Tag: club

Carolina reviews Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo – The Lesbrary

Susan reviews The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

It seems apt to begin 2021, a time of reflection and introspection for many, with a YA novel that feels fresh and timeless at the same time. Malinda Lo’s new novel, Last Night at the Telegraph Club echoes with the same beats as my favorite “baby gay” first lesbian novels (e.g. Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel), but holds nuance and depth as an exploration of the limitations and restraints of the Eisenhower Era. Malindo Lo explores the role of the “other” in white picket fence McCarthyist America through the eyes of a young girl coming to terms with historical familial trauma, her identity as a Chinese lesbian in society, and future as a woman in a male-dominated field in San Francisco’s post-war Chinatown.

Lily Hu is a “good Chinese girl.” Her father is a reputable family doctor, her mother by his side as a nurse, both parents well-respected members of their tight-knit Chinatown family. There is no room in their community’s embrace for error or deviation, as their neighborhood faces the tides of post-World War II racism and the initial waves of the Red Scare. When Lily discovers an intriguing advertisement for a male impersonator at a local nightclub, The Telegraph Club, she realizes she might not be quite like her cookie-cutter classmates as she once thought.. As the novel progresses, Lily discovers the wonder of the gay underground in The Telegraph Club alongside her close friend, and first love, Kath. Lily must delicately maintain the balance her of double life between Chinatown and The Castro in order to protect her family as they face deportation for supposed Communist ties, and save her new friends, Kath, and herself from the prying eyes of the gay-bashing police.

Last Night at The Telegraph Club has beautiful writing full of detail and care; Lo rebuilds the glitz and glitter of 1950’s era San Francisco before your eyes, situating the reader in the heart of Chinatown alongside the Hu family. The pacing was on the nose for a fast-paced, exciting coming of age novel and I could seldom put the novel down. Malinda Lo celebrates queer friendship and found families in Last Night at The Telegraph Club, one of my favorite themes that is very near and dear to my heart and seldom stressed in novels.

I loved the vignettes between chapters from Lily’s family’s point of view, as it regaled their journey to adulthood as immigrants and children of diaspora as they come to terms with their American surroundings as Chinese outsiders. Lily’s father’s fear of deportation and alienation from his American peers rings true in contemporary America. Personally, I related to Lily’s mother’s fear of being too “Americanized” and distanced from her own culture, as I am the daughter of Cuban immigrants. However, these outside perspectives interrupted Lily’s narrative and felt that they needed more depth in order to remain pertinent to the plot. I also would have preferred some fleshing out of the secondary characters, especially Shirley and Calvin, Lily’s friends who become involved in the Communist Party.

Malinda Lo’s works are already a bookshelf staple for any WLW; Ash and Huntress are often a young gay person’s first book with lesbian characters. Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a fitting addition to Lo’s acclaimed literature, a wonderful coming of age novel full of love and heart. I would highly recommend this new novel, in stores and online on January 19, 2021.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the eARC of the novel!

Trigger Warnings: racism, homophobia, police brutality, family trauma, abandonment

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” Is a Dazzling Lesbian Love Story and So Much More

"Last Night at the Telegraph Club" Is a Dazzling Lesbian

I don’t cover a lot of young adult fiction here; the other age groups keep me busy enough. I’m making an exception today, however, not only because I happen to know the author, but because the book is a rare YA novel that I found myself reading for my own sake, not just with an eye to how it would impact younger readers. It’s the queer historical fiction novel I never knew I wanted.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club - Malinda Lo

Last Night at the Telegraph Club, by Malinda Lo (Dutton – Amazon

; Bookshop) is set in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1954. Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu lives with her immigrant parents and is active in the Chinese American community, but finds herself also looking beyond it. She wants to study rocket science, inspired by an aunt who worked as one of the women “calculators” for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. (The character is fictional, but the calculators were real.) And one day, Lily joins Kath, a White friend from her public high school, in sneaking off to the Telegraph Club, a lesbian bar with performances by a charismatic male impersonator (whom we would today call a “drag king”). Lily and Kath’s own relationship begins to bloom, even as the anti-Communist “Red Scare” tactics of Joseph McCarthy threaten Lily’s family’s security in this country.

