All Boys Aren’t Blue

All Boys Aren’t Blue is a 2020 Young adult non-fiction “memoir-manifesto” by journalist and activist George M. (Matthew) Johnson.[1] about growing up as a queer Black man in Plainfield, N.J.,[2] and Virginia. It is Johnson’s first book, written for an adolescent audience and consists of a series of essays.[3]All Boys Aren’t Blue was published on April 28, 2020, by Macmillan imprintFarrar, Straus and Giroux In addition to describing Johnson’s own experience, it directly addresses Black queer boys who may not have someone in their life with similar experiences.[4] Johnson was motivated to write the book by Toni Morrison, whose maxim “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it” is tattooed on his right arm.[5] The book discusses consent, agency, sexual abuse. It describes a sexual encounter and statutory rape.[6] School boards in ten states, including Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Texas, have removed the book from their libraries.[6][7][3] A Flagler County School Board member and retired teacher filed a criminal complaint, objecting to mentions of masturbation and oral sex. [8][7][9] Flagler County Sheriff’s Department found that the content of the book was not violation of law and did not warrant further investigation.[7] The removal of the book prompted student protests. [7] The “Blue” in the title refers to growing up in a “blue” household (Johnson’s father was a police officer), the blue used to indicate the male gender, as used in a gender reveal, the character Blue (Bordelon) from the television series Queen Sugar and the blue appearance of black skin in the movie Moonlight (2016 film) and the play it is based on, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. The book was optioned to be developed as a TV series by actress Gabrielle Union.[10]

2020 Young Adult non-fiction book
All Boys Aren’t Blue
Author George M. Johnson (1985)
Cover artist Charly “Carlos” Palmer
Genre Young adult non-fiction
Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date
Media type Print


OCLC 1246484973
LC Class HQ76.27.A37 J644 2020

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The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) placed it at #1 in its Teens’ Top Ten.[11] The New York Public Library listed it in their Top 10 Books for Teens in the NYPL’s Best Books of 2020.[12] Kirkus Reviews listed it among the Best YA Biography and Memoir of 2020.[13]

Publishers Weekly said: “In a publishing landscape in need of queer black voices, readers who are sorting through similar concepts will be grateful to join him on the journey”, and called it “a balm and testimony to young readers as allies in the fight for equality”.[14]Kirkus Reviews said Johnson’s book was “A critical, captivating, merciful mirror for growing up Black and queer today”.[15] The New York Times called it “An exuberant, unapologetic memoir infused with a deep but cleareyed love for its subjects”.[2] The Huffington Post wrote that it was “an unflinching testimony that carves out space for Black queer kids to be seen”.[16]Bitch Magazine said that “All Boys Aren’t Blue is a game changer”.[17]

  1. Clarendon, Dan (June 9, 2020). “20 LGBTQ+ Books for Teens Coming Out in 2020”. Teen Vogue. Retrieved 2021-12-06.
  2. Harlan, Jennifer (April 18, 2020). “From Missing Persons to Mistaken Identities, Books About Seeing and Being Seen” via
  3. Cooper, Alex (November 9, 2021). “Conservatives Fight to Ban This Black, Queer Memoir State-By-State”.
  4. Steele, Taylor. “19 Books By Queer Authors Reviewers Fell In Love With”. BuzzFeed.
  5. Mayer, Petra (May 2, 2020). Give Them The Damn Information’: Questions For George M. Johnson” via NPR.
  6. McDougle, Jonathan (18 November 2021). “George M. Johnson isn’t surprised their book is being banned: “America has always had an issue with anything that tells the truth.
  7. Garrison, Mark (December 5, 2021). “Conservatives Target Queer, Black Memoir, ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue.
  8. Woronoff, Brent (November 10, 2021). “School Board member Jill Woolbright turns to Sheriff’s Office over ‘obscene’ book at schools | Palm Coast”. Palm Coast Observer.
  9. Gollon, Chris (November 15, 2021). “A Full Breakdown of Jill Woolbright’s Efforts to Remove ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ from School Libraries”.
  10. Petski, Denise; Petski, Denise (June 10, 2020). “Gabrielle Union Options ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue’ Memoir For Series Development With Sony TV”.
  11. “Teens’ Top Ten”. Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). August 14, 2021.
  12. Pullen, Emily (November 24, 2020). “Introducing NYPL’s Best Books of 2020”. The New York Public Library. Retrieved 2021-12-06.
  13. “Best YA Biography and Memoir of 2020”. Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2021-12-06.
  14. “Children’s Book Review: All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-37431-271-8”.
  15. “ALL BOYS AREN’T BLUE | Kirkus Reviews” via
  16. “George M. Johnson’s New Memoir Reminds Us That ‘All Boys Aren’t Blue. HuffPost. April 28, 2020.
  17. Dionne, Evette (January 3, 2020). “17 Memoirs Feminists Should Read in 2020”. Bitch Media.

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