Ten years ago, David Levithan made his mark on LGBT young adult fiction when he released Boy Meets Boy. The author discusses that landmark work and his newest release, Two Boys Kissing.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of your debut novel, Boy Meets Boy, and, with the recent
repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), it seems Two Boys Kissing couldn’t come at a better time. Can you talk about
what this year has meant to you?
It’s a very moving serendipity to
me that Two Boys Kissing should come
so close on the heels of the DOMA repeal and the invalidation of Prop 8. Reading
Boy Meets Boy and Two Boys Kissing back-to-back is
fascinating to me, because so many of the elements in Boy Meets Boy that seemed fantastical in 2003 now seem almost
commonplace in 2013. The challenge is that the darker undercurrents in Boy Meets Boy—what Tony wrestles with—are
still very much present for many of the boys in Two Boys Kissing.
How would you compare the landscape of LGBT young adult
fiction from when Boy Meets Boy was
published to today with Two Boys Kissing?
What do you think has changed the most?
The landscape is much wider and
more colorful now than it was then. Boy
Meets Boy was part of a huge sea change in 2003, alongside novels from
Brent Hartinger, Alex Sanchez, Julie Ann Peters, Lauren Myracle, and others,
all of whom are still exploring the themes in new ways. I think there was still
something shocking to people about a queer YA novel in 2003, and the notion of
a happy one, like Boy Meets Boy, was
revelatory to many readers. Which it shouldn’t have been...and now it’s not
as much. There are so many exciting writers who are delving into not just queer
identities, but now queer identities intersect with other identities. There’s
much more diversity that’s needed, but it’s a good start.
Two Boys Kissing is
narrated posthumously by a generation of gay men lost to AIDS. What was it like
to write from a group perspective, especially one as significant as this?
It was certainly a leap. But it was
a very freeing leap. What’s been astonishing to me is how many early readers
have mapped the narrative voice onto specific people they lost to AIDS—parents,
teachers, friends, mentors. It was important to me that the voice be wide
enough to encompass all of these people, but to not ignore the specifics of
their story. It means so much to me to have my uncle, who’s lived with AIDS for
over 25 years now, read the book and have it resonate.
After the success of Every
Day last year, many readers are hoping for a sequel. Any plans for one on
The most honest answer I can give
is that I’m not sure. I am not writing one at the moment. But the door
certainly isn’t closed.