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All Boys Aren't Blue summary

George M. Johnson

A Memoir-Manifesto

2.8 (124 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson is a memoir that explores the author's experiences as a young Black queer man. It tackles issues of identity, sexuality, and race in an intimate and powerful way.

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    All Boys Aren't Blue
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    Childhood: Honeychild

    Even as a young child, Johnson knew they were different. Somehow, they weren’t like the other boys at school. 

    They walked differently, moving their hips from side to side. 

    And they talked differently, too.

    One day, when Johnson was gossiping with a group of girls, a new word rolled off their tongue. 

    Honey-child,” said Johnson. They said it with sass, bending their wrist for emphasis. 

    Although they didn’t yet know what “gay” meant, they had just created their first expression in gay lingo.

    It was fun, using this new word. It made Johnson feel powerful and free. Their female friends started using it too, and “Honeychild” soon caught on, spreading throughout the school.

    But when the adults heard their kids using it – and realized that a boy had come up with the word – they became uncomfortable. “Honeychild” sounded awfully … feminine.

    It wasn’t long before a parent complained to a teacher. The teacher then called Johnson’s mother, asking her to have a “talk” with her son.

    “You have to stop using that word,” said their mother. “Now the other kids are saying it in class, and it’s become a distraction.”

    “Okay,” said Johnson. They didn’t understand the issue, but they agreed to stop using the word.

    Still, Johnson never forgot “Honeychild,” or what it meant. While it may have seemed like something small – a word made up by a child – it represented something bigger.

    The sad thing is, even something as innocent as an invented word can seem like a threat – a threat to masculinity, and the identity of other people’s children.

    When you’re a child who’s different, it’s as though there’s always something wrong with you – something you need to change… a piece of your identity that needs to be erased. 

    “You can’t say that,” they tell you. “You can’t act like that.”

    Growing up Black and queer, Johnson knew that there was a “right way” and a “wrong way.” They tried to walk like a boy, without swinging their hips. They stopped saying “Honeychild.”

    They understand that their parents had their best interests in mind. Mom and Dad wanted to keep their child safe, knowing that not everyone is so accepting of “sassy” behavior.

    On the whole, Johnson’s family was very tolerant of the fact that their child was gay. The subject was never really discussed, but it wasn’t an issue, either.

    Johnson’s grandmother, Nanny, made an extra effort to make them feel loved and accepted – especially when she saw that her grandson was isolated, having a hard time fitting in at school. 

    So what if Johnson didn’t have a best friend? She would be their best friend, taking them everywhere, and accepting all their little quirks. If her grandson wanted to wear cowboy boots instead of sneakers, so be it.

    “I love all of you,” Nanny would say to her grandchildren. “But I love you all differently. Because each of you needs different things.”

    That resonated with Johnson. It still does.

    What a difference it makes when a child has at least one supportive family member, and an example of unconditional love.

    That should be the norm, of course. But unfortunately, it’s not. 

    So many LGBTQ+ youth face homelessness, hostility, and even violence. All too often, the attitude is “I’d rather have a dead child than a gay child.”

    Look what happened to 14-year-old Giovanni Melton in 2017 – murdered by his own father, allegedly for being gay.

    Johnson’s childhood wasn’t perfect. But all things considered, they feel fortunate to have a family who accepted them. If only all queer children and teens could be so lucky.

    Having some kind of support is crucial. So, if necessary, young people should aim to create their own support system.

    And another thing – according to Johnson, LGBTQ+ youth shouldn’t believe the fable “It gets better.” How, exactly? Things don’t get better without action. 

    We need to make it better, and tell other people – particularly those who aren’t Black or queer – the same thing: “Make it better.”

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    What is All Boys Aren't Blue about?

    All Boys Aren’t Blue (2020) is a memoir and a manifesto aimed at young people. The author shares their experiences of growing up Black and queer in the US, reflecting on family, identity, and sexuality.

    All Boys Aren't Blue Review

    All Boys Aren't Blue (2020) is a powerful memoir that explores the experiences of queer Black identity, providing valuable insights for readers. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With remarkable honesty, the author shares personal stories that shed light on the complexities of growing up Black and queer.
    • The book challenges societal norms and explores intersectionality, highlighting the importance of understanding the overlapping aspects of identity.
    • Through personal narratives, the book educates and empowers, fostering empathy and understanding of the LGBTQ+ community.

    Who should read All Boys Aren't Blue?

    • People who enjoy memoirs
    • People who identify as LGBTQ+
    • Anyone interested in race and identity

    About the Author

    George M. Johnson is a US author and activist who writes about race, gender and sexuality. They’re the author of two memoirs – All Boys Aren’t Blue and We Are Not Broken.

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    All Boys Aren't Blue FAQs 

    What is the main message of All Boys Aren't Blue?

    The main message of All Boys Aren't Blue explores the complexities of gender and sexuality, challenging societal norms and promoting acceptance and understanding.

    How long does it take to read All Boys Aren't Blue?

    The reading time for All Boys Aren't Blue varies, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is All Boys Aren't Blue a good book? Is it worth reading?

    All Boys Aren't Blue is a powerful and necessary read. It offers personal stories that shed light on important issues and provides an opportunity for empathy and growth.

    Who is the author of All Boys Aren't Blue?

    The author of All Boys Aren't Blue is George M. Johnson.

    What to read after All Boys Aren't Blue?

    If you're wondering what to read next after All Boys Aren't Blue, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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