Youngman: Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan

Youngman is a selection of the diaries of Lou Sullivan, gay trans man and activist, from the age of 10 until his death aged 39. They are placed in chronological order, separated into where he lived but otherwise without interruption, and the book reads as a first-hand account of Sullivan’s life, particularly around sex, love, and fighting to live the life he wanted.

Particularly powerful are the things Sullivan says that sound obvious and straightforward now, but at the time were radical and vital for changing the ways in which trans people related to gender and sexuality and were seen by other people. His exploration and affirmation of being a gay trans man, and the importance of being a gay man amongst men, come out (pun intended) particularly well through this selection, and his insights could be useful to people who don’t really understand how gender and sexuality can be deeply entwined, but also one doesn’t necessarily mean something about the other. Even with the sadness of Sullivan’s death, this is a deeply celebratory book, showing a man fighting to live on his terms and enjoying sex and community throughout his life, and the diary excerpts create an intimate picture that a lot of people will get something from.