But, cue the *eyeroll* (at myself, my younger self, not at you lot, just so you know). When I saw the book a few weeks ago, sadly neglected on my shelf, I thought to myself: ‘Who the hell cares? I should be friggin’ proud to read this book in public! I should be waving it from the rooftops! And if people think I am gay, what flipping fig of a difference does that make? You don’t hear people saying, ‘Oh no, people might think I’m straight!’’ Safe to say, I was a pretty silly person for having these worries, and I wish I could go back and read the book earlier. Whatever you may first think, this book is for EVERYONE. That’s the whole point of it, in my opinion. It is beautiful because of it’s inclusiveness. Whatever your sexual orientation, or gender, once you read it, you are left feeling more knowledgeable and less ignorant than ever before, once you turn the final page.
I received the book in a goody bag last year, and I am writing a review of my own volition. intrigued? Read the blurb here:
A funny and pertinent book about being lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer, transgender or just curious - for everybody, no matter their gender or sexualityFormer PSHCE teacher and acclaimed YA author James Dawson gives an uncensored look at what it's like to grow up as LGBT. Including testimonials from people across the gender and sexual spectrums, this frank, funny, fully inclusive book explores everything anyone who ever dared to wonder wants to know - from sex to politics, how to pull, stereotypes, how to come-out and more. Spike Gerrell's hilarious illustrations combined with funny and factual text make this a must-read.
Another aspect I absolutely loved were the illustrations. They not only gave the book it’s touch of humour and lightheartedness, but also added to the factual element, too. They made the book immeasurably special. This way, the book seemed especially created for young people, and not one of those books that say they are for teenagers but in fact are made for parents to enforce upon their unfortunate offspring. You know, like those fact books that have no soul in them whatsoever. It seems like James Dawson really gets what young people want from a book like This Book Is Gay. There should definitely be more cool illustrations in books for young people, in my opinion.
A vital aspect that is fiercely incorporated in This Book Is Gay that I should probably have mentioned before is the factual element. I like to consider myself a marginally intelligent specimen of a human being, but I found myself constantly coming across information that I had genuinely never considered before. Dawson himself was a PSHE teacher and it was clear that he is not only hugely knowledgable in all areas of sexual education and puberty, but also how young people want to be taught about these things. If James Dawson had been my PSHE teacher at school, I would have learned a hell of a lot more. The stuff they miss out in sex ed at school is literally, cray. Why are schools still tiptoeing around the issues of sex and relationships? Why do children get talked about how straight sex works, and not sex between people of the same gender? Dawson opens up these questions, and lets the reader ponder over them. Safe to say, I learned a hell of a lot, about everything from legislation towards homosexuality in countries all across the world, transphobia, what different religions say about homosexuality and how to argue with a Bible Basher (someone who uses out-of-date and extreme Bible teachings out of context to argue in favour of marginalising people in society- not cool). In tackling generalisations and stereotypes (all whilst acknowledging that stereotypes exist for a reason), Dawson further emphasises his message that inclusiveness and understanding= cookies for all, and marginalisation and ignorance= no cookies AT ALL.
All in all, I think I have made it pretty clear that I loved This Book Is Gay, and I think that everyone should read it, whatever your sexuality and gender. You seriously learn a lot, no matter how knowledgable you think you are. The most important thing that Dawson emphasises through This Book Is Gay is that although times have improved since the 1950s, there is still a hell of a journey until there is equality for all LGBTQ* people in the UK and throughout the world, and this book only marks a small step along the way on this journey.
*LGBTQ is a generalisation of sexuality; sexuality is so broad that it cannot be defined through five letters.
Check James Dawson out here: http://www.jamesdawsonbooks.com
Buy This Book Is Gay here: https://www.waterstones.com/book/this-book-is-gay/james-dawson/9781471403958
Check out Stonewall here: http://www.stonewall.org.uk
Until next time :)