Stories of Being Out in High School
The collection opens with, “Elton John, Uncle David, and Me,” a coming out story that depicts that while there may be an imperative to come out, it’s losing control of the process that’s frightening.
In “The Nail That Sticks Up Gets Hammered Down,” Alex is in the early stages of figuring out his identity. For Alex, being gay is nothing special and nothing too momentous happens. Or does it?
“The Holy Ghost” is about experiencing a teacher’s homophobia, and the ghosts that arise from the past, exist in the present, and are created for the future.
Geoff, the protagonist in “A Lesson on Being Inseparable,” lives completely isolated from other gays, yet is dedicated to teaching younger students about sexual orientation, learning something about himself along the way.
Experiencing homophobia and harassment by other students is the theme of “Episodes in Fear.” As harrowing as Matthew’s story is, there are clear lessons to be learned by educators that Matthew can even see. Why can’t anyone else at his school see them?
Christopher, the main character in “E-mails to My Brother,” also experiences homophobia and harassment, from family as well as peers, yet has a different approach to handling it.
The novella in this collection, “The Last Coming out Story,” is a postmodern take on the ubiquitous coming out story. How does the president of the school’s “Rainbow Club” go from being the most popular student to the most hated? Though not for being gay. “The Last Coming Out Story” rose on the HarperCollins Authonomy website to the Editor’s Desk from over four thousand books, receiving over five hundred enthusiastic comments and reviews.
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m gay. Pass the salt,” undertakes to show how humour, even in the midst of a serious personal crisis, can be a coping strategy.
The closing story, “Rebel…Just Because,” returns to Evan, the same protagonist as in the opening story, who has grown into a self-styled in-your-face warrior against heteronormativity. He’s not afraid to “queer” education, for the first time making his school think about students that until then were invisible.