All Boys Aren’t Blue
George M. Johnson didn’t expect a quiet reception for All Boys Aren’t Blue, their 2020 memoir on growing up Black and queer. Indeed, by the end of last year, the book had been removed from school libraries in Missouri and at least seven other states – targeted by groups of parents in multiple Kansas City-area school districts who maintained its content was too graphic and inappropriate for students.
Students and other parents have pushed back against those challenges, joining a wider call for intellectual freedom and inclusive collections in school and other libraries.
Johnson, a New York-based writer and activist, joins Kansas City activist Justice Horn in discussing Johnson's book and the life experiences that inspired and fill it. Together, they address the controversy around it.
“I know the landscape that we live in,” Johnson told Time magazine late last year. “So, for me to not only exist but have the audacity to tell my story … (those who saw it as unsuitable) were going to at some point try and shut it down.”
The collection of essays in All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto is geared toward young, queer adults of color and their allies. It lends perspective on a range of topics including toxic masculinity, structural marginalization, and consent but also carries themes of joy, positive outcomes, and making peace with one’sidentity.
Johnson has written about race, gender, sex, and culture for Essence, The Advocate, and more than 40 other national publications. Horn, whose many community activities include serving as vice-chairman of the LGBTQ Commission of Kansas City, has been involved in opposing the local book challenges and helped organize area demostrations in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.