Harvard Educational Review
  1. Joining the Tribe

    Growing Up Gay & Lesbian in the '90s

    By Linnea Due

    New York: Anchor Books, 1995. 272 pp. $12.95 (paper)

    What is it like, and what does it mean, to be young and lesbian or gay in the nineties? Seeking to explore and understand the experiences of lesbian and gay youth in the United States, lesbian writer Linnea Due embarked on a study that took her across the country observing youth groups, speaking with youth workers, reviewing the literature on lesbian and gay youth, and interviewing young gays and lesbians. These interviews form the heart of Due's sensitive and important book.

    The young people in this book are varied: they include rural and urban youth, drag queens and young butches, street kids and prep school students. Despite differences in race, class, and gender, these youth struggle with coming to frame their identities in both heterosexual and gay communities that have been, at best, less than welcoming. Indeed, one of Due's most provocative findings in this book is the lack of connection these gay and lesbian youth felt to adult lesbian and gay communities. Due reminds us that adult lesbian and gay communities cannot supplant what many of her interviewees have lost and yearn for: family members and positive relationships with their peers. She points out that the increased visibility of lesbians and gays in recent years has a double edge: lesbian and gay youth can name and understand their identities at earlier ages, but they are also more visible to hostile peers and family members.

    Joining the Tribe offers a thoughtful and powerful portrait of several young lesbian and gay lives in stories that are humorous, frightening, painful, and triumphant. This book is important reading for lesbian, gay, and straight teens, youth workers, teachers, social workers, and all others whose work connects with the lives of adolescents. Young lesbians and gays will continue to explore the meanings of their identity, to find ways to be in the world, and to come out and survive. Without the committed support of adults, however, they may also continue to be overrepresented, as Due reports, among the adolescent suicide statistics. Due's book tells the tales of survivors, and it is a powerful call to understanding and to action.

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    Book Notes

    Open Lives, Safe Schools
    Edited by Donovan R. Walling

    Uncommon Heroes
    Edited by Phillip Sherman and Samuel Bernstein

    Free Your Mind
    By Ellen Bass and Kate Kaufman.

    Becoming Visible
    Edited by Kevin Jennings

    Death By Denial
    By Gary Remafedi

    Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?
    By Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott.

    One Teacher in Ten
    By Kevin Jennings

    The Gay Teen
    Edited by Gerald Unks

    Tilting the Tower
    Edited by Linda Garber

    School's Out
    by Dan Woog

    The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader
    Edited by Henry Abelove, Michele Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin

    Joining the Tribe
    By Linnea Due

    How Would You Feel If Your Dad Was Gay?
    By Ann Heron and Meredith Maran; illustrated by Kris Kovick.

    Helping Gay and Lesbian Youth
    Edited by Teresa DeCrescenzo