AUSTRALIAN author Will Kostakis was told via email from De La Salle College in Sydney’s south west that his new book The Sidekicks would not be “appropriate” to promote during upcoming speaking engagements with the school.
The email to Kostakis, 26, came just days after he came out publicly on his website on the back of the Safe Schools controversy that dominated politics and media over the past fortnight.
“We have a concern about promoting your new book at our school as it is a Catholic school,” a school staff member said in an email, which Kostakis posted on his blog.
“I think it might not be appropriate, and parents might not be happy. I have nothing personally against you and it sounds like a touching story that (I) would love to read, however I feel it isn’t appropriate.”
At the end of the email, the staff member said: “If possible can you please do the same talk as last year with focus on becoming an author and The First Third?”
Kostakis replied that he was worried this would happen, even with his first book which featured a gay character.
“The plotline [of The Sidekicks] wasn’t for Catholic schools, it wasn’t for parents, it was for students, student’s like me, who felt less adequate because they loved someone ‘they weren’t supposed to’,” he wrote.
“Professionally, it would probably be wise to still present in June, your students were a lovely audience, [But] I have to stick up for my 16-year-old self, and say this is personal.”
Kostakis also noted his difficulty in coming out.
“I feared I would have to choose between doing what I love/earn a living from – engaging kids to read and be truthful in their writing – and not having to hide my partners from colleagues as ‘friends’,” he said in the email to De La Salle College.
“I had hoped, having spoken at some Catholic schools, those schools would be comfortable with my revelation knowing what I bring to my presentations and workshops. And that my sexuality, while it informs who I am, is not the subject of my presentations.”
“That’s not how much it costs to sell myself out,” he said.
“I understand that a lot of schools are Catholic, and I would like my books to be read by as many people as possible.
“I’m always careful about the way I represent any kind of sexuality.”
Several media outlets have contacted the De La Salle College for comment but it has not yet publicly responded.