The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Other Identities David Leviathan & Billy Merrell (Editors) Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006 272 pages, $9.95 US
The Full Spectrum is an anthology of poetry and short essays which chronicle the personal odysseys of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and other individuals. The works contained in the book run the gamut from light-heartedly comedic, thought-provoking to touchingly poignant. What is even more compelling about these stories and poems is that the writers are all 23 years of age or younger.
As with most anthologies, at times, the writing is uneven. However, I was particularly drawn to the poem "Body Isn't This," the essays "Snow and Hot Asphalt," "My Diary", "The Night Marc Hall Went to the Prom," "A Quietly Queer Revolution", Walking the Tracks," "Gaydar," "All You Need is Love," "Continuation of the Life," and lastly, "A Fairy's Tale." I believe this essay, in particular, should be required reading in high schools across America.
Adolescent years are fraught with emotional upheaval, either real or imagined. Many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth run a gauntlet of isolation and cruelty during these years. Not only do they cope with the typical angst of being young, but they also struggle with gender and sexual identity in oft-times rabidly homonegative environments such as schools, religious institutions and, most unfortunately, in their homes. Commonality of experience was evident in many of these essays. "My Diary" relates "a sick feeling that this (her father's discovery that she is a lesbian) is going to tear my family apart" (p. 45), and pleads with her father to "stop saying them. am them!" (p. 43). In "Crying Wolfe," the writer (being more comfortable with girls than boys) tells of carving out a unique spot for himself in the school hierarchy, "not a lowly place, exactly, but not entirely desirable either. I sat at the right table but on the wrong side. I was invited to the right parties but by the wrong people" (p.59). In "Don't Tell Me that I'm Overly Sensitive and Paranoid," the author describes a litany of homonegative commentary by schoolmates and his volleyball coach (p.102) and in "A Fairy's Tale," the writer relates feeling "like a foreigner who's away from home ... who longs to...