‘My High School Boyfriend’ by Gary Cottle is one of the best ‘coming of age’ gay romances I’ve read for quite a while. As the story begins, young Glen Farris, the only child of strict church-going parents, is having a miserable time at high school. His whole world changes when a new kid, stylish Shannon Dupree, arrives from New York City. The characters of the two boys are vividly drawn. I could see them in my mind’s eye as I followed them through the narrative. In the latter half of the book the parents of Glen are developed to an astonishing level helping to make this a minor masterpiece.
Like the best authors working in this genre (such as Anthony McDonald) Gary Cottle is skilful at establishing the time and place of the story and we follow the boys through the schools, the ghost towns, the shopping malls and the national parks of West Virginia. The story is set in the 1980’s and I delighted in scenes such as the one where the two young lovers attend a midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I must admit that I had a few misgivings as I read through the story because the two boys who obviously adored each other weren’t having sex. Would this really be the case with two gay teenage boys who spent most of their free time together? But then as I went further into the narrative this seemed so right for these two particular boys. I recalled reading a story recently about two teenage boys in a state of the U.S.A that allows same-sex marriage who declared they wouldn’t have sex until they were married.
One minor quibble – when the sex between the two boys in the story finally happens the author uses such coy terms as ‘whatsis’ and ‘back door’ to describe body parts. Why not call a cock a cock? But that is a very minor criticism. I feel that ‘My High School Boyfriend’ should be recommended to any teenage boys who may be having problems with their sexuality or issues with coming out. Even today too many teenagers in the Land Down Under harm themselves because of these problems.