At seventeen, Adam has suspected for a while that he might be gay. His sketchbook has become full of images of good-looking men, and he isn't attracted to any of the girls he knows. When he reveals his feelings to his devout parents, they send him to a Christian camp, warning him that there will be no room in their lives for a gay son. The last thing Adam expects is to meet someone he is deeply attracted to; unfortunately, Paul is more committed to his Christian faith than Adam is.
Adam tries to bury his attraction to Paul by concentrating on his art and his new friends Rhonda and Martin. When it becomes clear how unhappy Rhonda and Martin are at Camp Revelation, Adam and Paul are both forced to question what the church tells them about love. But with a whole camp full of people trying to get Adam to change who he is, what kind of chance do Adam and Paul have to find love and a life with each other?
About the Author
TONY CORREIA lives in Vancouver, B.C. He has worked as a waiter, bartender, bouncer, barista, receptionist, and recently, a technical writer for a software company. His newspaper column, Queen's Logic, ran in Xtra! West for five years. His memoir Foodsluts at Doll&Penny's Cafe was published in 2012. Follow Tony on Twitter and Instagram @garpinbc or on his blog, www.everythingtonycorreia.com.
Read an Excerpt
By Tony Correia
James Lorimer & Company LtdCopyright © 2017 Tony Correia
All rights reserved.
Fall into the Gap
Mike's eyes are wide as saucers as he watches me end the call with my mother. I tuck my phone back into my pocket.
"Did she believe you?" he asks.
"I think so."
"I can't believe we're finally hanging out!" He claps his hands like a contestant on a game show.
"Sorry for all the sneaking around," I tell him. "It's easier to lie."
"I'm glad you decided to be yourself for a couple of hours — even if it means shopping at Metrotown Mall."
"I'm so embarrassed to have to lie. I mean, you're a friend from school."
"Don't worry, I get it. You're closeted, white, and Christian. I'm fierce, brown, and gay. We're Romeo and Juliet without the heaving bosoms."
"Which one of us is Juliet?"
"Girl, you are definitely the Juliet in this movie. Like Romeo, I will cut a bitch before I let anyone tell me who I can and can't love."
"Stop calling me girl. No one can know I'm gay until I graduate."
"Closet case," he shoots at me.
"Drag queen," I shoot back.
"It's not an insult if it's true, honey. Now where do you want to go? Abercrombie & Fitch? We can judge all the posers."
"I can't — too much perfume. My parents will smell it on my clothes."
"Are you telling me you're not allowed to go into A&F?"
"A&F is the gay bar of the shopping mall as far as Christians are concerned."
"How about The Gap? Is that a gateway to hell in your religion?"
"I like The Gap."
"You would. Onward homo," Mike says. He leads the charge down the mall.
I can barely keep up as he makes his way through the crowd of shoppers, dodging duck-faced girls posing for selfies, mothers dragging their children and their husbands — who are pretending not look at the duck-faced girls. I keep looking around in case someone from my church sees Mike and me together.
"They should change the name of this store to Fifty Shades of Beige," Mike says. He frowns as he sifts through the rack.
"Do you want to go someplace else?" I ask.
"This is fine. Do your thing."
"I feel like I'm disappointing you."
"It's not you, Adam, it's the clothes. When I look around this store it makes me think that everyone is trying to look like each other — even the brown people. It's so boring."
"That reminds me, I've been working on this really cool graphic novel. It's about a preacher who uses an app to brainwash his followers into believing God is speaking to them on their phones."
"Sounds cool. When do I get to read it?"
"I just started it. I can only work on it after my parents go to bed and on my breaks at work."
"Why don't you just tell your parents you're gay?" Mike asks.
"Not until next year, once I've been accepted to university," I tell him. "I've saved every penny I've ever earned so I can study to become a graphic artist. But it's still not enough. If my parents don't help me out, I'll have to take out a ton of student loans and be in debt for the rest of my life."
"Word!" Mike raises his hand to Jesus. "Ain't nobody got time for that."
"Does it bother you that we have to keep our friendship secret?"
