Read Rainbow Boys Online

Authors: Alex Sanchez

Tags: #Social Issues, #Dating & Sex, #Gay, #Juvenile Fiction, #Homosexuality, #Fiction, #Interpersonal Relations, #General, #Psychopathology, #Action & Adventure, #Coming Out (Sexual Orientation), #Literary, #Alcoholism, #Drugs; Alcohol; Substance Abuse, #High Schools, #Schools, #Addiction, #School & Education, #Male Homosexuality, #Psychology

Rainbow Boys

BOOK: Rainbow Boys
10.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


“Deftly written.”—New York Blade

“A forthright portrayal of growing up gay.”—USA Today

“A definite must-read.”—

“It would be insufficient praise to call Rainbow Boys the

gay youth book of the year
simply because A lex

Sanchez’s debut novel is even more than that—it’s

one of the year’s ten best, regardless of genre and

intended audience.”—

“Dazzling.”—The Washington Blade

“[Rainbow Boys] … represents a notable leap forward

for younger (and quite a few older) readers—both

gay and straight.”—Lambda Book Report

“This delicious drama of tight friendships, sexual

exploration, and identity-making strikes new ground

in the literature of coming-out novels.”—

“Rainbow Boys is a superb first novel, one that

might well become a classic.”—Just Out

This book is a work of fiction. A ny references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

First Simon Pulse edition May 2003

Text copyright © 2001 by A lex Sanchez


A n imprint of Simon & Schuster

Children’s Publishing Division

1230 A venue of the A mericas

New York, NY 10020

A ll rights reserved, including the right of

reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

A lso available in a Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers hardcover edition.

Designed by Paula Winicur

The text of this book was set in Mrs. Eaves.

Manufactured in the United States of A merica

12 14 16 18 20 19 17 15 13 11

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:

Sanchez, A lex, 1957-

Rainbow boys / A lex Sanchez.—1st ed.

p. cm.

Summary: Three high school seniors, a jock with a girlfriend and an alcoholic father, a closeted gay, and a flamboyant gay rights advocate, struggle with family issues, gay bashers, first sex, and conflicting feelings about each other.

ISBN-13: 978-0-689-84100-2 (hc.) ISBN-10: 0-689-84100-0 (hc.)

eISBN-13: 978-1-43911-534-3

[1. Homosexuality—Fiction. 2. Coming out (Sexual orientation)—Fiction.

3. High schools—Fiction. 4. Schools—Fiction. 5. A lcoholism—Fiction.

6. Interpersonal relations—Fiction.] I. Title

PZ7.S19475 Rai 2001



ISBN-13: 978-0-689-85770-6 (Simon Pulse pbk.)

ISBN-10: 0-689-85770-5 (Simon Pulse pbk.)


to my editor, Kevin Lewis,

my agent, Miriam A ltshuler,

and all those who contributed to the creation of

this book with their encouragement and feedback,

including Bill Brockschmidt, Michael Cunningham,

Peter Ho Davies, Sam Dubreville, Barbara Esstman,

A llan Gurganus, Scott Hunter, Chuck Jones,

J. R. Key, Michael Klein, Kate Lesar, Richard

McCann, Patrick Merla, A lex Moe, Elissa Nelson,

Rob Phelps, John Porter, J. Q. Quiñones,

Bob Ripperger, Doug Rose, Sean Sinclair,

Lee Stern, and Michael Walker.

Thank you all.


of youth—present and past






Jason Carrillo walked around the block a third time, working up his courage to go into the brownstone. When he finally stepped off the curb to cross the street, a car swerved past him, blaring its horn. Jason leapt back and caught his breath. Shit. A ll he needed was to get hit and end up in the emergency room. His parents would discover he’d lied about going to the park to shoot baskets.

He shielded his eyes from the warm afternoon sun and watched a group of teenagers enter the building. He glanced at his watch. If he walked in late, maybe nobody would notice him. Then again, everyone might notice him. Maybe he shouldn’t go in at all.

He’d read about the group for teens in his school newspaper the previous spring. He’d torn out the phone number and carried it in his wallet for weeks. Every so often he would unfold it, stare at the numbers, then fold it up again—until one evening, when his parents and sister were out and he was home alone, he uncreased the scrap of paper and dialed the number.

A man answered: “Rainbow Youth Hot Line.”

Jason slammed the receiver back into its cradle and jumped up. He couldn’t believe he was actually going through with this.

A fter a while, his breathing slowed and he called again. This time he stayed on the phone.

The voice on the other end of the line was friendly and warm, not at all what he expected.

“A re you gay?” Jason asked, just to be sure.

The man laughed. “Of course.”

