Background: In a guest blog two writers talked about an unfortunate incident in which a prospective agent asked them to remove a gay characater from their YA novel: say yes To GayYA
they were careful to name no names, because they wanted to talk- not about that particular incident, but about how common such incidents are. However, the agency in question popped up on another blog to tell the world that it was them and they was framed. Which, I am not so sure about, but we all got an opinion, right? Like assholes.
Anyway, here’s some thinkies, tangentially related.
As a reader, I don’t want to be force-fed something I’m not comfortable with reading or dealing with. This goes for anything, not just homosexual content.
Do homosexuals exist? Do rapists exist? Do drug addicts and drug dealers exist? Do dark and scary things exist?
Yes. But that doesn’t mean I want to read about it. I read to escape and if a book leaves me feeling enraged or depressed or anything that isn’t a feeling I want to have hanging over my day or week, it’s not a book for me.
It has nothing to do with homophobia or bigotry of any kind.
I have two responses to that:
- one is that I totally get it, and I read for the same reason– which is why I don’t want to be force-fed heteronormative content. I know heteronormativity is all around me: I don’t much want to read about it. (as I just did in a Kink Bingo offering which included two women doing sexyness for an invisible man who lost his hardon when anothe man’s sexual enjoyment was mentioned and then he jerked off into a pair of stolen undies belonging to one of the two performing women and urrgh.)
That just my knee jerking, of course. I don’t mind heterosexuality as long is it’s a little bit… yanno, examined (which that KB story so very much wasn’t).
- My other response though is that I really DO know what this woman is talking about, and she might be talking about writers like Julie Anne Peters. Who seems to be very popular with a certain type of young reader– not my type at all, though. She writes the gritty hard stuff of GLBT life. The suicides, the broken homes, beign made fun of for having two moms– rough to read, for me. Nothing I want to read. But nevertheless, she’s going into my list of recommended readers– IF you are a hurt/comfort sort of reader. Caveat Lector, there.
Some other things I’ve been thinking;
- Some people have been talking about how what we need are not merely more GLBT characters in our reading, but better written ones– REALLY well-written GLBT characters, Shakespeare quality or something. Which sets the bar a trifle high, in my opinion. Given the unending flow of middling-well written straight characters out there. What I really want, what i really-really want– is simply some GLBT MAIN characters where their plot is NOT about their gay identity, OR their gay romance, although their gay identity and romance are still part of the story. And ladies and gentlemen, I have two recent examples of those at this time for your reading pleasure, and one oldy.
- Sarah Rees Brennan’s The Demon’s Lexicon‘s Jamie. Jamie is fah–laming. He acts out ALL the time. And he;s kinda little, and vulnerable, and oh– it turns out he has kinda super powers. And he’s kissed boys within the context of the book. A few. And his arc is not about his gayness. I am not sure if i can explain to you the genius of the way that SRB handles Jamie’s characterisation. his gayness is a fact of himself– like his sister’s pink hair, or Nick’s brooding beauty, or Allen’s limp, or Sin’s brown skin. It comes up. It’s sometimes remarkable. It isn’t the focus of the entire book. None of these things are the only defining characteristics of these characters.
- and Witch Eyes, by Scott Tracy, in which being gay is just about the least of Braden’s worries, what with the eyes that see far too much if he takes off his sunglasses and the migraines, and being the rope in a paranormal tug-of-war– and there is a romance too. Kind of a Romeo and Juliet romance. Only same sex.
- and the oldie; Mary Renault’s The Persian Boy who is an eunuch who falls in love with Alexander the Great.
And you might notice… all three of my LGBT recs tonight, are gay men. Yeah, I know. I’ll feel better tomorrow. or maybe I’ll have an extra glass of something tonight.