Simon & Schuster, $29.99
As 14-year-old Shannon Molloy walks along the beach one night, someone shouts a homophobic slur. It’s an older boy, followed by two others, who have trailed him from a house party. Before Molloy can react, the trio are kicking him in his back, legs and head. After they tire, they leave him curled up in the foetal position in the sand, spitting on his face before they go. “This was what my life was going to be,” thinks Molloy amid the blows, “every single day, until I died.”
His memoir focuses on a single, volatile year of an adolescence riven by discrimination. Molloy lives in Yeppoon, a small regional Queensland town of about 9000 people, where he attends an all-boys Catholic high school. Here he is subjected daily to hate-fuelled homophobia manifested in physical, emotional, and sexual assault from his peers – as well as humiliation from teachers and other adults. To Molloy, the word “homophobia” seems inaccurate, a euphemism: “They did not seem merely scared by it. They were enraged by it. Violently so.”
Initially, Molloy hates being gay, inured to believing it shameful, an unscalable obstacle between him and belonging – even the idea of being bisexual appeals as it seems only “half wrong”. The high school he attends is an environment of “horrific misogyny”, one where a dangerously unhealthy, hyper-masculine culture is allowed to fester.