Throughout June, GeekMom celebrates Pride Month with lots of LGBTQ content. Follow the Pride Month tag to find everything all in one space (including LGBTQ content from previous years) and keep checking back for more throughout the month. Today’s book review is Queer Up by Alexis Caught.
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It shouldn’t be the case, but it’s a fact that people who identify as LGBTQ have a higher prevalence of mental health issues than those who identify as straight. The reasons for this are many and varied, but the results are the same—increased rates of depression, anxiety, and even suicide. For someone newly identifying as queer, and for their friends and families too, this can come as alarming news. Queer Up by Alexis Caught, subtitled “An Uplifting Guide to LGBTQ+ Love, Life, and Mental Health,” is a guidebook for queer people and their allies, a guide to what queer life is like—both the great parts and the not-so-great. It’s not definitive—it couldn’t possibly be—but it’s a great place to start.
Queer Up is divided into sections on topics including “Questioning,” “Families and Friends,” “Let’s Talk About ‘It,'” and “Coming Out.” Given this book is targeted at allies as well as LGBTQ folk, there’s also a dedicated chapter on Allyship with advice on what to do and what not to do. The overall tone of the book is aimed at younger readers, but the advice here will be valuable to people of any age. One thing I especially loved is how many different voices are found within these pages. Although the main author is a white gay man, he has invited dozens of people from across the LGBTQ community to contribute to every chapter, ensuring a wide variety of perspectives from people of different ethnicities and gender identities. In fact, the chapter on “The T in LGB…” is handed over almost entirely to two trans women barring the introduction because, as the author says, this chapter “isn’t my own story to tell” and sometimes you need to “step back and hand the microphone to others.”
My favorite part of Queer Up ended up being a short section written by Russell T Davis—the screenwriter behind Doctor Who, Torchwood, and It’s a Sin. Russell’s story is a sad one as it follows him during a period when his boyfriend was diagnosed with a Stage 4 brain tumor, but it illustrates how the challenges of navigating life with a queer identity and how the choices over whether or not to come out never stop. Every trip to the hospital resulted in a well-meaning taxi driver asking who he was visiting, prompting Russell to constantly make choices about what to say—friend or boyfriend—based on how he thought that information might go over. It’s a heartbreaking story, but one that illustrates perfectly, if tragically, how seemingly normal day-to-day interactions can often be made so much more challenging for queer people, something that continuously adds to their mental load in a way not experienced by straight people.
Queer Up is a fantastic book that I hope many people new to the LGBTQ family (and their allies) will find useful. It’s occasionally heartbreaking but also full of laughter and joy, showcasing how varied queer lives really are, and it’s full of genuinely useful information and diverse points of view too. This is a must-read this Pride Month.
GeekMom received a copy of this title for review purposes.