Book and Documentary Review


The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy by Robert Leleux | St. Martin’s Press, $23.95

“There is no such thing,” Robert Leleux’s boisterous Texas mother, Jessica Wilson, once told him, “as a happy medium.” With a funny, hyper-campy yet rarely sentimental narrative, Leleux has penned a tale about coming out in small town America and his family’s made-for-TV foibles. Leleux’s tome – parts of which are fictionalized for comedic and dramatic effect – is loaded with witty asides and snarky bits of sarcasm.

After being abandoned for another woman, Leleux’s mother – whose outsized Texas personality is matched by her fake, glued-on blonde wig – decides to do what many women of a certain age and a certain time period who are depressed about a man resort to: change her appearance dramatically. She hoodwinks then-17-year-old Leleux into driving her to the plastic surgeon for lip implants. Leleux, believing that his mother was, as she’d told him, bleeding from “down there,” rushes her off to Houston. The memoir’s conclusion takes us to Leleux’s conversation – labeling it reconciliation would be a stretch – with his long-despised father.

This book is syrupy Southern and chock-full of anecdotes that make for fabulous dinner-party conversation. It’s a decent first effort from Leleux, who could use a bit more seasoning as a writer. “The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy” is a redemptive tale about the fraught and special bond between a mother and her gay son – mothers almost always know, after all – and the many ways in which life forces you to turn lemons into lemonade.


In The Life: Summer of Stonewall (airing on PBS; check local listings)

After suffering the indignity of harassment, discrimination and public humiliation, many gay and lesbian folks were fed up by the summer of 1969. When cops raided New York’s Stonewall Inn the night of June 28 that year, many queens fought back – hurling bottles, coins and whatever they could find at the cops. These spontaneous demonstrations became known as the Stonewall Riots and are widely credited as a seminal event in the birth of the modern gay civil rights movement. Tensions continued to erupt over the next few nights, leading to more clashes – as well as the formation of several gay rights organizations.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the PBS series In The Life, which regularly presents positive programming about the LGBT community and information about the ongoing civil rights struggle, is airing a multi-part series over the course of several months beginning in June. The first show, an hour-long special, will include conversations with renowned author, activist and historian Larry Kramer, as well as the always-unpredictable Lady Bunny.

Topics set to be covered include: the story of the man behind the most recognizable symbol of gay pride – the rainbow flag – Gilbert Baker, who fulfilled a request from Harvey Milk back in 1978 to create a symbol for the community; the challenges and gains of LGBT youth – how have their needs changed now that over 4,000 Gay Straight Alliances exist across the country; and the vast advances of LGBT communication methods. How did we get from The Mattachine Review in the 1950s to Facebook, Manhunt, and The Advocate?

Organized with a vast array of resources at its disposal and featuring interviews with a range of activists and scholars, Summer of Stonewall is sure to make you laugh, teach you something about LGBT history and offer a new perspective on where the community is headed. Check PBS Austin affiliate KLRU’s listings for air time.




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