This piece originally appeared in Interview
Early on in his phenomenal new memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives (Simon & Schuster), Saeed Jones describes a visit in his early teens to the local library in his hometown of Lewisville, Texas. “All the books I found about being gay were about AIDS,” he writes.“Gay men dying of AIDS like it was a logical sequence of events, a mathematical formula, or a life cycle. Caterpillar, cocoon, butterfly; gay boy, gay man, AIDS. It was certain.” One of the many struggles that Jones so powerfully captures is his attempt to forge his own positive identity against all of the violent and defeating stereotypes of growing up gay and black in contemporary America. In this profound, concise memoir, the 33-year-old writer isolates key moments from his youth and sharpens their points for maximum effect. We follow a young, searching Jones through his early years with his loving single mother, along a path of unrequited lust, furtive sexual experiences, and disapproving relatives, through his hard-won self-acceptance and into the grief of losing the person closest to him.