Author and journalist Tomas Mournian's new book hidden tells the fictional story of Ahmed, a gay, middle eastern teen who escapes from a so-called "conversion camp" (gay-to-straight) to the safe houses of San Francisco. Originally conceptualized as a young adult (YA) novel, Mournian's goal was "to write a story for gay teens that was both romantic and sexual" in addition to exposing the risks they face when rejected by their families. In an unfortunate twist, editors insisted that Mournian remove one intimate scene before they would accept it as a YA novel. While Mournian eventually decided to keep that passage intact and release the novel for the general market, he still hopes teens will be able to enjoy the book somehow.
Mournian is frank about his generation's inability to reach out to gay youth. "The adult gay rights movement lacks imagination and focus when it comes to young people. It's like all that intelligence goes haywire." Even though things are getting better, Mournian says, "you have young people who are queer who can't go through the silly dating stuff, whose lives are on hold from ages 11-18" when it comes to dating, romance, and sex. Exclusive to the Huffington Post, Mournian gives gay teens some advice on what to do "in the meantime."
For LGBT who are in high school right now, my first piece of romantic advice is unapologetically superficial, and cosmetic: don't pick your zits. You'll get scars. Secondly, bullies. You know, those people who have a sixth sense about your difference, and feel obliged to tell everyone? They're all like the Wicked Witch of the West: they dissolve the instant you accept your diploma. (In fact, most bullies end up becoming pathetic losers and/or bitter--karma's a tough lady with a long memory!)
Love is more complex. I haven't mastered it, so my advice is more hints than rock solid: don't buy stocks in what I say. Love interest-wise, try to keep an open mind. Meaning, don't let yourself get stuck crushing on one type (especially if you know--and, you do know--they're not into you. Next!) Which brings me to the "It Gets Better" idea/YouTube campaign. Yes, it does get better! But that might be a few years from now. What should you do in the meantime? (Especially if you live somewhere really small, and hostile to being a budding gay teen.)
I'd suggest finding a safe place to write about your ideal love (or, lovers--not everyone, gay or straight, ends up staying with the same person, and we don't necessarily end up with who we expected). Writing in a journal (or creating a dance, or drawing a picture) is a fantastic way to recognize them when it comes to sex, love and all that jazz (and this is really important to create that possibility-of-love space if the world isn't giving you the opportunity date. You need to give yourself your own opportunity and space).
This weekend, he's celebrating the release of hidden at Brick And Mortar with drinks, food, and revelry. Mournian says, "everybody's welcome! Hopefully it'll sort of be like a Fellini circus. There's going to be a scene from the book--if it works out--performed by some burlesque dancers. That should be interesting."
Book Party For hidden
When: Saturday, February 5 (7-10pm)
Where: Brick And Mortar, 8713 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood CA 90069
Cost: Free. Books will be on sale at the event.