For some reason, I've read a lot of books about 1969 this summer, so it is of note that the Stonewall riots started yesterday, 28 June, in 1969. It's amazing to me how far we have come as a society in our accepting of LGBTQ individuals; when I was in high school a teacher lost his job on just the vaguest suspicion that he might be gay.
There are lots of great resources out there for LGBTQ literature, including I'm Here, I'm Queer, What the Hell Do I Read? I'm still struggling to find middle grade appropriate titles that meet the same criteria to which I hold other books-- circumspect activity and language, which is just not often in the books, which tend to be more YA. That's okay-- but they are more for high school and public libraries.
For a more adult view of the history of LGBTQ literature, check out Lost Classics of Teen Lit, 1939-1989, which is very informative but also funny.
Konigsberg, Bill. Openly Straight.
28 May 2013, Arthur A. Levine Books
E ARC from Netgalley.com
is tired of being more "gay" than "Rafe". While his Colorado liberal,
Oberlin educated parents are completely understanding of his sexual
identification, he is so tired of labels that he is willing to leave
his best friend, Claire Olivia, and enroll in an east coast boarding
school, Natick, so that he can reinvent himself. This goes well at
first-- he does fairly well in soccer and starts hanging out with the
jocks. His roommate is a bit quirky, and his friend turns out to be gay,
but the students at Natick are grudginly accepting. A teacher to whom
his mother has talked encourages him to write about his journey. Rafe's
ruse goes well, but his parents are not happy about his decision to "go
back into the closet". Things get confusing, though, when he falls in
love with a friend, he has to reassess his intentions.
was a very intriguing look at how labels affect people, and how even the
most accepting environments are not always enough to make dealing with
being different easy. Rafe is a well-developed character with a strong
sense of self. The whole boys' boarding school setting was intriguing.
The adults were supportive but not overly intrusive. Cover is fantastic.
I would definitely buy this for a high school library. Just excellent
and thought provoking.
Weaknesses: This was not a middle
grade novel. There was way too much drinking, an instance where a girl
was referred to as a "f-ing slut", and a more in-depth and confusing
romantic relationship than most middle schoolers are ready for. I'd love
to see a middle grade novel more like Federle's Better Nate Than Ever
that addressed how middle schoolers who are gay deal with everyday
situations. (That book was good, but included too much New York stuff
for my Ohio readers!)