Why Camp is the LGBTQIA Read You Need To Pick Up Right Now

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“Safer and happier don’t always go hand in hand. It’s a choice that a lot of us have to make.” // L.C.Rosen

LGBTQIA literature has come a long way from James Baldwin and Oscar Wilde to Becky Albertaalli and Andre Aciman. There are countless representations of queer culture in media today and the Pride Month continues to be celebrated with tremendous fervour. Lately, the 2020 young-adult book ‘Camp’ by Lev A.C. Rosen is being hailed as an informative book about the LGBTQIA community. Despite their voices being loud as ever, many of us still may not be aware of the subtle underlying struggles queer people go through. Read on to know how and why Rosen’s Camp covers these struggles by placing a wide array of characters in a safe place!

Why Camp is the LGBTQIA Read You Need To Pick Up Right Now

Camp Outland is a summer camp for queer teens, a safe place where they all can be whoever they want to, without worrying about the judgments of the outside world. Randy plays the lead. He loves theatre, nail-paint and unicorns. But, this year he’s about to change all of that for Hudson – the hot, macho guy whose dating profile says masc4masc. Randy is now Del who chooses sports over theatre just so he can make Hudson fall in love with him. Although his plan works out very well, Randy’s friends can’t help but notice how toxic his plan is. After all, how far are you willing to change who you are for love?
We all talk about toxic masculinity and being yourself in the outside world. But Rosen changed the course of YA novels by exploring these issues within the queer community. It’s hard enough for them to be who they are in the real world already. But Rosen had me baffled when I realized there’s so much I’ve yet to learn about the queer community. Within, there’s a struggle for an identity I, as a straight person can never even fathom. The quotes ‘There’s no one way to be gay’ and ‘No coming out story is the same as another’ speak for themselves.
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Why Camp is the LGBTQIA Read You Need To Pick Up Right Now

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I loved the concept of Camp Outland and hope that such safe places do happen on earth. In the first part of the book, I was cringing hard at Randy for the toxic way he was turning himself more masculine for Hudson. But that was the whole point! By the end, it’s so satisfying to see Hudson accept Randy for who he is. He does struggle at first due to some traumatizing incidents he had in the past with his family. It’s heartwrenching to see queer kids face abuse and humiliation by their parents when the latter cannot even look their kids in the eyes and tell them the reasons for their actions. I probably gave you a spoiler but do keep some tissues handy when Hudson’s coming-out story pops up (sobs and smiles, at the same time).

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So yes, you get to see some adorable romance, but wait, FRIENDSHIP FIRST! In his post on The Nerd Daily titled ‘We’re Everywhere,’ Rosen talks about the lack of platonic relationships in queer media and says the following. “Not every gay boy falls in love with every other gay boy. As a gay man, sometimes when I read gay YA, it often feels like that’s what we’re there for. That’s our story: the only two gay boys in the world fall in love.” 

READ ROSEN’S FULL PIECE ON PLATONIC QUEER RELATIONSHIPS HERE: https://www.thenerddaily.com/platonic-queer-relationships-lc-rosen/

Therefore, Rosen moves away from the gay-boy-finds-gay-boy trope and via Randy’s friends paints a normal, platonic image of the LGBTQIA community, which is every bit joyful as the romance. If you loved Eric Effiong from Sex Education, you will love Randy’s bestie George, just as much. Speaking of which, even the sex scenes in the book are safe, informative and intense (obviously). Condoms are available in the medical room and healthy conversations are observed within the grounds. Utopia, right?!

Why Camp is the LGBTQIA Read You Need To Pick Up Right Now

Every alphabet of the acronym LGBTQIA finds a place in the book. The plot keeps you hooked, the characters keep fighting for the precious places in your heart and the best part, you learn and grow as the book progresses. Not gonna lie, but I wasn’t aware of The Stonewall Riots before I read Camp. Well, whatever you find, I can say that there’s something for everybody in this book. Everyone should read it.

In the end, let’s just say that we are fighting against a lot of prejudices these days. But that does not mean that we, ourselves, are free. Speaking on such sensitive issues in a manner which doesn’t offend anybody is a bit difficult today. We may have the best intentions but we may not have the proper knowledge or analogies to defend our argument. Reading books has always helped me grow, and continues to teach me how to respect diversity. I am not perfect, but this book changed really awakened something inside me. Pick this book up to learn more about the diverse LGBTQIA community and endeavour to lessen the prejudices which may unknowingly exist within you.

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