I won’t go into more of the plot, for fear of spoilers, but suffice it to say that I found the story and the ending wonderfully satisfying. There’s just so much to like about this novel. Lo’s details about the Chinese American community and the lesbian community of the time are deeply researched but smoothly interwoven into the story; I could almost smell the foods she describes and the cigarette smoke in the bar. She captures the longing of first love and the uncertainty of coming out without making them into clichés. She writes with thoughtfulness about the tension between immigrant parents and their children who have grown up in America, without making Lily’s parents into caricatures. In fact, the parents’ stories, and how they impact their hopes and expectations for Lily, form an important thread of their own. Lo also shows how Lily encounters microaggressions even from the women at the Telegraph Club; she is keenly aware of the complexities of intersectionality. The serious topics never come across as pedantic, though; they are all just different threads of Lily’s identities and experiences, which combine to make her who she is and shape her interactions with the world.

Young queer teens deserve this lovely coming-of-age love story; they deserve the knowledge that queer people have a history that predates Stonewall and that our lives were (and are) as bound up as anyone’s in the social and political happenings of their community and country. They also deserve books that are as masterfully crafted as this one. I also wholeheartedly recommend it to adult readers looking for a queer love story or historical novel. Would that there had been books like this when we were growing up.

Lo and I went to the same college, but at different times; we’ve had some interaction through the queer alum group and I admit to some bias towards her writing. Don’t just take my word about the book, though; it’s gotten rave reviews everywhere I’ve looked. Shortlist this one for all the awards.

Watch Lo read a passage and talk about her inspirations for the book and some of the real history (and photos!) behind it, and share info about upcoming virtual events:


(As an Amazon Associate and as a Bookshop Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Let’s talk about ‘g0ys,’ gay men who are so opposed to anal sex that they’ve created a little club / Queerty

Let’s talk about ‘g0ys,’ gay men who are so opposed

What is a g0y?

According to Urban Dictionary, it’s “a guy who finds men attractive, but for whatever reason is offended by the stigmas that currently define the ‘gay community’ in the public psyche.”

G0ys shun effeminate behavior because they thinks it’s “cowardly.” They also refrain from calling one another things like “girl”, “bitch”, or “queen.” But their biggest hangup is anal sex. They don’t believe in it because they think it’s a “violent act” that represents “the ultimate form of sexual disrespect.”

The website g0ys.org, which labels itself “Ground ZER0 in the ‘UNgay’ Paradigm Shift!,” calls the whole g0y movement “an explosively popular awakening among men in general – sweeping the globe.”

The site explains:

Our well reasoned positions regarding basic, male sexuality have taken to task both: religious “fundamentalists”, -and- the “liberal gay leftists”.  G0YS are among the healthiest men of any demographic on the planet, & sexually transmitted diseases are a virtual non-issue. How can this be? G0YS, by our very nature, reject ALL anal-fetish related acts! And, we strongly discourage physical intimacy with others who reject our mindset.  This mental trait lowers our risk of perilous sexually transmitted diseases by: 1,250,000% (vs. the men who call themselves “gay”)!

Don’t ask us where they got that figure.

The word “g0y” purportedly comes from ancient Hebrew and is spelled with a zero instead of the letter “o” for a few reasons. First, the g0ys say, it is to create a “departure from stereotype.”

G0ys.org explains, “A term was needed that had some meaning behind it, while being simple enough for people to remember; — plus stir some curiosity.”

Also, they don’t like the letter “a” because that’s the first letter in the word “anal” and they really. don’t. like. anal.

“The term needed to confront sloppy theology that supports “everything gAy” — including Anal,” g0ys.org says. “G0YS reject Anal-Sex! It’s dirty, dangerous & damn – disrespectful of masculinity.”

G0ys.org says:

According to the CDC, condoms fail about 2% of the time during analsex.  On a 360 day year, assuming only 1 screw a day, that’s 720 buttphucks (360×2 partners).  720×2%= 14 condom failures. Since it only takes (1) failure to spread a deadly STD/STI, that’s 1300% overkill.  Last time I saw an overkill factor like that it was tied to the nuclear weapons program.  Have 1/14th of a nuclear war & everyone is still dead. Ironic how the penis resembles a missle….

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.

You see, AnalSex is ALWAYS a VIOLENT ACT. ALWAYS. And did I mention that it’s VIOLENT 100% of the time?  The FACT (say “FACT”) is that the human rectum (whether male or female) is NOT designed to be used as a dick-dock.  Every single occurrence of that act damages the recipient in some fashion as well as creating a conduit for disease that is some +5000% more contagious than even 0ralSex (according to the CDC & World Health 0rganization).  It’s +5000% MORE FUKK’N CONTAGIOUS on top (pun) of ALWAYS being INJURIOUS to the physical structures in the recipient!