Will Kostakis, a prominent Australian young adult author, has recently spoken out against a Sydney Catholic school’s request to exclude discussions about same-sex relationships during his Book Week talk. Kostakis, who is openly gay, recounted this incident on social media, expressing his dismay and disappointment at being asked to ‘skip over’ integral parts of his identity and work.
Balancing Identity and Career
Kostakis, who has been in the writing industry for fifteen years, found it deeply disrespectful to be asked to hide aspects of his identity. His latest novel, “We Could Be Something,” is a rich tapestry of themes including coming-out, love, relationship dynamics, and extended Greek family narratives, predominantly revolving around two young men from Sydney. Following the school’s instruction would mean omitting the essence of his latest work.
A History of Challenging School Engagements
This is not the first time Kostakis has faced such challenges. He came out as gay in 2016, coinciding with the publication of his third novel, “The Sidekicks.” Since then, he has encountered several instances where schools have either canceled his visits or asked him to modify his content to exclude LGBTQIA+ references. This year, despite minimizing queer references in an assembly address, his author visit was still put on hold, highlighting the ongoing struggle for acceptance and representation.
Impact on LGBTQIA+ Representation and Writers
Kostakis pointed out the broader implications of such censorship on LGBTQIA+ writers and representation in literature. With schools forming a significant part of the young adult market, these restrictions not only limit the exposure of authors but also impede honest and inclusive English education. Kostakis expressed concern about what this means for future LGBTQIA+ representation in literature and the potential impact on young, queer students.
Concern for Student Well-being
In an interview with news.com.au, Kostakis emphasized the negative impact such censorship has on students. He worries about the message being sent to young people, especially those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Reflecting on his own experiences, he stressed the importance of visibility and representation in helping young individuals accept and embrace their identities without shame or fear. Kostakis’s stance serves as a call to action for more inclusive and accepting educational environments that celebrate diverse identities and experiences.