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Concluding the month of gay-themed Geek Out, I wanted to put forth The Rainbow Trilogy by Alex Sanchez—made up of Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Road. The books follow Jason, Kyle and Nelson through their senior year in high school and the summer before they go to college. As the trilogy opens Jason is coming to terms that he might be gay, but he can’t face opening the closet door. Kyle already knows who he is, but isn’t sure he can tell anyone. Nelson is out and proud and looking for his soul mate. Through the course of the year the boys go through so much—good and bad—that’s related to their coming out experience. They fall in love, out of love, experience first out the tremendous amount of homophobia that exists in the world and also find compassion that can counterbalance that hate.

These books, along with the previous Geek Out Bare, provided me the inspiration for my hockey-players-in-love novel, Neutral Zone, which is in the midst of a second-draft re-work. I often wonder how my own coming out might have been different if I had picked up books like this while I was in high school. The boys portrayed in this book are cross-section of the people we all knew in high school—the confident jock, the quiet brain and the one who refuses to conform to any standard. For students today who are either questioning or know they are gay but afraid to come out, I imagine a book like this, that shows a range of coming out experiences, would be welcome. Ideally, it also helps breakdown gay stereotypes because while Nelson does fit some stereotypes, Jason, as the jock basketball player, does not. That helps illustrate the diversity that is the gay community…which is so important for young people to understand.

As we already know, it’s the younger generation that’s leading the way towards more acceptance of GLBT people and it’s books like these that help empower them to come out and fight for the rights they will want as they start to find love and start families. And if you don’t want to look at the books on this level, they are still a great read because the three main characters have such compelling stories.