David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy and Julie Peter’s Luna are two young-adult fiction novels that explore different elements of sexual orientation, gender identity, and growing up in the LGBTQ community. The authors of these novels, however, consider these aspects of young adulthood in different ways. The most distinct difference in these two young adult fiction books is how the authors present heteronormative societies and coming out narratives. In Boy Meets Boy the main character and narrator, Paul, lives in a seemingly utopian world where heteronormativity may not actually be the norm. His own sexual orientation and the sexual orientation of his peers never seems to be questioned. Although some of his friends face certain conflicts with their identities, Paul never seems to question his sexuality. In fact, he had “always known [he] was gay” and his parents “eventually got used to it,” never questioning their son’s sexuality (8,10). Boy Meets Boy doesn’t really introduce a coming out narrative for Paul because it seems that this type of narrative was never necessary for Paul’s life. He was always accepted for his sexual orientation, despite being amongst a minority. In this regard, Boy Meets Boy is somewhat unrealistic. It is not to say that every LGBTQ individual faces true hardships when coming out, or is exiled from their families, but often these types of stories are common. In this sense, Paul’s coming out narrative isn’t really a coming out narrative. Instead, Paul is simply who he is from the start.
In the book Luna, Peter’s describes a different type of society, where the characters face more difficulties and struggles around sexual orientation and gender identity than those in Boy Meets Boy. The society in which Luna, the main character, lives influences a different coming out narrative. As she transition from her male biological sex, Luna faces both internal and external struggles. She is misunderstood by her father and her peers, all the while trying to understand herself. Her coming out narrative is different from Paul’s because the society in which she lives is different. In this book Luna lives in a society where transgenderism is not the norm and is often questioned or misconceives, making Luna’s transition that much harder.
It is important to recognize however that both of these books do something important in context of their portrayal of heteronormative societies and coming out narratives. Where one may argue that Boy Meets Boy does a disservice to struggling LGBTQ teenagers, we may look at this book as a portrayal of hope. That one-day sexual orientation and gender identity will not need labeling or be misunderstood and we can just be ourselves. The same goes for Luna, however. Where one may argue that it is too difficult to read about Luna’s hardships, we may see this as a portrayal of all the individuals who go through times like Luna but end up okay. Both these books are significant to coming out narratives in different, yet similar, ways. They may go about it from different ends of the spectrum, but both may provide advice and hope for individuals that relate to them.
2 thoughts on “Coming out Narratives”
I really like your approach to Levithan’s novel. While I can see why some people would be hesitant around the novel I agree that it can also be perceived as a beacon of hope for the future. As a society we have a lot to work on, especially when it comes to LGBTQ awareness and acceptance. This book shows what life could be like for us, where the LGBTQ community could live a “normal” life. I think it is important to view the novel in this light, because it provides people like me, who are on the LGBTQ spectrum, with hope.
I also would argue that neither text does do a disservice to portrayals of LGBTQ people in literature. Utopian perspectives, such as the one illustrated in Boy Meets Boy, are useful because they provide a glimpse into what society could become, and can be seen as a theoretical finish line – ideally where we should be. More realistic perspectives, as seen in Luna, are more indicative of what we experience today and are important in that they may inform those who are unaware the realities that the LGTBQ community faces on a day to day basis.
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