#YesGayYA – LGBT Novels

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loathed YA. At least since high school, which tends to be the demographic for Young Adult. I loathed the lack of black characters, and how all the characters seemed to be clones of each other in some way, shape or form. There just didn’t seem to be a lot of diversity – in any respect – and generally, YA had become the bane of my literary existence. With one exception (the Uglies trilogy) – I avoided YA with fervor.

In addition to my YA ban, I’d also renounced a lot of reading in general because of the lack of POC and LGBT characters specifically, since these are things I look for. So for several months, I read only non-fiction, but it’s not as satisfactory as a good science fiction or fantasy novel! While I go back and forth with my dislike for YA with the fact that in general, many mainstream novels lack any kind of decent representation.

Recently, someone linked me to Malinda Lo, a lesbian YA writer, who has two books out with lesbian lead characters. Ms. Lo wrote a post detailing the amount of LGBT books being published each year, and thanks to some links on twitter, I came across an extensive list of LGBT YA books available. Some of the books have LGBT leads, while others have LGBT supporting characters. Additionally, much like my previous post on POC authors, there’s a list of books with POC characters too.

Thanks to the wide world of blogging, there are sites dedicated to exploring diversity in books and being aware that we need to bring more attention to books written by POC.

There’s no telling how difficult or easy trying to get your book published might be. Often times, it seems, a book’s success demands on a mixture of marketing and pure luck. Who would’ve guessed that Harry Potter would’ve become as popular as it did – though it took awhile before it finally took off. I remember being in the minority when HP originally came out, and it wasn’t for several years until I met other HP fans. So I would hate for anyone who is interested in publishing a book with LGBT/POC characters to feel dissuaded.

Often times, representation is difficult to come by. Our experiences regarding our race, gender, sexuality, class (etc) colors our perceptions of the world, and often times in many niche environments (ie: blogging) certain types of people are going to be drawn to that place. It can be hard to create diversity when your experience is both knowingly and unknowingly excluding other types of people and their experiences. Books are definitely no exception to this – and more work definitely needs to be more inclusive.

What kind of representation would you like to see more of? Not just in books but in movies, comics – any kind of media you consume on a daily basis (including blogs!).

As a side note, I’ve entered into a giveaway with a chance to win an ipad 2! I’ll link to it here, in case you’re interested in winning one as well. The contest ends September 30th and by October 2nd, you’ll find out who won! LAMFinances – giveaway

8 thoughts on “#YesGayYA – LGBT Novels

  1. I just checked out that list and am impressed by how many there are — I still read quite a bit of YA fantasy/sci fi, and very little of it even has homoeroticism. That’s great that more authors are beginning to get away from the heterosexual norm. Non-heterosexual teens could definitely use some more support and reassurance.

    I think I’ve mentioned before that I identify as an asexual — never had a strong sexual orientation, still don’t relate well to people that way or understand what lust feels like. Having a few asexual characters around might have helped me come to an earlier acceptance of what I was when I was a teen.

    • Yeah, the list is really long. It’s pretty impressive. More books need to be written from a different perspective.

      Oh yeah, there definitely needs to be more asexual everything, not just books! A blog I frequent had an awesome post about asexuality, and I remember reading about it about a year or so ago. I definitely think there needs to be more discussion about alternate sexualities – including asexuality.

  2. Interesting.

    Sometimes the lack of representation is a call for someone to fill that space. Have you considered writing short pieces? Or do you have any interest in the industry? South Asian lit is more prevalent now then it was when I was a child and is slowly starting to infiltrate the mass media. So I feel I’m getting the representation I seek, slowly but surely.

    But you’re right in that alternative sexualities are not represented well at all. I imagine its hard to find a publisher who will support a piece that won’t reach a large population. At the end of the day, its a business too. I wonder if authors will seek to self publish because of this? I wonder how much traction those novels get though.

    Anyway, interesting post – you always make me think!! :)

    • Oh yes! I’m always on the look out to write more stories with alternative races and sexualities. That’s part of my focus now – finding places to submit to so that those kinds of stories can be told! I haven’t read ant South Asian lit – do you recommend anything?

      Oh yes. I’ve read a little bit about that – the business part of publishing. Which is why it’s important to support authors by buying their books. Heh. I think so. Self-publishing has been really handy for authors who don’t want to go through the hassle of a large publishing house. Some people have gotten quite a bit of success from it. I think I would try a publishing house first – like Penguin or Random House – before self-publishing. I think the reach is greater since they help promote your book. But I suppose it depends.

      No problem – I’m glad you liked it!

  3. Hi Tatiana,

    I have found that I enjoy non-fiction a lot more, too because I feel like I get more out of them. I am always drawn to the books that create inspiration or ones I can finish and not stop thinking about for weeks! I read about all kinds of people and their stories.

    I agree that gays and lesbians are not depicted often in books, but there are some authors who are starting to go in that direction. I was just talking with my sister about a Jodi Picoult book where a woman leaves her husband and becomes a lesbian and wants to sue him for the eggs they froze but didn’t do anything with before their divorce. My sister said she didn’t like the book and I haven’t read it yet, but it’s a start. I think it is really hard for writers to depict characters they cannot relate to, so maybe we need more authentic writing in this category.

    This post will definitely make me more aware of what I am reading and being exposed to when I travel through the bookstores. I like that I can open my mind up to looking for this now :)

    • Hey Julia! :D

      I think non-fiction can be useful. Mostly I prefer to read Metaphysical/New Age fiction, versus biographies or memoirs.

      I know that Jodi Picoult is really popular, but I haven’t read anything written by her yet. That book sounds really interesting. I remember reading an article some time ago, about writers knowing what they know – re: autobiographical fiction. Like how authors basically put themselves in their book, using real life events, etc to write fiction. So I think it can be hard to write outside the confines of your personal experience.

      Yay – I’m glad you got something out of it.

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