The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
The Black Flamingo by is an absolute must-read! It’s one of the most beautiful, heart-wrenching and raw coming-of-age stories I’ve ever read. I’m almost shocked by how amazing it was! And by how much I loved that it was written in verse.
This gorgeous, thought-provoking and important story is about Michael, who is Jamaican and Greek, living in London with his single mother, and the challenges he faces growing up as a queer and biracial boy in a predominantly white and straight neighborhood. It follows Michael from a young age up til college on his journey of self-discovery from wanting to play with Barbies rather than GI Joes, to finding the drag community and creating his drag persona The Black Flamingo, and the freedom he obtains on that journey.
“He is me, who I have been, who I am, who I hope to become.
Someone fabulous, wild and strong.
With or without costume on.”
The verse format was perfect for this story. I loved the intimacy the poems and illustrations created by showing pieces of Michael’s life and peeling back his thoughts and feelings.
Even though this book deals with difficult and important topics like racism, sexism and cultural oppression, it’s still a surprisingly light and uplifting story, filled with hope and positivity and loving family relationships. It tackles identity issues in such a beautiful way, showing how noone should have to conform to anyone else’s standards of sexual identity, race or gender, but how we are all free to be who we are and how empowering it is to be true and open about it. On our own terms! Dean Atta really emphasizes how ’coming out’ should always be an active choice of free will when and how you feel ready for it.
“Don’t come out unless you want to.
Don’t come out for anyone else’s sake.
Don’t come out because you think society expects you to.
Come out for yourself.
Come out to yourself.
Shout, sing it.
Be a bit gay, be very gay.
Be the glitter that shows up in unexpected places.
Be a beautiful thing.
Be the moonlight, too.
Remember you have the right to be proud.
Remember you have the right to be you.”
This book is a true masterpiece! It might be my absolute favorite book this year! Or ever. All I have to say is GO READ THIS BOOK! Seriously, it’s a book everyone should read! I know that it’s a book that I will come back to over and over again and that I will never forget!
Find out more about the book and the author here: Dean Atta
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