Book Review: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
After “It Gets Better” got co-opted into a generic non-LGBT-specific anti-bullying campaign, there was this magical cloud over everything that started to imply that the problems of queer kids all over America are due to bullying by their peers– not due to the institutionalized homophobia of the entire society that they live in. Suddenly there was this notion that simple things like purple tshirts and signing online anti-bullying pledges, and carefully-planned interviews on national talk shows had ended homophobia forever, and that queer kids no longer had anything to worry about.
Not the case.
Granted, purple tshirts and signing online anti-bullying pledges, and carefully-planned interviews on national talk shows help make things better. And some things really have “gotten better.” But the system is still broken. Queer kids are still killing themselves because they’re queer.
It really does get better if you can figure out a way to strategically make it better– but it’s not like some equation just goes *zing* and gets magically solved when you turn 18, and suddenly everything that’s been holding you down for your whole life dissipates. We gotta show people how to do the math.
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan is pretty great. Written from the perspective of the ghosts of gay “ancestors” who lived amongst the 80’s and AIDS, it describes a few days in the lives of 5, sometimes 6 teenage gay boys. Two are working on beating the record for the longest same sex kiss, two are starting a new relationship, one is fleeing his abusive family, and another is observing the kiss while still reeling from a recent homophobic attack. There’s tons of details, it’s David Levithan so the writing’s totally lyrical, and you’ll probably read it in one or two sittings. A+, this is definitely one I’ll be recommending.