Due to the upcoming release of Stranger, I am doing some interviews in which I will be asked how or if things have changed in terms of LGBT characters in YA novels. I am armed, of course, with the most recent statistics. (Summary: representation has increased from 0.6% of all YA novels to 2%. However, most of those books are put out by LGBTQ-specialty small presses, and the percentage of LGBTQ characters in YA novels from American large presses has actually gone down.)

However, I spent the intervening years mostly focused on grad school, and so am not caught up on recent books. Are there any YA novels that have come out since 2010 with LGBTQ characters that I should check out or at least be aware of? What about self-published books? Any prominent LGBTQ teenage characters in non-book media (comics, movies, etc?)

Any changes in your own personal experience? For example, I have noticed that just in my circle of friends/acquaintances, kids seem to be coming out younger (13-15, as opposed to 18-20) and with less or no negative reactions from others. Obviously, these are kids from liberal families in LA. But I always knew liberals in LA, and I did not encounter any kids coming out at age 13 until about five years ago. Ditto straight teenage boys wearing gay rights buttons.
lenora_rose: (Default)

From: [personal profile] lenora_rose


I'm not really intimately acquainted with the bulk of teenagerdom, but a clsoe friend is a teacher and did teach that age before her current position at an elementary school. The impression I get is that being out even at a Junior High age is quite common, and it's starting to pop up more for trans* teens as well as GLB. My trans cousin was out in her last year of high school and from what I could tell was accepted fine - certainly her grades and self-esteem shot up, but I didn't get to see social consequences firsthand.

Of course, Winnipeg is considered a liberal values bastion around here - not on par with LA, by any means, but the conservatives live in the mini-Bible Belt just a half-hour away and shun our vices.

(THOSE are the people who fought tooth and nail against an anti-bullying bill because one of the measures it suggested was allowing kids to set up a Gay-Straight Alliance in their school IF the students request one. A measure, I note, that was probably partly included because of a teen who tried to form one in that area, and was told that he could start one, but they wouldn't let him advertise its existence. Which meant nobody came because nobody knew about it, until he made the news.)
em_h: (Default)

From: [personal profile] em_h


Yes, this is something I've definitely noticed too. (Though not always the better reception -- my parish administrator's trans* kid, who came out last year in junior high, is having some trouble so far this year at his high school, though the school administration has his back in an impressive way.)
lenora_rose: (Default)

From: [personal profile] lenora_rose


More on Winnipeg: We're having a current case where a PARENT of one of the other students is bullying a pre-teen trans girl (Has said threatening/offensive things), and the school division is under some heat now for not taking it seriously enough. (They apparently thought the request that this parent have nothing to do with the girl's family only applied to her and her brother in the same school, not to the parents or the oldest brother, who picks them up sometimes). The girl WAS allowed to use the girl's washroom but doesn't because of the other parent's comments. (There is a gender-neutral washroom, but...)
rilina: (Default)

From: [personal profile] rilina


The recent YA titles that I immediately thought of were The Miseducation of Cameron Post by danforth, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Saenz, Bitterblue by Cashore, and The Summer Prince by Johnson. For more, I'd refer to you the Rainbow Lists: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011. Lists are published in January, so reflect books published the year before.
crystalpyramid: crystal pyramid suspended in dimensional abnormality (Default)

From: [personal profile] crystalpyramid


More kids are out as gay at the Catholic high school I teach at than were out at the progressive secular high school I attended twelve years ago. (Different but roughly equivalent suburban locations.) They also finally got permission to rename their "diversity club" a "gay-straight alliance" like it should have been all along. I think cultural progress is in fact happening.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks


Data point: One thing that happened since 2010 was Torquere's YA imprint, Prizm, which you probably know about. They published my YA book, written under a nom de plume, "Fair Catch."

But that probably fits under your "small press" research already.

Thank you for doing this.

ar: Kay and Julius Eaton reading a manuscript. (ds9 - farverse reading)

From: [personal profile] ar

tl;drs all over your journal


It's just coming out today, but I am SUPER PUMPED about Lies We Tell Ourselves, which features an interracial lesbian relationship set in a desegregating school in West Virginia during the civil rights era. Haven't read it yet, but we'll see.

Silhouette of a Sparrow is a very local book, but the storytelling's pretty much glorious. Lesbians in a Minnesota resort town in the 1920s. There's a PTSD angle with one of the side characters (the main character's father has shellshock from WWI, but it's basically never onscreen), and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

Wildthorn is like Fingersmith for teenagers, lol. It's set in a Victorian asylum, and the ending is basically improbably happy, but I really enjoyed how much it got right about Victorian ideas about what young women should be (not doctors, which is the main character's dream).

