By Shelby Athey, Christina Goettsch, Rheanna Lipari, Artie Loredo, Taylor Thorne, and Danny Zamarripa
BORN: September 7, 1972 in Short Hills, NJ.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Brown University in 1994 where he double majored in English and political science.
2003- Lamda Literary Award for Boy Meets Boy
2006- Lamda Literary Award for the Full Spectrum
Since he published his first book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003, David Levithan has been making a positive contribution to the genre of LBGTQ YA novels. Boy Meets Boy, a “dippy happy gay teen book” as Levithan likes to describe it, features an openly gay main character named Paul who faces his sophomore year of high school and all of the drama that goes with it (davidlevithan.com). Levithan wrote this book with the purpose of creating gay characters who break the stereotypes of past literature; he does this by featuring gay teenagers living normal, satisfying lives without dwelling upon their social abuse. Often in LBGTQ literature, gay characters are defined by the way their social abuse affects them, but Levithan aims to define his characters based on who they are without conflict. Levithan says that Boy Meets Boy is neither fantasy nor reality, but is instead a novel about “where we are going, and where we should be,” as a society (davidlevithan.com). Other books that Levithan has contributed to the LBGTQ genre of young adult literature include The Full Spectrum, Wide Awake, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. (2011)
Levithan’s strong background in writing about LBGTQ teens has surely influenced his writing of “A Word from the Nearly Distant Past,” Levithan’s contribution to How Beautiful the Ordinary. Despite many readers’ understandable assumption that Levithan himself has a homosexual orientation, he is very ambiguous about his sexuality and will not admit to being either gay or straight. Levithan’s sexuality may remain a mystery, but his understanding of the LBGTQ community is clearly shown through his literature. In his latest book in the LBGTQ genre, Will Grayson, Will Grayson (2011), Levithan creates a gay character who is by no means perfect. Levithan explains he did this because a perfect character would simply be boring to read about. By creating an imperfect character, Levithan faces the “danger” of representing the LBGTQ community negatively. Levithan was asked how he, as an author, deals with the criticism that he may be feeding into a stereotype of gay men. He responds by saying, “I can honestly say I’ve never thought for a second about whether a character reflects poorly on any group. All that matters to me is that the character is true to my belief in who he or she is” (Advocate contributors 2011). The fact that Levithan strives to represent the LBGTQ community in such a genuine manner makes his works highly eligible for use in the classroom.
Levithan, David. Davidlevithan.com. WordPress & Atahualpa, 2012. Web. Oct. 2012.