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Queer Author Jonathan Alexander Says It Doesn’t Necessarily Get Better

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Dear Queer Self: An Experiment in Memoir, queer author and professor Jonathan Alexander took a trip to the past, imagining that he was in conversation with his younger self.

The approach, he says, allowed him to better understand who he is today. Southern California-based Alexander spoke with another queer author, Alex Espinoza, who wrote Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime, about how he wrote Dear Queer Self and why he believes that maybe it doesn’t really “get better.”Alex Espinoza: What was the initial idea for writing Dear Queer Self?

What sparked this desire for you to address these letters to your younger self?  Jonathan Alexander: Over the past few years, I’d written two memoirs, Creep: A Life, a Theory, an Apology and a sequel of sorts, Bullied: The Story of an Abuse, that dealt with my experience of intense homophobia while growing up in the Deep South in the ’70s and ’80s.

Having spent that time writing about my younger self, I wanted to write a letter to him — not to tell him that things get better necessarily but that I was proud of him for having survived so much, for teaching older me how to be a gracious, proud, and even daring queer person.The book focuses on three years in the life of your younger self — 1989, 1993, and 1996.

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