All Boys Aren't Blue, The Beautiful Interweaving of Identity

Stefany Valentine Ramirez
Johnson beautifully interweaves his Blackness and queerness with his identity as a brother, cousin, son, and grandson.

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on April 28th, 2020

Content warnings: Sexual abuse and racial aggressions

Genres: LGBT, Biography & Autobiography - Cultural, Ethnic & Regional, Boys & Men

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Grab a box of tissues because you’re going to need one! George M. Johnson’s memoir-manifesto opens the reader “up to understanding the people you may have never spoken to because of their differences from you”. Throughout this story, he centers on his Blackness and queerness. Johnson also addresses self-expression, abuse, and his identity as a member of the Johnson family.

Johnson begins with the story of how he had his teeth kicked in when he was five. This was his first experience of racism and it stunted his self-expression because he was too insecure to smile. Johnson also mentions the usage of the N-word, F-word, and a made-up word: Honeychild. These words were all expressions of his Blackness and queerness that he uses to share his story.

Throughout the memoir, Johnson describes the abuses he endured. He was molested by his cousin and bullied in school – but abuse doesn’t always take form in big events. Johnson shares multiple encounters with microaggressions, describing them as “’micro’ because that person isn’t outright calling you a n**** or a fa*… Instead, they are calling attention to your differences in a low-key way”.

Johnson beautifully interweaves his Blackness and queerness with his identity as a brother, cousin, son, and grandson. He describes himself as a brother, both biologically and as a fraternity brother. But perhaps the most tear-jerking aspect of his familial identities is the relationship he has with his grandmother, Nanny. “Nanny was a woman who loved all her grandkids differently because they each needed different things”. If this story is not read for Johnson’s heartfelt depiction of Blackness and queerness, then it absolutely needs to be read for Johnson’s relationship with his Nanny.

Stefany Valentine Ramirez is a Taiwanese-Texan from San Antonio. She graduated from Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi where she studied creative writing and technical/professional writing. Since then, she has worked as a social media marketer to promote books written by Zoraida Cordova, Farah Naz Rishi, Nina Varela and others. When not reading a book, Stefany can be found taking pictures for her bookstagram, camping in the wilderness, or working on her debut novel. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.

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