Dear Queer Self: An Experiment in Memoir, queer author and professor Jonathan Alexander took a trip to the past, imagining that he was in conversation with his younger self.

The approach, he says, allowed him to better understand who he is today. Southern California-based Alexander spoke with another queer author, Alex Espinoza, who wrote Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime, about how he wrote Dear Queer Self and why he believes that maybe it doesn’t really “get better.”Alex Espinoza: What was the initial idea for writing Dear Queer Self?

What sparked this desire for you to address these letters to your younger self?  Jonathan Alexander: Over the past few years, I’d written two memoirs, Creep: A Life, a Theory, an Apology and a sequel of sorts, Bullied: The Story of an Abuse, that dealt with my experience of intense homophobia while growing up in the Deep South in the ’70s and ’80s.