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The Queer Found Family of Now, Conjurers (And of my heart!)

The Queer Found Family of Now, Conjurers (And of my heart!)

Imagine, if you will, five teenagers. Most of them are queer, all of them are weird.

Got it?

Now make them best friends.

But not the normal kind of high-school best friends. I mean, they do all of the important formative things that best friends growing up together should do: fight, fall out and fall back in, get in trouble, have the kind of breathless fun and adventures that they’ve previously only read about in stories, spend a million dull moments and fascinating moments and hilarious moments together. Sometimes end up in love, sometimes have the most marvelous strictly-platonic bonds you’ve ever seen. All pretty standard, if you’re one of the lucky ones.

But this group of five is special. Nobody really knows what strange things are waiting in their future…but it seems like this clique—this coven, if you will—can survive the tribulations of college and marriage and adulthood. That somehow when they are old and gray, toasting to their long and fruitful lives, they will still be together.

These lifelong forged-in-childhood connections are rare, and not entirely exclusive to queer people. However, as with our imaginary group of five, it does seem that these bonded groups often skew toward queer people. When the world will not accept you, you have to accept one another. Thus the popularization in the public consciousness of the “queer found family” trope.

These five characters I’m describing form the central circle of my debut young adult novel Now, Conjurers. But this scenario is also applicable to my life.

I was a queer kid with a difficult home life, and along with the other lovely kids (read: troublemakers) I met in school, I formed a similar kind of group.

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We were often bad. Sometimes we cut class. We smoked. We were the odd kids, hanging out in our strange outfits down in the basement of our school. I was the “class artist”, but my best friend was beaten out for the other class artist spot by a guy who drew hyper-realistic versions of Garfield.

Now my recall isn’t actually that good, and despite my own little found-family coven, high school was hardly a high point for me. But I remember a lot of specifics…because I have help. Like the future I imagine for the kids in my book, I have carried those bonds forward through time.

The girl in our clique who I thought was the most fascinating and beautiful and infuriating person I’d ever met is now my wife. My best friend, the one who got beaten out by the Garfield guy for class artist, just opened a museum in Salem, Massachusetts, where we all moved after school (and still reside). These relationships not only gave me the family I needed, but—despite our status as outsiders—they’ve allowed me to be truly seen, by people who have known every version of me. By people who love me for who I am as I move toward the best possible version of myself, and as they do the same.

Now, Conjurers by Freddie Kölsch is out in paperback now

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