I didn’t like guys. People thinking of me as gay still felt uncomfortable. It was a label that didn’t quite fit. I used the word in my head sometimes because it was better than saying homosexual or something, but I hated hearing it out loud in reference to me. Not that there was anything wrong with being gay! My boyfriend was gay. But me? I didn’t feel gay. I didn’t think I was gay.
Okay, I did have a boyfriend.
And I liked my boyfriend. I could never admit he was good looking to his face because he would become more insufferable than he already was, but I was attracted to him. I never thought long limbs, a flat chest, and decidedly masculine hands were a turn on before, but Ryan was different. And there was nothing girly about him even if he once wore heels and a cheerleading outfit.
I liked his body, every masculine inch of it. But other guys? Gross.
I guess my best friend Zach was pretty or whatever. I could admit that. It didn’t mean I was attracted to him, just that I had eyes. Anyone could see that. Whatever. I just wasn’t attracted to guys… though, okay, maybe I wasn’t terribly attracted to girls at the moment either.
All I could say was that guys didn’t sound appealing and girls didn’t sound appealing, but man, now that I’d mentioned Ryan in a girl’s cheerleading uniform? I was definitely into it. So, that was, what, like a tie?
Maybe my fondness for that visual didn’t say anything about me. Except that I was pretty into the person I was currently seeing and no one else measured up. I’d never felt that way about anyone before, so it was both thrilling and terrifying. Figuring out my sexuality on top of everything else was really difficult.
Did liking one guy make me gay? It felt like everyone in this town thought the answer was yes, but I still wasn’t sure. So yeah. When I told my parents, I didn’t want to be in this this unnamed, unknown place. I wanted to have answers for them.
Libraries have changed a lot since I was a kid. Wow, that sentence immediately made me feel old. I guess most of it is the same actually. I mean, how much can libraries really change? It’s a place where you get books. And it used to be that place where I go could to play the Magic School Bus computer game, but I don’t care about that anymore.
I’ve been taking my nephew to tutoring at the library and there’s two big differences I’ve noticed. One, some libraries have 3D printers now. I’m sure there’s lots of academic, important reasons for a library to have one of those, but the only reason I know about it is because my nephew used it to make a fidget spinner. They’re everywhere now, but I went all over with him looking for one last year until he printed one himself.
But also, the content changes.
I’m from the Midwest. The area I was raised is probably less liberal than other big cities but more liberal than every small town in the Midwest. And I myself am super liberal. Would that be a lame superhero or a cool one? Super Liberal would give everyone healthcare and make it safe for trans people to use the bathrooms they want. So, not a terrible superhero all in all.
Anyway, right when you go into the library, there’s a shelf with new books and cool books that the librarians set up that people might be interested in. I was trying to put back the sports book my nephew just grabbed (because we’d been in earlier in the week and he’d gotten as many books and DVDs as he could carry, he didn’t need more) when I saw a pink cover and a pair of lips.
When Katie Met Cassidy, the title said. What are the chances Cassidy is also a girl, I thought to myself. Probably not very likely. They wouldn’t just have a super gay book out where anyone could see it. There’s children here. I checked anyway. It was a super gay book.
It was an awesome moment. That book wouldn’t have been there on the front shelf, probably wouldn’t have even been allowed in the library, when I was a kid. But it was now. Out in front where anyone could pick it up and look it. A book the librarian thought other people would like or needed to read. Progress and stuff. Awesome.
Here’s the summary of the book for those that are curious:
When it comes to Cassidy, Katie can’t think straight.
Katie Daniels, a twenty-eight-year-old Kentucky transplant with a strong set of traditional values, has just been dumped by her fiancé when she finds herself seated across a negotiating table from native New Yorker Cassidy Price, a sexy, self-assured woman wearing a man’s suit. At first neither of them knows what to make of the other, but soon their undeniable connection will bring into question everything each of them thought they knew about sex and love.
When Katie Met Cassidy is a romantic comedy about gender and sexuality, and the importance of figuring out who we are in order to go after what we truly want. It’s also a portrait of a high-drama subculture where barrooms may as well be bedrooms, and loyal friends fill in the spaces absent families leave behind. Katie’s glimpse into this wild yet fiercely tightknit community begins to alter not only how she sees the larger world, but also where exactly she fits in.
“Catcher in the Rye. Thinking about becoming a totally ungrateful punk who swears a lot, then run off to New York City with a completely inadequate sum of money…. I expect you to be waiting by the phone to rescue me when I somewhat come to my senses. But I’ll still be an ungrateful little brat after all that. Don’t expect much of a redemption arc in my story…. except maybe to give the spoiled little brat in everyone a reason to say ‘yeah, somebody understands me’.”
It’s hard to imagine anyone could find fault with Riding with Brighton. It’s a great character piece and a lovely romance too.
Summary: Jay Hall sees his life from a fresh perspective and finds himself wanting. He wants to change everything and knows just the person to help him: Brighton Bello-Adler, who is just about the coolest person in the world. They spend a few days together and go on an adventure of self-discovery and romance.
