46 pages 1 hour read

George M. Johnson

All Boys Aren't Blue

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | YA

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Important Quotes

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Content Warning: Quote 16 references an anti-gay hate crime, Quote 20 references an anti-gay slur, and Quote 24 discusses systemic violence against Black and queer people.

“The ‘It’s a girl! No, it’s a boy!’ mix-up is funny on paper, but not quite so hilarious in real life, especially when the star of that story struggles with their identity. Gender is one of the biggest projections placed onto children at birth, despite families having no idea how the baby will truly turn out.”

(Introduction, Page 8)

Johnson begins their narrative with what might seem a funny story but quickly becomes an example of the cycles of assumption and repression placed on queer people. Societal assumptions about gender begin before a person is even born, which greatly hurts people like Johnson.

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“My family provided the kind of upbringing and support system anyone would hope their children would have. The type of care, wealth, and love that should prevent a child from ever having to experience trauma or the same struggles that affected previous generations. Unfortunately, my life story is proof that no amount of money, love, or support can protect you from a society intent on killing you for your Blackness. Any community that has been taught that anyone not ‘straight’ is dangerous, is in itself a danger to LGBTQIAP+ people.”

(Part 1, Chapter 1, Page 19)

Johnson emphasizes that their upbringing was ideal to highlight the extent to which systemic oppression shapes the lives of marginalized people. Even with the perfect upbringing, care, and family wealth, Johnson still became traumatized for being Black and queer, which they blame on the society that views queer people as dangerous.

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“I had agency—the power to control my narrative—and this was a moment where I was choosing to do what I felt was best for me, no questions asked.”

(Part 1, Chapter 2, Page 32)

This quote about Johnson’s decision to use their middle name marks the first time Johnson feels they have control over their life. Even then, it comes with stipulations, like knowing that they wouldn’t have so much freedom if they wanted to have a girl’s name. However, even a small amount of control over their own life and expression is incredibly important given the lack agency they generally experience as a queer person.