Hooper takes the same tone in his new book, If It's A Choice, My Zygote Chose Balls: Making Sense of Senseless Controversy.
Part memoir and part social commentary and call to action, If It's a Choice traces Hooper's journey from being a closeted gay teen in suburban Tennessee, to a life in New York where he married his partner, Andrew, and founded a GLBT website.
When I first picked up If It's A Choice, My Zygote Chose Balls: Making Sense of Senseless Controversy, I didn't realize just how much of the author's personal experiences would be woven into the narrative. But really, at its heart, this book is a memoir, and one that many queer and questioning teens and young adults will probably be able to relate to.
Hooper opens the book with an early memory of a kindergarten crush on another little boy. He uses this story to demonstrate that his same sex attractions have always been an innate part of who he is. Hooper then chronicles his journey through high school. This journey comes complete with fumbled dates with girls, and the slow realization that his lack of interest in these dates was not just a glitch, but rather a direct result of being gay.
This is all set against an all too familiar hostile backdrop. As Hooper writes of the blatant schoolyard homophobia he regularly encountered:
"Looking back through adult glass, I question how so many fully-grown role models could have turned a blind eye to or even fostered it."
Hooper injects humor as well as political and social commentary throughout this narrative and makes some pretty compelling arguments as he switches between things like reminiscences about his parents, send-ups of politicians who have attacked GLBT rights, and tongue-in-cheek lists of reasons why college will not turn a kid gay. For example, at one point he says:
"The attitude telling gay kids from day one that gay equals lesser than and wrong leads way too many young gay kids to accept these descriptions and actualize their realities as if they exist in a realm separate from mainstream society. The results may materialize as club drug addictions, risky situations, or wanton promiscuity.
One question that remains with the reader is what the author's relationship with his family currently looks like. Now married for three years and contemplating having a child with his husband, it would be interesting to learn how his family felt about these choices, even if their feelings had not grown more positive.
At times throughout the book, Hooper speaks to various audiences. He warns parents about their assumptions, gives advices to questioning teens, and calls out homophobes. I truly hope that If It's a Choice reaches all these people, because the lessons to be learned from this book are important ones in the struggle to gain equality and acceptance.
If It's a Choice takes on heavy topics, but the book itself doesn't leave the reader feeling defeated. Rather it is a positive reminder that in many ways things are better for GLBT youth today than they were in the past, and that while there is still a whole lot of work to be done, there are ways to effect change and work towards a more egalitarian future.
Check out my Q & A with Jeremy Hooper here!