To Be a Gay Man
by Will Young
Publication date: September 3rd 2020
Million-selling pop star and co-host of influential podcast ‘Homo Sapiens’, Will Young is calling for an end to society’s legacy of gay shame, revealing the impact it had on his own life, how he learned to deal with it and how to be gay and happy.
A recent study published by Stonewall found that 52% of the LBGTQ+ community had experienced depression in the last year, compared to 16% in the wider population. It’s a crisis, and Will Young is passionate about raising awareness and helping others so they don’t have to go through what he did – depression, anxiety, addiction to alcohol, porn, shopping and even love, plus a sizeable bill for therapy.
Young gay people growing up in a climate of shame are clearly more at risk of developing low self-worth, and even self-disgust, leading to destructive behaviours in adult life. With therapy, Will has provided himself with the tools, self-knowledge and perspective to identify destructive compulsions for what they are. In How tobe a Gay Man, he reveals the darkest extremes he has been to, sharing his vulnerabilities, tracing his own navigation through it all, and showing others who might be feeling isolated, that their experience is shared.
Here you’ll find a frank and funny friend, a mentor, a champion, breaking taboos and giving a voice to unspoken thoughts. His disarming honesty provides a compelling narrative, and on top of that, a big dose of hard-earned wisdom.
“To Be a Gay Man” by Will Young is a quick read, narrated in audiobook by Will himself. The book is half memoir and half a delve into the past and present of LGBTQ+ existence in society.
For the most part, this was a moving and reflective read. It’s always interesting to hear the back stories and inner thoughts of those in the public eye who you know very little about and until reading this book my knowledge of Will Young was only his Pop Idol win in my primary school days back in 2002.
Many of Will’s experiences as a gay man are saddening, as are the obstacles and experiences that gay people still face in present day, but as a book, I didn’t feel that this was particularly well written and I struggled with some of the structures and often bizarre choices of words that even the author himself didn’t know how to correctly pronounce. I get the impression that this book was written in a rush for fast publication during the pandemic.
I enjoyed Will’s funny and typically candid stories about his childhood and early adulthood the most. It’s clear that he’s spilled his truth out onto the page and revealed all in this book. The self-help aspects, however, were less my cup of tea.
An educational read in parts, but not a great read overall.
Overall rating: “To Be a Gay Man” by Will Young is a moving read that I’m sure will resonate with many, but I didn’t find it to be particularly well written and it seemed quite rushed! A 2 star read for me.
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