Belle, a high school senior, has a perfect long-time boyfriend, Dylan. But then Dylan turns out to be gay. Belle must come to terms with what this means for her, for him, and for the small town they live in. Not only must she deal with the all-time stinkiness of being dumped, but with Dylan being in real physical danger because he is gay.
Belle is the high-school’s resident militant leftie and crusader for the oppressed—including homosexuals, of course. She never thought that she’d be crusading for her blonde, green-eyed ex-boyfriend. And at the same time, she falls in love, all over again, with Tom, who is hopefully not gay. Belle has her fingers crossed.
How TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (ex)BOYFRIEND Came About
There was an incident in a local school where there was a hate crime against a girl because her ex boyfriend was gay. Unlike my book, the incident wasn’t reported to the police or to the school administration.
It made me think. Me thinking is often scary.
It made me think about how small minded people can be. It made me think how ridiculous that girls/women/ladies always get the rap for everything, even their friend’s sexuality. It made me wonder about my life and my various choices in boyfriends. Yes, really, I’ve had boyfriends. Do NOT laugh. I did not pay them to be my boyfriend and there was no mercy dating involved. Really. I swear.
When I was in high school my big time high school boyfriend turned out to be gay. A lot of people wrote in my yearbook: Don’t forget to invite me to you and Joe’s wedding or You two are the cutest couple ever.I am sorry to disappoint you guys, if you’re reading this now, but there was no wedding. On a happy note, at least you were spared buying us a toaster or one of those Foreman grill things.
Joe is still one of my favorite people ever, by the way, just like I hope Dylan will stay one of Belle’s favorite people.That makes it sound like Dylan is Joe and I am Belle, but the truth is that Joe is much cooler than Dylan and I am much more of a weenie than Belle.
I wrote TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (ex) BOYFRIEND because there were a lot of books coming out with gay protagonists and there were some really great books about gay protagonists and their friends, but there weren’t a lot of books with the main character dealing with her boyfriend telling her he’s gay.
I wrote the bulk of this book while in the Vermont College MFA Program for Children and Young Adults. It is the best writing program ever but I didn’t get to show my teachers much of the book because I was too busy turning in other things.
I’m sure it would have been a much better book if I had showed them it all, but this book I was writing just for me. Then on a lark I sent it to Andrew Karre, who was then the editor of Flux. He took it. He took it right away. That’s crazy. But I love him for it. He made it a much, much better book. Thank you, Andrew. Thanks for paying me, too, Flux.
Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend received the Maine Literary Award for children’s fiction and was short-listed for the Cybil’s Award and is currently a finalist for the Gayle Wilson Award for Excellence. It was also nominated for a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.