Boy Meets Boy and Luna are more obviously different because in one text, difference is normalized and in the other, the setting is a society where difference is looked down upon by a predominantly heteronormative culture. In Boy Meets Boy, a majority of the characters are LGBTQ, or are allies of this group, thus making heteronormativity obsolete. In addition, they are members of an idyllic, utopian world that applauds and accepts this seeming difference. Those that are opposed to LGBTQ rights (Tony’s parents) are looked down upon and are villainized, when it is typically the person going through the coming-out story that is seen as outside of the heteronormative framework (i.e. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit). It is interesting to note that Tony’s parents do find some level of acceptance at the end of the novel.
In Luna, this difference is ostracized by heteronormative figures. Luna/Liam’s father is very much representative of the forces that hold Liam back as he is trying to transition. The father also is resentful of the fact that Liam and Regan’s mother is working again and has established her own successful wedding business – further showing that the father does not approve of any forces that go against heteronormativity, similar to Tony’s parents or Jeanette Winterson’s mother. It is important to note that despite his seeming position of power (heterosexual, patriarch), the father thinks he does not exhibit this because he is not the breadwinner of the family and is working a job that he does not enjoy, and is trying to wield control over the only thing that he can, which is the sexuality of his son. The father needs to be open-minded about his son’s attempted transition, when in reality he has no idea about it/ can’t even process it.
A similarity of that I found between the two books is the outrageousness of the two “trans” characters, Infinite Darlene and Luna. Infinite Darlene does exhibit more confidence because of the utopian society that they live in, while Luna struggles more because of the more realistic one that is depicted in Luna. We definitely see a stark difference, a juxtaposition of reality and utopia in the two novels.
5 thoughts on “The Normalization of Difference”
It is interesting that you point out the obsolete view of Luna’s Dad in terms of both not only gender performance but also in terms of finance. The fact that both Luna and her mother suffer the consequence of this heteronormative mindset does not mean that the mother can be sympathy to Luna. While Dad favors Regan, calling her his little girl, she can still develop empathy to her less fortunate sibling. We see that empathy/sympathy do not always come from the people having the same experience. It is not a matter of shared background, but a matter of choice. This explains why the drag queens in high school do not welcome Infinite Darlene, given that they are all trans.
You also point out that the minority are always the villain in the novels that we read. People belongs to the majority are easier to be accepted and vice versa. Maybe this observation is important for those who are struggling to reveal their identity: they can remind themselves that the process is hard just because they are different than most heterosexual people around them and this disproportion should not be a factor to prevent them from coming out. No matter how many people are the same as of different than you, you are still you. You can control what others think of you by displaying yourself differently either to fit in or to stand out, but do so only when the number of people in your “group” matters to you more than living in your own skin.
When it comes to normalization of Paul’s sexuality in Boy Meets Boy. I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if the story focused more on Infinite Darlene. Because she is transgender, I wonder if even in that community there were people questioning or not supporting her gender identity. In think having information on Infinite Darlene’s experience would give us new insight to comparing the two novels.
I agree that an important difference between the two texts, Boy Meets Boy and Luna, is that one normalizes the LGBTQ community and the other is realistic about how the LGBTQ community is regarded. A story that normalizes the LGBT community is important to counteract and challenge the reality that is present in Luna. I think that Luna/Liam’s father is a metaphor for society in the present. Women are increasingly more independent and in higher positions of power. As women, people of color, and LGBT people gain more power/rights in society, white men lose their power/privilege that the have held in society. Like Luna/Liam’s father, white men try to gain power by controlling marginalized people.
I wonder if the authors of these two texts would agree with your statement regarding the “villain.” While reading these two novels I never thought of Tony’s parents or Luna’s father as a villain but more of a symbolic representation of society today. I agree that these figures should be more accepting however we see this notion of acceptance as quite difficult in today’s world. I don’t necessarily think these characters are villains but portray a viewpoint that many people, sadly, take in today’s world
While I was reading your post an interesting point came up when you were describing the father, in Luna, resistance to anything that is not heteronormative. In both Boy Meets Boy and Luna many of the “straight acting” men like Chuck, the father and Ted all have this sort of fragile masculinity. Insofar as to say that when, women especially, and other instances don’t go their way they then become crazed and irrational. This world that was set up for them is somewhat crumbling in front of their eyes so they use violence, negative comments and domineering threats to uphold their power.
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