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Literary Criticism Gay & Lesbian

Second Person Queer

edited by Richard Labonte & Lawrence Schimel

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2009
Gay & Lesbian, Essays
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2009
    List Price

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First Person Queer, an anthology of non-fiction essays written in the first person by a variety of gay and lesbian authors, was a snapshot of LGBT life and experience in the modern age. Published in 2007, it received wide acclaim, and won the Lambda Literary Award for Anthologies and the Independent Publisher Award (Gold) for Gay & Lesbian Books.

Second Person Queer is an unusual companion book: an anthology of essays on LGBT life written in the second person. They take the form of letters to family and friends, missives to homophobes, confessions to lovers, tributes to notables of the past such as Jean Genet and David Wojnarowicz, and words of advice for the next generation. They deal with subjects as large and looming as violence, coming out, gay marriage, and AIDS to those as intimate and engaging as How to Love Your Inner Femme, How to Survive Gay Celebrity, and How to Not Be Offended By Everything: A Guide for Asian Men. Powerful, funny, poignant: these are the stories of who you are as a LGBT person, or the person you would most like to be.

Contributors include Amber Dawn, S. Bear Bergman, Paul Bellini, Daniel Allen Cox, Stacey May Fowles, Sky Gilbert, Terry Goldie, Greg Herren, Achy Obejas, Andy Quan, RM Vaughan, Michael Rowe, and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. Co-editors Labonté and Schimel have written or edited over 100 books between them; Labonté edits the annual Best Gay Erotica anthologies from Cleis, and Schimel's books include PoMoSexuals and The Mammoth Book of New Gay Erotica. In addition to First Person Queer, they co-edited The Future is Queer.

About the authors

Richard Labonte (1949-2022) was a writer, bookseller, and editor, best known as the editor or co-editor of numerous anthologies of LGBT literature. He was the co-founder of the LGBTQ bookstore A Different Light, and managed the store in Silver Lake, California for many years. As well, he was editor of Cleis Press' Best Gay Erotica series for many years; for Arsenal Pulp Press, he co-edited four anthologies with Lawrence Schimel: The Future Is Queer, First Person Queer, Second Person Queer, and I Like It Like That. He won three Lambda Literary Awards, for Best Gay Erotica 2005, First Person Queer, and Best Gay Erotica 2009.

Richard Labonte's profile page

Lawrence Schimel is an award-winning author and anthologist who has published over 70 books in many genres, including four anthologies for Arsenal Pulp Press, all co-edited with Richard Labonte: The Future Is Queer (2006), the Lambda Award-winning First Person Queer (2007), its sequel Second Person Queer (2009), and I Like It Like That (2009). His other books include Lambda winner PoMoSexuals: Challenging Assumptions about Gender and Sexuality (with Carol Queen), The Drag Queen of Elfland, The Mammoth Book of Gay Erotica, and Things Invisible to See: Lesbian and Gay Tales of Magic Realism. Formerly of New York, he has lived in Madrid, Spain since 1999.


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Lawrence Schimel's profile page

Editorial Reviews

This un-put-down-able anthology of non-fiction essays about gay life is written by a who's who of gay writers, including the great Michael Rowe, Sky Gilbert, Daniel Allen Cox, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, and fab author R.M. Vaughan.

These diverse essays are shocking and hilarious, and always relevant.
-Fugues (Montreal)

A few of the essays moved me so powerfully with the intensity of their voices that I felt struck to the core and it's made me read them over and over.... This collection certainly achieved its goal in helping me to define and redefine myself. Perhaps Sean Michael Law puts it best in his letter 'To My Thirteen-Year-Old Daughter Who Just Told Me She's Bi,' "being queer isn't about being just one thing. It's about understanding the harmony of all things, the necessity of difference and the careful ways that human lives integrate with one another." Importantly, this is when all the profiling and queer labels break down and you understand finally that you are and always have been an individual.
-Chroma (

What is surprising is how intimate the whole project turned out to be. Look for pieces by AmberDawn, Paul Bellini, Daniel Allen Cox, Stacey May Fowles and RM Vaughan among the highlights.
-Capital Xtra!

Short, passionate polemic texts are shot through with complex theories and ideas, predominately from an anti-assimilationist point of view.
-Gay Times (UK)

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