The World of 'Boys'
Boys, a new anthology of essays showcasing prominent and emerging queer voices, seeks to highlight the diverse lives of gay, queer, and trans men from around the globe.
The collection of essays, edited by Zach Stafford and Nico Lang, offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of writers from an array of backgrounds and locations to challenge the traditional concept of what it means to be a "boy" in today’s world.
Stafford says the anthology was created by those involved in the project out of a desire to help change the LGBT world for the better. "Nico and I both think the gay community has a lot of growing to do,” he says. “We're not fully realized yet."
Boys will be available to pre-order October 17 and will be available as an ebook on Halloween. Proceeds from Boys are being donated to the Lambda Literary Foundation, which supports LGBT literature and writers.
On the following pages, get to know several of the writers included in this anthology and see a glimpse of their contributions as well. Each of these essays shows why there isn't one type of boy in the world, but lots of boys with all their own stories.
For more information about Boys, visit ThoughtCatalog.com.
Bio: Nico Lang is a producer at Thought Catalog as well as a former correspondent and blogger for WBEZ (Chicago’s NPR affiliate), the cocreator of In Our Words, and a graduate student in DePaul University’s media and cinema studies program. Lang is the cofounder of Chicago’s Queer Intercollegiate Alliance and a columnist for HEAVEMedia. At HEAVE, Nico writes film reviews and talks about nerd stuff on a weekly podcast called Pod People. Elsewhere in podcasting, Lang is the former host of Broad Shoulders, a monthly podcast for Chicago’s Live Lit community. Nico is also a contributor to The Huffington Post and has been featured in The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, XOJane, IndieWire, and The New Gay.
Essay: "Like That"
"Like That" explores what it means to come out to your family and what honesty really means when your family can accept certain parts of you but not others. In this essay Lang explores the intersections of sexuality, race, and dating and what it means to date men of color in a family who might not be ready to deal with it. The essay asks hard questions about the lies we keep and who we’re really protecting when we can’t own up to the whole truth.
Photo: Zach Stafford
Bio: Joseph Erbentraut is the Chicago editor of The Huffington Post. Aside from his writing with Arianna, this corn-fed, Wisconsin-bred writer’s work has also been featured in The Village Voice, Windy City Times, Chicagoist, Gapers Block, Chicago Pride, innumerable ill-advised LiveJournal poems and at least one short-lived attempt at a “gay” novel. He lives in Chicago with his boyfriend and two cats. He is also a co-founding member of Subject to Change, a community-oriented queer DJ collective based in Chicago.
Your coming of age isn’t always what Judy Blume said it would be. After a rocky first semester at college, Joe Erbentraut did what any mid-2000s gay boy struggling with his sexuality and other issues some college boys face would: He went to visit his ex-Internet girlfriend, Izzy, in Los Angeles. While on the West Coast, he hoped to find closure, but instead, he found a fleeting connection in Izzy’s friend Patrick just as Christmas turned to the New Year. "Vomit" explores what it means to be alive in the age of AIM with brutal honesty and tragicomic candor — heartache set to a Fiona Apple soundtrack.
Bio: Eric Bellis is a native Nebraskan, a 10-year Chicago resident, a trans man, and a sometimes writer. He collects horse miniatures, likes to read about astrophysics, and plays Words With Friends.
Essay: "A Trip Down Route 666"
In Bellis’s essay you will be taken down Route 666, an actual highway that has now been renamed, which he rode on when being kidnapped by his mother who wished to "pray the gay away." This essay isn’t just your typical "kidnapping your child" story but is more a testament to resilience, bravery, and learning to find yourself in unexpected places.
Bio: Alok Vaid-Menon is a radical queer trans/national South Asian activist and performance artist committed to building movements that resist white supremacy and imperialism.
Essay: "Confessions of a Snow Queen"
"Confessions of a Snow Queen" is an essay about brown … at least, that's how it starts. Vaid-Menon, using beautifully handled and at times poetic prose, takes us on a journey from Texas to India. His essay shows us that the world may change when we move around it, but sometimes we don’t, and we find ourselves still ourselves when we return to where we call home.
Bio: Patrick Gill is the cocreator of In Our Words as well as the cofounder of the queer reading series All the Writers I Know. He is a poet, essayist, and short story writer and is working on two novels. He also frequently performs at open mikes in Chicago, including the Paper Machete. He is an alumnus of DePaul University and has developed LGBTQ-centered antibullying curricula for Chicago public schools.
Essay: "We're Desperate"
What’s in a scent? In "We’re Desperate," Patrick Gill uses something as small as Axe body spray as a metaphor for the complexities of queer identity. For Gill, Axe represents the masculine culture he grew up in (during his adolescence in Santa Cruz, Calif.), an odor that hides who you really are. To spray yourself is to fit in. However, being adult means embracing conformity to pay the bills. Patrick Gill shows that sometimes, masking isn’t hiding. It’s a form of strength and survival.
