The Black Flamingo Book Review

This book follows Michael from his childhood up to his life in university. This is a coming of age story of a gay mixed (Jamaican and Greek-Cypriot) Black teenager who is finding who he is and does so through poetry and drag.

Thoughts: It is great that this book starts from Michael’s early childhood years and shows how even then he is trying to figure out who he is. He knows that he would rather play with dolls and kiss the boys and he understands that it makes him different than other boys. His peers then turn against him because they suspect that he is gay and this is the moment in which we first hear him say out loud that he is gay.

I love how throughout this book you get an idea of who each person introduced to the story is. I like the relationships that are shown and built in the little time that they are given. I really enjoy how Michael builds a friendship with the other outcast in his school and how she accepts him just as he is. I love hearing all the stories between Daisy and Michael and how they grow up together.

I like how this book addresses many topics from racism, homophobia, and what it is like to have an absent parent. I like how these topics are brought up throughout different parts of the story and Michael reflects on these past moments of his life. I like how we hear about each moment in which his thoughts about racism, homophobia, family, and friendship shift and why they shift in a certain direction.

I paused as he is trying to understand why his rights don’t travel with him and why “people like him” are treated differently depending on where they are in the world. I feel that that moment is such a hard part to realize growing up. It reminded me of when I first realized how much privilege I have being born and raised in Los Angles and not fearing being queer until my parents told me I should be scared.

Another part that I felt was impactful was the conversation that Michael’s uncle has with him as he is going to drop him off at college. I think it was important that he included what his uncle said about what it means to be Black and how Michael had never thought in those ways until that moment. I thought it was important that we see each moment in which his thought process surrounding race and racism change.

It was interesting to see as everyone refers to Daisy as his girlfriend and Michael constantly has to say that they are just friends. I like the complexity of their friendship and how he feels like Daisy is a part of his family. I thought it was so important that he showed how their friendship shifted when he realizes that Daisy is homophobic and how she tries to defend herself because she accepted Michael. I really enjoy that there is an instance of internalized homophobia shown through a conversation between Daisy and Michael. I think it was important that this was brought up even if it was a brief moment.

I love the ending of this book. Its just so beautiful and I cried. Just the permission to be yourself and whatever that means to you got to me. The permission to define your sexuality on your own terms and that it’s never too late to come out was great.

You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.

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