"It's a drag — and not in a good way! But I understand. You're not the first person I've met with religious parents. Wait till you meet some of the people at the gay youth group downtown. They'll blow your mind."
"I hate all this sneaking around," I tell him. "I hate that I have to memorize your number and delete all your texts in case my parents snoop through my phone. I honestly don't know why you want to be friends with me when there are so many rules."
"Because you're a good guy, Adam," Mike says. "And an amazing artist. Some of the illustrations you did for the yearbook blew me away. I can't wait until you're rich and famous so I can tell people I knew you when you were a scared little boy."
"I'm serious. But you need to stop being so hard on yourself. All of this fabulousness did not happen overnight," Mike waves his hands over his body. "Trust me, my dad was not thrilled to have Beyonce for a son."
"It won't be like this forever, I promise."
Mike holds a plaid shirt up to his chest and says, "Does this shirt make my ass look fat?"
"No, but flannel makes you look like a lesbian."
"Don't joke about lesbians," Mike says. "I learned that lesson the hard way in the Gay–Straight Alliance."
Suddenly I hear the last voice in the world I want to hear. It's like the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz.
"Adam Lethbridge, is that you?"
I turn around, and there is Mom's best friend.
"Mrs. Harris!" I give her a fake hug.
Greta Harris is one of those phony Christians who spread the word of God to your face and gossip behind your back. She's Christianity's answer to TMZ. Just when I think my luck can't get any worse, Greta's daughter Michelle appears next to her.
"Hi, Adam," she smiles.
Gross. Michelle Harris has been trying to get inside my pants since kindergarten. Beneath that good Christian girl act beats the heart of a hussy.
"Hey, Michelle," Mike says.
"Mike Hoskins? What are you two doing here together?" asks Michelle. She is looking at us like she caught us making out.
"I'm sorry, who did you say your friend was again?" Greta asks. There's a twinkle in her eye, like a reporter sniffing out a scoop.
"Oh, we're not friends." Then I realize how awful that just sounded. I start speaking faster, trying to cover my tracks. "Mike and I worked on the yearbook together. I was on my way home from work and we happened to run into each other."
"Two boys shopping for clothes," Greta says. "How interesting."
"Tell me about it," says Michelle.
I wish they would both just fly away on the broom they came in on.
"Look at the time!" Greta glances at an invisible wristwatch. "We should get going if we're going to beat the traffic. Say hello to your mother for me, Adam."
And just like that, Greta disappears into the crowd like it was a cloud of black smoke.
"You didn't tell me you're friends with Michelle Harris!" Mike says. "I hate that bitch! She's always ranting about religious freedom. She claims she's discriminated against because of her faith. Oh, Adam, are you okay? You look like you're going to throw up."
"Don't take this wrong way but ... you know how you're kind of flamboyant?"
"That's putting it mildly, if I say so myself."
"You see, Greta has a really big mouth. She's probably on her phone right now with my mother telling her she saw us together."
"She would, and she would enjoy it."
"Where do you think Michelle gets it from?"
"Are you telling me your parents are as religious as Michelle? No wonder you've been sneaking around behind their backs."
"Exactly. I should go home."
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Mike asks.
"Can you turn back time?"
"Girl, I may be fierce, but I'm not Cher."CHAPTER 2
I'm dripping with sweat by the time I get home. I try to compose myself before I open the front door. If I act natural, I might be able to defuse the situation.
"Adam, is that you?" Mom calls from the kitchen.
Would a burglar use a key to get in? My parents have no idea how funny I am. No one does, except Mike.
"Can you come to the kitchen please?"
Mom and Dad are seated at the kitchen table. Their faces are like stone.
"Did someone die?" I ask.
"In a sense," Mom says. Mom is in her early forties, but looks older.
"Give me your phone," Dad says, holding out his hand.
"What for?" I can barely look at them; I'm so ashamed of myself right now.
"I said give me your phone," he repeats.
I hand it over. He unlocks it and starts swiping his finger across the screen. He's not going to find anything. I deleted all the texts from Mike as well as my call log as I rode the SkyTrain home.
