Oftentimes, when we discuss homophobia and hate crimes, we are talking about heterosexual individuals who hate and/or attack, members of the LGBTQ community. In Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley, a different narrative unfolds, and this one seems equally important to include in discussions of homophobia. In this book, it is a member of the LGBTQ community who feels such internalized hatred that he lashes out at the person he loves most.
Nate has lived with his dad and his aunt since he lost his mom at a very young age. He is respectful, has a deep connection to his Christian faith, and does well in school. However, the book opens with Nate being questioned at a deposition where he is describing the events of the night when he was stabbed by his best friend, Cam. It turns out that Nate does not blame Cam entirely for this act and that the stabbing was preceded by Nate horribly beating Cam. The reasons for this become clearer as the book progresses.
We know that the rates of homelessness and suicide among teens belonging to the LGBTQ community are significantly higher than for teens who do not. These are topics that are not uncommon in young adult literature addressing this identity group. The externalized violence in Deposing Nathan is rooted in the same hatred that causes young adults to be thrown out of their homes and to take their own lives.
In schools, we need to show students that they are appreciated and accepted for who they are regardless of how they might be treated at home or in their religious communities. Educators need to watch for signs that students might be hurting themselves or others. Deposing Nathan is also a reminder to students and educators that healthy relationships can be very complex, whether they be familial, platonic, or romantic. What teens (and adults) interpret as love can be accompanied by hate. When that is the case, sometimes an outside intervention is needed.
Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards:
Identity 1: I have a positive view of myself, including an awareness of and comfort with my membership in multiple groups in society.
Identity 4: I express pride and confidence in my identity without perceiving or treating anyone else as inferior.
Diversity 10: I understand that diversity includes the impact of unequal power relations on the development of group identities and cultures.
RL.1- Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
RL.2- Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text.
RL.3- Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
RL.5- Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.
RL.6- Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).