“Identity Envy- Wanting to Be Who We Are Not: Creative Nonfiction by Queer Writers”–testimonials

Tushinski, Jim and Jim Van Buskirk, “Identity Envy: Wanting to Be What We Are Not: Creative Non-Fiction by Queer Writers”, The Haworth Press, 2007.


Amos Lassen

“Identity Envy” is a collection of essays by queer men and women that explores the connections they have to family, race, religion, gender and ethnicity. The writers explore their own identities in this amazing anthology and take both serious and humorous looks at themselves in very personal essays, creative non-fiction and memoirs.

All of us have had desires to be someone other than ourselves just as the authors here. They, however, have written about those desires with honesty and insight. They show how redemptive t can be when a person knows himself. We go deep into the lives of some interesting and extremely honest people

There is a great deal of innocence and impossibility in dreaming of being what one is not and the writers here manage to do that in their writing.

Our culture does not look deeply on the complexity of identity so this book is even more valuable as it gives us revelation after revelation of what identity is composed of—of what we think of ourselves and what others think of us. Identity is formed and many different elements go into that formation. Foremost among those elements is our sexuality and how it helps us to see ourselves as individuals and as others as far as society is concerned. Perhaps the most misunderstood issue of humanity is identity—are we who we are because of our own self concept or because of what others think of us? Is identity imposed or is it created? How do we move beyond the imposed components of identity to find out who we really are? These questions quite naturally depend on several ideas—gender, religion, family, class and even sexual preference. “Identity Envy” looks at hose very issues and examines the roots of identity formation. We, as members of the GLBT community, need to assert our uniqueness to help do away with intolerance and social castigation.

Because of our unique place (or displacement) in society, we look to others in order to claim our identity and in many cases the result is low self esteem and shamefulness. We have lacked role models and we envy those that have them.

What we have in “Identity Envy” are true stories of what people write about hating what they are and when they desire to be something that they are not allowed to be. The honesty of this anthology will awaken in you those feelings of attempting to claim recognition.

We need not forget who we are and we must strive to find our place by being who we are and not pretending to be something else. This is not a guidebook for that purpose but by reading what is here, it is possible to gain a foothold on the issue and it is a start to our claiming our rightful place among others.

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