Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg


Rafe has transferred to a boarding school in New England for his junior year of high school. He’s looking forward to making friends, writing, playing sports and being ordinary. Most importantly of all, he plans on not telling people he’s gay.

It’s not that he’s had a bad time since he came out back home in Boulder, Colorado. His parents, his friends and his school were supportive. More than supportive at times. He is proud to be gay and he even visited other high schools to give talks about coming out and tolerance. However, he has grown tired of people defining him by the fact he is gay. He doesn’t want to be labelled as gay anymore. He just wants to be an ordinary boy.

To begin with, it all goes so well. He’s on the soccer team and he’s in with the popular jock crowd. Except nothing is that simple. In avoiding the label ‘gay’, has he given away a part of himself? Do people really know him anymore?

Rafe finds himself challenged by a teacher who gets him to write his story and question himself, by his friendships and by his growing feeling for Ben. Perhaps it’s not the label that is the problem but Rafe’s perception of what the label means.

An enjoyable and fun story that makes you stop and think. Rafe’s struggle with the label ‘gay’ and how it defines and restricts him is interesting to think about. Labels abound and are often tossed around with impunity. Very few people avoid being labelled – jocks, nerds, goths, geeks are just some of the labels that are often used – and this book makes the reader stop and consider the impact these labels have on the way we view people and the way people view themselves. An interesting starting point for an important discussion.

 

 

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