#amreading: Two Boys Kissing

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“We wish we could show you the world as it sleeps. Then you’d never have any doubt about how similar, how trusting, how astounding and vulnerable we all are.”

“We no longer sleep, and because we no longer sleep, we no longer dream. Instead we watch. We don’t want to miss a thing. You have become our dreaming.”

David Levithan has become my narrative idol. Effortlessly quilting together the threads and voices of a handful of characters, Levithan nudges as though all of their stories and then stands aside as the connectedness between us all is revealed.

Craig and Harry are setting out to conquer the record for the world’s longest kiss (which, by the way, is currently held by Ekkachai Tiranarat and Laksana Tiranarat from Thailand – 58 hours 35 minutes 58 seconds). But Craig and Harry have a complicated history and emotions are unpredictable. Although the boys aren’t a couple now, they used to be. And kissing your ex can make things complex and confusing.

Meanwhile, kisses between Peter and Neil say something altogether different. Still together. Still entwined. Peter and neil’s kisses carry through the ridges and seams of coupled young loves. The comfort and safety of a love known and wanted and yet a longing for … well, for what?

Avery and Ryan. Their kisses are new. As is their introduction to one another. Self-knowledge is a skill to be proud of – but knowing how to become a part of an “us” possesses a steep and slippery learning curve – especially when the “us” is a LGBTQ couple in a place and time when teens are callous with themselves and brutal with others.

Alone. There are so many ways to be alone. And Cooper’s steps out of his world without a someone – without his “it” person – and into a reality that can slice through and person’s soul and decimate one’s being. While Tariq knows alone. He also knows what being alone isn’t. And how one can come back from being alone, holding onto the knowledge and wisdom and strength of being alone can forge in someone yet still able to believe that there is so much more – of everything – in human connection.

Levithan reaches deep into the collective history of the LGBTQ community, selecting the foundation threads of our deepest soul-flaying depths and our quiet triumphs to offer up this reflection of humanity through the eyes of our gay brothers.

Two Boys Kissing dares people to say, “it is not okay to be so public about being gay”. In this time, when society is changing by the hour and taking momentous strides in LGBTQ equality and civil rights, its the microaggressions that we experience in our lives and our own fears of drawing “too much” attention to our presence in the daily world which steadily chips away at the wholeness of our presence and happiness as LGBTQ people, families and community.  Levithan’s book steadfastly declares that our disappearing acts will no longer be our M.O. With each generation that comes of age, fear of being gay – lesbian – queer – non-conforming – gender-neutral or simply non-hetero erodes even further. The throat-clenching terror that declared us outcast and unwanted is abating. We’re gathering in the light now – holding each other close, propping each other up, sheltering each other and proudly showing off our loves and our families. Our moments of tenderness and affection are no longer relegated to the privacy of our rooms or stolen moments in shadowed darkness. He will reach out and touch his shoulder with the gentle tenderness of a new-found lover; I will lean into her shoulder and let my hand slide down her arm until our fingers entwine in the familiar way that long-partnered mates know; their son will run to them at the end of the school day screaming, “Daddy! Papa! It was an awesome day!” … and we will not look away in shame. Our shoulders will not hunch in fear or concern that someone will see or hear or judge. Because these beautiful everyday moments – these common, run-of-the-mill lover – parent – partner inclinations are ours as much as they are yours. We no longer need to hide our smiles when we see two boys kissing.

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