This is yet another young adults novel I found during the study for my University degree. I found it to be incredibly charming and thought provoking. An excellent way to engage youth with LGBTIQ issues.
Our story is of a young man named Thom, who lives in a world where superheroes protect citizens as part of The League. Thom’s father is an ex-hero who was shamed into retirement. After discovering he has powers, Thom joins the League in an attempt to become a hero behind his fathers back. Meanwhile, we are given an insight into Thom’s mind as he recounts the feelings and thoughts he has because of his sexuality. He spends the majority of the book desperately trying to hide the fact he is gay from his father. A man he believes to be homophobic. We are allowed into his mind to see the torment he undergoes as people comment and attack him. The fear he feels once his father finds out, and the discrimination he undergoes once he is outed to the world. Thom allows the readers to humanise homosexuality, and see the damage that snide remarks can do to an individual.
Ever come across the issue of homosexuality in your classrooms? I’ve been out of University for 3 years and I am only still a casual, but even I have dealt with this issue. I will discuss one major issue I had in a classroom without stating any names as I MUST protect this child’s identity and safety. Presumably, you all understand.
A top stage 4 class. All the students work wonderfully for me. They are loud and excitable, but always complete work and are lovely kids. But it’s needles day. And one boy, is terrified to death of going. The lady comes and collects handfuls of kids at a time. But he refuses. I strike a deal with the teacher organising this. He will come after class, when all other kids have gone. He is most afraid everyone will see him cry. I manage to talk to him about his fears whilst the classroom is almost empty. He reveals he is gay, and if he cries it will make the bullying worse. I try to console him, telling him there is nothing wrong with gay, nothing at all. His fears of never finding love need not be there. He is young and will find someone. I told him stories of gay friends who found soul mates. Told him I waited until I was 25 to find mine. We talked about living in a small town as a gay man, and I acknowledged his fear. But tried to reassure him that they were unfounded and did not need to exist. I spoke to his Year Adviser and we organised for him to see the school counselor. As a casual I rarely see him, but I hope he gets the help he needs. This boy, bullied by his peers, is talking of suicide. His classmates could not see the torment inside him. And yet some bullied him mercilessly. All because of who he is attracted to. I have never been so scared for a students, and so angry at others. I was embarrassed that such bigotry was going on in my class.
People don’t see this torment on the inside. No one except the individual will ever understand what is shooting through their mind. That is why I love this book. It shows us these thoughts and fears. It brings us to the forefront of discrimination. We become a part of it. We feel it. We see it. It hurts us too. And it’s superhero connection draws kids in even more. Especially lately with the popularity of the Marvel Universe, and the growing excitement of the DC Comics Universe. Heroes are in! What better way to teach kids about these issues than by appealing to their hero side?
The world is full of so much hate. Hate because of colour, gender, identity, sexuality, religion, politics… Honestly, I can feel it every day. I see it through my gay friends, my Aboriginal partner, my Islamaphobic father, my sexist grandfather and the fear I feel when I tell people I’m an Atheist. There is so much hate, so much. I feel art is a form of expression, whether it be painting, video games, comics, movies, plays or novels. This book is a work of art, made to break down the barriers in society. Made to tackle the problems. Made to open minds. And so many young minds need opening.