In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores their childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. We spoke with author George M. Johnsonn, the Banned Books Week 2022 Honorary Chair, about their inspiration, writing as activism, and more.
An absolute necessity…the personal stories and the healing and reconciliation of self in this title are all undeniably honest and relatable—a reminder of our shared imperfection and humanity.Booklist
From the memories of getting their teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with their loving grandmother, to their first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.
Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
I was inspired to write this story because I had always told my story in bits and pieces. As my career continued to grow, I knew how important it was for me to tell it in totality. Although the lexicon of Black, Queer writing is amazing, I knew that there were still so many stories that had yet to be told. The little Black effeminate boy in me had always been waiting to fully tell their story.
The story took shape for really effortlessly. I knew what needed to be done going into it. I knew that I needed to push myself past my comfort zone to tell the truth about everything, no matter how it made me feel. It was time for me to heal, and I knew that in healing myself my words and stories would and could heal many others.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
My voice (lol). I have a very interesting accent, in which my Jersey only comes out in certain words but it’s mostly a southern twang to it.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?
I have listened to parts of it, and since it’s in my own voice, I sometimes smile at me telling my own story.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
My book is an indie bestseller. Indie bookstores are the heartbeat of community. They are in it for the true love of books and storytelling. They are what keeps your book going on forever and they make sure that it gets into the hands of those who really need to read it. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, I haven’t been able to tour any of them, but soon I will be seeing everyone.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Writing is a form of activism.
Header photo by Sean Howard