We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Readers! – Teens Can Write, Too! May 2014 Blog Chain

tcwt-3[1]This month’s prompt is:

What kinds of published books would you like to see more of?

That’s a very good question. I’d like to see an increase in many types of books, but two categories stand out to me. I don’t have much to say about the first type so it doesn’t really fit with the rest of this post, but I’m throwing it in anyway because it’s still important to me.

So, first of all I would like to see more mysteries. I want an author (or two or three) who writes prolifically, producing loads and loads of well-written, gripping books. Basically, I want a modern-day Agatha Christie. I wouldn’t care whether their mysteries were intended for YA or adult audiences – I just want a writer with something close to her astonishing talent.

Secondly, I would love to see more books with LGBTQ+ characters and themes. Specifically, I want more variation among such books.

For example, most of the LGBTQ+ books I have read are what you might call “issue books.” They’re very serious and not usually happy. They deal with topics such as coming out, homophobia, bullying, struggling to come to terms with one’s sexuality or gender identity, et cetera.

These books are important, of course, but I wish I had more reading options. When I read a queer book I don’t want to read about homophobia all the time – I deal with enough of that in real life, you know? Sometimes I’d rather read escapist fantasy stuff with happy endings.

I want more books where being queer isn’t an issue for either the main character or everyone in their entire world. So far, Malinda Lo’s Ash is the only book I’ve read that fits that criterion.

I want more LGBTQ+ books that aren’t just about gay guys. Queer girls, bi guys, transgender people, and more – hey, they all exist too. Let’s aim to feature them more often.

I want fewer books in which queer characters are treated as sidekicks or comic relief, and more in which THEY get to be the heroes. I don’t want to be the footnote in someone’s story. I want to see characters like me slaying trolls and searching for buried treasure and befriending dragons!

I would like to see more books with LGBTQ+ characters who aren’t white.

I would like to see more LGBTQ+ stories that are not set in the United States or anywhere in the Western world at all.

I want more books to feature LGBTQ+ children – protagonists younger than their teens – because people need to realize that if heterosexuality is mentioned in children’s books (and it is), then queerness should be featured too. The first example that came to mind was from the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary: Why is it OK for five-year-old Ramona to chase Davy around the playground because she likes him but when (in Rick Riordan’s The House of Hades) fourteen-year-old Nico said he has a crush on Percy, readers made such a fuss?

I want more books with characters who didn’t know their sexuality from a young age, because everyone is different and besides, knowing one’s sexuality can be difficult when one’s culture says that only straight people exist (or deserve to exist). Some of my friends legitimately had no idea until they were sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years old.

I want to see more books in which characters question their sexuality and haven’t figured out their identity by the end of the story because real life is never as simple as we’d like it to be and stories need to reflect that more often.

I would like to see more books with older/elderly LGBTQ+ characters because being queer is not “trendy” or “just a phase” or “an act of youthful rebellion.” I think people tend to forget that and focus on the “omg, first crushes are so cute!” stuff instead.

I would like to see more books with queer characters who are religious – not just Christians but also Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and more.

I want to see more LGBTQ+ books about queer friendship, not romance, because romance isn’t my favorite genre. Plus, a queer character could have a romantic interest and other friends who are queer.

And when LGBTQ+ books are about romance, I would like to see more couples who don’t have the same orientation. It would help to get rid of the idea that, for example, lesbians only end up with other lesbians and not, say, bisexual girls.

I would like to see more historical fiction featuring queer characters because we have always existed.

I would like to see more fantasy books with LGBTQ+ characters/themes! Consider George R.R. Martin’s high fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. While it’s true that his queer characters tend to be very, very minor players in the story, he’s on the right track – more stories should have gay princes and bi queens and so on and so forth. Some readers try to make excuses for the lack of queer characters by saying it’s just not realistic to include such people, but you know what? It’s freaking fantasy. It’s not realistic to include dragons, mermaids, and centaurs either, but I don’t see anyone objecting to that.

I have a huge love of dystopian novels, especially YA dystopias, so I think they need more LGBTQ+ characters too! For two reasons.

First of all, these stories are set in post-apocalyptic worlds. If there aren’t any queer people in those books… what happened to them? Were they all killed in the apocalypse? In the societies that actually try to be utopias (think Matched or The Giver not The Hunger Games), does queerness not fit into their vision of a perfect world? That’s a disturbing thought.

