Conley, Garrard.Boy Erased. Riverhead Books, 2016.
The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.
Andrews, Arin.Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen.Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015.
In this revolutionary first-of-its-kind memoir, Arin Andrews details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. Andrews reveals the challenges he faced as a boy in a girl’s body, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes—both mental and physical—he experienced once his transition began. Some Assembly requiredis a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.
Moon, Sarah. The Letter Q: Queer Writers’ Notes to Their Younger Selves. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2014.
In this anthology, sixty-four award-winning authors such as Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom, Jacqueline Woodson, Gregory Maguire, David Levithan, and Armistead Maupin make imaginative journeys into their pasts, telling their younger selves what they would have liked to know then about their lives as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people. Through stories, in pictures, with bracing honesty, these are words of love and understanding, reasons to hold on for the better future ahead. They will tell you things about your favorite authors that you never knew before. And they will tell you about yourself.
Kuklin, Susan.Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out.Candlewick, 2014.
Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender (or gender-neutral) young adults and presents their stories thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.
Hartzler, Aaron.Rapture Practice: A True Story about Growing up Gay in an Evangelical Family. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014.
Aaron Hartzler grew up in a home where he was taught that at any moment the Rapture could happen. That Jesus might come down in the twinkling of an eye and scoop Aaron and his family up to heaven. As a kid, Aaron was thrilled by the idea that every moment of every day might be his last one on planet Earth. But as Aaron turns sixteen, he finds himself more attached to his earthly life and curious about all the things his family forsakes for the Lord. He begins to realize he doesn’t want the Rapture to happen just yet–not before he sees his first movie, stars in the school play, or has his first kiss. Eventually Aaron makes the plunge from conflicted do-gooder to full-fledged teen rebel.