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Gaytheist: Coming Out of My Orthodox Childhood

Gaytheist: Coming Out of My Orthodox Childhood

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By Lonnie Mann and Ryan Gatts. Published by Street Noise.

Softcover, 260 pages, Colour, 2024. 

A coming-of-age graphic novel memoir about a young man who, growing up in an Orthodox Jewish community, realizes he’s gay and struggles to reconcile his faith with who he is.

Lonnie’s Orthodox Jewish community has always been clear: it’s not okay to be gay. Growing up in a devout family and going to school at a yeshiva, he’s told by his parents, his teachers, and his friends that being gay is a sin and an abomination. But as he gets older, he realizes that he likes boys and wonders what kind of life he will be able to live. As Lonnie expands his world beyond the yeshiva to theater camp, college classes, and movie nights, he sees that the life he wants isn’t compatible with the life of his parents—and his whole religious community.

This emotional graphic novel explores the fissures between identity and religion and charts Lonnie’s journey from a kid who loved the rules of the Orthodox Jewish tradition to becoming increasingly independent and defiant, embracing his gay identity and developing his own chosen family.

“A vital, emotionally immersive self-portait.” —Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

“An emotionally fraught graphic memoir. Younger adults navigating their own coming out within religious communities will find resonance.” —Publishers Weekly

“I love this book! It is for any of us who have been othered by our upbringing. This book helps us believe that the journey out is worth it.” —Shelby Criswell, author of Queer As All Get Out

“I'm so glad this beautiful, thoughtful book exists for anyone fighting their way out or searching for a clear path. I can't wait to share it with kids who need it!” —Lucy Knisley, author of Kid Gloves

“While the circumstances of growing up in a strict Orthodox household are highly individual, the feelings of loneliness and confusion mixed with hope are universal. Read it and remember.” —Rob Kirby, author of Marry Me a Little

“This tenderly drawn journey of self-definition gave me a peek into a very different world. I loved it.” —Hazel Newlevant, author of No Ivy League


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