Secondly, many YA dystopian novels – The Hunger Games, Matched, Cinder, et cetera – have a subplot of “omg, the government doesn’t approve of our love and is trying to keep us apart!” Ahaha. Ha. Ha. Look at Cassia being kept away from Ky in Matched and then look at the marriage equality bans across the United States and most of the world. One situation is made-up and the other is actually happening. So why aren’t there LGBTQ+ dystopian stories that critique this?

By the way, if you’re interested in reading more about this subject I recommend this excellent article found on YALSA’s website: “The Government Can’t Stop Our Heterosexual Love: YA Dystopia From A Gay Perspective.”

Love triangles are everywhere in YA and I want to see more books with LGBTQ+ love triangles because those things just don’t work properly with straight characters. Real love triangles require each person to be interested in the other two, and whether there’s a guy and two girls or a girl and two guys… it’s just not going to work if all the characters are heterosexual.

And last but not least, I would like to see more LGBTQ+ series. Standalones can be great, but sometimes I really want book after book after book with the same character(s) and I don’t know of any queer stories like that.

What about you, fellow bloggers and minions of mine? Which of the ideas listed here would you most like to see? And do you know of any LGBTQ+ mysteries? Because that would make my day.

Want to follow our blog chain? Here are the participating parties, day by day:

May 5th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

May 6th – http://www.nerdgirlinc.blogspot.com/

May 7th – http://nasrielsfanfics.wordpress.com/

May 8th – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

May 9th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

May 10th – http://randomofalife.blogspot.com/

May 11th – http://maralaurey.wordpress.com/

May 12th – http://www.fidaislaih.blogspot.com/

May 13th – https://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

May 14th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

May 15th – http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

May 16th – http://taratherese.wordpress.com/

May 17th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

May 18th – http://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/

May 19th – http://afoodyportfolio.wordpress.com/

May 20th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/

May 21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

May 22nd – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

May 23rd – http://eighthundredninety.blogspot.com/

May 24th – http://www.oyeahwrite.wordpress.com/

May 25th – http://avonsbabbles.wordpress.com/

May 26th – TheUnsimpleMind – [Link to come.]

May 27th – http://thependanttrilogy.wordpress.com/

May 28th – http://www.lilyjenness.blogspot.com/

May 29th – http://sunsandstarsanddreams.wordpress.com/

May 30th – http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for June’s blog chain!)

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Books and Reading!, LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Teens Can Write Too!, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Readers! – Teens Can Write, Too! May 2014 Blog Chain

  1. Dear Neville Girl,
    As a YA writer, I always want to hear what my target audience is interested in and I thought your post was fantastic! I loved reading it. You might be interested in checking out what other authors are talking about on the Absolute Write Watercooler forum here:
    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=289772
    I would say, as a heterosexual author, I am apprehensive about writing LGBTQ+ characters, because I’m afraid I’ll “get it wrong”. This is no excuse, of course, but that may be what is holding some writers back. I see an increased interest all the time in MCs with diversity (ethnic, religious, sexual orientation) where the diversity is not the issue, so I’m hopeful that we writers will become brave enough to branch out, and that agents and publishers will seek these stories out and deliver what readers are requesting. We also need more writers who are diverse as well. The whole publishing industry needs to embrace the culture of today, realizing that to be different is not a story, but all stories have differences.

    On a side note, my current WIP has a character who is gay. He started out as a very minor character who could have easily been cut from the story. Then, as I neared the ending, he gained a huge part in the novel. Now he is going to have the roles of two characters combined, making him integral to the story. He’s still not the MC or the LI. More like an unrequited love. I hope that I do him justice and I will continue to try to think out of the box that is my life. I am white, heterosexual, and Christian, but I want to portray the world as it is, not just what I see everyday in my small corner. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I’ll check out the blog tour as well!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you very much! 🙂

      That forum was very helpful… I see that a lot of people don’t like the idea of “first love is true love” in YA. Which I agree with – very few people end up with their first crush. And that was only from the first page. I’ll have to read more of it later!

