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Gay Youth: One Youth's Story

There were a few things that I was afraid of before I sent 85A to the publisher.  One was that Seamus’ use of homophobic slurs would cause some people to think that the novel is not queer-friendly. Let me point out that I am a gay author who came out in 1992 at the age of 17; lest 85A’s release become a throwback to controversies surrounding Eminem’s debatable homophobia, I would like to go on record as a militant advocate for gay rights and gay youth. Also keep in mind that Seamus is a questioning gay teen who is trying to come to terms with his true self in an environment that would sooner beat it out of him. He’s still only on his way to accepting who he is, and he’s not one to watch his language!

Most of the time, when Seamus uses words like “faggot” he’s referring to times others have called him that. Yet there are times when he succumbs to homonegativity himself. For instance, Seamus begins chapter eight by railing against skinheads who wear pink laces in order to show that they “killed a queer.” Yet in this same chapter, after he gets away from a drunken pederast who comes on to him, Seamus says, “I didn’t want that flit feeling me up or vomiting on me…For a second, I could even see why skins would be proud to wear pink laces.” Please bear in mind, though, that Seamus is 15 years old and he’s referring to an incident that occurred when he was 14. This was the 1980s, when one of the prevailing distortions about homosexuality was that it was akin to pedophilia and it wasn’t unusual for a kid Seamus’ age to think so too. Soon after in chapter 8, though, Seamus himself is gay-bashed by skinheads. At this point, he has an out-of-body experience where he says to himself, “This is fuckin’ it. The white light’s coming and some Imperial Wizard Skinhead’s gonna award these animals some pink fuckin’ laces for what they’re about to do to me.” For whatever his prejudices, Seamus is among the persecuted, not the majority.

I was also scared that people might get the wrong idea about Seamus’ affair with his therapist Dr. Strykeroth, who is more than twice his age. Let me say once and for all: I do not endorse man-boy love relationships. I was only trying to demonstrate that, even though Seamus does find a modicum of support and nurturing in his relationship with Dr. Strykeroth, it’s not without strings attached. Exploitive relationships like this are not uncommon in the past experiences of LGBT runaways like Seamus. Sadly, many gay youth have reported that these relationships were the closest they ever came to being loved and accepted in their youth.

But don’t for a minute think that I’m implying that experiences of molestation are what make kids gay! That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! I’m only illustrating that this is an imperfect world and, as we know just by watching the news, these things happen. 

Yet Seamus is a survivor who is willing to take the world on in search of his dream to be a star in England, where he thinks his true self will magically flourish. Oh, the dreams of youth! But does Seamus go for his dreams too soon? That’s a question I will leave open.

In the meantime, singer Cindy Lauper has announced that she is opening a homeless shelter for gay youth right here in New York City: http://www.gnn.com/article/lauper-to-open-shelter-for-gay-youth/979087

Let’s throw our support behind her cause and take this movement cross-country, cross-world!

Although all gay youth have a unique story, one example can be found by reading 85A.