Journalist George Johnson, best known for his commentary on issues pertaining to racial inequalities, HIV, and gender identity is now taking his penmanship to all-new heights in memoir, All Boys Aren't Blue. In his new book, George offers life experiences as a Queer-Black man growing up in America as a teaching tool for young people in search of a better understanding of how to navigate the two worlds. He explores topics of sexuality, parenting and toxic masculinity through essays reflecting life as an adolescent and young adult living in New Jersey and Virginia. The indie bestseller, All Boys Aren't Blue, has been credited as the best book of the year by Amazon, best of the summer by People Magazine and is optioned to be a television series by actress Gabrielle Union-Wade.
Check out what George had to say about the importance of writing this book and identifying the intersection where both queerness and Blackness meet.
On the process of writing and revealing vulnerable and personal experiences, George had this to say.
When writing a young adult memoir, knowing that this was going to potentially end up in school systems, that this was going to end up in the hands of 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds, and 12 years olds who were like me, I knew I had to go a step further. I knew I had to make sure that I was able to push myself past even my own boundaries. So that they too can feel seen in the pages and understand what they may have been going through. It was over-explaining it. It was really going into my mind to give them what I was thinking at the time, not just the experience but what I was thinking to get through the experience.
When addressing the belief that queer people and heterosexual people don't have shared experiences, George responds, "I go through every single thing you go through as a Black Man".
There’s some assumption that our lives aren’t overlapping with their lives. But it’s like literally every system is built for you. We have to navigate your systems. So every single thing you do, we have to go through. We just have an additional layer of oppression or multiple layers depending on what your intersections are and depending on how you perform in your identity.
For parents who are rising a queer child, George suggests that you ask and not assume and also decolonize the whole thought process around the fact that you feel owed by the world that your child comes out heterosexual.
The first piece of advice I give is to ask questions. Your child also doesn't know what the hell is going on...there’s always a lot of assumptions that your child automatically has the language and everything to teach you and to tell you. They’re going through a change just like you’re trying to figure out what they are going through. They are also trying to figure out what their own selves are going through.
Check out the full interview below and order All Boys Aren't Blue everywhere books are sold.
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