“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersexual, Asexual and + (not you, straight guy who loves glitter a bit but thinks bum sex is gross). Yes, it’s a long acronym, yes, it’s seven whole letters, but I learned the national anthem even though borders are constructs, so you can learn seven letters.”
Why Did I Read This Book?
I first heard about this book a few months ago and ever since then, I have been dying to read it. It features on my TBR for this month, and as I wanted to expand my knowledge of the LGBTQIA+ community, this book was the ideal match.
What Did I Think?
I don’t know what I imagined this book would be, but I definitely didn’t think it would include so much sex. As a warning to you, if you’re not into graphic and detailed sex scenes, I would strongly advise that you find another book to read. Even for someone who doesn’t mind this sort of content, I found myself taken back.
Although it does include a hell of a lot of sex, Crystal Rasmussen (otherwise known as Tom Glitter) explores everything from being extremely poor, awful jobs, homophobic abuse, love, friendships and the fashion and media industries. What I found great about this book was that Crystal does not hold back, and really attempts to allow the reader to experience the extremely bad times, as well as the magical times.
There are a lot of ups and downs for our Crystal, and I have to say I admire her determination and thick skin. But I guess she had to be determined and definitely thick-skinned to get through life and the opportunities that life has thrown her way. Perhaps had she not been as strong-willed as she was, she wouldn’t be where she is now. I also love that this isn’t a kind of ‘coming of age’ book. Crystal doesn’t finish the book in a better place than where she started. Although some things have changed for the better and she has just about to get onto the scene, there is still progress to be made, and the same could be said for the LGBTQIA+ community itself.
If this book did anything, it educated me on the daily struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community. It opened my eyes to the abuse and violence experienced by those who are queer and how they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t most of the time. It broke my heart that these people aren’t allowed to be their true selves because they fear the violence and abuse that would follow if they did. Crystal frequently discusses the fact that if she is travelling on public transport, she will avoid travelling in drag as the stares, the comments, the side looks, the abuse…it’s just not worth it. How sad. I can’t even imagine what this would feel like.
“If to be in love means to be human garbage, then love can come and collect me, crush me whole, and dump me in a landfill. I’m done being recycled.”
Crystal talks a lot about queer relationships and how they can be anything people want them to be. Apparently, according to Crystal, queer relationships are often more open to open relationships and that monogamous relations are both difficult and not desired. She also opened my eyes to the clubs and places in the UK and around the world that allow queer people to action their sexual desires in a safe environment. I couldn’t believe that these places still exist today and in a way, I’m proud that they have withstood the test of time.
What I find most interesting about this book is Crystal’s experience within the fashion and media industries. She is frequently battling the desire to want to be involved in these industries with the constant degrading from the powerful people above her. She is frequently pretending she is someone else just to fit in, and the one time she speaks up against something she doesn’t agree with, she is quickly and efficiently escorted off the premises to be replaced with someone else who will attempt to abide by the rules and ultimately struggle with the same battle.
The stories and topics that Crystal was given to write about made me giggle and roll my eyes. Instead of focusing on the real problems in society, these fashion magazines were more interested in the unimportant, minuscule aspects of life such as hair bands and shoes. No wonder Crystal got sick of using her talent for these types of articles.
I enjoyed the book, even though it made me blush for the most part. I love that Crystal is a northerner and it shows in her way of never holding back the truth and always giving more detail than needed. Being a northerner myself, I am often never afraid to hold back the truths about all my experiences, and I admire Crystal for doing so too. Yet sometimes, I couldn’t decide if I liked her or not. In some parts she is annoying, self-obsessed and over dramatic. Yet since finishing this book, I’ve realised that perhaps this is part of her act and isn’t everyone self-obsessed and dramatic from time to time. I guess I would be too if I was publishing my own journal.
Sam Smith named this the ‘gay bible’ and I guess that is exactly what it is; however its not just for queer people. I think the book is fabulous for those who are not part of the LGBTQIA+ community (like myself) as it allows us to understand the experiences of queer people. It allows us the opportunity to understand what love and relationships look like in the LGBTQIA+ community and more importantly, it opens our eyes to the horrific experiences that many face on a daily basis just for being gay. I think it is a vital book for everyone to read no matter what your gender, sexuality or colour is, in the hope that through understanding, change can be made.
“Turns out your twenties is perhaps about learning that the things you wanted aren’t really ever what you thought they might be.”