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Staying Alive 101

Staying Alive 101

Bornstein_book

The latest book by transsexual writer Kate Bornstein offers youths creative alternatives to suicide, including sex and drugs.

Get laid, please. Bake a cake. Come out, come out, wherever you are. Be your own hero/ine. Transsexual author Kate Bornstein wants you to do all of these things, or none of them--whatever you need to do to stay alive. These ideas are included in her clever, playful, realistic book Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks & Other Outlaws (Seven Stories Press, $14.95), which assures readers that, whatever their situations, things will get better. We spoke with Bornstein about why this message is especially important for queer youths.

What prompted you to write a book with such a refreshingly honest look at depression? I went online and looked for advice for anyone feeling miserable because of their identity or the nature of their love. For those kinds of people, there just aren't any books. The books that are out there just tell you to straighten up and fly right. To put a smile on your face. Have you ever had a bad day and know what it feels like to have someone tell you to put a smile on your face? It doesn't work.

The book lists some controversial alternatives to suicide, including having sex and doing drugs. How have people reacted? People who read the book love it. People who haven't read it give me a hard f-ing time. They ask, "How dare you tell the kids to do drugs?" And then I ask them, "How dare you permit a culture that makes kids want to take drugs?" I'm not going to say [some alternatives] can't harm you. I'm not going to say you're wrong, bad, or sick. There are 101 ways [to stay alive], and if that's the only thing that's going to keep you alive for the next six hours, do it. Just be ready for the consequences.

How does Hello, Cruel World speak to LGBTQ youths specifically? We are told we have the No Child Left Behind Act. But children do get left behind. Because there are girls who like girls, or there are boys who dress like girls...nobody is addressing those kids...the LGBTQ movement has its priorities screwed up. What about our queer youth and their protection, health, and safety? [We need to tell these kids] it's perfectly OK to be whatever you want to be, to love whomever you want, to love however many people you want, or to be celibate...do anything you need to stay alive. The only rule you have to follow is: Don't be mean.

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