Adam and other books to get you in the mood (for Pride)

UnknownWorld Pride week has just wrapped up here in Toronto and in honour of the parades all over the world, let’s talk about Ariel Schrag’s new novel Adam.

Our hero Adam is a seventeen year old boy who goes to spend the summer with his sister in New York. His California life of third-wheeling with young teenage couples in hot tubs is replaced by a Brooklyn existence and his sister’s group of LGBT friends. There’s a hot redhead in the mix. Hilarity ensues.

What I liked so much about Adam, particularly having read it just in time for Pride, was its expert handling of the outsider perspective to the LGBT community. During the summer, Adam learns about gender pronouns, testosterone pills, top surgery and much more. While Adam may not be the type of coming of age story that an LGBT teen might be looking for when seeking out reading material with a lead character to whom they can strongly relate, it’s exactly the type of coming of age story that teens outside of the LGBT community might find helpful in their quest to not be assholes to other human beings. Most pop culture depictions of gay characters are established middle agers à la Modern Family or teenage caricatures à la Glee. This type of entertaining, readable work will do a lot to bring the vocabulary of the LGBT community into the mainstream by answering questions that teenage readers didn’t know they had.

On the topic of bringing LGBT voices into the mainstream, I’d recommend looking further into the subject of LGBT literature.  The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is hosting a special exhibition of items from the gay pulp fiction collection in time for World Pride festivities. You can check out the CBC’s coverage of the exhibition here (embed not available) or head to the library to see the collection for yourself. The short video interview from the CBC talks about the tricks employed to let readers know a novel contained gay themes, while managing to avoid charges of obscenity. Reading these mid-century gay pulp fiction novels and looking at the books as artifacts shines a light on how far we’ve come and on the important role of literature in letting people tell their stories.

 

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