Openly Straight By Bill Konigsberg
Rafe has been out since a very young age. Growing up in Boulder, CO with aging hippies as parents it was okay to be gay.
Except Rafe always felt that is all any one saw in him; he was just the gay kid. In his junior year of high school he decides to take on a experiment that will help him shed the “gay kid” label. He decides to enroll in a prep school in Massachusetts and then just be himself. He won’t tell anyone he is gay and he can just be Rafe; one of the guys.
At his new school he is soon hanging out with the popular jocks and playing soccer. Except he finds one of his new friends, Ben, really attractive. After Ben’s best friend leaves school early Rafe becomes his new friend. Rafe struggles with toeing the line between being friends and crushing on Ben.
Can Rafe just turn his sexuality off? Does he actually believe this experiment makes him more ‘normal’? And what about his friends and family? How will Rafe’s decision to pretend to be straight affect them?
Openly Straight is an interesting take on the “coming out” novel in young adult LGBQT literature. At times it reads like a history of the gay rights movement, and at other times I was frustrated with the naivete of Rafe. Overall it is a good read but recommended for teens who are just starting the process of coming to grips with their sexuality or working up the courage to come out. It is appropriate for ages 16 and up due to scenes involving physical intimacy and drinking.