UPDATE: I’ve since come back to this and realized just how bad it is or, rather, how much my writing skills have improved since my first semester. I will leave this post up, but know that my latest writings are far more technically sound. For a better story, read Love the Shoes (it features a boy and his father but is not gay-themed). For something with a gay theme, read The Object of My Prepositions: A Search for Prince Charming or Squirmy Change and Gay Sharing. Also see Queerness Is Multiplied and Bollywood’s First Gay Love Story.
Wow. My writing exercise for this week was to do a structural repetition, in which something a character or narrator says or does is repeated or echoed, perhaps in a different context, by different people, or on a different scale. Mine started out boring, but it transformed as I was writing it, from a story about two sexually-charged daughters and their mother into a story about a mother who was raped when she was younger and a son (hers) who is coming out of the closet. Still not very original, but I like it so much better than what I started with. I call it
We Like Boys
In 1984, Suzy Salinger had been a rambunctious 16-year-old, but not really one to get herself into trouble. Nevertheless, she had gotten into trouble on that particular November afternoon when she had finally stood up to her mom about dating.
“What can I say, mother?” she had said. “Boys just like me!” And then she had smirked and received a slap across the face and instructions to go to her room. Furious, she had sneaked out her bedroom window that night, for the first time ever, to meet up with an older boy who had said he liked her. And that night, he had raped her.
Thinking back on this night, Suzy now began a dialogue with her 15-year-old son, Chad, about respecting women and dating. If things went well, she might even bring up sex. And things did go well because Chad swore he had the utmost respect for women and didn’t think he was ready to date anyone yet, male or female.
“Excuse me?” Suzy said, and picked at her ear. “What did you say?”
“Mom…I like boys. Maybe even…just boys.” Chad looked at his feet, and Suzy saw his face turn crimson.
Shocked as she was, she knew this was 2009, when being gay was almost okay. She worried that rejecting his sexuality now would make her lose him forever, and besides, she was a pretty cool mom, wasn’t she? She could handle this. Nevertheless, she couldn’t help but cry a little; she had to grieve the loss of that heterosexual life she had subconsciously envisioned for him all these years. A beautiful wife. Two-point-five naturally conceived children. Low chances of contracting HIV. An aversion to that shitty pop music—Beyoncé, she remembered—and to the color pink, which even she, a woman, a straight woman, hated with a passion.
But wait. Now she was being unfair and buying into stereotypes. Chad was still Chad, and this wasn’t going to change his personality and tastes. At least, she didn’t think so. She stepped closer to him and put both hands on his head, one on each side. She tilted his face up toward hers and kissed his forehead.
“I was going to talk about sex after all that, but you caught me off-guard,” she said, and smiled. She looked into his eyes, and he smiled back. “I liked boys too when I was your age, of course, and I need to tell you where that got me one night because you need to know what boys can do. And why you don’t have a dad.” She swallowed hard, and then continued: “First of all, you need to remember that you have the right to say no, and it always, absolutely means no. Okay?”
Then Suzy and her gay son sat down to have a serious talk about sex. And boys. And to her great surprise, it was the best conversation they’d ever had.