Rainbow Boysby Alex Sanchez
Three high school seniors, a jock with a girlfriend and an alcoholic father, a closeted gay, and a flamboyant gay rights advocate, struggle with family issues, gay bashers, first sex, and conflicting feelings about each other. See more details below
Three high school seniors, a jock with a girlfriend and an alcoholic father, a closeted gay, and a flamboyant gay rights advocate, struggle with family issues, gay bashers, first sex, and conflicting feelings about each other.
Patricia Nell Warren author of The Front Runner Rainbow Boys may do for high-schoolers what Heather Has Two Mommies did for grade-schoolers inspire acceptance of gayness in both straight students and about-to-come-out students.
James Howe author of The Watcher An important, groundbreaking book, Rainbow Boys takes an honest look at gay teen life today. The characters are enormously appealing and the situations as contemporary as the evening news. This is a book that could change thinking and could very well change lives.
Read an Excerpt
Kyle stared at the empty doorway. "I can't believe I was such a spaz, knocking the damn chairs over." He turned to Nelson. "And you! Giving him that stupid button. Why'd you do that?"
Nelson gave a contrite shrug. "I guess I screwed up, didn't I?"
Kyle glanced toward the door. "Maybe I can catch up with him."
In an instant, he raced through the door and down the four flights. When he reached the front stoop, he looked down one end of the street, then the other. Had the man of his dreams really shown up at the meeting? He searched every block around the neighborhood. Only after he was completely convinced Jason was nowhere to be found did he grudgingly board the Metro toward the suburbs. Crestfallen, he cursed Nelson all the way home.
"Kyle? Honey, are you okay?"
Deep in thought, Kyle had failed to see his mom kneeling by the front-lawn flower bed.
She grabbed a handful of tulip bulbs. "You look a little troubled."
Kyle watched her plant the bulbs in the newly dug earth, wishing he could tell her about Jason. Of course, first he'd have to tell her he was gay. She'd get upset and tell his dad. He'd make a federal case out of it. Guaranteed.
Kyle handed her some bulbs. "I'm fine. Is there anything to eat?"
"Cookies, in the kitchen. Be careful, I just waxed the floor. By the way, Dad has a surprise for you." She called after him. "Remember to wipe your feet!"
Kyle kicked his shoes off inside the front door and set them on the shelf for shoes. His mom was pretty obsessive about cleanliness. His dad sat in his recliner watching a football game. Kyle grabbed a couple of cookies. "Mom said you have a surprise for me."
His dad reached into his shirt pocket and with a flourish whipped out an envelope. "Ta-dah! Guess. Come on."
Kyle hated when his dad treated him like a kid. He was seventeen now. "I don't want to guess." He bit into a cookie.
His dad's mouth drooped. "You used to love to guess." He sighed and opened the envelope, revealing the contents like he was at the Academy Awards or something. "Tickets to the Redskins, the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Just you and me."
Kyle said, "Great." But his mind was still on Jason.
His dad frowned. "Don't look so excited."
Kyle shrugged and started up the stairs. Didn't his dad realize there were more important things in life than tickets to the Redskins?
He sat down on his bed and took his cap off. He opened his nightstand drawer and pulled out his yearbook. He turned the dog-eared pages to his favorite picture: Jason, number seventy-seven, was racing down the court, intensity on his face, curls flying, muscles taut, sheer power in motion. The crowd was cheering in the background. The digital clock showed six seconds before the final buzzer. His shot had led the team to the state championships.
Kyle had met Jason on his first day of high school as he jostled through the crowded halls, searching for his homeroom.
"Hey, wha's up?" called a voice behind him. "You dropped your schedule."
When Kyle turned, the cutest boy he'd ever seen handed him his schedule and asked, "Know where room one twenty-eight is?"
Kyle's heart wedged in his throat, but he managed to cough up an answer. "I think it's this way." He led the boy down the hall and discovered that their lockers faced each other.
