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Book Review: Queer- The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke

 My Big Gay Revelation
 For me, the signs were probably there from the start. I was the kind of little
 kid who played dress-up in his mom’s clothes, ran around singing show tunes
 at the top of his voice, and pretend-flirted with other boys. (My parents even
 have pictures of me kissing one of my boy cousins on the lips when we were
 in diapers!) In grade school, I also fooled around with some other boys in my
 neighborhood and from my school. But I didn’t really think about it in terms
 of whether I was gay or straight or whatever. I knew lots of boys who did
 stuff like this, and it didn’t seem like a big deal. 

 It wasn’t until around sixth grade, when I started developing deep crushes on
 other boys, that I started thinking I might be a little different. But I still
 couldn’t put my finger on it. I had never even heard the word gay until some
 older boys from another school tried to insult me by calling me that. I did a
 little research in the library to find out more and discovered a whole history
 of people who not only had sex with people of the same gender but had
 passionate romantic relationships as well. In fact, there was an entire
 community of people who felt the same way I did; it was a delicious
 wonderland of queerness! I realized it was OK to like other boys in “that
 way,” and even though it took a little while to find other boys who liked me
 back, I knew that I wasn’t “abnormal” or “weird”—just a little bit different.

Written especially for GLBTQI (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, and intersex- in case you didn’t know) teens, Queer is a humorous and straightforward guide to life for tweens and teens looking for answers to questions that they may not feel comfortable asking another adult, or questions that they may not have someone there to answer.  Written by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke, who share their own personal stories throughout the book, it’s chapters covers whether you’re GLBTQ, coming out to family and friends, finding other GLBTQ teens, and dealing with the hate and phobia that exists still in society, even with the strides in the political sphere.  It also goes into dating, relationship, and sex on the GLBTQ scale as well, which is both informative and thought provoking- the authors discuss the difference between sex and love, and that they don’t have to go together, as well as the importance of being safe with sex if you choose to go that route with your partner. 
 
Queer does not shy away from the ups and downs of life:  it covers abusive relationships and what signs to look for, how to find positive counselors to help you cope with things in their life, and stresses getting involved in the GLBTQ community.  It talks about steps to take if you face physical assault (third most likely reason for physical attacks after race and religion), how to approach a crush, how to deal with rejection, and knowing your rights as a GLBTQ teen.  Also covered are STIs and HIV/AIDS, religion, and has an excellent resources section in the back with websites and books for further investigation on the topic.
Queer is a very comprehensive and excellent addition to any collection.  It was also on the 2012 Rainbow Book List, sponsored by the American Library Association’s Social Responsibilities Round Table and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table.  I know that more conservative areas might think that the material it covers can be too much, but I cannot stress how much this information is needed by GLBTQI teens, and how much they may not get that information.  It’s a positive and informative view on the subject, without the hype or negative connotations that can seep into books on the subject, and that is extremely hard to find for this type of book.  There should be more books like this out there, so that teens aren’t scrambling to find this information, and getting misinformation instead.  However, getting Queer into their hands is a start.

For more information on GLBTQ issues, check out our previous posts:
You want to put WHAT in my YA?
Taking a Stand for What You Believe In
Steph’s Top 10 GLBTQ Titles