Growing Up Queer

Kids and the Remaking of LGBTQ Identity

224 pages

November, 2018

ISBN: 9781479876945



Add to Cart Available: 11/2/2018

Also available in



Part of the Critical Perspectives on Youth series


Mary Robertson is Assistant Professor of Sociology at California State University San Marcos.

All books by Mary Robertson

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

  • "Mary Robertson...make[s] a reader want to...just enjoy the teens she meets. There’s 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

  • "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

  • "Mary Robertson’s fascinating study of a youth drop-in center for queerly oriented American kids documents the new ways queer is being embodied, experienced, and democratized by LGBTQ+ youth. Written with a critical self-reflexivity regarding her own identity statuses, Robertson’s book shows how queer young adults are neither simply resilient in the face of homophobic harassment nor precariously at risk for suicide or other dangers. Instead, she documents the complicated ways queer youth thrive and metabolize their social experiences in a supportive space. This space allows this queer youth group to explore their gender and sexual fluidity, embrace the trans-affirmative practice of stating preferred gender pronouns, and to simply connect to one another. A powerful account of the continuing need for queer spaces that affirm LGBTQ+ youth, Growing Up Queer is essential reading for understanding queer young people today."

    —James Joseph Dean, Author of Straights: Heterosexuality in Post-Closeted Culture