Was there anything in the book that you were hesitant to share?
Yeah, my first sexual experience. It has become a point of controversy. When I first wrote the book, I did not write that chapter as vividly. I wrote it very cerebral and very technical [when I was describing] what was happening. My editor pushed me and said, “It’s okay for you to say it, and to tell the truth.”
In this country, sex is still taboo. Sex education is still taboo, too. Sexual assault and rape culture is ingrained into the history of this country. Anytime you try to talk about those subjects, we’re taught to place blame on ourselves for the circumstances that happened when, realistically, it is [the blame of] a society that denied us the resources to understand how we should handle those situations to protect ourselves and others.
All Boys Aren’t Blue has moved so many people, especially Black and queer people, in a positive way.
The resounding feedback that comes to me is, “This book saved my life.” I get that from teen readers. I’ve gotten emails from them talking about their suicidal ideations and feeling so alone. They share how the book gave them a sense of personal identity and an understanding that they were perfectly made the way they are.
A few of weeks ago, someone wrote a beautiful review of my book. At first, they said they weren’t sure why I included the parts about losing my virginity or my sexual assault in a young adult book. Then, they said they challenged themselves because the book helped them to realize something that happened to them when they were younger that they had been thinking wasn’t assault, actually was. That is why it is important.