Rainy Day Recess
While scientists argue over the causes of sexual orientation, most gay kids know at an early age (or are quickly made aware) they’re gender non-conforming, and their attraction towards the same sex also begins in childhood.
But children’s literature is still pretty squeamish about admitting this. Gay tales of self-discovery first found a home in young adult literature, the genre that by inventing “problem novels” provided a foot in the door to mainstream publishing for many nonconformist stories. But picture books – even playful picture books like King and King, or scientifically factual ones, like And Tango Makes Three – remain at the top of challenged and banned book lists.
Rainy Day Recess (Northwest Press) compiles Dave Kelly’s “Steven Comics”, covers and drawings, which ran from 1995 to 1998 in gay and alternative newspapers. “Steven’s Comics” are for teens and adults, but like Lynda Barry’s work, concentrate on the social life of kids. Steven grows up in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s (and seventies fans will revel in Kelly’s astute attention to detail…remember record music clubs? Donnie and Marie? We are Family?) His life isn’t ideal; his parents’ divorce means an extend stay with his grandma, and Steven is often uprooted and distressed due to his parents’ instabilities. Read on…