      I receive quite a few questions about this in the comments, whenever I write about LGBTQ+ stuff and books in the same post. Maybe I should write a post about how to write good LGBTQ+ representation?
      One thing to keep in mind is research. Don’t know what being bi is like? Talk to someone who is. It’s just like what I’d do to write a character who isn’t white – I’m white, so I understand what racism is in the most basic sense, but I haven’t experienced it so I need to learn more before I create my character.

      And… well… LGBTQ+ characters are just people. Just normal people. I can’t believe I even have to write this, but soooo many people say that they won’t read/write LGBTQ+ stuff because they just can’t relate. Want to know how to write a queer character? Write them as you would any other character.
      It’s not hard to relate to such characters, or at least it shouldn’t be. I’m expected to relate to straight characters because they’re seen as universal, but queer characters are still seen as “niche” or “weird” or “too different.”

      • That’s kind of how I approached the character I’m writing now, though to start with his being gay wasn’t really part of the plot. Now his love for someone propels him to make a sacrifice, so being gay is kind of integral to the story. Anyway, I would love to read a post on how to write LGBTQ characters! I have a few people in my life I can talk to, which I fully intend to do, but any insight from you would be greatly appreciated.

    • nevillegirl says:

      All right, I’ll get to work writing it, when I have time, and post it within the next few weeks! 🙂

  2. Miriam Joy says:

    Good post! I’ll probably end up talking about something similar, even though I never really shut up about it on my blog. But I have a few ideas for variations, ha ha. 🙂

    The main thing I was thinking while reading this, though, was, “Hey, TQO fits a lot of these, hooray!” 😉

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you! 😀 And I thought you might write about something similar. A lot of the TCWT’ers are writing about diversity this month.

      …now that I think about it, it certainly does! Good job!

  3. DK says:

    As always, I agree with your views on the LGBTQ+ issues. I’m all for diversity, equal representation and the like. But really, Neville, if you want books like these, I fear you might have to write them yourself. The way things are in the world today…I think we’re on the cusp of a literary revolution in terms of minority representation. But someone’s got to be brave enough to do it, and I don’t think established writers want to risk losing their fanbase. It’s up to new writers like us to break the glass ceiling.

    What I’d love to see in pop fiction are more Indian characters. Not just in minor sidekick roles, ones that aren’t just math and computer geniuses. Indian characters in MC roles, portrayed as NORMAL PEOPLE. And for heaven’s sake, I’d like to break the stereotype that all Indians are Hindus. If anybody actually said that aloud in India, they’d probably be lynched. India has the largest Muslim population in the world, and at least four religions originated here. (Not that I’m religious, but goshdarnit, stereotypes infuriate me!)

    What else…hmm…oh, yes. YA dystoia is so…vanilla! TRUST people to think that the world is ending because they can’t marry the Hot Male Lead that they love. When I saw the blurb of ‘Matched’ (have you heard of it?), I almost started laughing. As much as I hate the idea of arranged marriages, they aren’t the end of the world. Also, you can’t control a population using the Hunger Games. That’s rubbish. Why would you *anger* the people you’re trying to control? If you really want to break people’s spirits, you get them at a mental level. Look at what Mao did in China, or Hitler, a more common example. They were so powerful because the people–from the poorest peasant to the richest businessman–supported them. Why? Because of ideological brainwashing. THAT is how you control a population. Make them worship you. This is what YA dystopia should depict. Not stupid whiny teenage girls complaining about not being with their boyfriends because of some suited-booted government official. For pity’s sake!

    Ahem…sorry about my rant and my huge comment. I shall go now. C:

    • nevillegirl says:

      Um… thanks?
      I just… don’t think that’s true. At all. Established authors would not lose their fanbase by including LGBTQ+ characters. Consider J.K. Rowling. If she included good queer representation (Dumbledore doesn’t count), she may lose some readers. But she’s also one of the most popular authors in the world. Even if she loses some fans, she’ll still have LOADS of them left.
      Not to mention that if including queer characters causes some to boycott the books, well, good. The fewer homophobes in a fandom, the better.
      Not to mention that it’s hard for new writers to gain attention if they write for minorities, anyway.
      Not to mention that JKR and other big names (in YA that would mean Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, Stephenie Meyer, and John Green) have a responsibility, as big names, to set a good example. I lost quite a bit of respect for JKR because (among other things) she talks and talks and TALKS about diversity, about rights for giants and house-elves and werewolves, but she doesn’t really include any actual minorities. Non-white characters? Nope. Queer characters? Nope. If authors don’t reflect the real world by including diversity, I really don’t think they’re as great as everyone says they are.

