by: Kenneth Creech
Last week in my post about The New LGBTQ Teenager I explored the topic of characters that are gay for a purpose, or gay to fit in. This week I wanted to explore a similar topic, but one that maybe gets discussed a little less often. When I was in my middle to late teen years, it seemed that almost every LGBTQ YA book I read was almost singularly about the coming out process. The entire book revolved around who was coming out and how. Some examples that come to mind are Alex Sanchez’s Rainbow Boys series and Brent Hartinger’s book Geography Club. These books were great, and I am sure that many people found a lot of help from them. I was already beyond the coming out process at the point that I read them, but they were the only age appropriate LGBTQ books I could find at the time.
New books are released all the time, but over the years, the LGBTQ section in mainstream bookstores has continued to shrink to the point where the only books available now are cultural studies books or non-fiction books that offer tips for coming out. My question is, where are the great books for YA readers than leave coming out behind? Where can readers find books about LGBTQ characters that are dealing with issues other than being LGBTQ? Steven Bereznai’s book Queeroes offers a glimpse inside a world where being gay is not totally taboo or altogether that unusual. Similarly, Malinda Lo’s book Ash offers young readers a lesbian love story that focuses on much more than dealing with the sometimes painful or awkward situation of telling others that you’re LGBTQ. But these are only a couple examples of what I’m hoping is a larger group of books that allow LGBTQ characters to be themselves without having to come to grips with it?
It is my sincere hope that as new indie authors emerge, and established authors publish increasing numbers of books with gay characters, that we can leave coming out behind, not because it isn’t an important part of being LGBTQ, but because it isn’t the only important part of our lives. If you know of a great LGBTQ book that doesn’t deal with coming out or coming to terms with being LGBTQ, leave a comment and let me know, I’m always interested in new reading material.