What does Utopia look like?

I’ve always wondered what an actual Utopia would look like. It seems we can only see Utopias through our own Dystopic lens. They come to us bereft of color, of individuality, of flair. They are tightly controlled – both limiting and limited. A place for everyone, and everyone in their place.

As if the only way to make people get along is to make them all the same.

Then I read Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan.

BoyMeetsBoy

I was the first openly gay president of my third-grade class. I have seen men holding hands walking down the street in a big city and I have read about women getting married in a state that’s not so far away. I have found a boy I just might love, and I have not run away. I believe that I can be anyone I might want to be. All these things give me strength.

I’ve had this book on my shelf for a couple of years now. I have no excuse for not reading it sooner, other than the usual – Too many books, too little time.

When I first opened the book, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to buy into it. A world where high school students of all sorts accepted each other. Where the star quarterback was a trans* girl – and not just any girl, but prom queen! A world where it was okay to be straight, gay, bi… A world where you could be a footballer and a diva, a good student and still cool, a world where differences were okay.

My biggest concern as a reader, writer and editor was that I knew the book needed conflict. All books do. If everyone got along – where was the conflict?

And that is the genius of this slim book. Sure everyone’s okay with everyone existing – but that doesn’t mean everyone gets along, or that everyone is friends, or that there is no tension in any of those friendships. After all, this is still, above all else, a book about humans. And humans are flawed. Deeply so.

As I read this book, I realized that utopias can exist, if we build them. And they aren’t about closing minds, or limiting choices, or restricting freedoms, or wearing all brown… They’re about opening minds, expanding choices, extending freedoms, and wearing whatever the heck you want.

David Levithan managed to imagine a world where it was okay just to be – it’s not perfect. No one loves everyone else 100%. There are still jerks. And even the “good guys” are sometimes jerks. Everyone makes mistakes – and that’s okay too, because it’s part of the process of becoming better humans – screwing up and learning from it, working to make amends, working to heal the rifts…

I read this book, and it gave me hope in a world that’s been feeling pretty dark. It felt like a beacon, a call to action – more though – a call to love.

If your world has been feeling rather dark, and grim lately – or if you feel like you woke up in a dystopic nightmare, I highly encourage you to pick up this ray of light and hope. I further hope it reminds everyone who reads it to reach out to “them” and open your own heart and mind so that “they” become part of “us.”

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