Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay, and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York

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In Drifting Toward Love, journalist Kai Wright introduces us to Manny, Julius, Carlos, and their friends, young gay men of color desperately searching for life's basic necessities. With these vivid, intimate portraits, Wright reveals both their heroism and their mistakes, placing their stories into a larger social context.

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Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay, and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York

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Overview

In Drifting Toward Love, journalist Kai Wright introduces us to Manny, Julius, Carlos, and their friends, young gay men of color desperately searching for life's basic necessities. With these vivid, intimate portraits, Wright reveals both their heroism and their mistakes, placing their stories into a larger social context.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Journalist Wright (Soldiers of Freedom) evokes the passage to gay identity for three young men of color in this impressionistic, often disjointed account. The narrative juxtaposes vignettes from the lives-particularly the sexual lives-of Manny, a 14-year-old Brooklynite of Puerto Rican and Jamaican heritage who "had leadership skills so natural he was all but unable to control them"; Julius, a 22-year-old African-American transplanted from north Florida to New York who is "equally capable of stunning achievement and devastating self-destruction"; and Carlos, a 25-year-old Puerto Rican who is "a caretaker by nature." These are gracefully written, sympathetic profiles, but they are only loosely tied together by the young men's overlap at an informal shelter for queer youth in East New York, Brooklyn. Additionally, Wright's brief historical background- of East New York, Puerto Rico, Greenwich Village and the house ball scene, as well as of theories of homosexuality and reference to diverse statistical studies-reveal that he has done his homework, but this reportage fragments, more than it supports, the already tenuous structure. Wright brings Manny's, Julius's and Carlos's dilemmas, confusion and curiosity to light, but not into sharp focus. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

In this portrait, Wright, publications editor for the Black AIDS Institute, explores the lives of three young gay men of color. He focuses on their experiences, their friends and families, and their activities as he details their journeys in trying to belong.


—Ann Burns
Kirkus Reviews
Gay people of color "struggle to fend off the false competition between racial and sexual belonging," declares the author, who delves into this paradox in three case studies. Wright (Soldiers of Freedom: An Illustrated History of African-Americans in the Armed Forces, 2002, etc.) follows his subjects, all young gay men, as they navigate personal, social and familial relationships. Julius, a foster kid and AP student, flees a stifling community in Florida and heads for New York City. Carlos, a Puerto Rican caught at the busy center of an extended family in his East New York neighborhood, must find the courage to deal with his burgeoning sexuality. Manny drops out of a Brooklyn high school and starts to work as a political activist after his best friend and lover commits suicide. Prostitution, homelessness, drugs and violence against gay men of color are all discussed in unflinching, at times wrenchingly intimate detail, alongside touching reminiscences of first love and the initial realization of a "different" sexuality. Wright criticizes such public-policy initiatives as web-filtering software, meant to block "obscene" websites, which frequently blocks nonsexual sites that provide gay youth access to important information. That's a particular problem, Wright posits, because so many of these young men have no mentors to turn to for advice. He closes with an account of the struggle between the largely Latino and African-American GLBT community members who hang out on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village and the neighborhood's wealthy property owners as they battle over what has become an iconic public space. The narrative structure is frequently confusing, but the respect Wright feelsfor his subjects shines through. An important book about an often-marginalized group.
From the Publisher
Drifting Toward Love is social commentary at its very best. . . . As compelling a page-turner as the tensest thriller and as emotionally rich as the sweetest love story. Kai Wright lets the bravery, resilience, and creativity of these teenagers shine through every page. The hardships they face will make you angry; their heroism will inspire you. —John D'Emilio, author of Lost Prophet

"These are gracefully written, sympathetic profiles . . . Additionally, Wright's brief historical background-of East New York, Puerto Rico, Greenwich Village and the house ball scene, as well as of theories of homosexuality and reference to diverse statistical studies-reveals that he has done his homework." —Publishers Weekly

"Blessed with the ability to connect emotional stories with factual information, Kai Wright creates an artistic and humanizing portrayal of self-realization that draws the reader into an often unseen and underexposed community." —Keith Boykin, author of Beyond the Down Low

"An intimate, at times heart-wrenching look at three young gay men of color who struggle to find a place-a bed to sleep in as well as a scene that allows them to be themselves without fear." —Beth Greenfield, Time Out New York

"The respect Wright feels for his subjects shines through. An important book about an often-marginalized group." —Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807079683
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 1/7/2008
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kai Wright is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, NY. His work focuses on the politics of sex and race, particularly as they impact public health. He contributes to leading independent and community-based media including The Progressive, Mother Jones, and Real Health magazines, and has written for publications ranging from Essence magazine to the Village Voice. He is also publications editor for the Black AIDS Institute and author of two previous books on African American history. He has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the 2006 New American Media Award in Health Writing and the Pew Fellowship in International Reporting Project.

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