Coming Out Stories – Edited by Emma Goswell and Sam Walker

Rating: 4 out of 5.
A little disclaimer – I haven’t had the opportunity to finish all of the stories in this book, but it’s actually one of the beauties of the book – it doesn’t need to be read from start to finish, you can read as much or as little as you want to in one sitting and it doesn’t diminish the effect.

I have to say I wish this book had existed at all the points of my life when I was thinking about coming out. The stories aren’t all positive to start with, but the ones I’ve read so far do demonstrate that no matter what happens in the initial moment, things do get better. They might not look how we hoped but it will be okay.

I liked the acknowledgement by one of the editors that as LGBTQ+ people, we never actually stop coming out, it isn’t just that one big moment and it’s all over and done with, it happens on a semi-regular basis, in the little things and situations we often encounter. There’s also an acknowledgement that life changes, just because we come out as one thing doesn’t mean we won’t change as people in the future.

I particularly think this book would be of benefit to parents and other allies of LGBTQ+ people, who may benefit from the insights in these stories.

Somehow I’ve never come across the phrase ‘logical family’ (an Armistead Maupin phrase) before, I’ve always used ‘chosen family’, but I find I quite like it, so that’s another small takeaway for me too.

I’ll definitely finish this over the next few weeks.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Handsome – Holly Lorka

Rating: 4 out of 5.
I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies when I was younger – across a wide range of different topics – but I never really had the opportunity to access many, if any, queer voices. The younger adult me would definitely have appreciated the existence of this book and I definitely appreciated it now – especially as someone who has experienced some similar feelings at times to Lorka.

Lorka covers a number of topics, many in a humorous way, but their exploration of gender and sexuality and their relationship to both are the things that really stands out, and act as the thread for the collection of stories. The topics covered are definitely adult in nature, varying from sex toys to teddy bears and top surgery to life as a nurse. I found some of the stories genuinely heart wrenching, whilst at other times I was laughing out loud.

I can partially understand the decision to mix up the chronological narrative of the chapters, but I needed something to tie things together to make it a little easier to read. If the chapters had all been bunched together in the same general topic I might have found it a bit easier if chronology was to be avoided – but instead I was often left at times wondering where in Lorka’s life this fit, which girlfriend were they dating, where were they living etc. Perhaps in the long run none of things actually mattered, and maybe that was the point, that irrespective of those markers in life, these things still happened, but it’s the lack of chronology or grouping standing between me and a five star rating.

Lorka was definitely an interesting person to spend time learning about, and I’m definitely interested in learning more. If you like memoirs I’d recommend you pick this one up and give it a go.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Book of Queer Prophets: 21 Writers on Sexuality and Religion – Edited by Ruth Hunt

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
An interesting collection of essays on the topic of religion and sexuality. This was a hard one for me at times. It was definitely best read as singular essays, put down for a while for some thinking time and then moving onto the next one – so it took about a month to read and digest.

To be honest I picked up this due to Ruth Hunt being attached to the book. Some of the essays are of better quality than others, and naturally some spoke to me more than others too.

I’d recommend this to anyone – in fact I think it should be read by everybody, whether people of faith or LGBTQ+ or not.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.