This Book is Gay – Juno Dawson

Cover of the Book (only found one with Pre-Transition name on the cover as mine is on loan to staff members).

I saw this book in the school library when I was searching for books on LGBTQ+ for a Pride display that we were doing (if they are going to have a queer librarian and celebrate Pride across the school for a month, they were going to get a display). It was one of the first books that I picked up from this category and after I finished it, it sadly had to be removed from our school library system (Chapter 9 was not appropriate for the school!) but it is not one that I regret picking up by any stretch.

We did not let this book go to waste though, once removed from the library it went straight to the teacher in charge of the LGBTQ+ club at the school so that they could decide upon certain sections that they wanted to use, or lend it to members of the club that they felt were mature enough to read it while benefiting from the content.

Collecting stories from members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as the authors own experiences means that this book is full of insight while remaining as a funny book that explains a lot about sexuality and gender identity in a way that teens are able to relate to. It doesn’t ignore some preferences like other books on the matter which I was SOOOOO happy about which would easily make it my book of recommendation for anyone struggling with their identity. It is definitely a book that I wish I had found earlier in my teen years when I began thinking that I was broken for the way that I thought, leading to several suicide attempts and 7 years of self harm. Had I had the knowledge that I would have discovered in this book, I think I would have definitely have been a lot happier in myself.

Since the library copy was being put to use with students through the LGBTQ+ club, not regretfully, I went home that same evening and brought myself a copy (although I had to make sure that it was the post-transition name for the author so that it was the identity that they wished to be known by). I had read it that week so it was immediately loaned to other teachers within the school who wanted to read the book after how much I appreciated the way that it was written, it still has not returned because it got people talking and another person would ask to borrow it as soon as the previous had finished. It has gone down particularly well with other LGBTQ+ staff and we all agree that was written perfectly for kids the age we work with (other than Chapter 9 about doing sex the gay way). It is the only book that has tempted me to buy and rebind for the library so that I could take out those few inappropriate pages and have multiple copies available for the students. The only real cases of bullying that have escalated in any way is when it is regarding a student that falls in the LGBTQ+ category or one who is being tormented by people using gay as an insult towards them and spreading the idea that they are gay as if it is something to be ashamed of.

Even now, I have not come out to my family because of how ashamed I was over my sexuality and my thoughts on sex but I will gladly come out in the defense of students, even our most homophobic students refuse to be rude if there is a staff member near who is open with their queerness. Even those who are not queer should read this book as they are able to understand some of what it feels like to be in that spectrum and being marginalised for something that they have no control of. It may actually help them to understand some of their own thoughts that they had not fully focused on previously.

It is the kind of book that you are able to read in a day or two, if you are taking your time to fully appreciate the comedy and seriousness that are occurring simultaneously in the authors writing. Although I feel as though it was suited to teens, it maintains its integrity for any adult readers that it gains. I even got my, entirely hetero, brothers to read it who liked the comedy, while learning more about some sexual and gender identities at the same time, my mum has read it and I even got my friend laughing out loud on the bus, though he tried to hide the cover, and made him realise he may not be 100% hetero like he thought he was. Before reading this book he would have been disgusted at anyone even making a joke as to him being with another male in any way.

I only have one request for the author and that is to make a school friendly version so that I can have a whole bookcase of copies for any of those scared and misunderstood teens that come into the library looking for sanctuary from the taunts and threats because of their sexuality (I am so proud to have been able to help provide this place of retreat when it is needed where they know that they will not be judged for any sexual preference, or perceptions of their gender). Honestly, who cares if Jordan is now Aiden or James is now Juno, they are still human beings capable of feelings. To qualify to be in the library it can still have sex in, just not quite so graphic, in description and diagrams. Protection is an important topic, not just for heterosexuals, and it is not touched upon in PSHE (sex ed.) so having a book that they are able to learn how to be safe when the time comes would be perfection.

Below is my favourite quote from the book (well, one of them anyway).

However you identify, be it lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, asexual, curious, or carrot, we all have something in common-we are a minority, and we have made brave steps to identify such; we have refused to hide and made a declaration of who we are.

As you can probably tell, this is a book that I would recommend to anyone, and everyone, and frequently do so.

5 out of 5 stars (only because I can’t go any higher than that!)

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