"We got a call from Greta Harris a while ago. She said that she and Michelle saw you with a faggot from school," Mom says.
"Mike? We bumped into each other at the mall. I was being polite," I say. I feel bad for betraying Mike by lying. "According to Greta the two of you looked like you were having a gay old time shopping for new outfits," Dad says. He swishes around the kitchen doing a bad imitation of a girl.
"Lawrence, stop it." Mom has the decency to look embarrassed by my dad's behaviour.
"Did Greta really say that about me?" I ask.
"She said she saw you on a date with the gayest kid at your school," Mom says.
"We were only talking," I protest.
"Did you or did you not call me two hours ago to say your manager asked you to cover for someone at work?"
Oops! "They found someone else to cover the shift. What's the big deal?"
"You lied to your mother so you could go on a date with your faggot friend!" Dad yells.
I tense up like an explosion has just gone off. I'm so sick of being afraid. "We weren't on a date!" I insist.
"Then why did we find this in your room?" Dad opens a cupboard and pulls out a sketchbook. It's the secret sketchbook I've been using for one of my graphic novels.
"You went through my room?"
"It's our house, Adam. You just live here," Mom says.
"What is this filth?" Dad points at a page. "There are drawings of boys kissing boys in here!"
"It's not mine!" I lie. "I'm keeping it for a friend."
"Your name is all over this book!" Dad shouts.
"Stop it! Both of you!" Mom breaks in. "Adam, will you please tell us what is going on? What does this book have to do with that boy Greta saw you with?"
"Mike and I worked on the yearbook last year," I try to stick as close to the truth as possible.
"Then how do you explain the drawings in this book?" Mom asks.
I want to tell them that sketchbook is the only thing that's kept me sane these last eight months. I've been trying to write a graphic novel about how our church tries to fit you into a certain mould, and if you deviate from it they crush your spirit. The heroes of the story are a pair of teenagers who fall in love. I was going to toss it out because I was afraid of getting caught, but I couldn't. There were some really good sketches I thought I could use to apply to university.
"It's just a comic book," I mumble.
"Comics?" Dad says. "Your idea of comics is pictures of boys kissing! Those aren't comics. That's sick!"
"The Bible is filled with stories, and that's what you choose to draw?" Mom asks. Her disappointment is worse than my dad's anger. "You could be the next Michelangelo if you put your mind to it."
A joke Mike told me pops into my head: If a straight artist painted the Sistine Chapel it would be beige. I start to laugh in spite of the situation.
"Do you think this is funny?" Dad fumes.
"No! Not at all!" I say.
"I'm afraid to ask this," Mom says, "But are you having sex with boys?"
"Do you want to?" she asks.
What I want to do is run out of the house and never look back. But with my phone in my dad's clutches, there's no way I can call Mike for help. My head is spinning. I begin to wonder if I left my sketchbook out on purpose so they could find it.
"Answer your mother!" Dad says.
I want to tell my mother what she wants to hear, but I've run out of lies.
"Yes, Mom. I'm gay. I'm sorry you had to learn about it this way. I've tried to change, I swear. But I can't."
"I knew it!" Dad says, slamming his hand on the table. "You're a faggot. I knew it the day you came home crying from hockey practice. I told your mother after you went to bed. 'Marie, our boy is a faggot,' I said."
"Please stop saying that word," I say.
"What? Faggot?" Dad spits the word out. "That's what you are, Adam, a faggot!"
"That's enough!" It's almost a shout — the first time Mom has raised her voice to my father. We both live in fear of his temper. "Can we please deal with this like adults?"
She starts sobbing. I go to comfort her, but Dad gets in my way.
"You've done enough harm for one day," Dad says. "Go to your room and leave your laptop outside your door."
I try not to cry as I leave the kitchen and go upstairs to my room. I set my laptop in the hall and close the door behind me.
I doze off for a couple hours. The sound of Mom knocking on my door wakes me.
"Do you want to have dinner at the table or in your room?" she asks.
"I'm not really hungry," I reply. I'm actually starving. But I don't want to see my father's face right now. I can't erase the image of him prancing around the kitchen. Is that what he really thinks of me?
