Friday, 7 July 2017

Read With Pride - Guest Post by Simon James Green

June, if you didn't know, was the month of pride and the wonderful team at Scholastic decided to create their own #ReadWithPride campaign to celebrate pride in books. 🌈

For this celebration, today on my blog I have a brilliant and insightful guest post by Simon James Green, author of the hilarious Noah Can't Even.

Poor Noah Grimes! His father disappeared years ago, his mother's Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself. He only has one friend, Harry, and school is...Well, it's pure HELL. Why can't Noah be normal, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone - maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely - he'd be seen in a different light? But Noah's plans are derailed when Harry kisses him at a party. That's when things go from bad to utter chaos.

Take it away Simon...

Why I wrote a LGBT+ novel
Boys who fall in love with boys. It’s every bit as exciting, messy and brilliant as boys who fall in love with girls. Or vice versa. Or girls who fall in love with other girls. And yet, the boys who happen to like other boys, and the girls who happen to like other girls, will almost certainly have a harder time of it. Stonewall put out statistics on homophobic bulling in schools fairly regularly, and whilst there may have been a small decline in some cases recently, it’s still horribly prevalent. It takes many forms: verbal and physical abuse, gossip, being isolated and ignored, to sexual assault and even being threatened with a weapon. Half of LGBT pupils hear homophobic language ‘frequently’; one in ten trans pupils are subjected to death threats; 84% of trans young people have self-harmed, as have 61% of lesbian, gay and bi young people who aren’t trans. There is clearly still a major problem. We can clearly do so much better. And we have to. We must.

How nice would it be for two lads to be able to hold hands at lunchtime or have a kiss and cuddle around the back of the sports hall like their straight mates? Hard for that to happen though, when the insults fly and you don’t know if you’re going to end up with a black eye as a result of it. It’s great that many schools are actively taking action to stamp out incidents of bullying, but the atmosphere still exists. And while it does, showing affection towards the person you love is difficult. I read the Stonewall School Reports and I just want to take those LGBT students and somehow make everything better for them. Sadly, I can’t quite do that. But I wanted to do something; play some sort of part.

When I decided to write an LGBT novel, there were two things on my mind. First, I wanted to write something for LGBT teens that showed their lives in a positive, happy light (for the most part!) Gay or straight, there are going to be ups and downs in affairs of the heart, but I didn’t want Noah Can’t Even to be gloomy or downbeat about two boys liking each other and the process of coming out. Showing that you can be happy, that things can work out well, is incredibly important… and true, for that matter. And to that teen going through hell at school because he’s gay and getting bullied because of it, I wanted to say that it gets better, he’ll be OK, and he’s not alone, while acknowledging (as the book hopefully does), that the difficulties faced are very real. Of course, that isn’t enough, but if there isn’t at least hope, then I’m not sure there’s very much left in some cases.

The other thing on my mind was showing two boys getting it on in exactly the same way as a heterosexual pair might, in all its awkward, embarrassing, messy, tender glory. The message was a simple one: it’s exactly the same. Get over it and stop giving those kids a hard time. You like who you like, and you can’t help it. Most of the cast in Noah Can’t Even are trying to navigate their own messy lives – and isn’t that the point? Your teenage years can be hard enough, without making them harder. Everyone is going through their own private hell – why not be a bit kinder to each other?

What I’ve really noticed is how LGBT books do make a difference. From the teens I’ve spoken to, in schools, bookshops and social media, there is real support, genuine interest and a thirst for more. And that’s from all teens, not only LGBT ones. Having Noah Can’t Even join the ranks of those books which open up that debate, form a focus for discussion, and provide some support to those who see themselves represented in its pages, is a humbling thing. I’ve had young people ask me what the book is about and seen their eyes light up when I mention the LGBT themes. They want these stories. Let’s give them more. Let’s be part of something that chips away at the hate and turns the tide. We have to make things better. We’ve got to. We shall.


Thank you, Simon for taking the time to write this lovely piece & thank you, Olivia at Scholastic for inviting me to take part in this campaign!
Be sure to check out #ReadWithPride on twitter for even more bookish posts!

About the author:

I’m an author and screenwriter and I sometimes do a bit of directing too. I actually did a Law degree at Cambridge University, but decided I loved writing and directing too much to go and be a lawyer. I’ve worked on lots of West End shows including The Rocky Horror Show, Rent and West Side Story and I’ve also directed Hollyoaks for Lime Pictures / C4. I write screenplays with my good friend Sarah Counsell, including Rules of Love, a feature-length musical rom-com for the BBC, which has since sold around the world. Noah Can’t Even was selected for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ‘Undiscovered Voices’ competition in 2016 and it’s my first novel.

Find Simon here: Twitter | Website | Goodreads |
Purchase Noah Can't Even: Amazon | Waterstones | Book Depository

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