Pride Month and the one-year anniversary of the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando have put LGBT issues back on the front burner of our national conversation. Now, a new book will help all of us better understand what it’s like to live through the formation of an LGBT identity.
Journalist, author, and filmmaker Clay Cane‘s first book Live Through This: Surviving The Intersections of Sexuality, God, and Race is officially out today, and it’s the perfect Pride Month read. According to Cane’s own Tumblr page, “The book marches you through my life, from spiritual violence in the African-American church, to learning unique lessons from transgender sex workers, to living the double consciousness of Blackness and gayness.” The Philadelphia native eloquently crafts a narrative around his life thus far, providing a moving diary of self-discovery and, ultimately, self-love.
In the video below, Clay sat down with Malcolm Kenyatta, a political strategist and community activist in Philadelphia, for an interview on the stoop of his childhood home, giving some context for the book. “This is the block that I grew up on in West Philly, I have so many memories on this block. Memories of my family, memories of being a kid,” he tells Kenyatta, visibly emotional as he comes face-to-face with his past. “It’s powerful but it’s also strange because the neighborhood looks so different to me, but maybe in my head the neighborhood looks exactly as it does now. This is one of those forgotten blocks in Philadelphia.”
About his own history, and his book, Cane says, “My 14-year-old self was catapulted into Blackness. Not slang, fashion, or music, but the economic, structural, and historical realities that manifested on every block in west Philly. There were no Denise Huxtables or Steve Urkels… ’91 was the height of the crack epidemic, America’s war on drugs, a war on brown and Black people. And most urban cities across the country were in racial turmoil. Truthfully I was petrified of this crash course in so-called manhood and Blackness.” Later, he adds, “In this book I [also] talk about the love in these communities. Sometimes when you’re disenfranchised, when you’re so marginalized you’re going to find the love.”
See the entire interview, below.
Cane’s unique perspective growing up gay in inner city Philadelphia leaps off the page paints a vivid picture of struggle and joy over three decades. It’s a book that CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill has already claimed “will save someone’s life.”
Live Through This: Surviving The Intersections of Sexuality, God, and Race is available now, click here to purchase.