Everything sixteen-year-old Simon Fitzroy-Hunt loves in is in England. There’s his school, his boyfriend, his cat, and especially Oxford University, which Simon plans to attend just as his beloved late father planned. But all of Simon’s certainties come crashing down when his mother remarries and drags him to Boston with her.
Furious and unforgiving, Simon finds plenty to resent in America. His stepsister is overindulged by her father and struggling with Asperger syndrome. And Simon’s school project—coaching a young student for the national Spelling Bee—hits a complication when eleven-year-old Toby makes a confession: there’s a girl trapped inside his body, and her name is Kay.
Helping Kay find her way begins changing Simon, too, presenting different perspectives and revealing a strength that’s gone untapped until now. And as the life he’s known and the future he envisioned slip further away each day, he realizes he can either lose his direction entirely, or forge a new—and perhaps even better—path.
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Author Brent Hartinger has created The Real Story Safe Sex Project, a non-profit effort designed to spread information and awareness about HIV/AIDS and safe sex for gay youth and men. My contribution, available free of charge, is the short story Giuseppe and Me.
Giuseppe and Me
Alessandro Lupo (Alex) is a sixteen-year-old gay foster child who has been moved from "home" to "home" in New York City. Isolated by circumstances and by the protective shield he's surrounded himself with, he wanders the streets of the West Village and gravitates toward Stonewall Inn, where the 1969 riots planted the seeds of the gay civil rights movement. Having been raped at his previous foster home, he worries about HIV and about ever being able to enjoy sex.
Alex, whose parents had both been Italian, shares a bedroom with another foster teen at his new home, a bully named Derek. As Alex wanders the city streets, feeling his lack of family keenly, he scrutinizes people who might also be Italian. Alex is short for Alessandro, which means defender of men; Lupo means wolf. But Alex feels fearful most of the time—fear not just of Derek, but also of life in general—and begs for the courage of his 19th century countryman, Giuseppe Garibaldi, with whose statue in Washington Square Park Alex has imaginary conversations.
Then Alex meets two people who represent polar opposites: one who validates the low opinion Alex already has of himself; and another who helps him see himself in an entirely new light and teaches him that his life is worth more than a few minutes of anyone's pleasure.
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