It's an odd thing to rave about a book that centers so heavily around rape, but Jonathan Parks-Ramage pulls it off quite brilliantly. Parks-Ramage makes it clear in his writing that these aren't simply evil people behaving badly. These characters exist in a world, our world, where wealthy men are kept safe by their supposed genius. They're empowered to ruin the lives around them because, until very recently, people like them have rarely been held accountable for their actions.
The main character, Jonah, is groped at his job by customers and colleagues; this is treated as something annoying and unavoidable. In the book, as in life, we see sexual violence treated differently by the gay community. Very few stories in the Me Too movement involving queer people reached mainstream recognition and in that way, Yes, Daddy serves to remind readers that sexual assault is not an issue that only straight people face.
Here are some other things I liked about the novel: the masterful pacing, there's a band named "Ghost Dick," Fran Leibovitz pops up at a party to mistake the main character for a waiter, and how the book explores how challenging it can be when a victim comes forward with their story.
This is a knockout debut, one of the most exciting of the year. Will it make you uncomfortable? Yes, Daddy. Should you still absolutely read it? Yes, Daddy.
“There was a part of me that thought, this is me paying for his sins, this is me paying for his crimes. And that I paid for them with my body,” Ashley C. Ford recounts on the LGBTQ&A podcast about growing up in Indiana while her father was incarcerated. “You search for reason as a 14-year-old and you don't know why this happened to you, you don't know why your father made the choices that he did, and you start to come up with your own answers.” Ford explores her father’s absence and their new, evolving relationship now that he’s been released in her debut memoir, Somebody’s Daughter.
“I think about my father's life. I think about the fact that he went to prison two weeks before he turned 21. I think about the fact that in 30 years of incarceration, my father attempted to connect and maintain a connection with his children, which is very hard. The system makes that so hard. And I think about what I want, to be perfectly honest. I never got the chance to have a relationship with my dad. The relationship I have with my dad is for me. I do love him and I want him to be happy and I want him to be OK. I know why I show up for him.”
You can listen to Ford talk about her acclaimed memoir, Somebody's Daughter, on the LGBTQ&A podcast. Click here.
Honestly, I'm not really sure why everyone isn't talking about this book. It's one of the most fascinating and well-crafted memoirs I've read in years.
Growing up, Brian Broome writes, "I concealed every part of myself that I deemed to be too 'Black.' Because my life up until then had shown me that white wasn't just a race, it was a goal." At 15 years old, he decided that this was The Goal that he must achieve. Bouncing through time, reading Punch Me Up to the Gods feels like you're holding Broome's hand at different ages. He guides you and points to memories, breathtaking and beautiful, as he fights to figure out how he's going to get to the place he is today.
Punch Me Up to the Gods is out now. If you read one memoir this year, I recommend it be this one.
Over the past four years, John Paul Brammer's had an unrivaled look into the inner minds of queer people. Through his popular advice column, ¡Hola Papi!, he's received letters about our innermost worries, our most queer and private humiliations. "The theme of 'What's wrong with me?' is very recurring," he shared on a recent LGBTQ&A podcast. "Sort of like, 'Why am I not making friends? Why am I not finding a significant other? Why do I feel so uncomfortable navigating my identity?'
A lot of reassurance is needed. "You just want someone to hear you out and affirm, 'No, you belong here,' or 'There's nothing wrong with you,' or 'This is all part of the process of figuring yourself out.'"
Now Brammer's bringing his trademark wit and heart to his new essay collection, Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons. Like those who read and write into his column, Brammer is still figuring his life out. It makes for an approachable narrator, one you want to follow through his upbringing as a mixed-race Mexican-American in rural Oklahoma to New York City where Brammer has, to his own surprise, become the queer community's favorite advice columnist.
¡Hola Papi! is out now. Click here to listen to John Paul Brammer on the LGBTQ&A podcast.
The trailblazing activist Precious Brady-Davis is out this July with her first memoir, I Have Always Been Me. Readers can share in the joy of her first time performing in drag and later meeting her now-husband, Myles Brady-Davis, which lead her to appearing as the first trans bride on the hit show, Say Yes to The Dress, and eventually, to becoming a mother.
I Have Always Been Me by Precious Brady-Davis is out July 1.