Coming Out Catholic by Alex Dunkin
Publisher: Prizm Books (Torquere Press)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, GLBT
Length: Full Length (174 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Like all good Catholic boys I care what Jesus thinks. Jesus — both the man and the faith. Following him makes me happy. There’s just one issue… I think I’m gay. Well, it’s hard to be sure while going to an all-boys school. It could be a matter of simply liking what I know, and really, oh so very much liking what I see all day — guys. Being gay and Catholic can’t possible work together. Can it?
Coming Out Catholic follows a year in the life of a private Catholic school student as he comes to terms with his sexuality. Armed with sarcasm and his best friend Mark, he prepares to take on the school thug and the awkward social encounters plaguing his late teenage years.
Confronting himself and his family are just the beginning of his trials. He finds he must find solace with his sexual desires without surrendering any of his faith. He loves both too much to deny either one, but when the time comes he will have to decide if he must turn away from one and prepare to succumb to a life of denial, or if, by some miracle, he can find acceptance for both within himself.
Sometimes there is tension between religion and the sexual orientations of people who aren’t straight. Is this how life has to be, though?
The protagonist was an incredibly funny and self-aware person. He was so well-developed that I actually briefly wondered if this novel was based on a true series of events. While this doesn’t seem to be the case as far as I can tell, that didn’t make me enjoy it any less. I only wish that I could have spent more time with this narrator!
This is a minor criticism, but I would have loved to learn the main character’s name. Not knowing what it was made sense in the beginning because the story was written from a first-person perspective. I did find it odd that no one ever said his name as the plot progressed, though. There were a few times when the flow of conversation really should have lead someone to say it.
One of my favorite things about this tale was how it dealt with stereotypes. The main character was still figuring out who he is as a human being, so there were certain things he didn’t have opinions about yet. His identity was explored with humor and honesty. There is definitely something to be said for acknowledging stereotypes without assuming that they are always true!
I was so interested in finding out what happened next in Coming Out Catholic that I read the whole book over the course of a few days. This is a great choice for anyone who has ever felt deeply conflicted about something important in their lives.