The World of 'Boys'

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

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Zach Stafford
Bio: Zach Stafford is a Tennessee writer who currently lives in Chicago. He has written for a broad range of outlets including The Huffington Post, Salon, Glamour, Thought Catalog, Bitch Magazine, and USA Today, and he is a columnist at the Chicago Tribune's daily paper RedEye.

Essay: "When a Bulimic Goes on a Diet"
"When a Bulimic Goes On a Diet" uses a play written in high school as a doorway into a closet Zach Stafford doesn't talk much about — his eating disorder closet. In this essay, readers will be taken down memory lane as Stafford recalls two important moments in his history of bulimia: the first time he purged and the first time he came out as a bulimic to his grandmother. All of this happening as he struggled not only to understand his sexuality but also with what it means to be a boy.

Photo: Timmy Samuels

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Nico Lang
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


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Joseph Erbentraut
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.

Essay: "Vomit"
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.

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Eric Bellis

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.

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Alok Vaid-Menon
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.  

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Patrick Gill
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.

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Joey Albanese
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,, and, 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.  


Tags: Books, Books

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