photo & text by nacrowe
adolescence sucks for just about everyone. its an awkward time where you are experimenting and essentially defining an identity that will carry over into adult life.
i can't even imagine the difficulty in negotiating those same issues while coming out, especially in the 1990s when this memoir takes place. in my opinion HIGH SCHOOL (SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2019) by CANADIAN INDIE ROCK duo TEGAN + SARA poignantly explores this emotionally-wrought minefield in an honest manner that makes this memoir a must-read for anyone gong through the same situation or seeks to empathize with such a journey.
i personally never went through this experience, but i have friends who did. especially when i attended high school in KUWAIT where anything HOMOSEXUAL-adjacent was literally a crime. in public there was always this front my friends had to uphold that seemed exhausting to me, CODED LANGUAGE and BEHAVIORAL TICKS manufactured in order to conceal their actual identity. this type of polari always fascinated and utterly horrified me despite the fact that it didnt directly affect me.
in the case of the TEGAN + SARA, their story is one of SELF-DISCOVERY and any concealing behavior they exhibited was largely to protect family, friends and the reputations of their partners. the word SHAME is never brought up once in the memoir (which is structured with alternating chapters by each sister that serve as insightful vignettes), and yet it seems to be a central theme. SARA especially is an advocate to the community, calling out her FAMILY, TEACHERS and such for their HYPOCRISY; yet she is closeted for most of high school.
it is through music that the sisters find a sense of agency and control over their own narrative. a sense of solace in that they can express themselves while still concealing in plan site their identity as members of the LGBTQ community.
given the potency of their frustrations, confusion and heartbreaks in not being able to be open about themselves (or even having a definition yet for their own sexual preferences) makes this the perfect book for teenagers be familiar with, irrespective of their own SEXUAL ORIENTATION. if anything it promotes empathy, compassion and understanding for the hidden experiences of others and makes you think twice when allowing someone to utilize hurtful language regarding a minority group because they dont appreciate PC culture (im looking right at you STATEN ISLAND, SACRAMENTO, NIGERIA, KUWAIT, MYANMAR, JAPAN, ALBANIA, VENEZUELA and all the other HOMOPHOBIC communities i've called home at one point or another).
HIGH SCHOOL should be read by everyone. can't recommend it enough. it is the rare memoir that seems entirely current to issues at stake globally right now regarding human rights and the common dignity we all deserve. all identities should be celebrate and cherished and this memoir provides an insight into that personal journey of accepting yourself at a point of emotional and physical transition we all go through as adolescents.