Rita Reed, out of a concern over the high rate of suicide among gay and lesbian teens, and convinced that the stories of Amy and Jamie would help others feel less isolated, gained the trust of these two young people and was allowed into their developing lives. Reed captured moments from the pain of rejection to the joys of first love; from the collapse of self-confidence to the understanding that they were not alone and that, in spite of societal prejudices, they were loved and respected. Reed's photographs - ...
Rita Reed, out of a concern over the high rate of suicide among gay and lesbian teens, and convinced that the stories of Amy and Jamie would help others feel less isolated, gained the trust of these two young people and was allowed into their developing lives. Reed captured moments from the pain of rejection to the joys of first love; from the collapse of self-confidence to the understanding that they were not alone and that, in spite of societal prejudices, they were loved and respected. Reed's photographs - intimate, moving, and generous - establish a level of understanding difficult to achieve with words alone.
The author put a great deal of time and energy into finding a couple of teenagers ( a boy and a girl) who were willing to not only tell their stories, but to let her shadow their lives for one year. The efforts are well rewarded, creating a documentary that should be required reading. Amy Grahn is growing up gay, and her compelling story includes body mutilation and a lot of unhappiness. We get to know Amy in her own words. The loneliness and turmoil are hard to imagine. But this is not a hopeless story. Amy has a supportive family and we see her enter into loving relationships. And her goal is to complete high school with a GED. Jamie Nabozny knew from an early age that he was different. In kindergarten when they were playing family, he wanted to be married to the man. Again, he was tormented in school, and his family sent him to live with a religious aunt hoping to eradicate his homosexuality. There were attempted suicides, and running away from home. Placement by Social Services in a treatment center in tenth grade helped his self-esteem. He learned that he had civil rights that were protected by law. We follow Jamie from a foster home to a loving relationship, and even see his boyfriend included in an extended family portrait. In epilogues, we learn of Amy's' marriage to a woman with a son, and that Jamie had received a $1 million settlement for the abuse he had suffered at his high school. These are a heart wrenching tales that offer a real education. This book makes a great contribution to a body of work that I suspect is rather limited.
- Lynn Evarts
In the past several years, there has been a boom in the publishing of books for young people that deal with gay/lesbian/bisexual issues. Two of the newest installments are photographic documentaries about gay/lesbian/bisexual teens produced with the intention of helping other teens struggling with their identity. The Shared Heart is a beautifully photographed book that allows the reader to meet each individual (forty in all) and read, in the subject's own words, the joys and perils of coming out to family, friends, community, and self. Some of the stories are very positive, telling of inner strength and unexpected support from family and friends. Others tell of the abysmal loneliness and fear they have because it was not safe to tell others of their feelings. Those portrayed are all in their late teens and early twenties, and each subject is presented with a short personal essay, a handwritten note, and a photograph. Their words are very poignant, but what readers will be drawn to are the photographs. Reading of their hardships and looking into their eyes will help teens-those struggling with their sexuality and those struggling to understand sexuality-realize that there are no stereotypes, only real people. The purpose of Growing Up Gay is to concentrate on two young people, documenting their lives as "out" gay teens. One of the subjects is Jamie Nabozny, the young man who successfully sued the school district in Ashland, Wisconsin, for failing to protect him from the abuse of his classmates. The reader is shown many private moments, ranging from a GED graduation ceremony to a romantic scene on Lake Superior. Along with the photographs is a running commentary from the subjects, describing feelings or incidents that were occurring at the time the photographs were taken. While dealing with the same subject matter, these books manage to be very different in purpose. Growing Up Gay has a more focused, documentary, "a day in the life of" feel, while A Shared Heart examines a variety of situations in a wider forum. Because of the broader focus and the effective job it does breaking down stereotypes, the latter would be a better choice for those libraries trying to impact a wider audience. Editor's Note: The Shared Heart is the winner of ALA's Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Book Award for nonfiction.]. Photos. Biblio. Further Reading. Note: This review was written and published to address two titles: Growing Up Gay: The Sorrows and Joys of Gay and Lesbian Adolescence, and The Shared Heart: Portraits and Stories Celebrating Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young People. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P S (Readable without serious defects, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Surprising as it may seem, there has not been a book of portraits of gay and lesbian young people. Now there are two. As a young gay man, photographer Mastoon writes, "without external reflections to validate my internal experience I felt alienated and alone." Seeking to rectify that situation, he offers handsome duotone portraits of 40 gay, lesbian, and bisexual young people juxtaposed with their own one-page personal statements. The self-confident faces and poignant voices of these courageous young Anglo, Asian, Latino, and African Americans make an important and powerful statement, offsetting appalling statistics of self-destructive behavior. Growing Up Gay takes a slightly different approach by focusing on two young people, Amy Grahn and Jamie Nabozny. Stepping "into the stream of their lives," Minneapolis Star Tribune staff photographer Reed creates a series of intimate pictures documenting these teenagers as they experience the joys of first love and the pain of rejection, face challenges, and reveal insecurities, knowing that they both have their families' love and respect. Both books offer resource listings of readings, organizations, telephone hot lines, and web sites, joining such valuable titles as Ellen Bass and Kate Kaufman's Free Your Mind: The Book for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youthand Their Allies HarperPerennial, 1996 to help counter the lack of attention to our most precious resourcetoday's imperiled youth.James E. Van Buskirk, San Francisco P.L.
Reed, a staff photographer for the in Minneapolis, follows the lives a gay male and a lesbian teen over a period of several years, capturing the joys of first love, the pain of rejection, and the transition from attempts at suicide to self- acceptance and confidence. Descriptive captions for each photo tell Amy's and Jamie's stories in their own words. No index. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.