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Review: Born This Way

October 19, 2012

From an early age, Paul Vitagliano knew that he liked boys.  He dated girls and tried to be like everyone else but he realized that wasn’t his true self.  At 19, he realized he was gay.  At 30, he went to tell his mother, but she already knew.  Paul thought the hardest part of growing up was thinking he was the only person who felt the way he did and not having anyone to talk to about it, so he started the Born This Way project.  He wanted gay kids to know that they’re not alone and to realize “Being gay is as normal and natural as being straight.”

Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay by Paul Vitagliano features over 80 gay adults – some well known, others not – telling a little about their experience growing up.  Stories range from a paragraph to a page and each includes a photograph of the author as a child.  The earliest photo is from 1948 and the latest is from 1998.

As you would expect, the stories are as varied as the authors.  Some suffered from bullying, others did not.  Some have been disowned by their families while others have been embraced by theirs.  They all said things are easier now that they are adults and that they are much happier since they admitted to themselves that they are gay.

I found Born This Way to be a quick and enjoyable read.  It’s a great peek into what it’s like to be a gay child – one thing that struck me was how young many of them were when they realized they’re gay.  For many of the stories, I wanted more detail so I’m hoping a few of the people featured will write memoirs.  Everyone will benefit from reading Born This Way, but gay kids and their families should find comfort in its pages.

Review copy provided by Quirk Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
29 Comments leave one →
  1. sandynawrot permalink
    October 19, 2012 4:58 am

    Good for Paul. I hope that the book finds its way into many people hands, and that it helps them. It certainly was not easy for my sister, in the backwards, close-minded community we lived in. A friend of mine, who grew up in North Carolina, was promptly taken to a shrink when we came out to his parents. His mom thought they could therapy the gay out of him. I can’t even imagine what it would be like if everyone wanted to change the person I am inside.

  2. October 19, 2012 6:26 am

    I love books like this, which champion the different-ness. Good for Paul.

  3. October 19, 2012 6:39 am

    Thanks for the review! It sounds like a good book. I think it’s easier than it’s ever been for the current generation of teens to be openly gay, but it must still be hard in many ways.

  4. October 19, 2012 6:41 am

    I give a lot of credit to this author – and those who have had similar stories.

  5. October 19, 2012 6:42 am

    Sounds like a wonderful book. I love and ditto lazylauramaisey’s comment!

  6. October 19, 2012 6:43 am

    We actually have a neighbor kid whose dad punishes him regularly when he sees him trying to wear girl’s clothes. So sad what that is doing to that kid!

  7. October 19, 2012 7:49 am

    The more books like this, the better. What I learned about this from teaching first-year college students for 27 years is that the more stories young adults hear about other peoples’ struggles growing up gay, the more understanding they get. Plus, some of them, from small communities, can have no idea they know anyone who is gay, because it’s still hidden in a lot of rural places.

  8. October 19, 2012 8:17 am

    Really important for kids to know they are not alone. And the title is perfect.

  9. October 19, 2012 9:50 am

    The title alone reminds me of Lady Gaga! I like the sound of this book and especially the message behind it.

  10. October 19, 2012 10:07 am

    I too like the message behind the story. Good.

  11. October 19, 2012 11:28 am

    Many thanks for the nice review, Bermuda Onion!

    My goal is that the book gets in to the hands of the younger generation of kids – gay AND straight – and especially the parents of today, too. How they’ll deal with a child that might be gay will have a life-long impact on that child’s self-image. And the discussion about being gay shouldn’t be hidden or thought of as shameful or a secret. As I say in my introduction, some people are straight, some people are gay – and simply put: sexuality is not a choice for anyone. And that simple fact of life should be treated as a normal, natural part of our human experience. Best regards – Paul V.

  12. October 19, 2012 1:08 pm

    Great review. It sounds like a few of the authors should write a full-length memoir. I’m going to see if my library has this.

  13. October 19, 2012 1:22 pm

    I love memoirs and I bet this was a fun memoir-like book!

  14. October 19, 2012 1:58 pm

    Fantastic. I need to read this. I am currently in Minneapolis at a board meeting for our AIDS camp in Brainerd, after this I am on the way to the book store where Michelle from Red Headed Book Child works, looking for this book.

  15. October 19, 2012 4:39 pm

    Wonderful review, Kathy! This sounds like a book that would benefit teens and their families.

  16. October 19, 2012 5:10 pm

    This books sounds very good, and one I’ll be picking up for myself and my daughter. My daughter Adrienne came out to us at age 14 and while somewhat surprising we really should have known. Our family supports her 100% . We have seen friends of hers that are still shunned and hurt by their families. I find it shocking in this time. Ignorance is so very sad. Thanks Kathy for bringing this book to my attention, I’d heard of it but was unsure. Many books about coming out etc are geared more toward young men only.

  17. Patty permalink
    October 19, 2012 5:12 pm

    I love books like this too!

  18. bookingmama permalink
    October 19, 2012 5:51 pm

    It just saddens me how difficult it must be for some (probably most) gay children to deal with our society.

  19. October 19, 2012 5:56 pm

    Will be cool when there’s a point we no longer “need” books like this, but until then it’s awesome that people have put together a book that may well help some kids embrace and feel good about themselves.

  20. October 19, 2012 6:34 pm

    I think it is great to have this book out there for people who would benefit from it … and people who just need to have their “eyes” opened about what it means to be gay.

  21. October 19, 2012 7:04 pm

    The title is perfect and I like the message this is sending. Good for Paul on getting this memoir together!

  22. October 20, 2012 12:22 am

    I read a book, One Teenager in 10, when I was young that really helped me a lot. There was a second book called, Two Teenagers in 20 that came out later. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to be helped by them. I’m glad other authors are still doing that same great work.

  23. October 20, 2012 12:37 am

    I have someone in mind for this one. Thanks so much for recommending it.

  24. October 20, 2012 3:18 am

    I will look for this book. I’m always with my gay friends and I find that they’re better company than my regular friends. They’re special. Thanks for sharing this!

  25. October 20, 2012 10:00 am

    I’ve been meaning to read this one ever since you mentioned this book a few days earlier. It sounds fabulous!

  26. therelentlessreader permalink
    October 20, 2012 11:56 am

    What an important message! I’m going to look for this one!

  27. October 21, 2012 12:13 pm

    This sounds like a great read for families with gay children for all of them to read.

  28. October 22, 2012 7:54 am

    Great review. I would like to read this for my next LGBT read.

  29. October 23, 2012 5:57 pm

    Sounds like a great book. I know one of best buddies in high school knew he was gay at a young age. I knew when we were in middle school. He didn’t feel safe telling anyone until after he graduated college!!

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