October 7, 2007
I was really looking forward to Hero, Perry Moore’s novel about a teen-aged, gay super-hero. After reading it, I’m a little disappointed by some of the messages I took away from it.
Being a gay teen-ager really sucks. Okay, I can’t really argue with that one, because it very often really does suck.
Pretty much everyone will judge a gay teen-ager harshly based on their abstract reaction to the kid’s sexual orientation, no matter how responsible or talented or generally decent the kid is. Again, that’s not unheard of, but there’s not much in the way of balance, and it seems like all the authority figures (the basketball coach, the senior super-heroes, the protagonist’s dad) are cut from the same anti-gay cloth.
While gay teen-agers can’t expect to get the same opportunities and garden-variety consideration that are automatically bestowed on their apparently straight peers, they can get those opportunities and consideration if they work ten times as hard as their apparently straight peers, though they shouldn’t expect anything in the way of “official” support or encouragement. (On the bright side, the protagonist isn’t ultimately looking for approval or acceptance through his heroic activities. He just wants to do the right thing and make the world better.)
The intentions of the book are obviously good, but it’s so polarizing. Almost all of the straight people are judgmental or hypocrites or both, and I found that really depressing. It’s just not the way the world is.