The Young or Questioning Queer
Dearest family and friends, do you have a special young queer in your life? Someone who’s still stuck in the hells of middle and high school who might be currently unable to let their freak flag fly as high as it should? We know we can tell them that it’ll get better, because it will, but here’s some things you can give them right now!
Note: If you know me at all, you already know that most of this list will be comprised of books. If you can’t take them out of their world completely — a high school degree does generally help in life, unfortunately — at least give them a way to escape for a while!
1. Coming-of Age Novels. Girl, do you know how many great books came out for you this year? So many! Like Laura Goode’s Sister Mischief. Interested in politics and really great kissing scenes? Good, because I’m putting Madeleine George’s The Difference Between You and Me under your tree/menorah/non-denominational star/pillow! ($10-$30)
2. Books about handling haters. Have you heard of A.S. King’s Ask the Passengers? No? OK good, because I bought you a copy. Have you had trouble with homelessness? Do even gay people offend you sometimes by their lack of understanding about the lack of binaries of all kinds in your life? Read Sassafras Lowrey’s Roving Pack. Seriously. Does trying to figure out which bathroom to go to at school take up way more brain space than it should, brain space that you could be using to fully understand how awesome you are? Read any and everything by Ivan Coyote, but I’ll start you with One In Every Crowd. ($10-$30)
3. Books about outcasts. It’s a book called The Letter Q. It’ll make you feel better, at least a little, and a little is always better than nothing, or at least better than feeling worse. Also: comics. Any kind. You will like them. If you’re a kid who’s worried about having violence inflicted on you if a parent or guardian finds anything too-obviously-gay in your possession, I’ll buy you some other classic books about being different that might still be comforting: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (the new movie is good too, really good, but read the book first), or The Pigman by Paul Zindel, or Looking for Alaska by John Green. There’s so many more. Books will make you proud to be an outcast, I swear. ($10-$30)
4. A Well-Rounded Sleater-Kinney Mix CD. Dearest youth, you may know Carrie Brownstein best as That Chick From Portlandia. While I’m a resident of Portlandia myself, and I appreciate this, this also makes me so deeply, deeply sad. You need to know what she and Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss really meant to all of us, before. So that when you get out of your small town and inevitably take a road trip to Seattle one day with all your dykey best friends because something about the Pacific Northwest just calls to you, you can all squeal together when you pass the exit sign for Sleater-Kinney Road in Olympia. And you can play this CD I made for you, that includes all the best hits all the way from the Call the Doctor and Dig Me Out era to The Woods. And one day at your gay wedding, you’ll sneak “Turn It On” onto the playlist along with, you know, the Michael Jackson and Madonna and Rihanna and stuff and hope all the straighties don’t hate it too much, and then you’ll discover that in fact even your dad dances to it. And your 86-year-old great-aunt will rock out to that Le Tigre song you snuck on, too. Believe me. I know because it happened to me. ($10-$15)
5. A Gift Card to Buffalo Exchange. Friend, go get yourself some faded T-shirts for bands who were on tour before you were born. Find yourself some perfectly worn in flannel shirts. Take that pair of scuffed up boots. Girls, buy all the boy clothes! Boys, buy all the dresses! Buy all of it! May you never have to shop at a Juniors section ever again! ($20-50)
There’s a lot more I’d like to give you, but I can’t give you everything. You’ll figure the rest out on your own.
— Jill Guccini