Not all LGBT coming of age tales are tales of coming out. Punk raconteur, musician and artist Cristy C. Road’s latest graphic memoir is instead a tale of the closet, and how the band Green Day saved her tween, queer soul. This is a very thorough tour of that small space, where as a young lesbian, Road struggled to find her queer identity. Outside of her closet, the beliefs of her family, school and American culture denied her queerness, striving to keep that closet door shut tight. For many of us, memories of our twelve-year-old crushes (c’mon, ‘fess up, who of you liked the Monkees? Boyz II Men? New Kids on the Block? Justin Bieber?) are dalliances we don’t ever want to see on Facebook, or write about ourselves. Then again, twelve-year-olds aren’t known for their musical taste, and the bands we first love are often more about the visionary doors they open for us, than who they really are. Road was lucky that the band she fell for had enough integrity that their songs rescued her, gave her a nom de plume she that keeps to this day, and featured a lead singer, Billy Joe Armstrong, who is now her fan.
Raised in a Cuban-American, Catholic family, with strong interesting female role models, Road was none-the-less expected to conform with certain cultural female stereotypes: keeping her hair long, dressing conservatively, believing in Jesus and Mary and the Holy Ghost. At school, she hangs out with boys, secretly crushing out on girls, especially Alex, who has the audacity to shave her head and by doing so, opens Road’s envious eyes to the freedom self expression engenders.
Road’s black and white illustrations are bold and inviting, and a good match for both the story and its historical setting. In fact, for me, the illustrations stole the show; exuberant and boisterous, I kept waiting for them to burst into dialog, grab the plot, and turn this illustrated novel into a full-fledged comic book. Although Road is true to the experience of living a double life, I was sad that by the end of the book, the door was still closed. And to me, the text sometimes became the closet itself, smothering action with introspection, nipping the wings of the characters’ stories through volumes of written words. I yearned to know more about Road’s escapades with her female friends, to jump in the car and ride to adventure with her mom and those other strong working class women relatives, to let the dialog run loose, nab the story and fly. I longed for more action to match the exuberance of the striking illustrations. I don’t know if the obviously talented Road plans to continue her memoir, but my hope is that volume two kicks the door open wide, and Road ‘s future tales share how her young, smothered self burst into queer fruition.
I borrowed this review from LAMBDA LITERARY.