The ABSOLUTE genesis of Openly Straight

I found it! The first-ever words written for the book that became Openly Straight. They were written in February of 2009, when I was living in New York. I was working on a manuscript that I was going to call “Yam Boy,” and apparently I took a side-step into something else. The document is called “Straight Notes” and it’s about two pages.

The below is copied verbatim:

Why I want to be a straight kid for a year

             Straights can occasionally use the words “fabulous” or “drama queen” and it’s quirky. When gay guys do it, they’re one step away from a woman.

            Straights can pat each other on the butt after a football game, no questions asked.

            Straights can grab their genitalia and wag it at other guys in the shower without being maced.

            All I want is to fit in. For once. Is that too much to ask?


I had not seen this scratch document in four years! I’ve actually been lying without knowing it, saying that the first words of Openly Straight had to do with the tofu pig on a spit. This turns out NOT to be the case. Sorry about the unwitting lie.

It sounds a little Rafe-ish, no? Not a ton, but a little. It’s in essay form, which is a lot like the essays he wound up writing in the book. Otherwise, it’s just… whatever it is. Thought I’d share it with you.

Among the other things in this initial document, copied word-for-word:


Wizard of Oz structure – there’s no place like home 

First friend he meets is stupid. Second is heartless. Third is a coward. He helps them all out and is well loved. He arrives and without meaning to fells a bully. His parents run over the bullies’ prized track trophy. All that is left under the car is a shoe sticking out. Wizard is the headmaster? Wicked witch is a bully. Who has minions. 

He thinks he’s going for the dating possibilities. Finds out that it’s deeper than that. He’s going because he’s still a little homophobic. He has a strong desire to have a “normal” life and do “typical” things. Finds out he can still do those things at home. If he wants to.

Aren’t we glad I stepped away from the Wizard of Oz theme? Oy. 

So there it is, kids. How a book gets started. With bad ideas, most of the time. And a few interesting ones thrown in.