Contact: Andy Reynolds at andy@popularpublicity
Being Queer is Everything!
(That you “just happen to be” LGBTQ is a Lie.)
Author asks, what stories do we tell ourselves to survive our queerness?
“One of our finest essayists.” – Tom Lutz, founding editor, Los Angeles Review of Books
For author Jonathan Alexander, the claim that one “just happens to be” lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer is a lie, a dismissive denial of the core queerness which is as much a part of who we are as our gender or skin color. Being queer is everything. It is the prism through which we perceive, imagine, and at times obfuscate our experienced reality.
This Fall, Alexander will publish “Bullied,” the second book in “The Creep Trilogy,” as well as “Stroke Book.” These titles constitute the latest in a series of creative nonfiction memoirs in which he grapples with how our relationship to our own pasts is always changing, how time is experienced differently by queer people, and how our identities continue to form and reform with new relationships, new experiences, and shifting political realities.
“We can never tell our whole story,” he says. “We can only tell it in bits and pieces. Over time, we learn to tell it differently because we see it differently and from different perspectives thanks to age, experience and reflection. We learn how to understand both our queer self and the larger culture that doesn’t always value queerness.”
Alexander’s Creep Trilogy consists of “Creep: A Life, a Theory, an Apology” (2017, Punctum Books), “Bullied: The Story of an Abuse” (November 4, 2021, Punctum Books) and “Dear Queer Self” (Spring 2021, Acre Books).
“Creep: A Life, A Theory, An Apology,” a Lambda Literary Award finalist, is Alexander’s often humorous dive into owning one’s otherness, one’s queerness, and making friends with one’s inner creep. “We’re all creeps, but much of that creepiness is a manifestation of the thwarted desire to know others,” he says. “We are curious about each other, but our culture has withdrawn the tools to approach each other openly and with interest. People are so unused to engaging strangers face-to-face, that what was once an innocent glance, hello or compliment is now questioned as creepy.” (“Creep” is also available as an 8-part podcast, accessible through the “The Creep Trilogy” website and on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, and Google Podcasts.)
“Bullied: The Story of an Abuse” probes the legacies of homophobic violence experienced by Alexander growing up in the Deep South of the 1980s and looks at how the pressure of being queer inescapably and fundamentally shapes our lives and the stories we tell ourselves to make our queerness bearable. Alexander reflects on a host of other oddly but intimately related topics, from drug abuse, sadomasochism, Catholic priests, and cruising to MAGA-capped boys and why Jussie Smollett may have staged his own homophobic attack. (“I don’t condone it. But I get it.”) We are our experiences, even those we imagined. But what happens when what you thought was the defining moment of your life–in Alexander’s case, sexual abuse by an uncle, which he blamed for his queerness–might be a figment of your imagination? How does one deal with the evaporation of a lie of one’s own making?
“Dear Queer Self,” (cover art forthcoming) to be published March 15, 2022, is a love letter written by Alexander, a gay middle-aged man to his youthful self, struggling to find a way to live and love as a young man who believed he had been sexually abused—when, in reality, what he was mostly struggling with was the self-hatred instilled by an insidiously homophobic culture. “We’re all still working on life,” he says, reflecting. “For queer people, it doesn’t necessary ‘get better,’ but viewed through our experiences, it does get richer. We learn to appreciate our complexity, our density.”
Accompanying the Creep Trilogy, and also to be published this Fall, is “Stroke Book: The Diary of a Blindspot,” (October 5, 2021, Fordham University Press). In the aftermath of an unexpected medical crisis—a minor stroke—Alexander considers how a lifetime in a society still toxic to queer people (recounted in “Bullied”) has impacted his health as well as his perception of queer time. Untethered to the markers of heteronormative life (marriage, birth of a child, raising kids, grandchildren), how do we queers experience time? Our aging bodies?
While all four books are memoirs, the pervasive questions raised are universal, particularly within the multifaceted universe that is queer life. Who do you think you are? How do you know? What stories, what lies, do we tell ourselves to survive our queerness? Does time feel differently for you as a queer person? And what does it all add up to?
Jonathan Alexander is a writer living in Southern California where he is Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author, co-author, or editor of twenty-one books. His cultural journalism has been widely published, especially in the Los Angeles Review of Books for which he is the Young Adult editor, where founding editor Tom Lutz called him one of “our finest essayists.” He lives with his husband and cat, and when not writing, dabbles in watercolors and plays piano in a music ensemble with friends. For more about Jonathan Alexander and his books please visit the Jonathan Alexander page at www.popularpublicity.com, www.thecreeptrilogy.com and his website, www.the-blank-page.com.
All books are widely available on major platforms, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble and to order at independent stores everywhere. Review copies available on request at email@example.com. •