Two boys kissing by David Levithan
Text Publishing, 2013. ISBN 9781922147486.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Homosexuality. Love and friendship. Prejudice. The Guinness Book attempt at a world record for the longest kiss is the backdrop for this enticing tale of seven gay young men, as their stories are narrated by a survivor, a man who has seen it all, and now as a Greek Chorus, watches on while a new generation of gay young men make their marks, striving to survive in a world where some do not accept them.
Craig and Harry have planned this day meticulously. They have permission from their school to stage the event on the school's front lawn, they have a host of supporters ready with lip salve, banners, music tapes, air coolers and mistletoe. Craig and Harry used to be a couple and over the 32 hours kissing, they recall their lives.
Several other young men also figure in this story which ranges over the history of homosexuality in the USA, from being hidden to coming out, only to be decimated by the AIDS epidemic, then on to acceptance for most in the late twentieth century. Peter and Neil kiss often, waking and having breakfast with each other in their parents' homes, both safe in their families' support, while Avery and Ryan have only just met. Last night was the boys' prom, and Ryan drove over from a nearby town, blown away by his sight of Avery with his pink hair. They take tentative moves towards each other through the book, Avery having to take things slowly as he was raised as a girl.
Cooper, the one who is alone, spends time searching the internet but cannot bring himself to meet the men he communicates with online. We know from the start that Cooper is in a bad way after being kicked out of home by his incensed father.
Through the day we are invited into their lives and the lives of men who have gone before, the secrecy of some, the illness which took so many lives, those hidden in loveless marriages, the hints given by some offering support. It is an overview showing that friendships, relationships and love within the gay community reflect any relationship, full of trepidation at making a first move, fear that it won't last, resignation if it does not, comfort when it does, and particularly more so when the community and the parents support them. In turns wistful, longing, regretful and always vigilant, the story ranges over the full quota of what it is to be gay in middle America, giving support to many and opening some eyes.