So some of you may be wondering whether Nolan is in the closet?
I guess you could say he is. But keep in mind that Nolan is 16 years old and growing up in a different time and place. He doesn’t know anyone who is gay, but he does know what happens to classmates who get accused of being gay. So mostly Nolan is just a boy who doesn’t want his parents or anyone else to find out he’s gay. Or queer as he would probably put it.
And yet, as much as he doesn’t want anyone to know, he really does want someone to know. Because he feels isolated and alone and, yes, probably even scared; and so he wants someone he can talk to about the whole thing. And maybe someone with whom he can do more than just talk.
But finding someone like that? It’s really scary. There are risks involved in opening up. Big risks. Make a mistake about who you talk to about this kind of stuff and you could end up paying a very high price indeed.
So what does Nolan do? He tries to approach the issue indirectly. He doesn’t just come out and tell Josh he’s gay because he has no clue at all how Josh will react if he does. But he suspects the 17 year old athlete may react quite badly, that he might even beat him up. So Nolan probes to try to find out what Josh is thinking. He keeps concluding Josh is straight, but he also keeps hoping he’s wrong about that because he desperately wants someone to talk to.
And what about Josh? Josh is a boy who seems uncomfortable with the whole subject of sex. Why is that? We don’t know exactly, but the whole thing makes him nervous. Maybe he’s worried his Mom will be ashamed of him if she knows he’s thinking about stuff like that; and we also know that his Dad is dead. So, like Nolan, Josh really doesn’t have anyone to talk to about sex either. But his response is to try to block it all out so he doesn’t have to think about it at all. Which is kind of hard when you’re 17 and experiencing things you’ve never experienced before.
So I’ve tried to spend some time on all of this and I realize that’s tended to slow things down some. But it’s not like you wake up one day and know that you’re gay and tell everyone you are and then start having sex, all on the same day. It takes time and I’ve tried to capture a bit of that in the story.