Memories of a Gay Catholic Boyhood: Coming of Age in the Sixties

Duke Univ. Sept. 2022. 248p. ISBN 9781478015925. $29.95. MEMOIR
D’Emilio (Queer Legacies) is a pioneer of gender and sexuality studies and gay history, and his memoir deserves as much recognition as his scholarship. He describes in rich detail his Bronx boyhood in a multi-generational Italian American home. The characters of his young life include his classmates at his Roman Catholic elementary school. Sunday dinners at his grandmothers are profoundly memorable. His world expands as he is admitted to Manhattan’s prestigious Regis High School—Jesuit education at its finest. There, he blooms as a budding intellectual. It is also clear that he has an incredible capacity for friendships which last a lifetime. This characteristic is also in evidence from his description of his undergraduate years at Columbia. Other important topics in D’Emilo’s memoir are his conflicts with his family as he begins a progression leftward in politics, and his gradual process of coming to terms with his sexuality. The latter starts with the high schooler’s furtive encounters with older men in the subway; in time, he finds his first loves.
VERDICT D’Emilio’s youthful reminiscences make for a classic work of literature that deserves a wide readership. One hopes this memoir is only the first in a succession.
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