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Gay and straight teens 'Out With It' in moving new book of true-life essays

Outwithit A colleague of mine, journalist Katia Hetter, helped edit a revised version of Out With It: Gay and Straight Teens Write About Homosexuality. The book is published by Youth Communication and sells for $13.95. (Click the link to buy the book.)

From a news release:

Out With It: Gay and Straight Teens Write About Homosexuality, Youth Communication’s completely revised second edition of its groundbreaking book, is filled with true stories by teens from all walks of life—gay, lesbian, and transsexual teens, stories by teens in foster care, and stories by straight teens about experiences with their GLBTQ peers.

Chapters are written by both gay and nongay teenagers. A few quotes from the book:

"I graduated from the Harvey Milk School last June,'' wrote Wilber Valenzuela. "Going there changed my life and my memories of that experience will live forever."

"By the time I was 11, I already knew I was gay and I hated myself for it. I hated myself so much that I wanted to kill myself. I wanted to be 'normal.' I didn't want God to punish me and give me AIDS. I didn't want to go to Hell," wrote David Miranda.

"It took two months, but I've learned to accept who [gay people] are and that they can't be changed," wrote Sharif Berkeley, a straight teen who lived in a foster group home with other youths, both gay and nongay. "The concept of being gay is still something that I don't completely understand and probably never will, but all things in the world are not meant to be understood, so they are best left as they are."

The essays, written in the teens' own voices, are moving and contain a few surprises, too.

Here's the book's table of contents. (Click on the links below to read samples): 

Introduction, 10

I’m Religious, Outgoing, African-American, Talented—
and Gay
, Anonymous 12
The author has her first crush on a girl when she’s 13, and comes out three years later with the help of a support group for teens.

Out, Without a Doubt, Xavier Reyes 19
Xavier, homophobic at first, comes out when inspired by the example of his gay group home roommate.

She’s Cool, She’s Funny, She’s Gay—and She’s My Sister,
Sandra Leon 27
Sandra is proud of her gay sister.

My Boy Wanted a Boyfriend, Odé A. Manderson 31
Ode keeps his cool when a male friend is attracted to him.

What Would You Do If I Were Gay?, Gina Trapani 37
Gina comes to terms with coming out.

Too Shy to Say Hi, Eugene Han 41
Eugene is too shy to approach a man he finds

My Friend or My Church—How Do I Choose?, Anonymous 44
The writer is religious and not sure how she feels about her gay friend.

Gay on the Block, Jeremiah Spears 49
Jeremiah faces constant harassment and violence for being gay.

Mom, Dad, I Have Something to Tell You, José Miguel Jimenez 54
José finds support from family members in telling his parents he’s gay.

Trapped!, Mariah Lopez 59
Mariah faces abuse as a transgendered youth in foster care, until s/he finds acceptance at a group home for gays.

Date With Destiny, Anonymous 63
The writer describes his shock and fear at testing
positive for HIV, but gradually comes to terms with how the disease has changed his life.

I Need a Girl, Destiny 71
Being with Keesha helps Destiny accept she’s a lesbian.

Telling My Parents, Destiny 75
Destiny summons the courage to come out to her

My Crushing Secret, Anonymous 80
The writer questions his sexuality when he falls in love with a boy at his school.

My Gay Priest, Russell Castro 85
When Russell finds out his priest is gay, he is thrown into confusion.

Kicked Out Because I Was Gay, Shameek Williamson, 90
Shameek gets kicked out of her foster home for being a lesbian.

A School Where I Can Be Myself, Wilber Valenzuela 94
Wilber faces harassment from classmates until he
transfers to a special high school for gay and lesbian youth.

Overcoming My Fear of Gays, Sharif Berkeley 98
Sharif, who is straight, is surprised to find he has a lot in common with gay people.

Breaking Down Barriers, Melissa Chapman 103
Gay and lesbian people of all ages attend a workshop to break down barriers between them.

My Place in the World, Fannie Harris 106
In her new home, Fannie can admit she’s gay.

I Hated Myself, David Miranda 111
David feels tormented by friends and family for being gay.

Brokeback Mountain Broke Hearts—and Stereotypes,
David Schmutzer 121
The film Brokeback Mountain, about the love affair between two cowboys, shatters stereotypes.

Erasing Hate, Paul Uhlenkott 125
When he attends a gay pride concert, Paul sheds his
misconceptions about being gay and gains a new
understanding about accepting others.

Finding My Father, Dominick Freeman 130
Dominick’s dream dad turns out to be gay.


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