The Importance of "Two Boys Kissing"

BlogHer Original Post

Katy Perry kissed a girl and liked it, but pictures of two boys kissing is still far from mainstream in popular culture. Over the last few years, I've seen gay male romance novels receive more attention than they have in the past and we're seeing more and more young adult fiction dealing with GLBTQ issues -- both things I see as progress.. David Levithan has been one of the authors writing those books and his new book, Two Boys Kissing, has already got people talking. This time it's not about the contents or the title but the cover which pictures two boys kissing.

The cover reveal on Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life sparked the conversation. The very first question that EW asked Levithan was about the cover. When they couldn't find a stock image they liked, Levithan reached out to a fan and asked him if he could shoot something for them. The two boys on the cover are an actual couple. I love that Levithan was so committed to having the right image for this book and that he reached out to his fans to find it.

As Levithan says in the EW interview, the young adult literary landscape has changed a lot since he published his first book, Boy Meets Boy. At that time, publishing a book with this cover was almost unthinkable and here's the thing -- there's no guarantee that this cover won't flop. Malinda Lo discussed the cover on her blog. She tackles what it means, why it's not perfect, what it could mean for other YA GLTBQ authors if it's a success and most of all, why Levithan might be one of the few authors who can rebound if it flops.

"If it succeeds, it will be freaking amazing. But I have no doubt that it will have a hard time because two boys kissing is still culturally less acceptable than two girls kissing; because it is the definition of “flaunting it” in the eyes of conservatives; because gay teens in high school really might be too worried about being bullied to be able to check that book out of their library. There are many reasons that book could fail.

For any average YA writer, a book’s failure = career failure. One book can end your career as a writer. That’s why a lot of YA writers are hesitant to write books that have minorities in them. It’s a fact. But David Levithan can deal with it. I have no doubt he can rebound from that kind of failure, and I have no doubt he will continue to write about queer characters in the future."

two boys kissing david levithan

I hope it's a success. I hope we see more covers like this but with even greater diversity. I hope that everyone can see their story reflected on a book cover.

What do you think of the Two Boys Kissing cover?

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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