Okay, so a few weeks ago, I attended a virtual talk on all the garbage book banners out there and the mess they’re making and the stupid things they’re doing. Seriously, what a bunch of whiny toddlers throwing super gross adult-sized tantrums. Mind your own business, skunkbags. At one point in the presentation, one of the people presenting mentioned the book All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2020). I was aware of the book, had seen it around, and knew what it was about, but it wasn’t on my TBR…until the presenter mentioned that whiny Texas governor and human sack of lawn cuttings Greg Abbott had thrown a fit over this book. Knowing what I know about that crapweasel with no taste who is grossly lacking in humanity AND leadership skills, I knew this was likely to be a good read, so onto my list it went. And hey! I was right and Greg Abbott is wrong. Shocker, I know.
George Johnson, who has also gone by Matt (story explained in the book) is a queer Black man who grew up with more feminine traits, who took some time getting comfortable with his queer identity, and was fortunate to grow up in a family who accepted him and loved him for who he was. All Boys Aren’t Blue is the story of his life: his childhood, spending time with his beloved grandmother, called Nanny, who worked so hard to make him feel loved and accepted; his adolescence, where he began to understand some things about himself and worked to hide other parts; his college years, where it all began to come together. Through it all, George learns and grows, and begins to accept himself for who he is: a delightful, intelligent human being who lives at the intersection of Black and queer.
He has so many good lessons for the reader, lessons about self-acceptance, love, courage, confidence, safety, and more. I deeply appreciated how he related stories from his childhood and adolescence to show how he learned about himself, what he learned, and how he applied this to his life as a whole. I enjoyed particularly the stories he told about how he got into sports and how that surprised everyone around him: an effeminate boy who could play football and run like the wind? Don’t box yourself in. We all contain multitudes. 🙂
George M. Johnson has always lived outside the box, but he’s also always found ways to thrive, and he’s sharing everything he’s learned with the YA set. This is an important book; queer kids, and queer Black kids, deserve to see themselves in books, they deserve to have books that speak to and about them. And people outside the LGBTQ+ crowd need to read these books to get a fuller picture of what life is like for their queer friends and family.
And Greg Abbott and people like him are welcome to fuck off into the sun if they don’t have the humanity to recognize that. : )
Great book. I’d love to hang out with Mr. Johnson sometime, because he seems like a great guy and tells some fascinating stories.
Visit George M. Johnson’s website here.