Book: The Destiny of Ethan King (Universal Matter) by Martin Cosgrovecategories: Book, Supernatural, Magic, Mystical, Paranormal, Esoteric, Occult, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, England, Scotland, Four Elements, Fantasy
Martin Cosgroveabout this book: It's a fact of life that teenagers, particularly teenage boys, often feel under pressure to assert their own masculinity and, as a result, also feel the need to be seen to shun homosexuality. Why? It's different and teenagers love to highlight differences in one another -- it's one way that our species promotes homogeny and conformity. Also, what could be more frightening to a young boy who is in the process of coming to terms with his own sexual identity than the idea of having different preferences to the majority of his peers?
I am, of course, generalising and I want take the time to point out that many young people do not hold these views and are very open-minded regarding other people's sexual orientation.
As a secondary school teacher, however, I frequently come across the use of homophobic language around school. 'That's so gay!', 'You're a faggot!', 'Don't be a puff.' and so on. Admittedly, many times the phrases are used mindlessly without homophobic intent. Not that that's of much consolation to a child in earshot who may be questioning their own sexuality.
If I hear homophobic language being used in my classroom, I try to make a point of stopping the lesson and calmly discussing the issue. We talk about how certain kinds of discrimination are universally acknowledged as wrong and I ask why it's any different to discriminate against a person because they happen to be gay. I then invite questions and comments and encourage students to hear one another out. I try not to preach, but to lay out the facts logically and ask students to reassess their own behaviour and views.
A few years ago, during a PSHE lesson on the topic of discrimination, one student told the class that if it were up to him he would not employ gay teachers. Most of the class remained silent when I asked their opinion, but a few agreed with the boy. This shocked me and I realised that many young people were simply misinformed about what it meant to be gay. Some thought that all gay men were paedophiles, for example, or that every gay man was camp.
It's little wonder that students are left uneducated on the topic when the issue of homosexuality is largely ignored by the most popular forms of entertainment and, when it is broached, characters are frequently flamboyant gay guys -- the same cookie cutter, two dimensional character portrayed on various sit-coms and dramas for laughs. Or there's the teen who is struggling with their sexuality at school and their story becomes a heavyhanded moral tale rather than well-written drama.
In other words, gay characters on television are generally there for comic relief or as a way of addressing social issues. It's rare to see a well-written gay character who just happens to be gay and whose sexuality is treated the same as the straight characters -- i.e. addressed when appropriate to the storyline and not presented as the defining feature of their personality.
So, instead of simply dwelling on the issue and bemoaning the state of contemporary pop culture, I decided to try and do something about it. I wrote a novel with a gay protagonist. The book's called The Destiny of Ethan King and it's a modern fantasy story dealing with topics such as family, loyalty, philosophy, spirituality, friendship... and Ethan King just happens to be gay. It's normal and an integral part of his character.
I was disappointed that J.K. Rowling chose to inform fans that Dumbledore was gay after the Harry Potter series had been written and didn't state it in black and white in the books. It need not have been a big deal, but an acknowledgement that this fatherly, intelligent, revered man was gay would have been a huge step forwards in terms of removing the stigma attached to having gay characters in children's books and programmes. It makes me wonder if it was totally Rowling's decision or if she was pressured by the publishers to omit that particular detail.
The Destiny of Ethan King is available for the Kindle and as a paperback on Amazon. It's not primarily a young adult book, but it's certainly suitable for young adults. It's the story of a young man from Liverpool who discovers he is the only person on the planet capable of creating a mystical substance with the power to either end humanity's greatest problems, or destroy us all. Complications arise in the form of supernatural abilities, past life flashbacks and personal tragedy.
If you think you will enjoy a contemporary fantasy story laced with esoteric principles and a sprinkling of humour, check it out.
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