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The Black Flamingo Review

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

This is the story of Michael, a Black drag queen. It follows him from his toddler years when he desperately wished for a Barbie, through middle, high school, and college, and finally to his success as the drag queen persona “The Black Flamingo.”


Queer, young adult, contemporary


A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen - then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers - to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.


This novel is written in verse, something I’m not used to, but it worked for the story and I enjoyed the different style. So many lines in this book were powerful. There’s lots of YA books about gay boys, but somehow not many about drag queens.

I don’t know much about drag queen culture, so I really loved learning. The writing was beautiful and enveloped me in the poetry of the story.

So many aspects of the queer community were explored, both positive and negative. I loved a part where Michael attends a queer meeting and hears a trans man say “Some men have vaginas.” This leads into a section where Michael reflects on what it means to be a man, how he had never questioned it before but now realizes manhood isn’t necessarily about your physical body.

There’s tons of reflective moments like these where we go into Michael’s mind and here his thoughts on things.

I had seen this recommended so many times, and am very grateful I decided to finally pick it up.

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