NY Times Mag profiles an extraordinary queer teen triad
The New York Times Sunday Magazine has put a stunning beautiful story for this Sunday's "Love City" issue online early. It's about three Brooklyn high school students in love, and the happily genderfluid youth world they are embedded within.
You've got to read this. Excerpts to get you started:
Hanna, Beaux and Harry: A Love Story
Hanna (right) with her boyfriend, Harry, and her girlfriend, Beaux, at Hanna’s house in Brooklyn.
Text by Elizabeth Weil | Photographs by Isadora Kosofsky
HANNA, AGE 17, WOKE up from under the “Dear Evan Hansen” poster she’d duct-taped to her ceiling, pulled on her good jeans, brushed some glitter across her cheeks, ran her fingers through her rainbow hair and walked with her mother, a rabbi, down Church Avenue, in Brooklyn, to shul. Her boyfriend, Harry, was already there, 16 years old and newly manly in his purple button-down shirt. The two sat down in a fluorescent-lit room, ate bagels with schmears and discussed their coming Advanced Placement exams, disappearing into each other in that calm, fractal way of a couple inside a bubble of love that is itself floating deep inside a sea of love. Then they joined a classroom of 7-to-9-year-olds to help the religious-school teacher explain how Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.
...In the synagogue, during the services that followed, Hanna and Harry sat in the back, his fingers tapping on her knee, her head resting on his shoulder, their chins occasionally tipped toward God as they sang prayers like show tunes. ... Everybody stared and smiled at them with the confidence that all was right in that tiny corner of the world....
Two by two may have worked for Noah’s animals in the (heteronormative!) Bible, but these are people — specific, glorious, teenage people — and their hearts are much bigger than anyone could imagine. As congregants spilled into the temple foyer and wished one another “Shabbat shalom,” Beaux, Hanna’s girlfriend, appeared — her face tough, tender, searching, critical, defended and vulnerable all at once. She wore boots, baggy jeans, shark-tooth earrings and a silk camisole, and her head was shaved.
...Over lunch at a big round table in the temple basement, Beaux looked at Hanna and said to the world, but mostly to Harry, “She’s so pretty!” Harry and Beaux shared a moment of mutual appreciation over Hanna’s adorable nose freckles. Now, at the end of 11th grade, the three teenagers moved with a flowing intimacy — their bodies melting, looping and reconfiguring like the liquid in a lava lamp. A 10-year-old girl, watching them, became so mesmerized that she inserted herself in the middle, on Beaux’s lap.
Beaux was patient and kind but did ask, “Don’t you have other 10-year-olds?”
“I also have feelings,” the girl said.
Hanna, meanwhile, stood behind Beaux, rubbing Beaux’s head with such tender affection that an older woman nearby asked, “Is she being blessed?”
Beaux (right), Hanna and Harry at a playground in Brooklyn.
On the rainy walk back up Church Avenue to Hanna’s house, Hanna, Beaux and Harry cycled through those seemingly profound topics that teenagers have been discussing forever.... Hanna floated between Beaux and Harry. She’s the quietest of the bunch, and her heart seems almost miraculously whole and unbroken, like a cake hot from the oven before the surface cools, contracts and cracks. This is perhaps a result of the fact that Hanna is a person who falls in love with one thing and then falls in love with another thing and then, instead of letting go of the first, just adds on. She loved all the Harry Potter books, and then she loved all the Percy Jackson books, and she still rereads them both. ... And so it was with Harry and Beaux.
...Harry [had] handled Beaux’s request extremely well. He was a mensch already and had been friends with Hanna in ninth grade, when she talked about almost nothing but her love for Beaux. He did not want to be the kind of boyfriend who kept his girlfriend from chasing her bliss.
When they arrived at Hanna’s house after shul, the three kicked off their shoes and flopped together on the wide, tawny brown couch in the living room. Beaux pretended to whisper in Harry’s ear and then licked it instead. I lost track of their limbs.
“No one in New York is straight!” Beaux texted me a few weeks earlier. “ESP not high schoolers.” She was not entirely kidding.
Harry extracted himself from the girls and sat up. “If our life is a sitcom,” he explained, “I’m the token straight guy.”
Beaux has a theory: San Francisco is the capital of white gay men. New York City is the center of queer youth. “When you are queer, that becomes like a huge part of who you are,” Hanna told me, “because you just start to be like, Damn, I’m so gay, constantly.” You’re sitting watching “Castle,” and Stana Katic comes on-screen, and you’re like, Damn, I’m really gay!” ...
But the city is not all one big sparkly unicorn of love. Hanna and Beaux are lucky, they know that. ... Hanna’s house is where a bunch of Hanna and Beaux’s friends plan to come if they get kicked out of their own homes. The space is a monument to comfort, supersaturated with chairs, books, blankets, snacks, humanity, tea bags, extra beds and warmth. ...
Go read the whole thing (online June 7, 2018), then share it.