Ruby Clyde chats Jay’s Guide to Crushing It and gives their guide to difficult dating questions

"[T]here's actually some good advice in here, if you ignore about 40% of what I say!"


My first book Jay’s Guide to Crushing It is a queer teen romcom about a kid called Jay, whose mum wants them to start dressing “like a girl.” Jay can’t do it and starts sneaking out dressed in their brother’s clothes to go to the skatepark, where they meet a boy who thinks they’re a boy. Meanwhile at school, they meet a girl who thinks they’re a girl. Crushes ensue, and everything gets very complicated.

It’s partly a story about accepting and exploring your identity. I hope that queer kids can read it and see themselves as a romcom hero, and I also hope that parents might read it and think about how they can be there for their kids. Above all, I hope that you personally will read it and laugh. I didn’t want to totally shy away from the darker elements of growing up gender nonconforming, but I also wanted to write something where gender and crushes can be fun and funny. As well as complicated and confusing.

That’s why I’m popping up on United By Pop to share a Guide To Difficult Dating Questions. I think there’s actually some good advice in here, if you ignore about 40% of what I say!

How should we ask for our crush’s pronouns?

Listed in order of most to least advisable:

“What are your pronouns, by the way?”

“How should I refer to you when I tell my parents about us?”

“If you were the unelected leader of a nation, would you be going by King, Queen, or Regent?”

“You got pronouns, or should I just call you ‘My Beloved’?”

Don’t actually ever ask, just take them clubbing, request the songs Hey Ya by Outkast and Senorita by Justin Timberlake, and watch very closely to see if they sing during the ladies’ or fellas’ parts. Personally I sing to both, which is how you know I’m probably chill with any pronouns and predominantly a they/them.

How should we ask our crush for their sexual orientation?

Ok, now this is very important. You need to be wearing silk. 100% silk. Shoes with a high heel (you want to feel powerful). You need to be leaning against a door frame. The lighting? Dim. The soundtrack? Ambient whale noises (you want your crush to feel relaxed). Then, confidently point at yourself and say, “what’s your orientation? Is it this?”

No, please don’t do that. But if you do, let me know how it goes. Usually this stuff comes up naturally in conversation when you’re getting closer, but if it doesn’t, I think you should just ask someone if you’re interested and it feels like you like each other. Even if they’re not queer, or simply not interested, they’ve gotten a compliment. And everybody likes compliments.

How should we tell someone their assumption of us was wrong?

“Like all the others, you have been fooled.” This is a fun and mysterious thing to say in response to most sentences, actually. If for whatever reason you don’t want to say that, you can always be upfront and just say “actually, I’m x”.

How should we say no to answering invasive questions?

ASK THE QUESTION RIGHT BACK. I think sometimes people don’t realise they’re being invasive, especially when it comes to gender and sexuality, so they need to hear what they said back to realise “oh, that’s really not something I should say to someone I don’t know incredibly well”. Next time a straight person you’ve just met asks you, for example, if your parents accept you for being queer (I’ve had this one quite a few times), turn it around on them. “How’s your relationship with your parents, Barbara? Do they accept you for those weird shoes?” Maybe be less sassy, but you get my point.

How should you ask your crush to be exclusive?

Tell them you’d like to be exclusive, and ask them if they’d like that too. If they say they don’t want to be exclusive, tell them that you meant exclusive like a nightclub or fancy restaurant: chic, and upmarket. Then say goodbye, go home, and lie in the dark for a while.

Should you ask your crush about their dating history?

Probably not like… immediately. I wouldn’t open with it. But when you’re getting closer with somebody, dating and exes are such interesting parts of their backstory, you can’t just leave them out. That would be like skipping a few seasons of a TV show, you’ll spend all your time wondering “why does this person hate roses and avoid the city of Birmingham?”. There’s probably a very interesting story behind that. So definitely don’t be afraid to ask about dating history when it comes up.

Jay’s Guide to Crushing It by Ruby Clyde is published on 3rd August (Scholastic). Check out our guide to other LGBTQ+ YA reads here
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