The Times I Knew I Was Gay is less of a coming out story and more of a “coming into yourself” story. Eleanor Crewes does not do a “deep dive” into their journey to finding their true self but all the important parts, events, feelings and people are there. These highlights create a feeling that you are reading a diary or watching a movie that Crewes is narrating.
Crewes comes out to themselves (and to family and friends) several times before they finally say, “I am Gay!” And this time, they mean it. Crewes wakes up one morning in their childhood bed and says this out loud. And it is as if it is for the first time and this time it is going to “stick” as it feels right. Crewes went “in and out of a closet” (they have an interesting theory and images about their “The Closet” time) multiple times before they are finally sure of this “revelation.” Crewes then proceeds to literally tell the house this news. You can almost feel the joy and relief in the text and art.
Their illustrations are detailed sketches that are limited in what is provided but are not incomplete. (I would like to see the finish copy as I have an ARC which I am assuming might not have 100% finished art). The illustrations might not be to everyone tastes, but they have a charm and perfectly fit the voice Crewes creates. You see their everyday events, their interactions at school, with friends, family and life in general.
This book is not a guide on how to “come out” but it is one person’s journey. If you have come out with your sexuality or found that you were not in the “right place” at any given time in your life, you might see yourself in this journey. Crewes shows, “I lived my journey, now I am sharing it,” with the wounds healed, but you see the rawness of their experiences: their first-time having sex with a man; their “perfect guy” who is less than perfect; the movie-night confession with their first time coming out. And the revelation that dating is just hard even if you are dating the right gender, finally.
I related to this book on many levels as I think Crewes and I might be similar in age and backgrounds. And while our actual experiences differ, I would like to think I understand where they are coming from. Teens to adult are the audience. And if you liked The Fire never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures by Noelle Stevenson this is a great “next book” or if you need a book before The Times I Knew I Was Gay hits the bookstore shelves in early October.