      I’m really happy about the discussion we’re having about this post. ^_^ The comments are interesting…

      I have to admit… I don’t think I’ve /ever/ read a single book with an Indian MC! :O (Are there any that you would recommend?)
      (EDIT: Wait, I have. But it was set in 15-century India and that’s… not exactly contemporary which is what I’d like to see.)

      I agree. I LOVE some aspects of THG, but find it rather improbable that no one ever rebelled until Katniss.
      (And yes, I have read Matched.)

      • DK says:

        Hmm…you’re probably right, too. But pop fiction is notoriously tasteless these days, it just follows industry stereotypes. So unless it’s “cool” to have minority characters, I don’t know if established writers would bother. In Heroes of Olympus, Riordan only added minority characters because he sensed the shifting market condition. Because if he actually cared that much about representation, he would have added them in the original PJO series. And all of his representation is like a checklist. 1) native American, check. 2) Asian, check. 3) Latino, check. 4) African American, check. Not that I mind the representation–because I don’t–but it just seems forced.

        I’m trying to think of a story with Indian MCs…no, unless they’ve been written by Indians, nothing comes to mind. I read Bindi Babes–no idea who the writer is, but that was a pretty modern, somewhat unstereotyped approach to Indians, but that’s it.

        Yeah, the idea of THG was awesome. But it makes no logical sense. If this happened in real life, oh, people would rebel. Hunger Games as a concept wouldn’t last two years.

    • nevillegirl says:

      And again, I’ll say that I have lost/will lose a lot of respect for authors who only include minority characters because it’s “cool,” not because they feel it’s the right thing to do.

      …so yeah, I do agree about Rick Riordan. Including non-white characters in HoO is better than nothing, but he really should’ve had them in PJO.

      I thought about it some more and I remember reading a book set in contemporary India, but… no idea what it’s called or who wrote it. 😦

      • DK says:

        Same here. Though lately, I’ve been reading books written by “minorities”. So I’ve not been feeling the sting as much.

        Do you know what the book is about? Maybe I’ve heard of it.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Have you read any books by Malinda Lo? 😀

      Um… it was partially about eating disorders, I remember that much.
      (EDIT: Wow, thank you, diversityinya.com! Apparently it was Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins. 🙂 )

      • DK says:

        No. Is she good? What do you recommend?

        Okay, so I checked out Monsoon Summer…and unless I read it myself, I’m going to be slightly put out by it. I can practically smell the stereotype off the internet.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Well, I’ve only read one of her books so far (Ash), but it was SUPERB. She’s a queer Asian lady who writes about queer Asian lady characters. 😀 Fantasy and sci-fi, mostly.

      WAIT WAIT WAIT
      NEVER MIND I’M SUCH A DORK
      It was Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins. *facepalm*

  4. Good post! You made plenty of good points; whereas a lot of other bloggers have said they want to see more of a specific type of book (which already exists), you’re proposing mash-ups of different styles, which is really interesting to see. As for mysteries– I can’t say they’re LGBTQ+, of course, but in the beginning of the post you just asked for a prolific, gripping author– James Patterson refuses to stop writing thrillers. That’s just what popped into my head at the time.

    Excellent post.

  5. You’ve obviously thought pretty hard about what you want to read – go you! It’s great to be specific. But as DK says, you’ll probably have to lead the trend. I’m straight (I think you know that already :)) and if I did want to put a LGBTQ+ character in a story, I wouldn’t have the first idea where to start.
    Actually… would you be offended if I said I did want to put a lesbian princess (for instance) in a Star Wars fanfiction – as a minor character, but it’s a start, right? – and wanted some pointers on how to go about drawing her? Call it an experiment. Or curiosity. Or trying to adapt to writing in the modern world. Call it what you like so long as you’ll help.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yes, I do know you’re straight. *sarcastic smile and wave* You’re the one who left homophobic comments on my friend’s blog (A Mirror Made of Words). In your first comment there you literally said, “I firmly believe that homosexuality and lesbianism are abhorrent perversions.”

      See above – what I wrote to DK about established authors having a responsibility.