For the rest of his freshman year Kyle arrived at school early enough to greet Jason. His olive-skinned Adonis always waved a friendly "Wha's up?" but Kyle felt too shy to respond with anything beyond, "Okay, how about you?" He contented himself with stealing glimpses in the halls. Before long he'd memorized Jason's schedule, knowing the exact instant when he would turn the corner and pass by.
Since Kyle was little, he'd known he was different, though he couldn't explain exactly how. When other boys began to talk about girls, he never felt interested. But it was another story when they bragged about their erections and first ejaculations.
And while he laughed with classmates at fag and AIDS jokes, on the inside he felt ashamed and frightened. His one source of hope was the nightly news, where he saw images of gay people different from the caricatures of jokes. Gay soldiers battled in court for the right to serve in the military. Lesbian moms fought to keep their children. Protesters picketed Congress for AIDS funding. Even the grown men in high heels and elaborate costumes who laughed and paraded on Pride Day seemed anything but despicable.
Then in eighth grade he got braces. That made him feel even more like an alien. His mom tried to cheer him up. "Don't worry, handsome. Once you get your braces off, you'll have to fight off the girls." Whoopee. The image failed to comfort him.
Meanwhile, his dad nagged him to go out for sports. Kyle couldn't throw a ball to save his life, but he liked watching the Olympic swimmers on TV. So he joined the swim team, where he hid among laps in the pool and stole underwater glances.
He was just getting used to being called Metal Mouth Meeks when disaster struck again. The school nurse said he needed glasses. He came home from the optometrist's with wire frames sliding down his nose, retreated to his bedroom, and stared in the mirror. Between braces and glasses, he felt like the ugliest, most lonely boy in the universe.
Then he met Nelson. From the moment he first saw him in art class, Kyle knew Nelson was different. But when Ms. MacTraugh paired them up to draw each other's portraits, Kyle panicked and asked to be excused to the infirmary.
After school, Nelson tracked him down. "Let's get this out. You know I'm queer, I know you're queer. Get over it." He turned and started to walk away.
Kyle felt a rush, like he'd burst from the water after a high dive. He was no longer alone. "Hey!" he shouted.
Nelson turned back toward him. Kyle wasn't sure what to say. He'd called out on impulse, without thinking. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and tugged on his cap, stalling. "Uh, you draw really well. I mean it."
Nelson stared at him. "Thanks. My mom's a graphic designer. She taught me. It's not that hard, really."
Kyle stepped closer, even though he still felt a little nervous. "Really?"
"Yeah." Nelson smiled. "I'll show you."
Soon Kyle was spending every afternoon at Nelson's. They wrestled without dumb rules and did mud facials together. With Nelson, Kyle didn't have to pretend to be anything other than himself.
And Nelson seemed to know everything about being gay. He told Kyle about Alexander the Great, Oscar Wilde, and Michelangelo. He explained the Stonewall Riots and defined words like cruising and drag. He told Kyle about gay youth Web sites and introduced him to out music groups like Size Queen and Indigo Girls.
The most amazing thing was how Nelson talked about all this stuff in front of his own mom. She even subscribed to XY magazine for him.
"How did you ever tell her?" Kyle wanted to know.
Nelson lit a cigarette. "You kidding? She knew before I did. I'm her fucking cause."
Kyle thought about it. "And your dad?"
Nelson's face darkened behind a puff of smoke. "Never mind him."
When the subject changed to boys, Kyle confided he had a crush on a boy at school. He even admitted that he kissed his pillow at night pretending it was him.
Nelson took a drag on his cigarette. "What's his name?"
"Promise you won't tell?" Kyle hesitated. "Jason Carrillo."
Nelson burst out coughing. "Carrillo? Ding-ding-ding! Gay-dar! Gay-dar! Closet case. Big time. At least bi."
Kyle felt as if Nelson had just smacked him. "Shut up. He is not. How do you know?"
Nelson grinned. "The same way I knew about you."
