... dispenses with the ubiquitous narrative of transition as a dreary but necessary inconvenience ... because Martin and Ozma begin this collection with Sullivan’s childhood diaries, We Both Laughed takes a wide view of the many subtle influences that shape the burgeoning self ... [Lou's] diaries illustrate beautifully that to transition is not to cut oneself off from the world but to emerge more fully into it—to embrace the beauty and complexity of the self so as to better meet the beauty and complexity of others ... poring over his diaries does not feel like an invasion of his privacy, even though he is not here to see new readers encountering his words for the first time. It is more like bearing witness to what he always intended to share with others: his discovery and creation of himself ... It feels like a gift to be able to read such a complete and evocative record of a life spent in pursuit of joy. Now that so many voices speak loudly of transition as a kind of death, what a relief it is to have such a rich historical document of transition as a way of coming alive.
... a great book by a great person ... The legitimately unresolved formal tensions of autobiography as a genre––that it meanders, navel-gazes––are perfect for a Trans Literature burdened by the pressure to produce respectable texts whose protagonists, diplomatic envoys from the Land of Trans, aren’t allowed to be complex freaks ... If I am perhaps too glowing in my praise of Lou, that’s probably because I can’t physically imagine myself without him.
... ripe with mirth, confusion, lust, despair, hope, and charm ... Before I read the diaries, when I only knew about the major bullet points of [Lou's] life, I was astonished by the idea that anyone could parse his own mysterious needs so clearly with no template. I thought of him as heroic, almost inhuman. But We Both Laughed in Pleasure is better than the sterile document I had imagined: It gave me the rare, uncanny experience of reliving my youth through his, of cataloging his moments of idiocy and bliss as though they were my own, with a specificity I didn’t know was possible. After Sullivan speaks for the first time, by phone, with another trans man, he writes, 'I felt very masculine talking with him, and very relaxed, like for the 1st time I was talking with someone who understood what I meant.' I couldn’t help but feel the same way.
... chatty and tender, casually poetic and voraciously sexual ... Reading Sullivan’s diaries now is both dissonant and familiar ... Outdated terms and places from the recent gay past can lend his world the mustiness of a time capsule. And yet Sullivan’s struggle to claim and embody his identity, and the way he writes about that struggle, is wholly contemporary. Some of this is surely due to the universality of self-doubt: his loneliness and isolation, his fear of being stigmatized or unloved, still resonates ... There’s something Whitmanesque in [Sullivan's] celebrations of male lust, of cruising, of anonymous bodies coming together in an ecstasy that’s quasi-spiritual ... necessarily provisional and condensed ... given how many contemporary trans narratives are rooted in trauma, [the editors'] choice to foreground trans pleasure and sensuality is celebratory, even radical.
This might be one of the most valuable affirmations one can read on the trans masculine experience to date ... Sullivan’s diary entries are personal and political ... The diaries take a somber turn at this point, as Lou logs his weight loss, his interactions with people who are anticipating his death, his bouts with various illnesses due to his weakened immune system, and his trips to the hospital. Nevertheless, his humanity shines through these passages, along with his sense of humor and clarity about his situation ... reading Sullivan’s life through his own inner thoughts provides a deep insight into a trans activist who bucked stereotypes and forced many to reconsider their preconceptions of being trans. The publication of these diaries is monumental.
Sullivan's diaries are fascinating and eye-opening as well as educational, informative and refreshingly raunchy as he tries to find his place on the sexual landscape ... Sullivan's heartbreaking, self-effacing and inspiring diaries are a roadmap and history for trans people.
... a deeply erotic book. Sullivan’s diaries record in great detail his sexual exploits, romantic infatuations, and complex personal relationships. These reminiscences are written in a style somewhere between childlike giddiness and deft description, where you can sense that Sullivan is turning himself on with every entry he writes.