Hear Us Out: Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress, and Hope, 1950 to the Present by Nancy Garden
Nancy Garden, beloved author of Annie on My Mind, is back with a retrospective of gay and lesbian history and activism for young adults. Her latest book, Hear Us Out is an accessible and informative book for questioning and newly out teens and their families. The novel is divided into sections oriented by decade, each starting with an essay describing what it was like to be gay or lesbian then, followed by two short stories set in that time period.
The historical sections provide useful overviews of gay rights struggles in America, focusing on major events like Stonewall, AIDS, adoption, and legal battles. Garden obviously stuck to what she knew in her fiction, which made the stories relatively disappointing in their representation of LGBT diversity: the majority feature lesbians, with few gay boys and no major bisexual or transgender characters. However, the stories do a good job dealing with an important range of issues, from teen suicide to coming out to STI prevention to crushing on a straight classmate, going to prom and finding community with other gay teens and adults. Garden also treats the issue of teen sex candidly, neither ignoring it nor overstating it. Ultimately, while this book has its blind spots, it does make for a good introduction and resource for teens new to gay identity and activism. It’s an excellent resource for young people with limited access to LGBT materials and parents of newly out children.