I'll Give You the Sun is one that's been getting a huge amount of buzz this autumn, and one of the siblings in it is gay. Another one I haven't read yet--it looks kind of dreary to me, honestly. Lol.

And then there's Malinda Lo's books, which I'm sure you're already aware of. :D I won't lie, I hate most teen fantasy (funny how that seems to line up with how heteronormative it tends to be DX), so Ash one of the few I've read that is fantasy. I didn't actually enjoy it, but I respect the attempt, and I'm sure it means a lot to people not me.

The Popularity Papers is a midgrade series--it's a Diary of a Wimpy Kid follower--and one of the main characters is the daughter of a gay couple. It's treated as completely normal by all the main characters, which is pretty great.

Better Nate Than Ever is another midgrade that's supposed to have some lgbtq content, but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

And one of the characters in the Percy Jackson series came out, so there's that as well. I'm not a fan of the books--they just aren't for me--but I'm really glad that they exist, and I appreciate Rick Riordan's attempts to include diversity in them. I don't know how well he succeeds, but the fact that someone who writes a wildly popular book series for kids is making the effort still means a lot to me.

Historical fiction is my absolute favourite, so it makes me really happy to see how many period-set books featuring lgbtq characters have been coming out lately. These are the stories I wish I'd had when I was younger--instead, I was stuck with Julie Anne Peters and her improbably named lesbians, lol. I'm still not really officially ~out~ to my family (because of me, not them, I hasten to add), but maybe I would've just gotten it over with in a different world with more lesbians in petticoats.

I've definitely seen more out teens these days than I knew in high school (I graduated in 2005), but I don't meet a lot of teenagers IRL. (They mostly know what they want at the bookshop, lol.) IDK if you're going to look at midgrade stuff much at all, but this is a great list of lgbtq midgrade books. I didn't know about any midgrade novels with lgbtq characters before the last two or three years, honestly--it's like you had to skip right from Heather Has Two Mommies to Will Grayson, Will Grayson--and I think that's a huge win. And the fact that one of the books listed is Raina Telgemeier's Drama (which I still haven't read, I really gotta get on the stick with that) is also a huge deal, imo. We get so many kids who're fucking crazy for Telgemeier's work--when Sisters came out a few weeks ago, we couldn't keep it on the shelf, and it's still up on our bestsellers list--and I hear the same from librarians who come into my bookshop. Girls, boys, older kids, younger kids, they all want to read Smile and Drama and Sisters. (My favourite recently was a ten-year-old boy whose mouth was full of orthodontia very seriously informing me that the author of Smile had written a sequel, and did I have it.)

So I guess that if I was going to say anything's really changed in the last few years, those are the things that I find most remarkable and encouraging: that there's really starting to be a push towards lgbtq characters in stories that aren't just "modern teen comes out, suffers for it"; that there are books out there for elementary- and middle-school-aged kids, not just high-schoolers; and that there's been a (small) increase of incredibly popular series and books including lgbtq characters as more than just an after-the-series-is-over talking point in interviews.
ar: Claudia from the BSC looks excited but cannot spell the word "squee." (bsc - squee! (sp?))

From: [personal profile] ar


You're welcome! I'm glad if that was helpful-ish.

I really gotta give Riordan another chance one of these days. I found the writing in the first book really wooden and impossible to sit through, but he's written enough books by now that presumably that's improved. Also, that premise sounds really fun.
lenora_rose: (Default)

From: [personal profile] lenora_rose


He pretty obviously writes for an adolescent male audience (With some good touches to make girls not feel unwelcome, at least after the first couple of books), and the sheer shameless absurdity and melodrama and weird blur of myth and modern is Really not for everyone. (And I had an extended rant on just how badly wrong he managed to describe Rome, even from a tourist's perspective, in the brief time the characters visit it, which basic research failure can be even more off-putting to some readers.) I like it because he clearly loves the mythology he's toying with, because not everyone who's "good" (Or "a bad guy") agrees on what's right, and because his characters genuinely grow up and try to do better by each other than they start (And being teens, they can start pretty self-centred and stupid).

