Class Blog

better parenting needed

Boy meets Boy and Luna are very different novels. However, an unexpected similarity is that both novels’ have characters that are members of the LGBTQ community. Taking into account the similarities and differences allows me to make a conclusion about parenting. I think that parents do not realize how much they have an influence on the self-esteem and mental well being of their children. I think that if parents really want to help their children, sometimes they have to make necessary changes.

Boy Meets Boy is a story that mainly takes place in a Utopian town that accepts people who break gender and sexuality norms. With having main character be a LGBTQ indivdual who does not have to deal with the struggle of being gay, it can be argued that this story marginalizes the reality of pain, struggle and unacceptance that many LGBTQ community members experience. On the other hand Luna takes place in a realistic setting where Luna lives in a society that does not accept and marginalize people who break gender norms.

However, I argue that Tony, in Boy Meets Boy, and Luna have stories that play out similarly. Tony is ostracized and marginalized in his highly religious family and town because of his sexuality. Luna lives in a family with a dad that wants Luna to be the “perfect son.” However, his dad cannot even begin to have a conversation about the fact that Luna is different. I argue that these two novels present a similar theme of the need for a new kind of parenting.

While parents only want the best for their children, often times they do plenty more damage than they think. Parents like those of Luna and Tony believe that they are only protecting their children and teaching them what is “right.” However, they do not understand that the domination and suppression of someone’s true identity, leads to an unstable mental health and depression. I understand that some parents grew up a certain way and parents naturally use those similar parenting habits on their children. However, I think that good parenting involves being in tune and really listening to what the child wants. This way children of all ages, will be able to have the freedom to explore who they truly are, their identity, and self-expression–all with the support of their parents. For someone to be able to build a solid foundation and understanding of who they are, they need to learn that their individuality is important, that they have self-love, and that they have the support of their family. It is important for parents to make changes for the needs of their children because they have the power to change the cycle of self-hate and depression that many people who are LGBTQ face when they grow up in a family that does not support them or even accept who they are. Parenting that does focus on the need of their children will help reduce the number of LGBTQ individuals who end up homeless, depressed, and sadly ending their lives. While better parenting does not protect against all the dangers of society, it definitely will have a better and positive impact on LGTBQ individuals who already are facing other struggles in their lives.

just as untitled as everything else

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan and Luna by Julie Anne Peters are obviously different in the tone of the texts and the nature of the struggles each individual character faces because of identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Boy Meets Boy is different from most texts describing the experiences of LGBTQ+ identifying individuals, in this case bi/gay males. Often with LGBTQ+ literature, such as in Luna, there is a very negative conflict that results from the character’s identity, be it coming out, suffering from discrimination, family implications, or other struggles. Different from Boy Meets Boy, Luna follows the typical script of LGBTQ+ literature, as family tension is at the center of the life of a trans-girl. Specifically in Luna, she (Luna) has a strained relationship with her father: “It happens so fast it’s a blur. Dad clutches Liam’s hand and almost wrenches his arm from the socket. He yanks Liam toward the house. I hear Dad snarl under his breath, ‘We’re going to have a talk, young man’ (Peters, 17).

However, as previously mentioned, the plotline of Boy Meets Boy defies the reality of the LGBTQ+ community in which there is discrimination, oppression, and much more than simple teenage drama. The plotline of Boy Meets Boy aims to normalize homosexuality in the same way that heterosexuality is “normal” by default. Levithan, though, does leave room for the truth as he documents some struggles of LGBTQ+ identifying individuals through Tony’s character as he struggles with the intersection of being gay and living in a community and with parents who are religious and choose not to accept his identity.

