Queer as All Get Out: 10 People Who’ve Inspired Me

Street Noise. Oct. 2021. 192p. pap. $18.99. ISBN 9781951491079.
Gr 9 Up–Criswell’s first graphic novel blends an LGBTQIA+ history lesson with touching memoir. Framing the narrative around their daily life in San Antonio, TX, Criswell opens with reflections about being queer and nonbinary in the contemporary Bible Belt. These musings smoothly segue in and out of brief, conversational spotlights on 10 figures whose stories impacted Criswell on their journey of self. Majority BIPOC, the figures range from Nancy Cárdenas (a Mexican, lesbian playwright) to Simon Nkoli (a Black, gay, South African activist). Each is a revolutionary in their own right, whether innovating rock and roll, developing the first gender affirmation surgeries, or simply existing. Throughout, Criswell displays reverence for each individual and queer history writ large. The ending reminds queer readers “to be proud of who we are.” While there have been several collective biographies published about notable historical LGBTQIA+ figures in the last decade, none feel as personal, relevant, and engaging as this one. The decentering of cis gay men allows for a necessary spotlight on lesser-known (but no less important) subjects. Asides from the main narrative helpfully contextualize details, such as pronoun choices or still-persistent systemic issues. Dynamic block panels, soft colors, and a breezy pace keep the narrative engaging. Extensive—and visually appealing—back matter includes sources for each subject, a glossary, further reading, resources, and a link to a Spotify playlist.
VERDICT Unique in both format and content, this important book is a first choice to help diversify teen graphic nonfiction collections.

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