Time Out is a 2023 young adult novel written by actor Sean Hayes of Will & Grace fame, Emmy Award-winning producer Todd Milliner, and author Carlyn Greenwald. This coming of age story follows the life of sixteen-year-old Barclay Elliot who is the captain of his high school basketball team and is admired by classmates and adults in his community alike. That is until Barclay decides to come out as gay during a school pep rally. As Barclay’s announcement of his sexual identity is met with largely shock and homophobia by others, he chooses to leave his esteemed position on the basketball team to instead join the student-led organization, Vote Squad. Not only does Barclay’s participation in Vote Squad allow him to uncover local political corruption tied to the recent death of his grandfather, but he ends up forming a connection with openly gay Christopher Dillon. In their budding relationship, Barclay and Christopher will share heartwarming moments intermingled with several setbacks while they continue to take on political and social forces.
Time Out is an enjoyable read for the way the story manages to tackle the serious topics of coming out, homophobia, voting rights, and gay masculinity all while interjecting bits of humor throughout the course of the novel. Initially, Barclay’s coming out doesn’t go as he planned. Most of his teammates don’t stand by him and taunt him as a result. But as Barclay finds a new circle of friends in Vote Squad, he is able to become more comfortable with his gay identity. No character is more instrumental to this process than Christopher. Christopher acts as an ambassador for the LGBTQ+ community by informing Barclay about gay culture with his references to Glee as well as the film But I’m a Cheerleader. Being that Barclay is from a rural Georgia town where Christopher is the only gay person, Barclay struggles with the fact that he is both athletic and gay. These characteristics stand out because it is a rarity for a gay boy to be shown as an athlete in literature. With the help of Christopher, Barclay comes to the realization that these qualities can coexist. Moreover, this understanding puts forth the idea that individuals’ sexuality and gender identities are just a part of who they are rather than defining them entirely.
In advancing positive LGBTQ+ representation, Barclay knows in his heart that coming out was the right decision to make for the betterment of himself and his community. Consequently, he uses his voice to speak out against wrongdoing by the school board and the homophobia he encounters. Ultimately, the main message from the story is the “It Gets Better” notion. This refers to how coming out is difficult at first but, with the proper support and resources at their disposal, LGBTQ+ people can thrive. Although this book doesn’t shy away from the hardships of coming out, the story provides instances of relatable situations, especially in our social media driven world. The main characters are likeable, and the plot points are engaging. The story features the successful election of a Black woman to the county school board in addition to modeling romantic consent. This book is recommended for ages 12 and up, but the story does include coarse language involving homophobic slurs and a scene with underage drinking. If you are questioning your identity or need to talk about coming out, please contact the LGBT Help Center through the support services listed below.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
LGBT National Coming Out Support Hotline: 1-888-688-5428 (1-888-OUT-LGBT)
LGBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-7743 (1-800-246-PRIDE)
LGBT National Senior Hotline: 1-888-234-7243