What. A. Year.
I began planning this blogathon the week after the U.S. election. Over the past six years, our blogathons have focused on general love of LGBTQIA+ YA, but this year, I knew that that would fall short. I was personally seeking something more, something that would help me grasp the world as it is now, and I figured many of our community members would be as well. This year, our blogathon explores two major themes: intergenerational conversation and the role that story plays in resistance, resilience, and joy.
Over the last year, I’ve been struck by the importance of intergenerational conversation. After the Pulse shooting, I remember Alex Gino talking about the history and power of queer dance clubs. I remember Alex London tweeting that “this wasn’t supposed to happen to you.” I went to a vigil at my church, where I listened to a gay man in his eighties, hand in hand with his husband, say, “I was spit at, beaten up, called slurs. I made it through that. Things have gotten better. That hasn’t been lost after a single act of hate. We’ll make it through this.” Afterwards, after I’d shared my story, he gave me a nod and a somber smile as we were leaving. I don’t know what he’d say now, after the election, but that was an incredibly powerful moment for me. I wanted to bring that kind of connection to teens who might not have it in their lives.
It’s equally important for adults to hear from teens about our lives and experiences. Just as queer teens look at adults and desperately want to understand how they made it through, I think there is also deep curiosity and yearning to understand what our lives as teens are like now.
The other major theme that our blogathon explores is the role that story plays in resistance, resilience, and joy. It’s an intense and personal theme, and I asked a lot from every person I emailed. Everyone who accepted the invitation approached what I was asking of them with courage, gravity, and excitement, and I’m so grateful. Through their work, this series has become a concentrated place for book people to talk to book people about surviving and finding joy.
This was an important resource to curate for me, personally, as someone who doesn’t just have an incidental relationship to stories, but has them knit into my very being. Lots of people have been talking about resistance and resilience since the election, in smart and necessary ways. But nothing I’ve read has spoken to me on a soul level for how to deal with this administration—until I started reading our contributors’ posts.
I think LGBTQIA+ teen readers in particular have a unique relationship with writing and reading. Many of us didn’t grow up reading about LGBTQIA+ characters, so finding a book in which we see ourselves reflected for the first time is often a memorable and impactful moment. When I was 16, LGBTQIA+ YA books helped me hold on to my life when I didn’t want to—they gave me a future that might be worth living for. There are thousands of teens who share a similarly close connection. For LGBTQIA+ teens, books can heal, restore hope, reveal unknown truths, and sometimes hurt like hell. Each book holds different possibilities in its pages. Because of this incredibly intimate relationship, stories are instrumental to our survival and joy.
This series is a number of essays that speak directly to that relationship. I see this year’s blogathon as a survival guide for lovers of LGBTQIA+ YA, for lovers of writing, on how to get through the next four years.
I hope you enjoy GayYA’s 2017 Pride Month blogathon, and find these posts as healing and helpful as I did.
-Vee S., admin and co-founder of GayYA
*I am immensely grateful to my friend Claire Spaulding who was able to step in and give our contributors some brilliant edits when I was too overwhelmed with my home life. This series would not be what it is without her invaluable contribution.