When was the last time you saw a character in a tv or book whose entire life revolves around their heterosexuality?
Never? Me too. Admittedly, heterosexual people have not gone through the horrible atrocities the LGBTQ community has dealt with over the course of history. Straight people do not have to deal with the potential of being kicked out of their homes once they come out. Obviously, the LGBTQ community does need novels about coming out.
But why are the vast majority of LGBTQ YA books only about the beginning of a queer person’s identity? These books tend to revolve exclusively around the protagonist’s coming out struggle. In certain TV shows and books – like Glee’s Kurt for instance – it seems that the main character’s only reason for existence in this world is to be gay, and they have no other wants, motivations or desires.
Why aren’t there more books with gay protagonists who have bigger worries than their sexuality – like saving the world – on their mind? Bisexual characters who have to deal with the biases in their community? Transpeople who are total badasses and polyamorous teens coming into their own? The BTQ in LGBTQ needs to be better represented if LGBTQ lit is going to evolve in the way that will get consumers – queer and straight alike – reading.
What I want most to see as a reader who loves stories with narratives our heteronormative society rarely sees, is LGBTQ literature evolve from a genre of fiction into a secondary thought on the dust jacket. Because just as YA isn’t really a genre so much as a label for the protagonist of the story, LGBTQ lit is much the same thing. It’s time for the mainstream industry to start acting like it.
My desperate hunger for these kind of YA novels is not being completely ignored. Authors like David Levithan are known for writing books about characters who deal with love and politics, and happen to be gay. Books like Hex Hall and The Mortal Instruments Series too, have characters whose sexuality is less important than their personality.
I love LGBTQ fiction. It has provided me with the kind of tender romances that make me believe love is possible. But if YA is ever going to truly satisfy me and plenty of others as readers, it’s going to have to diversify in all directions, and give YA readers the fresh narratives they deserve.
Are there any particular LGBTQ stories you’ve been itching to see in YA fiction? I’d love to hear about them.
Emma Allison blogs at http://bookingthrough365.blogspot.com/