And beyond just telling us the who, where, what and how of her life, she's extremely revealing about her process. Not just some of the deepest parts of her personality (as Kate says in the book, "Life's better without secrets,"), like her diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, but also the internal process of what it was like to be here. She cracks open her heart and shows us the internal realities of growing-up and adulthood prior to transitioning, many ongoing touchstones of what it was like knowing she was "girl," how she related to it and how she either leaned into it or away from it with facial hair, women, weight and clothing. Her lifelong battle with anorexia, how she learned to starve herself and then how she learned to think she could be pretty while being voluptuous. What it is like as a cutter, the pain and relief and how she used it to get through. Vivid plans for suicide attempts.
My pal Cristy C. Road just wrote a book and the folks at Feminist Press sent me a copy to review! I highly recommend this piece of genius.
It’s obvious by her amazing art that Cristy is an incredible illustrator. She has such a distinct style that’s both real and wild. But I often forget what a profound writer she is. I never thought I’d be underlining passages in a graphic novel, but then there I was on the B65 bus clutching my purple pen marking this, “Casual homophobia. It’s the social acceptance of gay jokes, slurs, and homophobic remarks when in the presence of a feminine man or a masculine woman. I saw it as a side effect of money and power destroying spirituality.”
Spit and Passion is Cristy’s autobiographical story of coming out as queer in middle school as a Cuban American pre-teen obsessed with Green Day. Holed up in her bedroom in Miami wondering about the Bay Area punk scene. I was drawn to her cultural references, as I was totally obsessed with Nirvana and Pearl Jam when I was that age. It’s also so honest and insightful, while deeply intimate. This is not an easy balance to strike in a personal narrative.
The book is also at times painful in that way that only adolescent honesty can be. She talks about her unibrow, masturbation, awkward fashion choices and the difficult task of trying to relate to peers when there’s no one relatable.
There is a character in the book, “The bald girl,” that Cristy gets this huge crush on but never talks to. I feel like there’s a point in the coming out process where a lot of us are super attracted to people who have the outward appearance of gay/non-heteronormative because that’s what we long so much to be. Seriously, throw a set of pride rings on a short-haired girl in college and I was all swoon city, creating a whole relationship in my head between me and the latest object of my affection.
At the book launch Cristy confessed that the bald girl is actually an amalgamation of two girls, neither of which she ever spoke to in middle school. Then she said the most profound thing. “Now, we’re all the bald girl.”
Buy Spit and Passion, for yourself, for your teenage cousin who is coming out, for your best friend whose band obsessions defined her youth. You can get it for $9.57 at the Feminist Press website!
The Feminist Press gave me this excerpt from the book to whet my blog readers’ whistles! Read on! (P.S. Sometimes I totally felt/feel like that little gay alien in the Queen t-shirt.)