Lately I’ve been reading a lot of reviews and requests for YA LGBTQ books and a theme seems to be emerging: people want to see more than coming out stories. While I may one hundred percent agree, which may be due to my age and the time I grew up in, I can see why people would want books where queer teens are simply just teens grappling with other problems (magical or otherwise). That got me thinking about my book, The Mixtape to My Life, and whether or not I would call it a coming out story.
So is Mixtape a coming out story?
In short, I would have to say no, it’s not. There may or may not be some revelations, but that isn’t the main focus of Justin’s journey. While the 90s may have seen an uptick of gay acceptance, it still wasn’t possible for many to be fully out. Perhaps some close friends would know, but you wouldn’t dare say it out loud unless you were truly brave.
So then what is Mixtape about?
I don’t want to give too much away, but if I had to condense the theme, I would say that it’s more about learning how to navigate your feelings in a world you know you can’t be totally free in. You still want to be happy, but it’s not something you can share with others or bring out into the open. It’s scary and confusing, and definitely isn’t something Justin is prepared for.
I still feel like coming out stories have their place. Although much progress has been made, someone out there may need to hear about someone like them taking that first step. But other stories need to be told as well, including ones where people had relationships that had to be hidden from the world. Every story is important and all need to be heard.
What are your thoughts on coming out stories?