Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight - PAIGE VAN DE WIN­KLE RACHEL JAGARESKI

Loren A. Olson, Oak Lane Press Soft­cover $15.95 (304pp), 978-0-9979614-3-0 Com­pas­sion is key in this book that serves to in­spire those within the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity to see that ev­ery­one’s strug­gle is dif­fer­ent.

The se­cond edi­tion of Loren A. Olson’s Fi­nally Out: Let­ting Go of Liv­ing Straight achieves an ex­pert bal­ance be­tween the gen­res of mem­oir and self-help to ad­vise and com­fort newly out or clos­eted gay men later in life. This edi­tion builds upon the 2011 edi­tion by ac­tively be­ing more in­clu­sive, ad­dress­ing some con­cerns of bi­sex­ual era­sure and bi­pho­bia, and rec­og­niz­ing re­cent strides in LGBTQ+ rights, while also ac­knowl­edg­ing that the fight is not over.

Olson uses heartrend­ing per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences to of­fer in­sight into the spe­cific iso­la­tion and dif­fi­cul­ties for gay men com­ing out when their lives are pri­mar­ily wo­ven into a het­ero­sex­ual com­mu­nity, some­times with wives and chil­dren. Through psy­chi­atric the­ory, cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal con­text, and per­sonal anec­dotes, Olson suc­cess­fully com­forts and val­i­dates this iso­lated com­mu­nity.

By us­ing the phrase “men hav­ing sex with men” (MSM) rather than “gay,” Olson high­lights that most MSM are not out, and suc­cess­fully in­cludes them in the con­ver­sa­tion. This in­clu­sive­ness is im­por­tant, as is his recog­ni­tion of the ge­o­graphic bounds of an ac­tive gay cul­ture and ageism. He makes a good case for “a com­plex ma­trix of self-ex­pres­sion.”

While Olson mainly fo­cuses on is­sues of gay men com­ing out later in life, the book is use­ful for all mem­bers of the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity, their loved ones, and their al­lies alike. Ado­les­cence is a tur­bu­lent time for any­one, but when you are a queer Latina mil­len­nial with a uni­brow, who likes Aero­smith and punk rock, there are ad­di­tional chal­lenges. In­de­struc­tible, Cristy C. Road’s graphic-novel mem­oir of com­ing of age in Mi­ami, is an edgy, hon­est, and nu­anced chron­i­cle of her young-adult years, ac­cented with her highly tex­tured, monochrome il­lus­tra­tions.

Though she de­scribes a fem­i­nist mother and other sup­port­ive rel­a­tives, Cristy rebels against her fam­ily’s cul­tural ex­pec­ta­tion that queer­ness should be re­pressed. She’d rather dye her hair green and use live rep­tiles as ear­rings than go to a nail sa­lon and is frus­trated that “ideas like veg­e­tar­i­an­ism and re­sist­ing beauty stan­dards only ex­isted in white Amer­ica.” She wants to stay out late at night, drink beer, and talk about sex.

The nar­ra­tive is of­ten in­sight­ful and re­flec­tive, and there are many col­or­ful conversations be­tween her and her cir­cle of friends. These other “mis­fits” are lis­ten­ing posts and guides to an al­ter­na­tive and op­ti­mistic fu­ture. There is frank dis­cus­sion of ma­ture top­ics like mas­tur­ba­tion and drug use, and the lan­guage is laced with salty and sex­ual slang.

Road’s il­lus­tra­tions have an over­all punkrock, car­toony feel, but look past the dra­matic com­po­si­tion and bold out­lines and show how the artist mag­ni­fies the beauty in what typ­i­cally might be viewed as ug­li­ness—stub­ble on Cristy’s arms, lacy de­tail in mu­sic posters on a bed­room wall, grit on an ur­ban side­walk.

In­de­struc­tible is a vivid and highly per­sonal ac­count of Cristy’s jour­ney to adult­hood.

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