I do like Two Boys Kissing. But there’s one thing, right up front, that bothers me: the total privileging of gay men in the LGBT community. It happens a lot, and it happens in this book, talking about the generation of gay men who died of AIDs, centering the book around their narration as a kind of Greek chorus, and I just — where the hell are the women? Women have always been part of the gay community too, and though some appear in this book as allies, there’s a dearth of lesbians. And that sticks out a mile given that a range of different male queerness is explored, from trans people to gay people living in bigoted families to gay people living in families that just sort of look the other way, to gay kids thrown out and ending up on the street…
It’s a book about the gay community, where the central recurring theme is two boys kissing to draw attention to gayness being out there and okay. And that draws an audience of people, including support, and it’s… all gay men? I get that the AIDs epidemic, which is another theme, disproportionately took the lives of gay men. But other issues, like homophobic bullying and families not accepting you, aren’t limited to gay men and those stories aren’t just about gay men.
I mean, representation at all is a good thing, and the differing experiences of queerness here are great as far as they go. Some of the couples are cute; some of the stories are sad. The Greek chorus works really well, even though I feel that it’s not talking to me — the story looks at some of the issues gay people have faced, some of which are applicable to queer women as well, and it just feels like it’s all about the boys.
As a story, it’s readable and touching. And yet thinking about it after the fact, I found it problematic.