      And then see what I wrote to Jennifer (also above) about how it shouldn’t be that hard to know where to start. Like, LGBTQ+ individuals are not some separate species. Write them as you would anyone else, then make it known that they’re gay or bi or whatever. Easy.
      So no, I wouldn’t be offended if you included a lesbian princess. I’m just worried that you would use them for some anti-gay thing.

      RE: “Writing in the modern world” – what part of “I would like to see more historical fiction featuring queer characters because we have ALWAYS [emphasized] always existed” did you not understand?

      • Never mind. Thanks anyway.

      • Yes, I said that. I stand by what I said, but, having heard a not insignificant amount of the other side of the discussion, I have come to the conclusion that comprehension is at least worth attempting: the world is on the brink of a new order, so the politicians have it, and I strongly suspect that people like you (no offense or stereotype intended) will have a large part to play in that new order. I’m trying to work out where you’re coming from: is that all right?
        “Writing in the modern world”? I understood what you said, of course, it’s just that in the last century or so there has been a great upsurge in the amount of publicity the LGBTQ+ (which is hard to type but I gather it is your preferred title) community receives. I know you’ve always been around, I do study history. You’re simply somewhat more visible nowadays.

    • orphu44 says:

      D’you mean literally drawing her? Because if you do, then I feel obliged to point out that lesbians actually aren’t actually all clones of each other and vary just as much in appearance as straight people. If you don’t mean literally drawing and ‘drawing’ is just some new character-development term I haven’t heard, then … well, the point still stands, actually. LGBTQ+ people are still, amazingly enough, individuals.
      And ditto nevillegirl’s concern about using a lesbian character to make a homophobic statement.

      • I meant it as in detailing and/or describing the personality of the character, on the assumption that orientation would color that somewhat. I was already aware that all people of any orientation or race are individuals and therefore unique; thank you for reminding me of that important fact.
        Perhaps I should have made this a little clearer, but I merely intended to ask whether there were any specific things I should avoid having the character say or do, as a general rule. Equally if I was creating a Muslim character, not being Muslim myself, I would seek out somebody who could answer questions as to things said Muslim character definitely would or would not do. (For instance, eat pork.)
        If I had been creating a character for the purpose of making a “homophobic statement” I would not have asked nevillegirl for advice. I would merely have used the negative stereotypes I am informed are readily available and created a caricature rather than a character. I don’t tend to expend much effort on making “statements” in my writing, always having been a believer in plot- or character-driven rather than message-driven fiction.

    • nevillegirl says:

      (Yes, I was confused about that too, Orphu. I’d never heard that used before as a character-development thing.)
      But, you know, “Attack of the (Lesbian) Clones” would be a great movie title. I’d watch that.

    • nevillegirl says:

      @coruscantbookshelf (1):

      Well, duh. “Comprehension” of OTHER HUMAN BEINGS *is* “at least worth attempting.” It’s kind of a given when it comes to basic human decency, you know? We’re coming from where everyone else is coming from. It’s not that difficult to understand.

      “LGBTQ+ is hard to type”? Oh, wow. Six letters. So hard. Such difficulty! (I don’t see you complaining about typing “straight” which has two more letters or, for that matter, “Coruscant.”

    • nevillegirl says:

      @coruscantbookshelf (2):

      …no. Personality isn’t going to change. The character’s life might be different, though, because they’ll probably face many more difficulties (people telling someone that they’re abhorrent tends to cause a lot of frustration, for example).

      What you should avoid having the character do? I don’t know. Avoid having the character say nothing about homophobia. Have them call people out on it.

      “If I had been creating a character for the purpose of making a “homophobic statement” I would not have asked nevillegirl for advice.” Honestly, I don’t believe you. I have NO IDEA what your purpose is – you’ve already made it clear you hate queer people (despite how you may try to disguise this as “I just don’t agree with them!!!1!”) and it wouldn’t surprise me if you were trying to make a homophobic statement. Or are you including LGBTQ+ just to make yourself look better?

      tl;dr I don’t need homophobia on my blog. Any further comments will be deleted. Bye!

  6. Fiona says:

    Great job! YA, and novels in general, seem to be branching out a bit more in terms of diversity, so I think letting authors know what we’d like to see more of is a great idea. I love all your thoughts on LGBTQ+ writing (and I may use a few of them myself xP)

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you! 🙂 There are so many ways to make YA more creative and diverse, and I don’t know why we’re still getting so many ripoffs of the same old thing.