"I'll make you a sandwich just in case."
"Your father and I called Pastor Connell for advice."
"What did he say?"
"He prayed for us — you especially."
"That was nice of him I guess."
"We made an appointment to see him after church tomorrow, okay?"
"Let me go make that sandwich for you."
Mom is about to close the door again. She stops like she's about to say something. For a brief second I think she's going to tell me she loves me, but something stops her. In that moment I have no idea if things with my mom will ever be the same again.CHAPTER 3
Sea to Sky
Mom and I have been driving for nearly an hour. I'm not allowed to speak to her when she's behind the wheel because it distracts her from the directions the GPS, suction-cupped to the windshield of the car, is giving her. Mom puts as much faith in that stupid GPS as she does in God. At least she follows its directions. Dad always second-guesses it, probably because the voice is a woman's. Dad would getlost before he'd take orders from a woman, even if it's a computer.
"Here we are!" Mom says, like we've arrived at Disneyland. She pulls into the Walmart parking lot, pointing the car towards a man standing beside a school bus. There's a large banner on the side that says "Camp Revelation."
After a two-hour session with Pastor Connell, it was decided I would be spending the next four weeks at Camp Revelation. Teens at church call it "Juvie for Christians." Registration had already closed for the summer, but Pastor Connell knows the camp organizer, Bishop Andrews, and was able to "pull a favour" for us.
My first impulse was to refuse to go. Then I pictured my father's impression of me prancing around the kitchen. That was all the convincing I needed. In a strange twist of fate, Mom and I had to go back to The Gap where Greta caught me with Mike. Turns out khakis and polo tops are the only things we're allowed to wear at the camp.
"I guess this is goodbye," I say. I grab my duffel bag from the back seat, and open the car door.
"Wait," Mom says, digging through her purse. She hands me my phone and five twenty-dollar bills, as well as a brand new sketchbook and some pencils. "Don't tell your father."
"I won't. I promise. Thanks, Mom."
I move in to give her a kiss, but she turns her head and my lips bash into her ear. It's the first time she's ever refused a kiss from me.
"I should go," I say. I shove my phone and the money into my pockets. "I'll see you in a month."
"I'll pray for you," she says.
I'm barely out of the car when she turns on the ignition and drives away.
I throw my duffel bag over my shoulder and walk towards the school bus. Faces stare out the windows as I approach the door. Everyone avoids eye contact with me. When I get closer I realize the man by the bus is not much older than me, twenty years old at the most.
"I'm Brian. You must be Adam," He yanks my arm as he shakes my hand. "We've been waiting for you."
Brian is dressed in khakis and a red polo shirt with a gold cross embroidered above his heart. His hair is parted perfectly to one side and his cheeks are plump and smooth like a baby's. He has the face of someone who has never known disappointment his whole life.
"Sorry I'm late. My mom is an overly cautious driver," I tell him.
"Don't be silly. You're right on time, but you are the last of the campers to arrive." He makes it sound like I've lost points. "First we need to take care of a couple of tasks and then we'll be on our way. Please hand over your phone."
"I knew there wasn't any cell reception at the camp. I didn't realize you were taking our phones away."
"Screens get between you and God."
"Can't I keep it until we get to the camp?" I'm not married to my phone, but I just got it back. I wanted to text Mike and let him know that I'm okay.
"Trust me, you'll thank me for taking this away. Everyone does," Brian says.
I give him my phone, which he puts in a plastic Ziploc bag with my name on it.
"Do you have any books or magazines with you?" he asks me.
"I was going to read Archie Digest on the bus."
"I loved Archie when I was your age," Brian says. "But I'm afraid Archie is on the list of banned reading material. I'm going to have to take that too."
"You said you love Archie."
"That was before they introduced a gay character."
"Kevin Keller isn't in this issue!"
"You'll get it back at the end of the summer with your phone. By then, you probably won't even want it."
Excerpted from Same Love by Tony Correia. Copyright © 2017 Tony Correia. Excerpted by permission of James Lorimer & Company Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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