Gay Literature with Universal Appeal!? Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing“We always underestimated our own participation in magic. That is, we thought of magic as something that existed with or without us. But that’s not true.”

How does one create a story about queer love that will appeal to readers of all sexualities, without coming off as defensive, offensive, or pushy? Write about magic. David Levithan has created a beautiful novel that should appeal to anyone who loves love. How did he do it?

  • David Levithan’s writing is stunning. Many times edging on poetic, his prose is full of imagery and playful vocabulary. Even before you consider the content, the joyful way the story is told makes it universally appealing.
  • The narrator addresses the reader directly many times. The story is told through the lens of the deceased members of the gay community – those who have paved the way for gay rights, and who are watching carefully, full of hope. These overarching guides draw the reader into the story in the very first sentence “You  can’t know what it is like for us now – you will always be one step behind. Be thankful for that.” Since the narrator is not one voice, but many, the story gains a sense of importance. The reader may feel that, in a way, they are becoming part of something big, merely by interacting with the narration.
  • The book contains many different characters – from the lonely Cooper and the shy Avery, to the brave and passionate Tariq. By creating so many vibrant characters, Levithan represents the diversity within the gay community (shattering the stereotype of The Gay Man), and offers more opportunity for different types of people to relate to the story.

Two Boys Kissing is popular because of its literary excellence and its sincere subject matter. But it’s important because the gay community needs to be represented in a strong positive way. The most successful way to do that? Integrate a call for gay rights and the portrayal of gay love into popular culture in beautiful, unignorable ways. Two Boys Kissing isn’t just about gay rights. It’s about the magic of opening yourself to love. It’s about sincerity and curiosity and growth. It’s a story that anyone can relate to.

What other YA literature featuring gay love do you recommend?

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