Book Title: Butterflies In The End Zone
Author and Publisher: Jacob Gelman
Release Date: June 15, 2023
Genres: Contemporary M/M Young Adult Gay Romance, #ownvoices
Tropes: strangers to friends to lovers, bi awakening
Themes: coming out, communication, sports
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 72 000 words/169 pages
It is a standalone book and does not end on a cliffhanger.
Alex has everything going for him. He’s the quarterback of the football team. He has a great group of friends. He’s popular. He’s got stellar grades. So, why is he so enamored by the new kid from the Bay Area?
Meanwhile, Jamie doesn’t understand why the quarterback of Scalia’s football team could possibly want to be friends with him: the closeted Jewish kid. It’s the last thing he needs to worry about after leaving California for Jacksonville. He planned on just keeping his head down and finishing his senior year quietly to get into his dream school.
Against the odds, though, they become close friends in an area that would teach them to be enemies. But, over time, their friendship turns into something deeper – scaring the both of them. Will their love survive the trials of being in a homophobic environment? Or will it all prove to be too much for them?
I’ve been in Florida less than a day and already I’m in a life or death standoff. The gator stares at me, his eyes glowing against the moonlight. I stare at the gator, my eyes wild with fear. Shit, I’m gonna die.
He could have been small as a chihuahua or large as Godzilla, but in my California brain he was the most terrifying thing I’d seen in my life. This was not how I expected my senior year to start.
Me dying was the cherry on top, really.
It wasn’t like I had much to live for anymore, after leaving the Bay Area and all. My friends. My childhood. My family. It was all gone now. I had come out just a month before, ready to live my truth in an accepting area until...poof.
“We’re moving,” my mother had told me. “To Florida.”
“Just like that?” I’d asked her.
“Just like that,” she’d told me.
“Why?” I’d prodded, hoping maybe there could be some solution to this unbearable fate. There wasn’t.
We weren’t even in Miami either. We were in Jacksonville. Not even in Jacksonville, an hour away in some nowhere suburb called Scalia – whatever the heck that is. San Francisco to Scalia: the name of my personal horror movie.
My parents were architects. Their company decided to move them to Florida. I was suddenly in Florida. Suddenly about to become the dumbest news headline possible: LOCAL GAY KID DIES FROM GATOR. That simple, I guess.
My heart leapt towards my throat.
His tail, is it...moving?
The gator began walking, or waddling, or slithering – whatever it is gators do when they move – away from me. I stood beside my bike, nearly ready to collapse from fear and adrenaline. Finally, he crawled out of sight – back to the depths of whatever abyss from which he came.
I let out a sigh, almost sad to live another day. I got back on my bike, slowly peddling back home, tears lining my path.
I was sad. Sad about everything. Sad about leaving my friends behind. Sad about leaving my family behind. Sad about no longer being in a Jewish area. Sad about no longer being in an accepting area.
I wasn’t only sad, either. I was scared. Terrified, even. My whole life people had talked about the south like it was some far off universe, some faraway hell the Bay Area would forever be safe from. I had heard stories of how unaccepting it was, how women couldn’t choose what happens to their bodies, gay people couldn’t be teachers, trans students were expelled. Now here I was: in the south. In Florida. Back in the closet.
My eyes were red from tears by the time they stared at my bedroom ceiling, my pillow resting against my neck. I had only a week before I started school at Scalia High. What would that be like? Visions of people with confederate flags, driving trucks, and listening to country music came to my mind and immediately I was near tears once more. I wasn’t sure about many things, but I was certain of this: nothing good would come of this year.
About the Author. . .
I'm a staunch advocate for lgbt rights. I'm originally from Melbourne, Florida. I am a board member for colectiva queer and a founder of the political action group Florida Fighting Fascism. I have worked with the Brevard Democratic Party, Equality Florida (twice), Congressman Darren Soto, and am a current fellow with People for Power Florida. I am a current student at Brown University studying political science. At university, I am part of the philosophy, politics, and economics society and the Brown Debating Union. I have written for Queerty, OutTraveler, and Florida Today. I am the author of the young adult gay romance novel entitled Butterflies In The End Zone (2023).
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