Review: Tango by Justin Vivian Bond
Title: Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels
Author: Bond, Justin Vivian
Length: 136 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Publisher / Year: Feminist Press / 2011
Source: Feminist Press subscription
Why I Read It: I randomly picked a book off my shelf and ended up with this one.
Date Read: 14/04/12
Although this is Bond’s first book, v is well-known as a cabaret artist and singer-songwriter in the US. V discusses, in this book, a childhood growing up in a small country town with parents who weren’t the most open or accepting of their trans/queer child. The short book discusses such topics as parenting trans/queer children, bullying, fitting in, and both the power and vulnerability of sex.
Much of Bond’s memoir deals with vs relationship with a neighbourhood boy, Michael Hunter. Hunter has since been arrested for impersonating law enforcement officers and diagnosed with mental illness. Their childhood relationship in secret and as it was displayed to the outside world, with Michael constantly degrading Bond, forms a large part of the book, and I suspect it is a large part of Bond’s memories as well of those years. Much of the book rests on the homophobia of adults and the ways in which this formed their relationship, and possibly contributed to Michael’s seeming self-hatred.
Trans- and homo-phobia play a large part in rural life growing up for Bond and in this end v imagines, as well, what it might be like to grow up without that. Bond gives a true examination of vs early formative years and the ways in which the assumptions and expectations of others, especially family, shaped V’s life. It’s a story of growing-up and of the ways in which our lives are shaped by experiences, as well as a dream of better experiences for those growing up after us.
Definitely recommended for anyone interested in learning more about living outside the gender binary.
Note: Justin Vivian Bond prefers to be referred to with the respective prefix and pronoun of Mx and V.