Environment and Identity

In Boy Meets Boy, we are introduced to an adolescent protagonist who is gay and sure of his sexuality.  Similarly, in Luna, we are introduced to another protagonist named Liam, who is trans and sure of her gender identity.  However, the two main differences with both characters is how their environments and support systems respect those identities.

For Paul, protagonist of Boy Meets Boy, it is wholly appropriate to characterize his environment as utopian.  Paul does not face opposition for being gay, never feels socially ostracized, and his friends are also free to express their sexual and gender differences while being able to engage in typical teenage activities that seem almost exclusive to cis straight teens in other YA novels.   Therefore, the book does not really focus on the Coming Out process, which usually drives the plot for queer adolescent stories (much like Luna, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, etc).  Instead, the book focuses on queer adolescent love, a much more lighthearted deviation from the norm.  When Paul begins to express interest in Noah, none of his friends even try to suggest that this is strange, which would be expected since they are his friends, but as Paul and Noah’s relationship progresses, the world around them acts just as their friends do, like there is nothing wrong with not engaging with heterosexuality.  Clearly, this is not wrong at all, but in reality, with the climate of the country we live in, to be in a same sex relationship without experiencing any form of homophobia from one’s environment is an unfortunate rarity.  Homophobic attitudes are far too common, and while they feel nonexistent in Boy Meets Boy (with exceptions being characters like Tony’s religious parents), the reality of that ideology is far too common in a book like Luna.

In Luna, Liam’s coming out process is met with much adversity and even hesitation from her strongest support system, her sister Reagan.  Her relationship with her family is incredibly unsteady as her parents seem to notice that something is “off” with Liam.  Similar to Boy Meets Boy, teenage issues like love and insecurity arise, but they seem almost limited exclusively to Reagan, the straight cis narrator.  Liam’s struggles are so engrained in her struggle to reach her true form and to come out, that the lighthearted and quirky issues that Paul faces in Boy Meets Boy, seems unattainable to someone like Liam.  When Reagan’s father questions her about the status of Liam’s dating life, the possibility of Liam being interested in men (or being gay in his eyes) seems like an issue of concern.  Thus, the possibility of Liam having a romantic and free relationship with a male, would not lead to teen angst, but opposition and rejection from the people in her life who are supposed to love her unconditionally.

Boy Meets Boy is an excellent look into the possibility of how queer teenagers could live and thrive in a world that sees them for more than their sexual/gender identities.  However, what Luna and most coming out narratives prove, is that the more realistic environment that most queer teenagers live in is one of hesitant and unreliable support, and a youth spent weighing the significance of coming out, instead of being able to focus on other things.

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