LGBTQ kids reveal what it’s like to be young and queer today
Growing Up Queer explores the changing ways that young people are now becoming LGBT-identified in the US. Through interviews and three years of ethnographic research at an LGBTQ youth drop-in center, Mary Robertson focuses on the voices and stories of youths themselves in order to show how young people understand their sexual and gender identities, their interest in queer media, and the role that family plays in their lives.
The young people who participated in this research are among the first generation to embrace queer identities as children and adolescents. This groundbreaking and timely consideration of queer identity demonstrates how sexual and gender identities are formed through complicated, ambivalent processes as opposed to being natural characteristics that one is born with. In addition to showing how youth understand their identities, Growing Up Queer describes how young people navigate queerness within a culture where being gay is the “new normal.” Using Sara Ahmed’s concept of queer orientation, Robertson argues that being queer is not just about one’s sexual and/or gender identity, but is understood through intersecting identities including race, class, ability, and more. By showing how society accepts some kinds of LGBTQ-identified people while rejecting others, Growing Up Queer provides evidence of queerness as a site of social inequality. The book moves beyond an oversimplified examination of teenage sexuality and shows, through the voices of young people themselves, the exciting yet complicated terrain of queer adolescence.
"Illuminating...Robertson examine[s] how youth today form queer identities.This accessibly written inquiry will be of interest to queer readers, sociologists, and gender studies enthusiasts alike." ~Publishers Weekly
"A rational and thoughtful examination of the evolving nature of the LGBTQ identification process in children and adolescents. … a groundbreaking and timely book that reveals the complicated and ambivalent nature of the identification process. Robertson argues that queer identity is not solely about gender and/or sexual identity, but is instead an intersectional bouillabaisse of race, class, ability, and more. Growing Up Queer also looks at the heartbreaking social inequality of queerness, where society accepts some kinds of LGBTQ identification but still rejects others it does not find palatable or sufficiently socially compliant. By using their own words, Robertson gives voice to their stories from their own point of view. This is a refreshing yet deep examination of the process of identification, how it has evolved, and future prospects for change and inclusion." ~The Advocate
"With clarity and rich detail, Robertson tells the story of growing up queer and the community organizations and institutions that buoy today's LGBT youth. It is a deeply engaging account of both the dignities and indignities of becoming queer, leaving us with a more complicated portrait of youth resilience and risk." ~Amy L. Best,Author of Fast-Food Kids: French Fries, Lunch Lines and Social Ties
"Robertson shows the mechanisms through which binary conceptions of gender are reinforced, and she examines the intersectional effects of race, class and ability … The book’s main strength lies in rich ethnography and detailed accounts of young people. The methodological discussions are especially nuanced, and the rich histories add to our understanding of what it means to grow up queer today" ~CHOICE
"Mary Robertson...make[s] a reader want to...just enjoy the teens she meets. Theres life in them, deep introspection and philosophical thought, as well as acceptance covered slightly with the scabs of perseverance. Their voices are real and need no explaining. They offer hope." ~Washingto Blade
"Robertson, rather artfully, nestles her work into the empty space in LGBTQ youth research; how youth become gendered, how they become sexual, and how they come to embrace the identity language that fits them with the most precision. Robertson not only adds to the existing research, but also weaves in and out of it, highlighting its relevance, but also indicates where it proves to be archaic." ~Journal of Youth and Adolescence