Full Spectrum

Levithan, David and Merrell, Billy (Editors). (2006). The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing About Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Other Identities. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

The quintessential queer experience of coming out has radically changed in the last decade as more and more young people are navigating their sexual and gender identities. This anthology collects the personal experiences of LGBTQ youth under 23, in short snapshots exploring politics, first kisses, identity, and resistance.

These 40 selections are fierce, authentic, and incredibly wide in scope. Editors Levithan and Merrell accepted nonfiction submissions from self-identified queer writers through website http://www.queerthology.com/ and did their best to select a range of styles from a range of identities, while being perfectly clear that a true “full spectrum” would be impossible, as that would be every individual LGBTQ person.

As a queer reader who came out in high school (and again, in adulthood), I saw myself in several of these pieces. Others I did not relate to but greatly appreciated, as learning about others’ experiences widens understanding and nourishes allyship. I definitely recommend this book to queer young adults as well as folks interested in learning about coming out experiences, queer politics, and gender and sexuality in youth culture. It’s an important book for any nonfiction YA collection in a public library.

David Levithan is well-known for his excellent young adult novels, both queer and non (see previous review for Will Grayson, Will Grayson). Billy Merrell is an accomplished poet and author. Proceeds from The Full Spectrum support GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network). This book was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in the Children’s/Young Adult category.

About Charlie McNabb

Archivist, Folklorist, and Legend Tripper
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