Note: This is a list of all novels which fit the criteria described below. It does not express opinions on the quality, authenticity, or positivity of the portrayals of the characters in the books. Please use your own judgment in deciding which books you wish to read or buy.

I have not read all these books! Commentary on the ones I have read reflects my opinions on the books as literature. Title links go to Amazon, and some descriptions were taken from Amazon.

These were the criteria used to compile the list: 1) The book must be science fiction or fantasy or otherwise not realism, and must have been published, either originally in reprint, as YA (Vanyel was never published as YA), 2) It must contain at least one major LGBTQ character who is clearly identified as such within the book itself. (Dumbledore is not; neither are Tom and Carl), 3) Major is defined as having a POV and/or a storyline of their own and/or lots of page-time. 4) In most cases, it must be published by a mainstream or small-press publisher in the USA.

Books in which the protagonist is LGBTQ are marked with a star.

I made this list because less than one percent of all YA novels published in the USA within the last ten years have any LGBTQ characters at all, even minor supporting ones. Of those few novels, most are mainstream literature, not sf or fantasy.

I have not specified the authors' sexual orientation or gender identity. This list is about characters rather than authors, and I don't know how all the authors identify.



* Wolfcry (Kiesha'ra), by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Epic fantasy, the fourth in a series. This book follows a princess pressured to choose a suitable husband in order to save her kingdom from war. Her decision is spoilery, but, well, there's a reason this book is on the list. ;)

* Vintage: A Ghost Story, by Steve Berman. A moving, atmospheric atmospheric ghost story with a gay protagonist. 1/5 of the royalties from Vintage will be donated to charities helping gay teens.

Tithe, Ironside, and Valiant by Holly Black. These gritty, engrossing urban fantasies are connected, but can be read independently. All feature major gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters. None are protagonists, but some have POVs (the book or part of the book is narrated from their point of view).

* Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books, by Francesca Lia Block. A compilation of several connected novels, all extremely quirky magic realism set in a magical Los Angeles. All the books have major gay characters, and they are the protagonists of Baby Be-Bop.

* The Rose and The Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, by Francesca Lia Block. An anthology of re-told fairytales, many with lesbian protagonists.

Above, by Leah Bobet. Mutants and disabled people live in the sewers due to persecution, until a catastrophe forces some Above. Important lesbian and intersex supporting characters. Very stylized prose with Significant Capitalization, slow, a bit preachy. My full review here.

* Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray. Satirical comedy and near-future science fiction in which a plane full of teenage beauty queens crashes on a desert island that just happens to be the site of rogue arms dealers. Three POV characters are lesbian or transgender.

A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray. A fantasy Victorian boarding school series with major lesbian characters.

The Demon's Lexicon series, by Sarah Rees Brennan. Fast-paced, witty contemporary fantasy. One of the five main characters is gay, but he does not have a POV. My full reviews here - beware of massive spoilers.

Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore. Young queen Bitterblue tries to heal her kingdom after thirty years of rule by a sadistic serial killer. Thoughtful fantasy on the subject of trauma and recovery. Several important supporting characters are gay or lesbian. My full review here.

* Fire, by Kristin Cashore. Thoughtful imaginary-world fantasy about a girl "monster," whose beauty is a genuine curse. The heroine is bisexual, though her interest in women is subtly depicted to the point of "blink and you'll miss it."

Marked: A House of Night Novel, by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast. A contemporary fantasy series about a boarding school for teenage vampires. Total trash or delicious popcorn? You decide! Several important supporting characters are gay. My full reviews here.

City of Bones (Mortal Instruments) series, by Cassandra Clare. Urban fantasy series with major gay characters, some of whom get POV sections.

* Aisling series, by Carole Cummings. Epic fantasy with gay protagonists.

* A Strong and Sudden Thaw and its sequel, Out of the Ashes, by R. W. Day. After the apocalypse, persecuted gay lovers fight homophobia and dragons! Excellent atmosphere and voice, but flawed by the characters' tendency to make frustratingly stupid decisions. My review here.

* The Dark Wife, by Sarah Diemer. A gorgeous re-telling of the myth of Hades and Persephone as a consensual lesbian romance with a gender-switched Hades. My full review here.

* Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins, by Emma Donoghue. An anthology of re-told fairytales, many with lesbian protagonists.

Eon, by Alison Goodman. In a China-esque world, a girl disguises herself as a boy to learn dragon magic. Her mentor is transgender.

Gone, by Michael Grant. Everyone over the age of 13 vanishes, and the remaining kids begin to acquire strange powers. A major character with POV sections is a lesbian.

* Unnatural (Archangel Academy) series, by Michael Griffo. Paranormal vampire romance with a gay protagonist, set in an all-boys academy.

* Shadow Walkers, by Brent Hartinger. Teenage Zach discovers that he can astral project – an ability which comes in handy when his brother is kidnapped. Zach is gay, and has a romance with a boy he meets on the astral plane.