      • Fiona says:

        Well, diversity wise, I think there are two main problems. First of all, the majority of conservatives aren’t going to want to write diverse characters. And second… I think a lot of people are afraid. I mean, I used to write characters that were a lot like me. All white, straight, and atheists. It wasn’t because I didn’t realize there were other types of people in the world; it was because I was afraid of writing stereotypes. But now that I’ve branched out a bit more, I’ve learned a lot.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Well, tbh, they need to educate themselves. 😦

      *sighs* I know. But that really isn’t an excuse, not being able to relate to those who are different from you. As I’ve said in, what, three other comments? I relate to straight people all the time.
      And it’s unfortunate that some people can’t see us as anything other than stereotypes. 😦 I’m glad that you’ve branched out.

      • Fiona says:

        Yeah, I agree with you completely on that- sorry if it sounded different. My point was that what with society and the patriarchy and all, a lot of us are scared to educate ourselves on these issues. Speaking from the perspective of a teenager growing up in a largely conservative area, it takes bravery to branch out, but when you do, it can really add an extra layer of depth to your writing beyond the typical straight-and-white characters thing.

  7. Charley R says:

    Good on you here! I’m in agreement – I’d like to see more queer characters whose entire personalties or storylines aren’t based around their queerness. It’s obviously important for the characters, but I feel like it shouldn’t be the be all and end all of their importance or development for the story.

    Let’s write us some queer books, eh?

    Also – ASOIAF book four, Cersei looks like she might, at least, be bicurious … I approve.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you! I’d love to read more LGBTQ+ books that focus more on having adventures and less on bullying and whatnot.

      I KNOW! 😀 I never saw how that turned out, though – I made it a few chapters past that Cersei POV so I guess she’s still alive? And in King’s Landing? IDK. I took a break from the books even though I hadn’t finished book 4.
      It is kind of weird, though, because I don’t think it’s entirely a sexuality-thing there. It seems like she wanted to literally be a man (because men have much more power in Westeros) and so she thought, “Well what do guys like? …girls. OK yes me too.”
      I don’t even know. Cersei is weird, dude.

      • Charley R says:

        Cersei is very peculiar. We don’t see much more of Taena, but Cersei thinks of her a bit, so it raises some interesting questions.

        I don’t think Cersei wants to be a man – she wants the power they wield. And for her, sexuality is a great means to power … I guess she just put two and two together and got a rather strange result?

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yes, yes, that’s what I was trying to say. She wants the power that comes with being a man. Thanks for saying it more succinctly…

  8. Interesting post. Definitely agree about the mysteries. Being a straight girl, I don’t relate as well with LBGTQ+ characters, but those people are out there (I know several and they are lovely people), and there are interesting stories that can be told about them.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thank you!

      It shouldn’t be hard to relate to LGBTQ+ people. I have to relate to straight people all the time, in books and in real life. 🙂

      • wondrousadventurer says:

        An excellent point — I’d go so far as to say if you only relate to a character for romantic reasons, your motivations for appreciating them start to look a little shallow…

        (Speaking, of course, as an aromantic… I’m not sure any of my favorite works of fiction have completely eschewed romantic plots or subtext, but that doesn’t make fiction any less important to me)

        Essentially as long as the characters are interesting, well-rounded, developed, and well-written (which is exactly what you’re calling for! uwu), the characters should be meaningful to anyone: race, gender, sexuality, or anything else excluded.

      • I know. I keep telling myself that. LGBTQ+ folks are just people with a different mindset. I’ll get past this eventually.

        *Suddenly realizes that her previous comment might have sounded rude.* *Panics and apologizes profusely.*

    • nevillegirl says:

      @WondrousAdventurer: If you’re interested, I reviewed a really good series (well, a duology) that doesn’t have any romantic plots/subtext here: https://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/double-review-of-malice-and-havoc-by-chris-wooding/ I love how the female MC and male MC are so close to each other but it’s purely friendship. 🙂

    • nevillegirl says:

      @Lily J: Well, I wouldn’t say “mindset” because that makes it sound awfully like just an opinion, and opinions can change, and sexuality can’t… anyway…

      By “previous comment,” do you mean the first paragraph in your second comment or the original first comment? Because I didn’t think anything was wrong with the latter (and already cleared up the former), but that’s what you seem to be implying…

  9. magicfishy says:

    Yes to all of this, basically (though I wouldn’t mind reading more coming-out-stories about characters who /aren’t/ necessarily gay – I’ve never read one about a bi or aro person, for instant, and that seems like a bit of a gap in the small bit of representation that LGBTQ+ people actually do get).

