This is an extremely well written story by a very talented writer. The writer has the ability to draw up and make the reader fall in love with a wide variety of characters in the story - gay characters, Christian characters, uber-masculine characters. It tells a story which is highly compassionate from all sides of the picture: what it's like to be a gay man diving head first into the hyper-masculine world of the US Marines; what it's like to be a Marine recruit suddenly dealing with the first gay person they've ever met in their life as an equal; and what it's like to be a conservative Christian in amongst this highly volatile environment.
I would love to give this story five stars, but unfortunately from about half way through the story, the compassionate nature gives way and starts descending into farce as the writer falls into the trap of making the bad characters over-evil (and thus unbelievable) and start acting out-of-character. Suddenly the scenes seem absurd and unlikely leaving the reader unable to empathise fully.
And it's such a shame. The writer clearly has an agenda, which is fair enough, and even as a 'leftie' myself, the themes of criticism, such as the unfair branding of all Christians as intolerant bigots and the tendency of some gay people to over-play their victimisation and see discrimination everywhere (including where it isn't) are important and need examination.
But the notion that Christians in the United States need their own anti-hate laws to protect them was laughable (when Christians start hanging from the trees as 'strange fruit', maybe then you can have them, and won't that be a proud moment!) and suddenly the over-played victimisation was on display by the author, totally detracting from the intended theme.
Having said all that, please read it. The first half is just delightful and poignant and there are very important debates and interesting talking points. Maybe the author could re-write the second half when he's not so angry. He (she?) certainly has the talent to write in such a way to reach over the political divide and capture the liberal side of the fence... I'm certain it could be a lot more believable and earn it that extra two stars.