Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay is the sweet brain child of Paul Vitalgliano who is also known as DJ Paul V. Based on the popular blog of the same name, Born This Way features 100 photographs and narratives submitted by blog readers from around the world. Their stories and their photographs date from the 1940’s to today, and are paired with some very personal narratives about growing up LGBTQ. Some of these narratives will make you smile, some will make you laugh, and some will ultimately break your heart. It is truly a celebration of growing up gay, the innocence of childhood, and the importance of community.
Paul Vitalgliano explains in his introduction, this project was started as a way to show young gay kids that they are not alone, and to explain that being gay is just as natural and just as normal as being straight. As a proud ally and advocate for the LGBTQ community, I couldn’t agree more with this project or its message, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to review this book. It was interesting to see not only the images but also each individual’s unique perspective on growing up LGBTQ. I really liked the bright colorful pages and photographs. It was a quick read but one with a lasting important message.
Click the video to see some of the photographs within the book.
Also, it has some really catchy music too!
Amongst the diverse narratives, there are contributions from the first openly gay Congress member, Barney Frank; Village Voice columnist Michael Musto; actor and drag performer Miss Coco Peru; and blogger and TV personality Mario Armondo Lavandeira Jr. better known as Perez Hilton. I thought it was nice to have a mixture of both celebrity types and non-celebrity types within the book as it added another level of perspective. Another type of example of how things get better so to speak. I also really liked how the narratives which were chosen were not just of one race, one sexuality, or one location. There was a very diverse approach to Born This Way which was so wonderful to see!
I really did enjoy reading Born This Way, and as a final note, I would just like to mention that I am posting this review on October 11th which is National Coming Out Day for the LGBTQ community. National Coming Out Day is an internationally observed civil awareness day which celebrates individuals who publicly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer. It is also a day which is often used as the day where individuals feel that they can publicly reveal their true identity as both a cultural rite of passage as well as a rite of acceptance within the community. I truly believe that Born This Way couldn’t have been released at a better time, and that it will become an important book for someone who may be struggling with their sexual identity. It really does show that regardless of who you are or where you come from being gay is nothing that you should be ashamed of, and that it is perfectly normal to have been born that way!
Disclosure: Received from Quirk Books for review
Important Links for Born This Way by Paul Vitagliano: