Posted on June 17, 2020
"Have you ever had the feeling that even if you wanted to you'd never blend in?" This is the question that launches the graphic fiction story "Gay Giant," just published in the 11th annual Queer issue of the magazine Words Without Borders.
With its striking, simple color palette and very relatable first sentence, this story is likely to immediately capture the attention of young adult readers.
Created by Chilean graphic novelist Gabriel Ebensperger and translated from Spanish by Kelley D. Salas, it takes readers through vignettes of the so-called "Gay Giant's" early life, each labeled with his age at the time. As Editorial Director Susan Harris points out in the issue introduction, each new event highlights the narrator's "growing awareness of his own difference":
Mistaken for a girl when answering the phone, bullied for singing Cher songs, he remembers his childhood as a series of alienating events that convinced him he would never blend in. But will he remain so othered in adulthood?
The story's answer to this question is a hopeful one.
After reading it, students might be inspired to create their own graphic stories of childhood, modeled on this one. They might follow structure of "The Gay Giant," building a story around a persistent feeling experienced in their early lives.
You might have students read "Gay Giant" alongside work from previous Queer issues of WWB, such as a Turkish story of two teenage boys surprised to find themselves sharing a first kiss, or this Japanese story of trans woman's tender breakup with a workaholic boyfriend.