Hex Hall, by Rachel Hawkins. A supernatural boarding school comedy. A major character is a lesbian vampire.

* The Shattering, by Karen Healey. An intense fantasy thriller set in New Zealand. Great characterization of a racially diverse cast. One of the three main characters is a lesbian. My full review here.

Guardian of the Dead, by Karen Healey. An ambitious urban fantasy making thoughtful use of Maori folklore. A major supporting character is asexual. My full review here.

When the Sea is Rising Red, by Cat Hellison. Dark imaginary-world fantasy with major bisexual characters and a non-monogamous central love triangle.

The Chaos, by Nalo Hopkinson. Fantasy with a surreal tinge, about a biracial girl whose world is slowly becoming supernatural. Three major supporting characters are gay, lesbian, and bi or questioning.

Shadow Grail #1: Legacies, by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill. A fantasy mystery at a boarding school for mages. A major supporting character comes out as gay in the second book.

Liar, by Justine Larbalestier. The heroine of this intense, twisty novel is a compulsive liar, so its presence on the list is debatable, depending on which of Micah’s stories you believe. She may be LGBTQ.

* Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan. A romantic comedy set in a town in which homophobia does not exist, and the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl. I’m counting it as a fantasy on the grounds that it’s set in an alternate universe.

* Wide Awake, by David Levithan. A gay Jewish man is elected President of the USA in this near-future novel.

* Adaptation, by Malinda Lo. Conspiracies, apocalypses, men in black! Imagine an episode of the X-Files – an early one, back when it was still good – done as a sensual YA novel with a bisexual heroine and a love triangle that doesn’t make you want to throw things. Built from familiar tropes, though ones currently extremely rare in YA, but executed beautifully. Non-spoilery link to my review.

* Ash, by Malinda Lo. A well-written re-telling of Cinderella in which she falls for the King’s Huntress rather than the prince.

* Huntress, by Malinda Lo. A quest fantasy set in a China-inspired fantasy world, with a sweet romance and some quite beautiful passages. The two heroines are lesbians. My full review here.

Wicked Lovely series, by Melissa Marr. Urban fantasy series with major bisexual characters and a poly romance.

* Hero, by Perry Moore. A sweet, funny, exuberant superhero parody/homage with a gay hero. My full review here.

* Libyrinth, by Pearl North. In a post-apocalyptic world, a girl finds that books talk to her. One of the three protagonists is a lesbian.

* The End, by Nora Olsen. The Goddess Muldoona lurks in her Fortress of Despair, plotting the downfall of the human race. When she starts World War Three, it's up to five queer kids, armed with magic amulets, to save the world. A fluffy comedy-adventure. My full review here.

* The Will Of The Empress (Circle Continues), by Tamora Pierce. An excellent, well-characterized imaginary-world fantasy with an ensemble cast, one of whom is a lesbian and has her own POV. It’s the latest book in the “Circle of Magic” series. Daja hasn’t figured out her sexual orientation yet in the earlier books, which begin when the young mages are ten, but they should be read in order. The earlier books in the series have a sympathetic adult lesbian couple as major supporting characters.

Terrier (The Legend of Beka Cooper, Book 1), by Tamora Pierce. Gritty YA about a girl cop in fantasyland. A supporting character is transgender.

* Tripping to Somewhere, by Kristopher Reisz. It's everyone's glittery fantasy turned real: to follow the Carnival's mystic band of beautiful people as they defy every limit and dance through history -- all in search of a good time. The heroine is a lesbian. Very well-written, well-characterized and fun; also gritty and intense. Note: contains lots and lots of drug use. My full review here.

* Heart Sense series, by K. L. Richardsson. An imaginary world fantasy with a gay hero.

* Water Seekers, by Michelle Rode. Post-apocalyptic sf with an LGBTQ protagonist.

* Gemini Bites, by Patrick Ryan. A comic love triangle ensues when a pair of twins (one boy, one girl) both fall for the boy who moves in with them…who may or may not be a vampire.

* The Tenth Man, by Tamara Sheehan. Saul Hornsby is the last magician living in Verusa. Fantasy with a gay hero.

* Cursebusters!, by Julie Smith. Budding-psychic Reeno is the most accomplished teenage burglar in California, but one tiny screw-up and poof!—she's sentenced to Bad Girl School. A lesbian paranormal adventure.

* Banshee, by Hayden Thorne. A Victorian ghost story with a gay hero.

* Masks: Rise of Heroes series, by Hayden Thorne. Superhero adventure series with a gay hero.

* Witch Eyes, by Scott Tracey. Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. This is a very typical YA paranormal romance, except that the hero is gay; slight and the plot doesn't make a ton of sense, but entertaining and fun. My full review here.

