elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Top 100 Gay Novel: Band Fags! By Frank Anthony Polito

Band Fags! (and actually being a Band Fag doesn’t mean you are gay, it means you are one of those kids who tags along with all the other kids in the high school band, and usually they are not exactly the most popular kids in the school…) is probably the first “real” coming of age novel I have read; it’s centred around Brad and Jack, band fags and best friends all though-out high school, and even if the external reader can easily see that both of them are gay, they don’t know, or at least Jack doesn’t know or better doesn’t want to know.

The novel is a long run along with Brad and Jack in the middle of the ’80, with all the icons of that time, soap-operas, movies, music and glossy magazines. It was somewhat a fake world, but to the eyes of young Jack that was the real thing. Jack who is in love with a soap-opera soubrette, an imaginary girlfriend he considers real and for this reason tries to replace in his real life with similar look-alikes. Jack who always played girl games, who has always preferred to tag along his girl best friends and who, when Brad comes into the picture, finds finally the perfect best friend: Brad likes soap-operas and fashion, and Brad understands Jack perfectly.

But while Jack growing up is trying to find the perfect girlfriend, all the time trying also to hide his secret fantasies for various young and hot same age boys, Brad never once shows any real interest for girls; again there is an obvious reason, and again it’s not that Brad is trying to hide it, by Jack doesn’t want to know, doesn’t want to see. When finally Brad finds the courage to “come out” (i.e. to force Jack to see the plain truth), the tragedy fall down upon them, a tragedy that is as big as few are their years; again to an external reader everything is simple, why Jack cannot admit he is gay? Why is he being so mean to Brad, his best friend, the only guy who has always understood him and more than once helped him? The reason is as the same simple: they are teenagers, they are not “little men” with a adult mind, and they are behaving like kids, as they should.

What I want to highlight is that, even if Jack is gay, he is also “in-the-making”: he is still trying to understand himself, to put together all the pieces of his existence, and no adult, or best friend, can rush this process; they can encourage him, support him, like Brad and also Jack’s mother do, but he has to arrive to the final solution of the puzzle of his youth alone, and conscious of his evolution. Maybe Jack is a little slower than other teenagers, than Brad, maybe the reader will think “but how you cannot understand yourself, when we have understood everything already?”, but this is Jack’s life, not ours, not Brad; even if Brad is an important part of that life.

Amazon: Band Fags!
Amazon Kindle: Band Fags!
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington (June 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0758222653
ISBN-13: 978-0758222657

Frank Anthony Polito's In the Spotlight post: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1035242.html

Reading List:

http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Kristine Mills-Noble
Tags: author: frank anthony polito, genre: contemporary, length: novel, review, theme: coming of age, top 100 gay novels list

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