“Social Intercourse” by Howard Greg— A Gay Teen in South Carolina

Howard, Greg. “Social Intercourse”, Simon & Schuster, 2018.

A Gay Teen in South Carolina

Amos Lassen

“Social Intercourse” is a clever love story that challenges preconceptions that people are either gay or straight or that the Bible Belt and football necessarily means a homophobic community. Beckett Gaines is a gay teen living in South Carolina, whose world goes through major changes because of a jock.

Jax is the Golden Boy, star quarterback who faces uncomfortable truths about himself and his past. It all begins when Beck’s “emotionally fragile dad” starts dating the recently single (and supposedly lesbian) mom of bully, Jaxon Parker. Neither Beck nor Jax is happy about it. They boys put aside their own differences and try to stop the romance before it becomes serious and they plan to do this at the first ever Rainbow Prom in the town but nothing goes according to plan.. Hearts will be broken, new romance will bloom, but nothing will go down the way Beck and Jax have planned.

We see the challenges of growing up different in a small southern town through the eyes of colorful and unforgettable characters and it is great fun. The story is told through Beckett and Jax as alternating narrators. The two guys are total opposites with Beck being openly gay, choir singing, sassy and proud and obsessed with the Golden Girls and Jaxon, the school’s star football player and ladies man whose reputation is built on the points he’s scored on the field and the ladies he’s scored before and after games. They come together for a mutual purpose of tearing their families apart, so they can return to the safe lives that they knew before their parents started dating. before. As they scheme together, the boys become closer, and things get complicated and we see that there is more to each of the boys than we think, at first. 

Beck is a person who cares about his best friend, and who gets angry at her mother’s mistreatment of her and tries to help her see that she’s more than the negative ideas that she has been led to believe. After his mother walked out on the family, Beck became the adult and took care of his dad. He really wants to protect his father from any more hurt. He sees the life that he has worked hard on after his mother leave slipping away from his control. After all, he is just a teen.

Aside from being a jock, Jax is a nice guy who loves his two moms who saved him from a broken and abusive home, and, like Beck wants to keep his home and family intact. As his mothers’ separate, Jax questions his image of the jock that his entire social life has been built on.

When they come together, Beck and Jax are funny, awkward, and confrontational. They can surely serve as the basis for many good discussions and become good examples of how things can be and should be done. It seems that in order to take a good look at who we are, we often have to be forced to do so as Jax and Beck are both forced to when they look at how they’ve dealt with each other and how they’ve dealt with their parents.

Here is a well-written story of two opposite types finding first gay love in the conservative South that will put a smile on your face as you read. We also see something about family here in the special relationships each boy had. The love and respect each boy gives his parents and the close-knit relationships each boy has with them is a warm and cuddly read that makes us feel good. There are so many ways we can read this and I am amazed at how quickly I fell in love with everyone in the story.

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