    So, combining all of your points, we get… A fantasy-dystopian series about an old religious, racially-diverse and mixed-orientation couple which is also historical fiction – maybe there’s time travel involved? -, set outside of the western world, also featuring queer children, friendship, and love triangles. Hey, I’d read it.

    • nevillegirl says:

      True. Now that I think about it, all the coming-out stories I’ve read are about gay characters. Usually gay guys…

      THAT SOUNDS FANTASTIC. I think you should write it. 🙂 *approves 100% of any and all stories featuring queer characters and time travel*

  10. Artgirl says:

    I AGREE WITH EVERY WORD YES THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS I WAS THINKING ABOUT THIS EXACTLY TODAY
    *coughs* Yes, well, good post. I’m happy to say my novels include a lot of the things you mentioned, but some of the things they don’t so I’m glad you pointed it out–namely unresolved sexualities, young children/older people queer characters, and more bromances (to use the Common Tongue). Although I do have the greatest lesbian bromance going in my sci-fi book currently, and a friendship between a 45ish gay guy and a college-age scientist of undetermined sexuality. Others too, but those are the ones currently with the most development.

    • nevillegirl says:

      NO THANK *YOU* FOR READING THIS AND COMMENTING SO NICELY 😀

      Good for you! Those characters sound cool… and speaking of lesbian bromances, I am 100% sure that Katniss and Johanna have one. Seriously, most of Mockingjay is those two pretending to still hate each other but actually being really sweet together. It’s awesome. 🙂

      • Artgirl says:

        I one part ship Katniss and Johanna and one part think that queerplatonic Katniss/Johanna would be the best thing ever. I can’t make up my mind.

  11. orphu44 says:

    TCWT has started up again? Shoot, I’d stopped checking it – and I really would’ve liked to participate in this one. Oh, well, I can always write it outside of the chain.
    And I agree with basically everything here. Books like Ash and Adaptation are treasures.
    Also a ridiculously high percentage of the people I see calling for more diversity in YA actually /are/ writing LGBTQ+ inclusive stories, but one writer – or even multiple authors – do not make up the entirety of media, and it’s more the cis/hetero default they’re critiquing anyway? Not one single author who is carrying the weight of representation on their back for some reason.
    (Also this post has gotten twenty-four responses since I first saw this at school? Goodness gracious.)

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yes! I was surprised you weren’t part of the chain, actually. :/
      I still need to finish Adaptation… got distracted with The Mark of Athena!

      Indeed. I think EVERYONE has a responsibility to write diverse stories. Minority authors shouldn’t be the only ones.

      (Isn’t it awesome? It also makes me wonder why most of my posts get like 5 comments. Where are all these people the rest of the time? xD)

      • orphu44 says:

        I would have been, had I not given up checking it every month. This is one of those times when it might have come in handy to actually follow blogs. :/
        How far along in Adaptation are you?
        Yeah, diverse stories shouldn’t be some weird little niche market, however much they’re often treated like one. Although, drawing on other conversations in the comments, I wasn’t too annoyed with Rick Riordan, since I mostly interpreted it as him becoming aware of the lack of diversity in his earlier books, rather than trying to profit by jumping on some bandwagon. It’s true that he was lacking in the first books, but seeing an attempt to rectify it is nice.
        (Speaking of rectifying mistakes, that’s another reason I like Kristin Cashore. She fell into the disabled-character-is-magically-cured trope in Graceling, and tried her best to rectify it in Bitterblue, as well as including an acknowledgement and explanation of the trope’s problems.)
        They smelled the potential for controversy and came crawling out of the woodwork.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Um… er… page one. *hides*

      Yes, I’m not /that/ annoyed with him, because he fixed his mistake but, you know, he shouldn’t have needed to fix it in the first place! :/

