What We’re Reading: Chuck Forester’s I Throw Like a Girl
Author: Suzi Garcia
April 7, 2023
At Lambda Literary, we don’t just work nine-to-five jobs that stop when we close our computers. All of us are writers, readers, and members of the amazing community we are lucky enough to serve.
Inspired by our community, we are excited to present a new periodic series entitled What We Are Reading to share exciting books (new and old!) that Lambda staff are engaging with.
We had to start this new series off with a bang, and what better way than to discuss long-time Lambda Literary supporter Chuck Forester’s newest memoir I Throw Like a Girl. You can read previous interviews and works from Forester here.
Forester’s latest memoir is a complex, non-linear examination of community and queerness throughout the HIV/AIDS crisis and beyond. By refusing a linear discussion, Forester gives us a birds-eye view of queer culture, contextualizing events that continue to shape our current landscape.
In I Throw Like a Girl, we see a vision of what Forester calls “Gay Mecca,” 1970s San Francisco. The work he did to build that oasis, both in in the Human Rights Campaign and in government, helped to fight for gay visibility when all the country wanted to do was shut us up (or worse). Forester remains a key figure in our community’s continued battles, and this book serves as both testament and encouragement.
In particular, Forester’s work as a philanthropist provides alleyways for LGBTQIA+ literature and art to grow, thrive, and be memorialized. Saying “Erotica is the way some gay men learn how to be gay, so it’s a vital part of our history,” Forester is an advocate for freedom of expression, working to preserve our archives and fighting against book bans. He even discusses how his work with Lambda has been transformative, including (but not limited to) his funding of the J. Michael Samuel Prize for Emerging Writers Over 50. In an earlier interview with Lambda about his novel, Forester stated, “I hope a queer person who hasn’t been born yet chooses the early 70s in San Francesco as the subject of their PhD thesis….” Through his work in both philanthropic endeavors and his writing, he is ensuring that resources are available for future LGBTQIAP+ writers and readers.
While we learn a great deal about what’s happened in the queer community during Forester’s life, I Throw Like a Girl does not obfuscate Forester’s personal struggles and triumphs as well. From the loss of friends and lovers to AIDS, to growing up in a complicated family dynamic in a small-minded town, to searching for community in college, to his own HIV status, and beyond, Forester is frank and open about his life in a way that so few writers are.
In fact, we would be amiss to not mention that Forester is purposefully explicit in this book. Is it explicit for the sake of being explicit? Only to those that don’t recognize that Forester’s sex life is a part of his life, and a part of his sexuality. How could he write a memoir about being a gay man and hide those significant parts of his life? This is a book that brings together knowledge and experiences from across decades, and in the end, I Throw Like a Girl reminds us of the value that we have in telling our own stories in our voices, unflinchingly.