Now Kyle thought back on it. Maybe Nelson had been right about Jason. But everyone knew Jason had a girlfriend. Last year they'd been voted Cutest Couple. This year Debra was running for homecoming queen.
Jason couldn't be gay. But then why had he shown up at the Rainbow Youth meeting? Maybe he was bi. But even if he was, Jason would never be interested in him. He'd probably walked in by mistake, like he said. But Kyle hoped he hadn't.
His mom tapped on the doorway of his bedroom, smiling. "Honey, are you sure you're feeling all right?" She raised her eyebrows. "I've called you to dinner three times already."
The high point of the meal was a phone call from Nelson. Kyle's dad picked up his knife and cut into his beef. "Doesn't he know not to call at dinnertime?"
His mom extended the receiver to Kyle. Without even saying hello, Nelson started talking. "Where did you go?"
Kyle turned away from his parents. "None of your business."
"Stop being such a drama diva! Come on. What do you want to do tonight?"
Kyle pondered for a moment. "Slit my wrists."
Nelson sighed into the phone. "Yeah, and after that?"
"I don't know," Kyle said. "I. Don't. Know." He slammed the receiver down and returned to the table.
"Sounds like you two had a fight," his mom said.
Kyle nodded tentatively and sat down.
His dad stabbed a piece of meat with his fork. "Why does he have to call you every five minutes? Doesn't he have a life?" His dad waved his wrist in the air. "Maybe you should develop some friends that are less, you know, that are more..." His hand took a nosedive and thudded onto the table. "Athletic!"
Kyle's mom glared at his dad and tugged on her ear. Kyle had figured out years ago that this was a signal for his dad to lay off. It usually took his dad a while to catch on, and tonight Kyle didn't feel like waiting. He grabbed his cap from the back of his chair. "Can I be excused?"
Back in his bedroom Kyle tried some homework, then scanned Jason's yearbook photo into his computer. He turned off his light and rolled over in bed. His mind drifted to images of Jason in the locker room of tenth-grade gym class his biceps bulging against his T-shirt sleeves, his butt framed by his jockstrap. Kyle wrapped his arm around his pillow and, smiling, fell asleep.
The following Monday, Kyle arrived at school early, determined to find Jason and apologize about Nelson. But Jason was nowhere to be found. As Kyle watched for him outside the cafeteria at lunch, he heard Nelson's voice come up behind him.
"I made you a tape of the new Pansy Division." Nelson held out a cassette. "Truly gorgeous."
"Thanks." Kyle slipped the tape into his pocket, hoping Nelson would leave before Jason showed up.
Nelson's face brightened. "You going to lunch?"
"Not hungry. You go ahead."
But Nelson didn't budge. He stuck a finger into his blond hair and scratched. "You still upset about Saturday?"
"No," Kyle lied. "Look, just leave me alone."
"I'm sorry, for the thousandth fucking time."
Kyle turned away.
"Fine," Nelson said. "If you're going to be a dick about it." He strode off.
Kyle didn't see Jason at lunch or for the rest of the afternoon. When the last bell rang, he sulked toward his locker. Maybe Jason was sick or, more likely, too embarrassed to come to school. Kyle tossed his books into his locker, then closed the door.
There stood Jason, clutching his red backpack across his shoulder. "Wha's up?"
Startled, Kyle pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Uh, hi."
Jason twisted his backpack strap in his hand and looked over his shoulder, taking a sweeping glance of the thinning crowd of students. "I kept stopping by here looking for you today." He cocked his head a caring look. "I thought maybe you were sick."
Kyle melted beneath Jason's brown eyes. "I'm sorry," he said, though he wasn't certain why he was apologizing. "That's what I thought. I mean..." He didn't know what he was saying, only that he was making a fool of himself. He shut his mouth and forced a smile.
"Listen." Jason swallowed and his Adam's apple bobbed in his throat. He looked left, then right, then straight at Kyle. "About last Saturday...I wasn't sure what kind of meeting it was."
Kyle knew it was a lie but nodded politely. What else could he do?