Jason never imagined that someone could be gay and laugh about it.

He asked questions for more than an hour and phoned the hot line three more times during the summer, speaking with different men and women. Each of them invited him to a Saturday meeting. No way, he thought. He wasn’t about to sit in a room full of queers.

He pictured them all looking like the school fag, Nelson Glassman—or Nelly, as everyone called him. Even though a lot of people liked him, Jason couldn’t stand the freak—his million earrings, his snapping fingers, his weird haircuts. Why didn’t he just announce he was a homo over the school loudspeaker?

No, Jason was not like Nelson. That was for sure. He had a girlfriend. They’d gone out for two years, since they were sophomores. He loved Debra. He’d given her a ring. They had sex. How could he possibly be gay?

He remembered the first night he borrowed his best friend Corey’s van and he and Debra drove to the secluded lane by the golf course.

A little shy at first, they awkwardly clambered in back and lay side by side. The sweat poured off him as he wondered: Will I be able to go through with it?

When Debra slid her hand beneath the elastic of his underwear, he panicked. “A re you sure you want to do this?” his voice squeaked. “I mean, what if you get pregnant?”

From her jeans pocket she pulled a condom. His heart raced, as much from fear as from excitement. Excitement won out. That night he made it with her—a girl. Homos couldn’t do that. Ergo, he couldn’t be a homo.

Ever since, he and Debra had been inseparable. Every day at school they ate lunch together. A t basketball practice, she watched him from the bleachers, twirling the ring he gave her on her necklace. Each evening they talked on the phone. Weekends they went to movies.

Sometimes they borrowed Corey’s van, other times they made love in her parents’ basement rec room.

So why’d he continue to have those dreams of naked men—dreams so intense they woke him in a sweat and left him terrified his dad might find out?

On those nights he lay awake, trying to make sense of his feelings. Maybe it had to do with what happened that time with Tommy and how his dad had caught them. But that had been years ago, when he was ten.

He’d turn eighteen in a few months. He needed to concentrate on his future—bring his math grade up, finish senior year, get that basketball scholarship, and go to college. He didn’t have time for some stupid Rainbow Youth meeting.

Yet now, on this September Saturday, after six months of carrying the yellowing ad for the group hidden in his wallet, here he was.

He crossed the street toward the brownstone and stopped to look at himself in a car window. He tried to smooth his hair, but the curls wouldn’t cooperate. Shit. Why did he care? A fter all, it was only a group of queers.

Twenty or more teenagers packed the sweltering fourth-floor room. Some sat on metal folding chairs, fanning themselves. Others lay draped across threadbare couches, grumbling about the heat. A few sat cross-legged on a stained, well-worn rug.

Jason scanned the room for an empty seat. There weren’t any. He was thinking he should leave, when suddenly his eyes met those of another boy. Smiling across the crowd was Nelson Glassman.

Jason froze. How could he have been so stupid? That little faggot would spread this all over Whitman.

Nelson fingered a wave, like they were best buds, then leaned toward a boy in a baseball cap and whispered something. The boy looked up, his eyes widening in surprise.

Jason blinked. Kyle Meeks? What was he doing here?

“Let’s begin, please.” A stoop-shouldered man standing in the middle of the room clapped his hands. “Would everyone find a seat? Yes, I know it’s hot. Tam and Carla went to get fans. Find a seat, please.”

Jason turned to leave, but at that moment Kyle came toward him, extending a hand.

Jason offered a sweaty palm. “Wha’s up? I think I’m in the wrong place.”

“Can you boys find a seat?” the man shouted over the noise of the group.

“Here,” Kyle whispered, and grabbed a folding chair from the stack that leaned against the wall. Without warning, the entire stack started to slide. Jason reached out to stop them, but it was too late. The chairs hit the floor. Crash. Then, silence. A ll eyes turned to stare at him and Kyle. A couple of boys on the rug burst into applause. The rest of the group followed with hoots and whistles. Jason wanted to crawl under the rug and die.

“A ll right, all right.” The facilitator waved his hands, signaling the group to settle down. “Boys, please take a seat.” Kyle turned to Jason, his face red from embarrassment. “I’m sorry.” He turned to pick up the fallen chairs.

“Let me do it,” Jason said. The last thing he wanted was for Kyle to knock over the rest.

Nelson came over to help. “Way to go, Kyle.”

Jason opened chairs for Kyle and himself, then sat down, avoiding Nelson’s gaze.

Nelson unfolded a third chair and wedged himself between them. “Well hello, Jason. Imagine seeing you here.” Jason had never spoken to Nelson during their three years at Whitman. He wasn’t about to start now.

BOOK: Rainbow Boys
10.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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