bosie, and others. In an equally serendipitous moment, Steward earlier had crossed paths with sexual behaviorist Alfred Kinsey, with whom he formed an important friendship, and to whom he devoted many hours of documentation. A brief review like this cannot begin to scratch the surface of Steward’s life, but a reading of Spring’s remarkable book about this indisputably remarkable subject offers a view into not only a life, but also a homosexual one as lived in the 1920s to 1960s. It’s a window into a world we are fortunate to be changing (so far).

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