While the novels are very different beneath the surface in areas such as author’s purpose, tone, and implications regarding the LGBTQ+ community, they are similar on the basis that they are both LGBTQ+ novels, thus serve a purpose much more than to simply entertain. In reading both of these in conjunction with one another, we were exposed to both sides of the spectrum in terms of discrimination in the LGBTQ+ community. In reading Luna, readers can, in a sense, experience what it is like in most places to be LGBTQ+. In Boy Meets Boy, however, readers can imagine a more perfect society in which homosexuality is, in fact, normal. By reading both of these novels, the reader is able to more fully understand what it is like to be marginalized for one’s identity.

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.

A Tale of Two Worlds

Boy Meets Boy and Luna are two clearly different texts.  In Boy Meets Boy we are presented with a utopian society.  Everyone is accepting of the LGBTQ community and the “norm” does not just refer to heteronormative, cis-gendered, straight people.  In Luna, however, we are faced with an arguably more realistic world in which our story takes place.  This world follows strict and at times oppressive gender roles.  Any break in traditional gender roles, such as the mother of the family being the main breadwinner, is met with extreme discomfort and tension.  These two world could not be more opposite in terms of shaping the experiences of the young LGBTQ adults living in them.

However, the two novels do share an obvious similarity; both stories have a transgender character.  In Boy Meets Boy we are introduced to Infinite Darlene, a confident transgender woman who wears fabulous outfits to school and is the quarterback of the school football team.  In Luna we have Liam/Luna who presents as a boy by day, only donning girl’s clothing and a wig in the safety of the night.  It is interesting to note how the two different worlds the authors have created have shaped these characters.  Infinite Darlene is loud and proud, accepted by (almost) everyone at her school and unafraid to strut down the halls as her true self.  Liam/Luna however only wants to blend in, to pass or be unrecognizably trans.  I think it’s interesting to examine the influence that acceptance, or lack thereof, can have on how a person expresses their identity, or even how they desire to express themselves.  It would be fascinating to transplant Infinite Darlene into Liam/Luna’s world and vice versa and see how their self-expression changed.

Tony and Luna

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.

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.

Unconditional Love

Except for the common theme about queer teenagers, the two young adult novels “Luna” by Julie Anne Peters and “Boy meets boy” by David Levithan are obviously different in terms of settings – that is, how supportive of LGBTQ community the people in the two societies are. Boy meets boy take place in a utopian town where people do not question gender identities of the characters, and that is why the romance between gay teens happens as natural as any relationship between straight couple can. On the other hand, the gender norm is a constraint in Luna’s world and even her parents suppress her gender expression to the point that she has to live a double life and has suicidal thought.

If we take a closer look at the two novels, we can see some unexpected similarities between the two. The common ground is the unconditional love exists among characters – they express sympathy for one another and help the queer individual overcome disapproval of parents. Though Regan has never been through what Liam/Luna has, plus Luna has caused so many troubles for Regan, she stands by Luna side – cover her secret, share her girly hobbies, and lend Luna her room for dressing up at night.”Yeah, I loved her. I couldn’t help it. She was my brother (p3)” The sibling love that Regan give Luna is the hope and the shelter for Luna whenever she is in crisis and feel like she cannot continue to live on. Thanks to the time Regan stops the suicidal attempt of Luna, Luna knows that she is not alone and finally finds strength go against parents’ expectation and reveal her identity as a female. Similarly, we can see how much Tony’s friends love him when they all come to his house and persuade his parents to let him go to the dance party. Unlike others whose parents do not question their gender identities, Tony is unfortunate to have religious parents who are unsupportive of his, but his friends always have him in mind and are willing to set aside their business to all come to make sure that he is not left at home that night. Regan and Tony’s friends represent individuals wholeheartedly care for queer individuals who struggle to fight the discrimination of the society. They do not endure the same pain, but their empathy gives strength to those who do and assure them that they are not alone in the battle.

