“Live Through This: The Intersections of Sexuality, God, and Race” by Clay Cane is another absolute gem that was called to my attention by author Kittredge Cherry. This book is powerful, personal, and extremely informative. As Cane states in his Author’s Note at the beginning, the book is not a memoir as such, but a collection of focused essays on the topics listed in his subtitle. When I got to the section in which the author described filming the documentary “Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church”, I immediately intermitted my reading to go look it up on the Internet. I am ecstatic that I found it, and must add to this review strong encouragement that anyone who has concerns about the issues discussed in Cane’s narrative invest an hour of their time in viewing it. Both this documentary, and Clay Cane’s book, will be cherished and shared at every opportunity!
Clay Cane’s Live Through This: Surviving the intersections of Sexuality, God, and Race, goes beyond being an extensive collection of essays, but instead exhibits a true slice of what it means to navigate a complex America.
The book starts with a simple, yet poignant anecdote about his mother’s unyielding love and affirmation for him. It is a bold start to a book that promises unwavering honesty as it sets the tone of security. We are safe in Clay’s hands as he eases us into his life and the lives of others whom we’ll eventually experience as chapters go on. By showing us how loved he was, as early as seven years old, readers understand and feel that future essays will display elements of that same love.
Our sense of security as readers is quickly changed as other stories infiltrate his personal narrative. These stories are told so well that one must read carefully to realize that not every story belongs to Clay. They are the stories of the truest survivors; people on the periphery of our lives who exist alongside us, having the same struggles, if not worse, and still managing to survive. Some with heads held high, and some who become buried under the complexities of American life. Clay’s observations of those around him are sharp and focused without being meticulous and overdone.
Standout sections of Clay’s book are his sections on “Race” and “Intersections.” It is in these sections that one gains clarity on America’s problems with class, race, education, and overall the systems put in place that make America a capitalist machine. Everything is inextricably linked and realizing this makes Live Through This a sobering read. Not all of it is as super serious as it sounds. There are some hilarious moments where Clay tells stories of finding joy among pain and those moments showcase his own humanity as well as the humanity of those whose stories he tells.
For a book with such a cerebral title, it is surprisingly accessible, relatable, and at times, touching. Clay has not skimped on his honesty and we as readers are all the better for it. One wonders how many other essays could have potentially been included in this book, as this reader wants possibly five more chapters. After revisiting a few chapters post-reading the entire book, however, it is clear why each chapter has been included. The book itself, becomes the personification of intersections as one realizes that references from every chapter can be found in others, resulting in a -sort of- piecing together of Clay’s personal life. It is clever, if it was intentional. If not intentional, the book still manages to serve a purpose beyond itself, by highlighting humanity and celebrating it for all its peaks and valleys. Dare it be said, it’s impossible to read this book and not contemplate one’s own survival thus far. Have we made it this far in our own lives with such grace and determination? What has gotten us this far? Was affirmation the root of our own moving forward?
The book deserves more than one read and should be required reading for any LGBT person of color.
This is an excellent book it addresses in depth the author’s opinions and intersectional experiences around race, gender expression, sexual orientation, poverty, class, religion, and navigating his life at the intersection of multiple identities and cultures. Clay’s retelling of his experiences and expressing his opinions is refreshingly nuanced. This is a great book for parents and relatives of LGBT persons. I think it is a must read for African-American or other Black men or men of color who are LGBT. African-American men of the LGBT experience and who grew up in the mainline and offshoot African-American Protestant Christian denominations, churches, and cultures might recognize some of the experiences he writes about. For those of us who did not grow up in that experience, Clay's critique is nuanced and sensitive. It left me thinking that I could be a bit more compassionate and less critical of these men.
This memoir was a required reading for my LGBT Literature class. Some of Cane's essays are anecdotal while others dive deep, with a fluid writing style that makes this memoir pleasant to read. It's balance of vernacular and current terms appeal to various audiences. (As a non-LGBTQIA person, I did not feel alienated while reading this. I was able to follow along and learn some things.) Cane lets readers into places that many people take great pains to bury - places of raw truth and vulnerability - and I adore him for that.
This was a great read. It tugs on the heart of the reader as you dive deep into characters that mirror yourself or those around you.The way that race, sexuality and God are interwoven in the book emphasize the individual impact each has on one's concept of self. It is easy to read/follow and is definitely a page turner. The way he humanizes the lives of transgenders and addicts is powerful because both groups are often written about in a negative tone. I have spoken to quite a few friends about this book and encouraged them to get a copy because this book is a great conversation piece. Thank you Clay for sharing your gifts and work with us.
Live Through This is an amazing book about the current experiences of queer people of color in the U.S., at the intersection of sexuality, race, and religion. I've introduced the book to my college students who identify with and have grown to love Clay Cane's collection of essays. I enjoyed reading Live Through This. Highly recommended!
First of all, this gets my five stars. The narrative is so compelling. I lived through these times of trying to figure out who I am. Bravo for telling your side and having the strength to do so. This is a must have addition to anyone's library. Congrats Clay!
amazing book, and a very easy read. beautifully written essays that are captivating and paint a vivid picture of the author's life. explores a lot of social issues, from homophobia in the church to toxic masculinity in Hollywood, through personal narrative. really enjoyed this one.