About Jay: Jay is unhappy with his life because he’s unhappy with himself. He’s good looking, popular, and an athlete, but he’s not impressed by his friends or any of his accomplishments. Because he’s been living with a part of himself he was too scared to acknowledge. But things are changing.
Jay’s been getting to know someone in one of his classes, Brighton. He likes talking to Brighton but feels really inadequate compared to him. Brighton is a shameless flirt with everyone, charming, an artist, and openly gay. He’s seems very confident and sure of who he is. And Jay wants to be like that. So he thinks.
It becomes pretty clear that it’s not hero worship Jay feels but a crush. It’s really sweet watching Jay gushing about Brighton in the safe context of a role model. He thinks he wants to be like Brighton, but he really wants to be worthy of catching Brighton’s attention.
About Brighton: In addition to Jay, there’s Brighton. Brighton is kind of a perfect angel who does no wrong but he’s still a strong character with his own voice. Jay’s the star of the show while Brighton is a supporting player, but again remember that this happens over the course of a few days and Jay has enough drama going on that it would have been too much to add more conflicts for Brighton.
What’s really great about Brighton is that he’s just a normal guy. He’s not boring but his life is going pretty well. And while that might not be great from a story perspective, it’s refreshing and a much needed portrayal of a gay teen in today’s culture. There’s no angst or depression. He has loving friends and a supportive family and being gay is just one part of him. He’s a good counterpoint to Jay and a realistic ,sometimes seldom seen, type of gay teenager.
The romance department is the only area lacking in Brighton’s life. He wants to be a normal kids who goes and dates and takes someone to prom. But there’s not a lot of dating options in his town. And he’s very attracted to Jay. He’s torn between the strong pull he feels for him and keeping his distance while Jay figures stuff out. He doesn’t want to get his heart broken but he can’t help the more attracted he becomes the more Jay shows of himself of Brighton.
What makes it unique: This is an interesting story because all the action takes place in the space of a weekend. It’s like a crash course in Jay’s psyche and emotional development as he dives head first into issues he’s never been able to confront before. The book provides a really in-depth character analysis and there’s lots of upheaval and revelations as Jay fits the coming out process into the span of a few days.
The Romance: The action is both the story of Jay finally being honest with himself and those around him and getting to know Brighton better. They can’t really help falling for each other the more time they spend together. They develop a real connection and a very supportive partnership.
There’s a lot of fun and flirty banter and swoon worthy moments. The book has the feel of a whirlwind romance, something intense and all consuming. But it’s not an artificial, insta-love kinda thing because the main characters get to know each other very deeply in a short amount of time and there’s both big romantic moments and more tender elements where the characters discovering each other and falling hard.
Favorite Part: The prose. The prose is just, really, really good.
My thoughts: Haven Francis wrote a beautiful book that should probably be read more than once in order to fully take in and appreciate everything. It’s life affirming and lovely but also doesn’t solve everything.
Just a reminder that What Love Means is still free until Tuesday. Get it here!
Max is a thrill-seeker on the road but doesn’t take chances with his heart. He has a loving (and annoying) family, a part-time job, and his motorcycle. He doesn’t need anything or anyone else. Certainly not a blonde rich kid who’s never had to work for anything in his life.
Cal might not have a job, but he’s always busy. Getting into a good college takes work and it’s worth it even if he doesn’t have any time for himself. He doesn’t need a rugged dark-haired boy distracting him.
When Max and Cal’s siblings start competing in spelling bees, these opposites are thrown together. They have nothing in common. Except for their attraction to each other. As they grow closer while coaching their siblings, their attraction might lead to something more. But can their high school relationship survive real world challenges?
Spelling words and learning their dictionary definitions is easy. Real life is different.
Max and Cal know how to spell love, but they’re about to find out what it means.
In this teen LGBTQ story, opposites attract, enemies become lovers, and a second chance means two old friends could become more.
Here’s a snippet of what I’ve been working on today. Boy meets boys in a coffee shop.
The scent of coffee hung heavy in the air, naturally, but mixed with other scents of the season. I watched the staff work as I waited in line. I detected crisp notes of apple, hints of warm cinnamon, and the enticing aroma of other fall spices.
Others behind the counter were rushing around frenzied, but now that I noticed one of the baristas in particular, I saw that he was different. It took more than an afternoon rush to rattle him. He smiled at each person who came up to the counter and I was struck by how genuine it seemed. There’s no way he could be so friendly. Not while teenager after teenager poured in here after school for a caffeine fix, rattling out orders and huffing impatiently. Yet he was easy going, the calm in the center of the storm.
Lately, my life held a whole lot of storm and not much calm, so someone like that held a certain amount of appeal at the moment. Even if otherwise he might not be type. I wondered if his brown hair would feel as soft as it looked and what it felt like to have a posture that relaxed posture.
He was a free spirit maybe, or an artist. There were faint marks of color on his arm that he hadn’t quite washed off and eclectic wristbands on one arm. One of bands was a rainbow, which might be why Quinn assumed he played for my team. And the once over he gave me when we finally made it up the counter made me agree with her hypothesis.