Those caregivers support people in need so that they can be patient for the silver lining to come after the rain – which means that if they do not give up on their life when facing oppression, one day they can find a way to let their identity shine and change the mindset of conservative people. Each novel provides distinct perspectives on the LGBTQ+ community. Luna is a real picture about how it feels like to be a trans in the society where people try to persuade transgender individuals to live as what their anatomy describe them instead of dressing up or using the pronoun they want. The audience of this novel can be either people of within the community or people yet to have a thorough understanding of the group. Trans people can relate to what Liam has to cope with, but they will also see that there are people who they can count on apart from the unsupportive majority. For people who are not familiar with queer terms and stories, the narration raises awareness and promotes empathy toward transgender. If people have never read a story of this sort, there is a possibility that they can adopt the gender-binary mindset due to the lack of information. It is likely that Luna’s narration serves as a lens through which readers can be more sensitive on how they treat people of LQBTQ+ community in real life, and to know infinite reasons why people in this community deserve to live how they want.

Boy meets boy, though having idealized setting, plays no less important role in supporting the LQBTQ+ community because it represents the voice of the community while there are not many projects about this subject on the media at the time of publication. It does not paint a false picture – it instead takes a revolutionary step to sketch what future can look like. “There isn’t really a gay scene or a straight scene in our town. They got all mixed up a while back, which I think is for the best (p1)”. It is more like a miraculous realism than a fiction because such supporting place can exist if people are willing to. The point of this novel is not to remind LGBTQ+ what they already know happen in their lives, but rather to use a delighted narrative to ease the pain, to suggest an optimal solution to the problem, and to focus on pure affection. Through multiple pieces of romantic stories that everyone can relate to (the feeling and the thing that we do when we have a crush on someone, dating, and relationship), Levithan shows us that regardless of sexual orientation, human feelings are very much alike. When people open their mind and do not make a big deal of gender identity and labels, life is much easier for everyone and only love remains in the picture frame. So why not?

Important Differences Between Luna and Boy Meets Boy

‘Boy Meets Boy’ and ‘Luna’ are more obviously different because of the varying level of acceptance for both main characters’ prospective sexualities and genders. In ‘Boy Meets Boy’, Paul lives in a world that functions similarly to a utopia because of its acceptance of queer characters. Paul has always known he was gay, and his friends and family support him and treat him with respect. Even though he was assaulted outside a movie theater in middle school for being gay, his community still widely accepts him as well as other queer people. Infinite Darlene is in a similar position as Paul, as a drag queen; “few of us can remember what Daryl Heisenberg was like, since Infinite Darlene consumed him so completely. He was a decent football player, but nowhere near as good as when he started wearing false eyelashes” (Leviathan 16). Despite the initial setbacks of queer characters in ‘Boy Meets Boy’, the characters are faced with an unprecedented amount of acceptance.
Unlike ‘Boy Meets Boy’, ‘Luna’ takes a much more negative, yet more realistic, point of view surrounding the inclusion of queer characters. Although Regan’s sister Luna. formerly known as Liam, is accepted by her, he has trouble being honest with the rest of his family and the community as a whole. He longs to transition and present as female, but his negative father and judgmental classmates make his life very difficult. Despite the initial subject of Paul and his ease at being gay within his community, Liam is relegated to dressing and being the person he wishes at night in a small basement room. Regan has issues confronting her father and his guess that Liam is gay or secretively involved in unhealthy activities, but is wrong, “I wanted to scream in his face, no! He likes guys, we both do. That doesn’t make him gay. That makes him as straight as me because inside he’s a girl, Dad. Just like me” (Peters 123). Regan not only has to deal with keeping Liam’s secret, but trying to reconcile her own knowledge of trans people and Liam’s position while both Liam and her have to learn to navigate the world and educate themselves about hormones and other options for Liam.
Both novels focus on the similarities between coming out and the life that people comfortable in their sexualities lead. They both focus on how the norms of society change and develop queer identities through the lenses they are viewed from by the rest of the community.

Liam’s transitioning seen through pronouns

[I apologize if my choice of pronouns when talking about the characters in this novel seems inconsiderate.]