Bio: A born and raised Jersey boy, Joey Albanese writes about all of the questions, big and small, that we ask ourselves as we try and navigate (or avoid) growing up. He's been featured on Thought Catalog, Nola.com, and NolaVie.com, where he writes a weekly column called Twenty(something) Questions.
Essay: "My Closet Is Better Than Yours"
Joey Albanese has a twin, and that twin is also gay. Many people may think that sounds like a blessing, but to Albanese this just caused the usual sibling rivalry to increase in every aspect. In his essay "My Closet is Better Than Yours," we get an intimate look into the life of one gay twin trying to be more than the yin to someone else’s yang.
Bio: R.J. Aguiar is a writer, blogger, vlogger, and online personality best known for his work on the YouTube channels "shep689," "TheNotAdam," and "OutlandishTV." You may also know his work from Towleroad.com, NotAdamAndSteve.com, TheOutlandish.com, and Advocate.com. There's a pretty decent chance that you might just know him as the guy at every dinner party who loves to tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the particular type of wine that you're drinking.
Essay: "Inside Man"
Before R.J. was a vlogger, he worked for the Republicans in Florida. His essay "Inside Man" takes readers to the front lines of a party that has famously opposed LGBT people for quite some time, and shows that maybe we shouldn’t hate the people but rather the system.
Bio: madison moore holds a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale and is staff writer at Thought Catalog. His writing has appeared in Splice Today, Art in America and Interview magazine. He is the author of How to Be Beyoncé, and his new book, The Theory of the Fabulous Class, is forthcoming from Yale University Press. madison lives in Brooklyn and Richmond, Va.
Essay: "For Colored Boys Who Love White Boys"
Dating can be hard for many gay men, and dating while being black and gay can be even harder. In his essay "For Colored Boys Who Love White Boys," moore gives us insight into ways queer people of color have to navigate the dating terrain. His essay, through its transparency and realness, allows a space to open up for us all to come together and begin to really talk about how race and love cannot be separated.
Bio: As an icon of popular culture, Buck Angel conveys passionate message of empowerment through self-acceptance and being sexually comfortable in your own skin, and it has struck a profound chord with people all over the world. In live appearances that include Yale University and IdeaCity Toronto, Buck encourages people to think outside the box as he redefines gender and expands perspectives on sexuality. His unconventional core concept is expressed by the phrase he coined: “It's not what's between your legs that defines you!"
Essay: "Testosterone Fueled Injections"
When Buck Angel began transitioning from female to male and started taking testosterone, he expected a lot of things. But what he didn’t expect was to now begin feeling attracted to other boys. Angel, a highly acclaimed adult film performer and LGBT treasure, allows us to go with him to his first leather bar in this essay and meet the boys who showed him what it can be like being a boy who likes other boys.
Bio: Jaime Woo is a cultural critic and the author of Meet Grindr: How One App Changed The Way We Connect. His work focuses on the intersection of technology and culture.
Essay: "The Gandhi School of Hookups"
This essay is more of a meditation from Woo on how certain types of people are vastly overrepresented in porn, sexual attraction, and hookup apps. "The Gandhi School of Hookups" shows how he sought to change how he helped maintain this situation and presents a way for us all to add some changes in our desires -- especially if you’re a boy who likes other boys.
Bio: Shawn Binder is finishing up his senior year at Florida State University, where he is studying editing, writing, and media as well as international affairs. When he isn't writing about his feelings, he is watching Hitchcock films and hanging out with his dog. His debut, Everything Is Embarrassing, is coming out in 2014 with Thought Catalog.
Essay: "I Outed Myself on AIM"
Most people have come out as gay in person to someone else. It’s an intimate moment that many feel better to do face-to-face. But Shawn Binder isn’t one of those people. He came out on AOL Instant Messenger while in high school, sparking his official life as one of the few gay boys in high school. His essay "I Outed Myself on AIM" is a modern-day coming-out story that will have you laughing at one moment and cringing at the next as you read a story that we will probably hear several times in the years to come, as the Internet becomes even more intrinsic to our everyday lives.
Bio: Justin Huang is a 26-year-old film producer born and raised in California. In his spare time, he enjoys semi-rigorous exercise, grilling outdoors, drinking IPA, and talking to his mother. He currently resides in Los Angeles with a puppy named Frank.
Essay: "Studs Abroad"
In the closing essay of Boys, Justin Huang takes us to the morning he wakes up on a park bench with all of his belongings gone and only 10 euros in his pocket, trying to piece together what was supposed to be his last night in Amsterdam. Through his essay, readers will see how resourceful a boy can be with a small amount of cash and good looks while taking a chance in a gay bar.