When Jason June was growing up, there was only one book, Rainbow Boys, in which the characters were relatable. And even then, Jason June would only read the book covertly behind a bookshelf.
“Queer sexuality wasn’t celebrated like straight sexuality was,” said Jason June, who has authored children’s picture books and the chapter book series Mermicorn Island.
“I came out my senior year in high school and then had this whole great gay awakening, but then I still felt that something was different,” Jason June explained. “And it wasn’t until I was 32 that I really understood that.” Jason June, who uses both he/him and she/her pronouns is genderqueer. “I didn’t feel complete in terms of my gender and my gender expression.”
Jay’s Gay Agenda, a queer rom-com geared toward teenagers, debuted at the start of Pride month, a celebration Jason June says he celebrates every year. “That’s what I like about Pride — is being able to take stock of where we’re at this year and see how we’ve grown and see what other aspects of ourselves have developed or we’ve come to discover.”
Jason June described Gay Agenda as a sex-positive romantic comedy that celebrates queer joy. It follows a gay teen named Jay who lives in a small, rural town where he’s the only out gay person. While he is accepted for who he is, Jay is alone in his sexual identity. The plot thickens when his mom gets a promotion during Jay’s senior year of high school, and Jay and his family must move to Seattle as a result. Jay is no longer the lone gay man in a sea of heterosexual teens.
“It’s about ending any kind of shame spirals with queer sex and celebrating it, just like we do straight sex and straight firsts,” said Jason June, adding that HarperCollins, which is publishing the book, was fully supportive of the novel.
In writing Jay’s Gay Agenda, Jason June hopes young people see themselves in Jay, filling the void of childhoods from generations past.
“There is no shame in wanting to connect with another human, regardless of gender, through your body,” Jason June said. “The one thing that that matters is that everything is consensual, that everything is safe, and everyone’s on the same page. And then connecting that way, connecting through our bodies is a beautiful thing and a beautiful part of so many of our experiences.”