Author Will Kostakis was asked to skip over the gay parts of his latest book when attending as a guest speaker at a Catholic school in Liverpool.
All Saints Catholic College in Liverpool, in Sydney’s southwest, booked Kostakis to speak to 1200 students across Years 7-10 in August. The popular young adult author published his novel We Could Be Something in May.
‘We Could Be Something’ is a fiction novel which focuses on two young men who are on journeys of self-discovery. The book is described as a “part coming-out story, part falling-in-love story, part relationship breakdown story, part extended Greek family story” which is “warm and funny, a little bit heartbreaking, and completely satisfying”.
Kostakis reflected on his experience on social media, writing “On Wednesday, a Sydney Catholic school interested in a 2024 Book Week visit asked “if it’s possible [I] skip over the same sex components when discussing [my] story and books”.
School Visit Cancelled
Kostakis shared his disappointment at being asked to censor the subject of his book, stating that it had been more than a decade since schools had asked him to do the same for his novel ‘The First Third.’
The We Could Be Something author called this year one of the most “challenging” and “dispiriting”, stating that even after he had cut 90 per cent of queer references in a previous speech on writing and assembly at a school “to be safe”, he still had his author visit temporarily paused.
“Numerous times, schools have actively sought me out, confirmed dates, only to then spring some variation of ‘Oh by the way, you can’t be gay’ on me. So why email? Why have me set aside dates? Cruelty?” Kostakis wrote on Instagram.
The author pointed out that to follow the school’s instruction he would have to leave out “most of” the new book.
Kostakis came out as gay in a personal blog post in 2016 after an ex-boyfriend of his was diagnosed with cancer. Following this news, a Catholic school cancelled his speaking visit as they deemed it “not appropriate”.
Enduring years of censorship for gay content
According to Sydney Morning Herald, Kostakis received a cancellation email from a teacher at De La Salle College in Revesby Heights which expressed concern over him promoting his book at their school.
“We were reading over your blog and I think it might not be appropriate, and parents might not be happy,” the letter read.
Kostakis spoke to News.com.au, shared that being asked to hide parts of his identity would impact children at the school.
“The only people that this hurts are the kids from All Saints college who are going to find this out about their school. I can handle the hurt, but it’s the kids I worry about,” he said.
“Even though their queer experience is different to mine, I remember what it was like and I don’t want them to even feel a fraction of that”, he said.
Kostakis added that if he had someone like him visit his high school when he was younger, it would’ve changed his schooling experience and made him feel more comfortable in his identity.
“If I had even so much as seen someone like me, or read a book like mine, I would have hated myself just that little bit less,” he said.