Levithan, David. (2005). Boy Meets Boy. Alfred Knopf.
I loved this tender and funny story about Paul, a 15-year-old boy negotiating his way through his first serious romance. It’s beautifully written and extremely realistic in its emotional portrayal of the internal angst of first love. The audio production I listened to (from Full Cast Audio) was wonderful. So I’d recommend it on those values alone.
But what I particularly enjoyed was that it focused on the story of LGBT characters who were safely and comfortably “out” to all. Paul is a gay teen who has grown up in a accepting family, a welcoming school, and an accepting town. Paul courts his love openly at school, in the full light of (mostly friendly) high-school gossip. The high school bookie runs odds on his relationship success (at one point 12-1 against.) And on a date to the local park, they kiss in a paddle boat, resulting in (wait for it) … a friendly wink from the operator when they return their rental.
Paul also has a wide circle of friends, male, female, trans, gay, straight, and uncertain, some of whose families and communities are not as accepting of them as Paul’s. Many of them think Paul has it “easy”. But being in love for the first time isn’t necessarily easy. Even at a school where the star quarterback is a drag queen who goes by the name “Infinite Darlene”, Paul still has to deal with his own and others’ confusion about who is attracted to whom; the effects of school gossip; and the variable level of helpfulness of various friends eager to give advice. Wow, just like his (straight) friend Joanie and her new boyfriend!
Although some of Paul’s friends think he is “lucky,” he thinks they are “unlucky”. This book might be called a fantasy because it couldn’t happen here … so far. But how wonderful it will be when Paul’s view is the norm, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens need contend only with the normal storms of adolescence–without a heavy heap of discrimination on top.
Now, I work with LGBT teens and their families in my practice, and because we don’t live in Paul’s world … yet … here are some links if you’re an LGBT-identified teen, or the family member or friend of one, and want some help.
- The Trevor Project has a toll-free Lifeline (1-866-488-7386) and Chat Service for LGBT, queer, and questioning teens and young adults.
- The It Gets Better Project is a set of many videos by people who want you to know that you can get through adolescence, even if your school is not at all like Paul’s.
- If you like Paul’ story, you’ll probably enjoy Glee.
- Find out if your school has a Gay/Straight Alliance, or consider starting one yourself
- Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is an organization that provides support to families and friends of LGBT and questioning folks.
- Gender Spectrum is a non-profit organization supporting transgender children, teens, and their families. Also, here’s a brief overview article about transgender children and their parents, from Psychology Today.
- Here’s an for parents about supporting LGBT kids, from Kids Health.