David Levithan’s Boy meets boy and Julie Anne Peters’ Luna are two novels that are just as different as they are similar. While there is certainly plenty of overlap between the novels with connections between character roles and situational occurrences, the differences between these two stories presented a greater interest to me. This semester we have spent a significant amount of time exploring the concept of the coming out novel as it has emerged as a theme in nearly every piece of literature that we’ve read this semester. To me, a coming out novel is something resembling an underdog story, where a character is able to succeed despite all odds. This is not the case in Boy meets boy. Though there are plethora of examples to demonstrate the differences with this overarching theme, I found the role of the adults in each novel to be particularly telling.
Boy meets boy paints the setting of a society where the idea of heteronormativity is a minority opinion. In this utopian world, people are free to be open about their sexual orientation without any fear of persecution. This reality is perfectly exemplified early in the novel when Paul reveals is sexual identity to his parents who are open and accepting to whatever makes him happy. This instance, however, is not where I saw the greatest difference with the situation detailed in Luna. Rather, the story of the supporting character Tony presented the greatest contrast. Tony’s parents are very religious and represent the sect of people most opposed to the widespread views of sexuality in the utopia. Throughout the novel, Tony’s parents find it difficult to accept their son for who he truly is due to the precepts of their religion. Despite this, they don’t express much hostility or disdain for him, as some similarly situated parents in contemporary society unfortunately do. I would thus call their stance more apprehensive than unsympathetic. This becomes more evident as the story comes to a close, as they appear more and more willing to make an attempt at understanding. Although it would be wrong to say that Tony’s parents are fully accepting of him in the end, their willingness, despite the relatively extreme opposition they represent, to try and be more understanding leaves a strong message.
Quite the contrast the world portrayed in Luna is one of more regrettably realistic societal opinions. Unlike Boy meets boy, the theme of near universal acceptance is non existent. In fact, the concept of parental acceptance is not even present. Though loving towards their children, the parents of Reagan and Luna are far from accepting when it comes to the sexual orientation of Luna. Unlike, Tony’s parents, the father in Luna doesn’t even represent the most extreme opposition of those found in our society (perhaps the grandfather is a more accurate representation). When Luna finally reveals her true self there is no attempt at understanding. Luna’s father essentially persecutes her and makes the home unwelcome for her. Realizing that this acceptance will never come, Luna is forced to take her happiness into her own hands and leaves for good.
This vast difference in parental behavior and the groups of people they represent says a lot about the role of environment in the coming out story. Despite the level of relative opposition that Tony’s parents represent, the precedent set forth by the society eventually minimizes the struggle felt by Tony in coming out to his parents. With the help of alternative support systems, Tony is able to not only live with but make progress with his parents. In this way, I wouldn’t really classify Tony as an underdog. A stark contrast, the viewpoint of Luna and Reagan’s father is not seen as uncommon by societal norms, causing Luna to struggle tremendously in an effort to be herself. Reagan represents the only alternate support Luna has and thus Luna often finds her situation unbearable. Because of the necessary perseverance and endurance of Luna, Levithan’s piece is much more resembling of a coming out narrative.