Tales of an American Lesbian - The Best of the Straight & Narrow: 1986 - 1993

Category: Memoir
Author: Holly Valero
Publisher: Boilerplate Books, LLC
Publication Date: March 15, 2020
Number of Pages: 139
ISBN-10: 0983483582
ISBN-13: 978-0-9834835-8-8

In the late 1980s, Holly was a young lesbian living in a rural Pennsylvanian town of Towanda, dreaming of a normal life and a better job. The desire to earn more and possibly meet a lesbian her age is what took her to Concord, New Hampshire. The 1980s are a memorable time for the queer community. From budding LGBTQIA+ protests, activism, and the deadly AIDS epidemic, Holly documented the politically charged environment she navigated in a series of monthly columns. The AIDS epidemic caused rampant intolerance outside of the queer community and unrelenting tension within. Moreover, with the gay community at the front of the nation, lesbian pride and visibility diminished. This is where Holly’s columns came to the fore a statement that the lesbian community was still right there and still fighting for a more accommodating future.

Tales of an American Lesbian The Best of the Straight & Narrow: 1986 – 1993 by Holly Valero is an inspirational memoir highlighting the struggle of LGBTQIA+ people in America in the 1980s. Her light humor, sprinkled throughout the book, makes for easy reading of otherwise difficult and heavy topics. Her coming-out story to her grandparents is amusing as she regales how difficult it is to talk to older people. Energetic and full of zeal, the author shares stories from the past that will resonate deeply with the LGBTQIA+ youth of today.

The 1980s were a time when LGBTQIA+ people were arrested in clubs, fired from jobs, and shunned by their closest family members as soon as they learned about their sexuality. This book is a powerful and engaging testament of the ordeals they went through and a story that will resonate powerfully with anyone from the LGBTQIA+ community, their family members, or anyone hoping to learn more about the lesbian struggle for acceptance and visibility. It is well-written and replete with social and historical commentaries that are as eye-opening as they are interesting. 

Reviewed By: Jane Riley


Date: November 7, 2021