Jason continued, his voice low. "You haven't told anyone, have you? I mean, that you saw me there?"
Kyle saw the fear and shame in Jason's face. "Of course not. I wouldn't tell anyone."
Jason let out a sigh but then added, "You don't think Nelly I mean, Nelson will tell anyone, do you?"
Kyle didn't think so, but Jason's worry made him worry too. Abruptly Jason drew back, gazing behind Kyle. Kyle turned and saw Debra Wyler, Jason's girlfriend.
"Hi, Kyle." She gave him a sweet smile, and Kyle said hi back.
But Jason looked scared senseless. Kyle realized he'd better leave. "Well, I'll see you later."
"Later," Jason said, and smiled a forced, worried smile.
Kyle stepped down the hall, picking up his pace. He had to find Nelson and make sure he didn't tell anyone about Jason. He hoped it wasn't too late.
Copyright © 2001 by Alex Sanchez
Meet the Author
Alex Sanchez spent almost fifteen years working with youth. He is the author of the teen novels Boyfriends with Girlfriends, Bait, The God Box, Getting It, Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and Rainbow Road, as well as the Lambda Award–winning middle-grade novel So Hard to Say. Lambda Literary Foundation honored Alex with an Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists’ Prize. He lives in Thailand and Hollywood, Florida. Visit him at AlexSanchez.com.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez was a very touching book about Jason Carrillo, Kyle Meeks, and Nelson Glassman; three seniors in high school who start having contradicting feelings about each other and who they truly are. It was unbelievably realistic mostly because of the modern slang he incorporated into it and how the story is about teenagers finding out who they really are; a topic most teenagers would find relatable. I liked how Sanchez added his own unique and witty humor into the story. The plot was clear and easy to follow without being too predictable. Sanchez expresses the characters and their personality traits through their actions instead of just telling you all at once. I couldn't put it down, and when I finally did I couldn't stop wondering what was to come next. The novel has many great morals including, be yourself, don't judge a book by its cover, think about your actions and their consequences, and with friendship and self-acceptance you can get through even the toughest obstacles. I hope to read another book by this author.
This book was one that really made me think of what it would be like to be homosexual in this society. It gave me a better understanding of the feelings and actions that these boys went through and how they grew to accept the way they are. This is a must read for people who harass people that are different from them. It took me a short amount of time to read this and taught me a valuable lesson, not to judge people.
This could help you if you are glbt or questioning... it helped me, so it might help you!
Recomend it to those who r going throught the same thing
A great book! I couldn't put it down once I read the first chapter! It really touched me. It shows that it's okay to be gay yet it's pretty hard. I would know. Can't wait to read the next one!
I absolutly love rhis book... and the other two books as well
Awesome story with a trilogy to continue their life. Must read!
This book is a fantastic rendition of what happens when boys realize their sexual preference perfect read for teens who are going through the same problem in their lives and for those who think same sex love is beautiful
I read this book nine years ago and at the time, I didn't realize that the focus was on LGBT issues solely but was able to connect to the book as a 12 year old girl. This series is a classic tale that all teens and above should read. It teaches acceptance, love, and shows the battles that teens face. The characters are loveable and the series is written beautifully.
I finashed it the night I got it. It's a great book I couldn't get over it. I was disapointed when it was over. I can't wait to get the sequal.
One of the best books I've read in the genre of YA LGBTQ.
Three gay high school students deal with the pressures of 'coming out', first loves, parents, and many other issues while forming a bond with each other that will shape each of their futures. Jason - The jock Kyle - The intellectual Nelson - The eccentric Not a very realistic story, but heartwarming nonetheless. Young gay boys will identify... Followed by two sequels.
Sweet and funny
Such a good read :D Go.Read.This.Book.now Like seriously DO IT READ
This book is an inspiration to all gays no matter the age and definitely expresses the needs for good parenting, couseling, friendship, and much much more. I highly recommend this book not only to gay culture but to those of you who respect it and those of you who don't understand it.