If you wanted to try him again at all, I'd suggest trying again at the start of the current series; a lot of the characters from the Percy Jackson series return, but it starts with a newcomer who gets to learn the situation fresh, which of course helps the reader.
rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)

From: [personal profile] rymenhild


I've suggested Sarah Rees Brennan's Turn of the Story/Wings in the Morning to you before. It's YA and includes important gay and bisexual characters, but the novel-length part is self-published for free on SRB's blog and the concluding short story's only to be found in an anthology. (That said, if she ever puts Turn in print or sells any more of this series anywhere, shut up and take my money!)

I get weird cognitive dissonance in my life. I mean, I'm gay and taken and out, and I bring my partner to work parties at a Catholic university and nobody cares, and as soon as we get married I can put her on my health insurance plan at said Catholic university. But then we go to visit her family in Orthodox Judaismland, and it's like stepping back into the gender politics of 1983. Not everywhere is changing.

From: [personal profile] indywind


From a college town in the Bible Belt Southeast, my personal experience is similar to yours: on average, queers are coming out in early teens and it's mostly not a big deal, occasionally meets broad support from peers and adults, rarely the kind of horrible consequences that used to be expected as a matter of course. Gay, lesbian, and mildly gender-nonconforming kids seem to meet a little better reception than straightup trans or agender kids.

IIRC, Lauren Myracle's YA books are pretty popular and available if not necessarily from mainstream press, and several have queer supporting characters, one (Shine a centrally important gay secondary character. David Levithan and Julie Ann Peters are others with queer characters who are if not mainstream press published, nonetheless pretty popular and easy to get hold of, not ghettoized.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)

From: [personal profile] owlectomy


I really enjoyed "Ask the Passengers" by A.S. King. (Realistic YA with a little magic realism, good and nuanced on labels as both useful and not useful.)

"I'll Give You the Sun" by Jandy Nelson I had mixed feelings about. Very lovely firecracker writing but also melodrama with people doing really bad things to their family members. Unsure on whether I ever really bought Noah as a 13-year-old gay boy.

"Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" is one of my favorite books of the last couple years. I especially liked how it had two Mexican-American boys who were coming from very different places in regards to their culture, class background, and family.
owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)

From: [personal profile] owlectomy


"Grasshopper Jungle" has also gotten a lot of attention for having a bisexual boy protagonist, but (as I have said earlier) I have many many issues with it. (And with the other Andrew Smith book I've read, "Winger," in which the gay best friend just exists to become a martyr and show how sensitive the protagonist is! But the voice is good...)
escritoireazul: (Default)

From: [personal profile] escritoireazul


Karen Healey's books have LGBT characters in all of them. My favorite is Keri, the queer character of color lead in THE SHATTERING.

From: [identity profile] asakiyume.livejournal.com


this post mentions some books

And here is the Diversity-in-YA LGBTQ tag.

I haven't read through that tag, but it's pretty much all recent stuff. Not, however, all SFF stuff.

From: [identity profile] desperance.livejournal.com


I wouldn't exactly call 'em YA, but both the books I have coming out this fall - a novel, Being Small, and a short story collection, Bitter Waters - feature teenage gay characters.

From: [identity profile] marfisa.livejournal.com


There's "The Fosters," a Family Channel drama about five kids (mostly foster children, mostly teenagers) being raised by a lesbian couple, which I believe is now going into its second season. And apparently the more high-profile, "Gossip Girl"-ish "Pretty Little Liars" includes a lesbian character among its central ensemble of teen (anti?)heroines. I think that show's been around for something like four years, although the lesbian aspect may not have been revealed until partway through the first season, or possibly later.

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


Not out yet, but this book is YA and will have canon m/m (among the main characters, I suppose, but I'm trying to avoid spoilers now that I know what I wanted to know).

From: [identity profile] mroctober.livejournal.com


Obviously Straight was an excellent book with a very intriguing premise - a kid goes back into the closet so that his sexuality does not define him. What he learns is terrific.

From: [identity profile] desayunoencama.livejournal.com


All from mainstream houses:

Sara Farizan's IF YOU COULD BE MINE:
http://algonquinyoungreaders.com/book/if-you-could-be-mine/

Benjamin Alire Saenz's ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle_and_Dante_Discover_the_Secrets_of_the_Universe

Lots of books by Hannah Moskowitz, including GONE, GONE, GONE and MARCO IMPOSSIBLE


From: [identity profile] ethelmay.livejournal.com


My daughters (now 20) had at least one out gay friend by sixth grade, I believe. Possibly seventh. The depths of middle school, anyway.
.

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