For our Fourth anniversary, we are taking a trip back through the best of GayYA’s archives, and celebrating 4 years of excellence from authors, readers, educators, and more by featuring a post a day for the month of April.

In May, we’ll host a month long blogathon, which we are SO EXCITED ABOUT!! 😀

To keep up with which posts we’re featuring as the #BestofGayYA, follow this post!

One of my characters recently – and completely unexpectedly – came out to me. I smiled when it happened. I looked up into the trees. It was as though, after all these years, my words were floating back down to me.

And then I freaked out. Because I know that words are powerful – I know it as a writer, I know it as a lesbian. But does that mean I have some sort of obligation to send a message with this character? Do I have to teach a lesson? Do I have to be extra-careful in how I present her, because there’s a risk that she might be read as a stand-in for lesbians everywhere? What added responsibility do I have, if any? What do I owe readers? What do I owe myself? What do I owe my world?

So, let us discuss the most common fake fictional world of all. It doesn’t involve vampires or werewolves. It involves – well, rent a majority of mainstream movies and you can see it. It’s a world where everyone is a certain way – white, straight, able-bodied – and the really important stories are always a guy’s.

There mayyy be people who aren’t white, straight and able-bodied around in this world. I believe they live on the Isles of Issuelandia, and they are very seldom allowed onto the mainland where the adventures are at.

  • “Just Happening to be LGBT” Dismisses a Depth of Character Part 1 & Part 2 by Robin Talley and Lucas J.W. Johnson

Robin:. If a character is LGBT, I as a reader WANT to know about that aspect of the character’s life. I want to know about it now as an adult reader, but I would’ve wanted to know about it a lot more when I was 16.

People don’t just “happen” to be anything. And there’s a certain dismissive tone to the “just happens to be” phrase that I think is generally not intended. Just “happening” to be LGBT is not the same thing as just happening to have green eyes.


Lucas: Exactly. Unlike, as you say, having green eyes, being LGBT hugely affects a person in many many ways.


Becky Albertalli: There’s no question that SIMON is intended to be a feel-good book. I love happy endings, I love makeout scenes, and I’m probably just as much of a hopeless romantic as Simon is. I didn’t want to shy away from the reality of being a gay teenage boy in suburban Atlanta, and the story definitely includes some difficult moments. That being said, I think the joy outweighs the heaviness here. More than anything, I’d love for this book to be another reminder that

gay teens do deserve a happily ever after.


our media has taught women to hate women in love. I can’t count how many reviews I’ve read that stated something along the lines of, “The girl was a goody two-shoes/lovesick idiot/no-common-sense wench, and I hated her.” But you flip the review around and you read comments like, “Insert-guy’s-name-here was a complete asshole/stalker/abusive archetype BUT I JUST LOVED HIM.”

Where did I miss the memo that a man is allowed to mistreat you as long as he loves, but a woman who loves is a complete idiot?

Micah Grey of Pantomime is intersex, and he evolved slowly in my mind over a couple of years. I knew I wanted to write about a character that was gender variant. Growing up, many of my favourite reads had aspects of subverting gender roles—such as The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce, which has the protagonist dressing as a boy so she can become a knight, or the Tamir Triad by Lynn Flewelling, where a baby girl is disguised as a boy to protect her from a mad king—but no one told her, and she’s raised thinking she’s a boy, Tobin. After nine books, the reader doesn’t conclusively know the gender of The Fool in Robin Hobb’s work, and I hope it’s never revealed.  So as a result of that interest, and perhaps growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Micah came to life in dribs and drabs. I wrote other things for a while, worried that I wouldn’t be able to do this character justice, but then I decided to try.

In my humble opinion, there are enough narratives out there about how awful life as a queer teenager or young adult can be. I’m not espousing a rose-colored lens on the world here, but I don’t feel the need to recreate The Well of Loneliness, either, with all due respect to Radclyffe Hall. I’m interested in young trans women characters who are smart and sassy, young trans men who don’t reinforce macho stereotypes, gender bending characters who won’t be pinned down, and gender nonconforming kids who help illustrate where the boundaries are between expressing one’s gay or lesbian orientation, and one’s gender identity. I don’t need to write the transsexual as serial killer or Ms. Lonelyhearts, especially not for a YA audience.


Diversity is important because it lets us know we’re not alone. So why is LGBTQ fiction lacking diversity? Why should I be expected to relate to white gay men when in reality the issues I struggle with in relation to my queerness also intersects with my gender and race? Why don’t I have a true range of novels to choose from when I want to read about girls like me? Why don’t black trans girls have any?