Not the Only One: Lesbian and Gay Fiction for Teens is a collection of short stories edited by Jane Summer. The stories generally do not deal directly with “coming out,” but the reader still sees the consequences of coming out (or not, as the case may be). Perhaps “coming out” is too complicated a theme to discuss within the confines of a short story. Below is the discussion of two individual stories.
“Fooling Around” by Claire McNab
“Brett – how could you?”
“Mum, we were only fooling around.”
“Fooling around? Fooling around!”
“Give me a break –” (p. 53)
Brett has been caught kissing his friend Steve, but he isn’t ready to admit to his parents that he’s gay. Brett tells his mother that it was no big deal, that they were drinking and it didn’t mean anything. Besides, Brett has a girlfriend. Brett’s mother is very upset, and concerned about what everyone will think when they find out that her son was fooling around with a boy. Martin, Brett’s father, arrives home mid-argument. His reaction is surprising: he doesn’t seem even remotely affected by the news, and he advises Brett to make a joke of it. Martin later reveals the truth: he himself is gay, but decided that it was better to get married and have a family than to live as a gay man. Brett admits to Martin that he wasn’t just fooling around, and the reader is left wondering whether or not Brett will make the same decision as his father.
“Her Sister’s Wedding” by Judith P. Stelboum
Veronica has never told her family about her long-time girlfriend Leslie. Her family has no inkling that she is a lesbian: they have always assumed that she would meet a nice man and get married. Veronica is at her sister’s wedding, and is feeling the pressure to get married more than ever. She gets set up with her new brother-in-law’s cousin, Buddy. Buddy seems genuinely interested in her, and is obviously looking for a wife. Veronica is not interested, but enjoys having her family’s approval. Will she give in to the pressure and marry a man, or will Veronica be true to herself and tell her family that she is in love with a woman? The story ends thus (p. 98):
She followed him outside, and he lifted his arm to wave goodbye. And in that moment she realized she had to stop the panic attacks, the lying, the pretense. If she didn’t do it now, there would be a million excuses not to do it later. She turned back to the party and looked first for her brother, Terry.
Summer, J. (2004). Not the Only One: Lesbian and Gay Fiction for Teens. Los Angeles: Alyson Books.