“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
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).
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?!
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.