Poof. Gaylord. Fag.
Confronting words. Especially for a child. But when Samuel Leighton-Dore was young, they were all too frequent.
“I was called all the words under the sun”, he said.
“I could barely turn a corner without having something hurled at me.”
Now, the Sydney based author has penned a book – the book he says he needed when he was in Primary School.
I Think I’m A Poof tells the story of Johnny, a boy with a secret; he thinks he’s gay. Dubbed “a charming “coming out” tale for all ages, it promises to leave the reader with a smile on their face.
It’s the kind of subject that is often reserved for adults, but from the age of seven, Leighton-Dore says he felt “different”.
“It was incredibly isolating” he said.
“There needs to be more about gender issues for young people.”
It wasn’t the easiest book to get published. The title and some content was deemed unpalatable by major publishers. Leighton-Dore was asked to change the title and content to something less direct, like The Boy Who Liked Boys.
He chose instead to stand his ground and self-publish with the original title.
He told Andrew Daddo and Holly Wainwright this week on the This Glorious Mess podcast that “these are the words that kids are hearing.”
“I think if we are able to introduce kids that are different to words like this in a way that is safe, and humorous, they pack less of a punch when they come from bullies.” he said.
Listen to the interview here:
The writer, whose mother is a sexual counselor, said a lot of students bullied over their sexuality find the counselling process clinical and segregating. By writing a book with humor, it created a safe space for families to have these often difficult conversations.
“With tongue firmly in cheek, this little book is my way of starting what I believe to be an important conversation. It remains true that most LGBT children will spend years in that awful figurative closet – questioning themselves, their identity and their sexuality.” he said.
Since releasing the book, the Sydney-based author has had former bullies reach out and apologise.
“I can’t help but wonder whether I might have felt braver, sooner, should a book like this have come in to my possession back then.”
Listen to the full episode here: