On the Outside Looking in (lol get it because “out” like “coming out” but also like an outside perspective)

At first glance, I think David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy and Julie Anne Peters’ Luna are two very different texts. Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy is a utopian young adult novel. We see the idealistic world in which Levithan’s characters live through the eyes of our protagonist Paul, an exceptionally self-assured gay teenager, growing up in a town where, as Paul recalls in a memory of his coming out to his parents, coming out as gay is equivalent to just adding a word to your vocabulary. In Paul’s world, there is no coming out narrative, at least not like what we’ve come to expect, where coming out is preceded and followed by years of self-doubt and internal as well as external struggle. However, despite this utopian setting, through Paul’s words and thoughts we are still able to catch glimpses of the struggles caracters in young adult novels typically face—Tony struggles to gain acceptance from his strict religious parents, who find it abhorrent to have a son interested in the same sex. Joni struggles through navigating the landscape of the adolescent world of dating. Julie Anne Peters’ Luna brings these archetypal struggles to the forefront. The book’s namesake, Luna, is a transgender woman (biologically male, with the given name Liam), whose parents—particularly the father—would not accepting of Luna’s eschewing of gender roles or the gender binary. Luna must hide her true identity and is limited in freedom of expression to literally one small area of her house. In this way there are clear discrepancies between Luna and Boy Meets Boy.

However, like Boy Meets Boy, we again see the struggle faced by those in the LGBTQ community not through the eyes of those experiencing it, but through the eyes of our main character, Regan. In Luna, we are witnessing a coming out story from a third person observer, as we see with Tony in Boy Meets Boy. This tactic allows the reader to analyze these character’s struggles from a more objective (although not impartial) perspective. The reader witnesses the coming out narrative from the outside-looking-in. I think both novels thus offer an important alternative perspective from which we can analyze the role of environment and society on the personal experiences of members of the LGBTQ community during the incredibly formative period of adolescence.

8 thoughts on “On the Outside Looking in (lol get it because “out” like “coming out” but also like an outside perspective)”

  1. It is unique to observe coming out stories from a different perspective. Most LGBTQ novels I read were in the perspective of the character coming out. In young adult novels, what we are thinking is usually written in the text. There is not as much need to close read. However, with these two novels we have freedom to analyze the characters. I personally appreciated this because it is more relatable to me. When I was around the same age, I have had friends going through similar situations. Being in the perspective of Regan or Paul would have not just helped me understand what they are going through but also would have helped me understand my own thoughts at the time.

  2. You make an excellent point about viewing the coming out story through the third person narrator. This definitely allows the reader to view the character through an objective lens and come up with our own opinions on their actions, because we aren’t focused on whether or not our opinion affects how much we like a character. I agree with you that this perceptive is important, especially in a coming out novel. My main concern is that we lose the fullness of the queer character with this perspective. As we aren’t privy to their thoughts and feelings, we lose part of what makes them human and sometimes the character suffers for it. Particularly in Luna; I felt that Luna’s character came across as two dimensional at times because we just didn’t know what was going on in her head.

  3. I agree with your thoughts about both Luna and Boy Meets Boy. While I think it is important to understand the perspective of those around these queer youth, while reading I often thought about how these narratives would have been different if they were told from the point of view of the Tony and Liam? I personally believe that the stories would have completely different meanings if told from the point of view of a different character, specifically within the novel Luna.

  4. I agree that the text bring to life the type of struggles that people in the LGBTQ+ community. There have been many struggles in which all of the characters that are in both novels are facing that are realistic to the problems that people in the real world face. There are distinct differences in the novel, however, that are worth noting. The similarities can be in the novel that can be better analyzed if there were quotes put to compare in the novel. It is important to see how the world would change if Luna was placed in Paul’s society and vice versa. You can also drill on the fact that although the whole group of LGBTQ+ members follow different sexual relationships, the way some members versus others are treated vary from group to group.

  5. I completely agree with your thoughts on the narration of these two texts. I wonder what would change if Luna were written in Luna herself’s perspective, and if Boy Meets Boy was written in Tony’s perspective. It is interesting to note that sometimes the stories of other people’s lives are manipulated and changed when told by another individual. We see this often with histories regarding the LGBTQ community. If Tony and Luna told their own stories, how much would change? Reagan is impartial to her sister’s transition, unlike her father, but she still has her opinions and thought on it, for instance when she says Luna is just as straight as she is, despite the fact that she has never really discussed sexuality with Luna.

  6. I appreciate your argument on the juxtaposing view Luna and Boy Meets Boy offer and I like the point the connection to the third person point of view in Luna, however I want to pose something that might be drastic. What if in Boy Meets Boy there is this third person point of view as well. Not the actual definition of what third person point of view means but as though, Paul, since he is so comfortable in the identity that he is, functions as this voice of normalcy instead of a gay voice. Just a thought, if it makes sense.

  7. Just wanted to say that this blog post is very well written. Additionally, your analysis of the elements of both texts in the sense that Luna brings the underlying elements of BMB to the forefront is such a well-thought-out conclusion in that I, too, considered the struggles of Tony and other minor characters; however, with the exception of Tony, I summed up everything else to “teenage drama”, but this analysis, as well as reading Luna, makes a lot more sense of both plotlines.

  8. It’s interesting how both stories express the struggles of the individuals within the story through the eyes of someone else. It is very telling that in “Luna”, Regan is the one to explicitly explain to Aly what it means to be transgender and how Luna sees herself. Regan is a surrogate character through which Luna’s story is told, quite literally, to the people who most care about her. After Regan finishes explaining to Aly Luna’s struggles, Luna comes out of the bedroom dressed as herself and begins playing their video game as if she has done this countless of times. This unspoken agreement between her and Regan characteristic of the story being told through Regan’s eyes.

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