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Book Review: Born This Way by Paul Vitagliano

By Monday 1 October 2012Amazon, Books & Authors, Gay, Reviews
The kind people at Publishers Group UK recently emailed me asking if I’d like to review Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay by Paul Vitagliano. I said yes and got excited when my hardback, full colour, glossy paged copy arrived a few days later.

Born This Way shares one hundred stories of people growing up gay from the 1940’s to the present day. Each of the contributors have shared a photo of them as a child and then wrote about their experiences.

Celebrity contributors include: Perez Hilton (Celebrity Blogger), Patrick Bristow (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Andy Bell (lead singer Erasure), Clinton Leupp (Drag Artist), Matt Baume (LGBT Activist) to name a few.

The book is aimed at the US market which is evident through the use of language using words such as “mom” and celebrities that are US-based. It was easy to get over this and relate to the contributors experiences including the feeling of isolation I experienced when I was younger, as back then being gay was taboo and there were no openly out gay role models in society.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the longer stories in the book and indeed a few stick in my mind as emotionally touching. I felt grateful that the contributors choose to share their personal childhood experiences, to which anyone could relate too gay or straight. The shorter stories, with some contributors sharing a paragraph made them feel like anecdotes. I would of preferred the few shorter stories being removed and increasing the length of a few of the longer stories. There was no reference to bisexual or trans people, I’m not doubting that some of the contributors were bisexual and trans – just that some reference would have given me that unique context to their stories.

Vitagliano originally started the idea of sharing childhood experiences on the Born This Way Blog. The idea behind the blog and this book is to reach out too gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans youth with the message that they were born gay, they are not alone and that they are perfect exactly as they are. The book encourages parents to accept their child’s sexuality as part of who they are and to love them unconditionally. These messages to gay youth and their parents are wonderful, the book conveys and reinforces them well.

The Contributors of the stories come from Western Countries with most of the stories coming from the US. I can understand the lack of stories from Eastern Countries due to the legality and attitudes towards homosexuality, but a story or two would have highlighted the issues gay people face in that part of the world and give gay youth the message that they need to continue to fight for their rights on an international level.

Overall the book is fantastically presented with truly inspirational stories that will leave you with a sense of admiration for the strength and bravery of the contributors. The book will make a ideal gift for any of your gay friends or parents of children or young people who are gay. Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay by Paul Vitagliano is available to pre-order/order on Amazon.

Write soon,


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  • Paul V. says:

    Hi Antony,
    Thank you so much for the wonderful review of my book! It’s most appreciated!

    But, I’d like to clarify some of the things you pointed out, such as the length of each story and/or where the stories come from (locale). As the format/size of the book was going to be somewhat small, many stories had to be shortened. And we wanted to include as many people as possible – and with over 600 from the blog to choose from, it was very tough!

    Also, part of who was able to be included had to deal with photo resolution being quality enough, and/or that person signing their release form. Many of the stories we had from Europe and other outside-US locales didn’t meet that criteria, unfortunately. But we did our best to represent as many varying stories, locations, and experiences as possible, with the space we had.

    My dream is that this is just the beginning, and there will be a Vol. 2 (or more) which can build off this introduction to the concept at large.

    Thank you again!
    Paul V., author

  • Antony says:

    Hi Paul,

    Thank you for your comment. I appreciate the format/size of the book limits the amount of detail can put into the stories. It must have been so difficult for you to choose which of the 600 stories to publish, especially as they are all such powerful ones that gay/lesbian/bi and trans people will connect with. I guess because I connected to some of the stories, I wanted to know more about their lives, experiences and where they are now.

    I think as an introduction to the concept it is a brilliant one and would love there to be a Vol. 2. Why we are on introductions, yours in the beginning of the book was fantastic, so honest, wise and captivated the idea behind the book perfectly.

    A x

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