Gomez’s witty memoir follows a touching and often hilarious spiralic path to embracing his gay, Latinx identity against a culture of machismo—from his uncle’s cockfighting ring in Nicaragua to cities across the U.S.—and the bath houses, night clubs, and drag queens who helped him redefine pride.
I’ve always found the definition of machismo to be ironic, considering that pride is a word almost unanimously associated with queer people, the enemy of machistas. In particular, effeminate queer men represent a simultaneous rejection and embrace of masculinity . . . In a world desperate to erase us, queer Latinx men must find ways to hold onto pride for survival, but excessive male pride is often what we are battling, both in ourselves and in others.
A debut memoir about coming of age as a gay, Latinx man, High-Risk Homosexual opens in the ultimate anti-gay space: Gomez’s uncle’s cockfighting ring in Nicaragua, where he was sent at thirteen years old to become a man. Readers follow Gomez through the queer spaces where he learned to love being gay and Latinx, including Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a drag queen convention in Los Angeles, and the doctor’s office where he was diagnosed a “high-risk homosexual.”
With vulnerability, humor, and quick-witted insights into racial, sexual, familial, and professional power dynamics, Gomez shares a hard-won path to taking pride in the parts of himself he was taught to keep hidden. His story is a scintillating, beautiful reminder of the importance of leaving space for joy.
Advance praise for High-Risk Homosexual
“The catalogue page for this debut memoir lists a number of things you can expect to find within the book’s contents. Among them are ‘Maybelline foundation shade: Rich Tan,’ ‘A baby wailing in an ancient Jesuit language,’ and ‘The most famous woman in the world.’ If that doesn’t entice you to read Gomez’s account of figuring out how to embrace his queer identity amid a culture of machismo, I’m not sure what will.” —Keely Weiss, Harper’s Bazaar, A Best LGBT Book of the Year
“Packed with dry wit and searing cultural insight . . . A brilliant and provocative interrogation of sex, gender, race, and love.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Poignant, vivid, and often hilarious, this coming-of-age memoir fearlessly explores intersectional identity and shows what it means to live and love authentically as a gay man today . . . An engagingly candid memoir from a promising young writer.” —Kirkus Reviews
“High-Risk Homosexual is a keen and tender exploration of queer identity, masculinity, and belonging. From the cockfighting ring in Nicaragua, where he was taken by his uncles to learn how to be a man, to Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where he witnesses freedom and joy on the dance floor, Edgar Gomez writes with honesty and humor about the difficulty of straddling boundaries and the courage of finding oneself. This book signals the arrival of a major new talent.” —Laila Lalami, author of Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America and The Other Americans
“High-Risk Homosexual is an absolute marvel in voice, style, and its raucous, tender, heartbreaking, compassionate, and ultimately triumphant examination of gay spaces, the politics of gender, violence against GLBTQ folks, and, of course, the human heart. Edgar Gomez is an unforgettable writer with enviously fantastic storytelling skills. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll rage, you’ll buy this book for all of your friends.” —Emily Rapp Black, author of Sanctuary and Frida Kahlo and My Left Leg
“Edgar Gomez is the chaotic queer hero we both need and deserve—with humor and charm, he tenderly leads us into night clubs, bathhouses, the backseat of cars with anonymous men, asking us to examine our current place in the world amongst the lonely and brokenhearted, the ones who dare live our truest lives. For anyone whose coming out and coming of age is messy in all the ways, let High-Risk Homosexual be a road map.” —Christopher Gonzalez, author of I’m Not Hungry but I Could Eat
“High-Risk Homosexual is a vivacious, compelling, and intimate portrait about queer coming of age and finding oneself. Gomez’s writing has this special way of inviting us in, like an old friend, catching us up to the pains, doldrums, and pleasures of living, reminding us at every turn of the exquisite messiness that is life. This memoir is a sheer delight, and one not to be missed.” —Marcos Gonsalez, author of Pedro’s Theory: Reimagining the Promised Land
“High-Risk Homosexual is like a delicious cocktail: sharp, nuanced, sweet and tender when the bite must be tempered. Edgar Gomez writes with the magnetic candor that flourishes at gay bars, with as much style as all the queens at DragCon, with observant eyes well-trained in steamy bathhouses—all of which he sketches in these electric pages. This book parses queer spaces, the queer self, with a heart as intelligent and thoughtful as its author. As he proves in his unapologetic memoir, Gomez is a force to be reckoned with.” —Matt Ortile, author of The Groom Will Keep His Name
“Edgar Gomez has written a memoir that stands out among so many others, with a narrative voice that’s singularly hilarious and observant and unforgettable, so perfectly nuanced with memory and humor in limning the landscapes of love in Florida and Nicaragua. At the center is his mother, a bright vivid burst of fear and tenderness and absolute deephearted love. High-Risk Homosexual presents a brand new voice of impeccable clarity and vision.” —Susan Straight, American Book Award finalist and author of In The Country of Women
“There’s a rhythm to vulnerable, honest writing and Edgar Gomez doesn’t miss a beat in High-Risk Homosexual. His characters—his mother, his friends, his lovers—are his dance partners that he lovingly dips and twirls across the page, their beauty on full display even as he bares their humanity and his own to the audience. This memoir is a master class in humor with warmth, not ridicule, and truth with tenderness, not overexposure. Pick this book up for the laughs, but have your tissue ready for a few tears too.” —Minda Honey, author of An Anthology of Assholes