Julie Anne Peters’ novel, Luna (2004), falls under the general literary category of young adult fiction. Young adult novels are characterized by their dealing with identity struggles linked with coming-of-age. Luna is representative of that genre, as it tells about the struggles of two siblings, Liam and Regan, who are brought up in a family and evolve in an environment that are not tolerant of their respective identities. Even though the issues Regan faces—such as not getting along with her parents, being rejected at school, coping with a high-school crush—can be considered as common to most teenage narratives, Liam’s struggles set him apart and give the novel a much deeper meaning and purpose. Liam struggles with the unveiling and acceptance of his trans identity. Despite belonging to a genre considered as “light” and lacking seriousness, because it is destined for a young and unexperienced readership, Peters’ novel uses the assets of this genre to raise awareness towards LGBTQ issues. It makes us realize the difficulties queer adolescents can encounter in this most difficult period in life, through a vivid depiction of Liam’s experience.

The most pivotal stage in Liam’s experience is his transitioning, and it thus seems important to observe how the novel stylistically stages Liam’s transitioning process. This device is particularly clear at the end of Chapter 3, where, after a domestic fight over breakfast, during which Liam is deeply hurt because he feels disfavored by his father, Liam makes Regan ditch school and takes her to a café instead. While sipping their coffees, the siblings have an interesting conversation about Liam’s transitioning, and Peters manages to make this transitioning process tangible through concrete elements in the text. Through the shift in pronouns, the reader experiences the shift in Liam’s identity. From the beginning of the chapter, the narrator, Regan, uses the masculine pronoun “he” when referring to Liam. That is, up until the end of page 21, when Liam starts talking about the women’s clothes and accessorize he was trying on earlier, in Regan’s room. Noticing Liam’s lightening mood, Regan observes: “he brightened a little” (21). Then, after Liam is finished with his speech about clothing and hairstyle, the narrator noticeably transitions to the feminine pronoun, “she,” at the beginning of the next paragraph: “once she started talking hair and clothes, we’d be here forever” (21). It is interesting to see how transition is linked with physical attributes. Even by simply talking about women’s clothes and accessorize, Liam starts transforming, and becoming his (or her) true self. This echoes the fact that, throughout the novel, Liam is only himself/herself in the confined space of Regan’s room, when he can dress as the woman he is.

mostly different, but some similarities

There are, of course, two different approaches in comparing theses texts; mostly similar with some differences, or mostly different with some similarities. At first I thought these two novels were obviously very different, the main issue being that Boy meets Boy was about the sexual orientation of the protagonist, and Luna is about gender identity, two very different things, thus making it difficult to compare their experiences. The stories differ further in that Paul is already ‘out’ to all his friends and family and it’s not really a coming out narrative for Paul, whereas Luna is in nearly the exact opposite situation.  For a while during the free write i couldn’t get past the fact that i couldn’t find nearly any substantial similarities between Paul and Luna, so i moved on to thinking about comparing the stories in other ways.

Though it wasn’t quite as present in the plot of Boy meets Boy, Tony’s parents don’t understand or approve of who he is, similarly to the way Liam and Reagan’s dad can’t grasp what is going on with Liam, though each character deals with their parents in different ways, the concept is still there. Another similarity I think is noteworthy, is the parallel between Reagan and Paul as the narrators. Though Reagan is a young, straight girl and Paul is a gay boy, they are both comfortable and confident in their sexualities. In both stories, the narrators are both pursuing someone and there is drama surrounding that, but more importantly, each narrator is helping people close to them with their coming out process.

I also see similarities in the relationship between Reagan and Liam, and Paul and Tony; Reagan is what Liam wants to be- a girl. Similarly, Tony is jealous of Paul’s life in which he gets to live as himself and have his boyfriends over to his house. Paul and Reagan both have something that Tony and Liam desire, and Paul and Reagan are helping them to achieve it.