Frozen (Cold Awakening), by Robin Wasserman. (Formerly Skinned.) Lia is reborn into an artificial body after her real one was destroyed in an accident. Major lesbian and bisexual characters.

Generation Dead, by Daniel Waters. Phoebe Kendall is just your typical Goth girl with a crush. He’s strong and silent…and dead. A major character is a lesbian (and a zombie). She becomes a POV protagonist in the third book...

*...Passing Strange... which goes into her life pre- and post-death.

* The Obsidian Man, by Jon Wilson. All his life, Holt has dreamed of leaving his life of drudgery to join the legendary Danann, a mysterious race of rangers and magicians. When trolls threaten his village, he sees his chance in the arrival of Kawika, a handsome ranger sent for protection.


From: (Anonymous)

Thank You


I think you are really awesome for writing this and I really think you're right, it is ridiculous that there are so few gay fantasy novels. Well anyway, thanks! Will read some of these...

From: [identity profile] marfisa.livejournal.com


That's YA fantasy novels with significant LGBTQ content, right? The "fantasy" part got left out of the title.

From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/la_marquise_de_/


A significant supporting character in the Shadow Grail series (Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill) comes out as gay in the second book (there are two so far, Legacies and Conspiracies).

From: [identity profile] annesible.livejournal.com


Libyrinth by Pearl North has a major character who is a lesbian.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


Thanks! That's weird; I could have sworn it was on the list.

From: [identity profile] livejournal.livejournal.com

dead anthologies/my sexual brain


User [livejournal.com profile] comrade_cat referenced to your post from dead anthologies/my sexual brain (http://comrade-cat.livejournal.com/439976.html) saying: [...] against the wall on my bed.  has a list of YA sf/f novels with major or main GLBTQ characters [...]

From: [identity profile] pica-scribit.livejournal.com


This is a most excellent list! I was surprised not to see more David Levithan or Tamora Pierce on it (two of my very favourite authors). I suppose a lot of David's stuff doesn't count at fantasy, and a lot of Tammy's characters don't count as "major". Still, I think you should definitely add David's Wide Awake to the list, since it's at least as much fantasy as Boy Meets Boy is.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


Thanks!

Which of Tammy's other books were you thinking of? Other than Empress (and the other Circle books retroactively), I don't recall any in which LGBTQ characters had really major roles.

From: [identity profile] pica-scribit.livejournal.com


I guess it depends on what one considers "major", and how explicitly the orientation or relationship needs to be stated. I'd consider Lark and Rosethorn in the "Circle" books candidates for the list, as well as Okha in Bloodhound.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


Sorry for the long delay!

The Circle books, and Lark and Rosethorn, are already mentioned on the list.

Is Okha a character with their own POV sections, or a significant plotline primarily about them? That's how I'm defining "major."

From: (Anonymous)

Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series.


I'm not sure if this classes as Young Adult, but the Nightrunner series has two main characters who're gay/bisexual, and some side characters too. It's a decent series, six books long as of now. The earlier books were better though.
The companion series, The Tamir Triad, is better (imho) and looks at issues with gender identity, but with a fantasy take on the concept.

From: [identity profile] oracne.livejournal.com


I haven't finished reading either of these yet, but the LGBTQ characters are evident:

THE CHAOS, Nalo Hopkinson
IMMORTAL LONGINGS, Diane Dekelb-Rittenhouse

From: [identity profile] restiva.livejournal.com


The Black Magician series and the follow up Traitor Spy Trilogy by Trudi Canavan both have gay and lesbian characters. They seem like YA to me - think the main character is a teenager in both cases.

From: [identity profile] mllelaurel.livejournal.com


I've just read two:

Karen Healey's When We Wake, which contains a major character who is bisexual, and a supporting character who is a transwoman (and the previously-mentioned character's ex)

Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince, which treats fluid sexuality as a non-issue. Characters textually attracted to the same sex include the heroine's best friend, and her mother, who is married to a woman.

From: [identity profile] anglerfish07.livejournal.com


Thanks for posting the list! :) I think Amazon.com mentioned that Jim Hines' Princess series has lgbt characters too.

From: [identity profile] spacecadet_99 (from livejournal.com)


The Chaos Walking trilogy has a specifically gay couple (the fathers of the protagonist) although they don't appear a great deal until the final book (without spoilers it's hard to explain!) and there is an alien character who is implied to be gay although I don't think it's ever specified - he appears in book 2 and 3 of the series.

I think what I liked the most about this appearance, especially the 'undefined' character, is that it is never made a big deal of or becomes an issue. It's just 'there'. But then Patrick Ness is gay, and the books deal with quite complex gender issues throughout, this is just one facet.

From: [identity profile] assimbya.livejournal.com


The protagonist of Francesca Lia Block's Love in the Time of Global Warming is a bisexual girl, and one of her love interests is a trans boy.
.

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