  12. Cait says:

    Eeee! Yes. Frankly, I’m tired of issue books. Why is stuff like mental illness and bullying and single parents and psychical disabilities and LGBTQ+ people ONLY in contemporary books? I mean, there’s always exceptions, but it bugs me. They’re always “issues”. Why can’t they be just part of the story? I want to see epic dragon-fighting fantasies with people who suffer from anxiety disorders. It frustrates me how authors can be so stinkin’ creative, but they’re really writing inside a box. *sigh* I loved this post. A++++

    • nevillegirl says:

      *sigh* Yes. I love love love fantasy, but I don’t see very many characters like myself there.
      …which may explain why I became RIDICULOUSLY ATTACHED to some of the queer Game of Thrones characters. That is never a good idea with any characters from that series because most of them die. 😦

      Thank you! I’m happy to see that so many people liked my post! 🙂

  13. John Hansen says:

    Yes yes yes! I COMPLETELY agree, and I’m so happy you mentioned these because (especially to do with the LGBTQA books in MG as well non-“issue” books featuring LGBTQA protags) I a) have been craving those too and b) am currently writing them in some form or another. 🙂

    Seriously, though, you are so right on us needing more happy books with LGBTQA characters, as well as us needing more non-gay-white-male-and-not-set-in-the-U.S. romances to add to the proverbial LGBTQA bookshelf, because that is pretty much all there is that is well-marketed in the LGBTQA genre, unfortunately. We need more, and different.

    BTW, have you read If You Could Be Mine? I have yet to, but it’s a romance between two Iranian girls, so I think that fulfills many of the things you’ve been looking for. Plus, I’m pretty sure it’s not very issue-driven; or at least, the issues are more to do with Iran than the fact that they are two girls in love.

    Great post!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Thanks! And may I ask what, specifically, you’re writing? 🙂 Just curious.

      It’s like… sure, I’m happy to see gay guys in fiction, but not at the expense of LBTQ+ characters. I’ve realized that often when people say a book has LGBTQ+ characters, it actually only has G and maybe L.

      I haven’t yet, but I plan to! It sounds AMAZING. (And possibly has transgender characters? Yay!)

      • John Hansen says:

        My books are currently a fantasy with a bisexual female MC and a MG that I’m calling a LGBTQA version of WONDER. 🙂

        And a transgender character?! YESSSSS.

    • nevillegirl says:

      That sounds lovely!

      Well, kind of. ‘Cause the blurb includes this sentence: ” In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible.” So the MC is not TECHNICALLY transgender but it’s what she feels she has to do so she can marry her friend?

      • John Hansen says:

        Yeah, that could definitely be interesting, but it’s a topic that needs to be handled carefully (and I’m sure the author did, but still). For something like that, it’s so easy to do it “wrong” and offend much of the trans* community, but I haven’t heard any push-back, so maybe it handles it well? I so, I WANT.

  14. MOHE says:

    …By the time I’ve read through all the comments, I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say about your OP. Oh, yes. Tamora Pierce, a long-time fantasy author, has written a couple gay characters, and one trans character. It’s super cool that she’s written queer characters into fantasy. (On that note, I’m pretty sure Mercedes Lackley is a fantasy author who write queer characters where it’s not an issue book, but I might be thinking of someone else.) But the representation in TP’s books is not the greatest, I think. The trans character is… sort of somewhere between a drag queen and transgender. She is in a relationship with a gay man, and people see her (and I think she presents) as a man most of the time. She performs as a woman, however, and says she feels like a woman trapped in a man’s body. Lark and Rosethorn are a cute couple as well, but Rosethorn’s bi and polyamorous, so she suffers stereotyping. Daja is bisexual, I believe, but once she starts a relationship with a woman, she thinks something about feeling foolish for being attracted to boys/men before. So, yeah.

    And about If You Could Be Mine–I’ve read it, and I won’t spoil what happens to the MC. But there are other transgender characters, and some gay characters. I found it to be a very interesting book.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Yep, I’ve heard that she has. I’ll have to give her books a try.
      And I think Lev AC Rosen mentioned Mercedes Lackey as an influential author. 😛

      Gah. Stereotypes. Ugh.

      Yay, I’m looking forward to it!

  15. Fida says:

    I’m interested to see an LGBT love triangle.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Well, never fear! 😛 Hopefully someday I will be published – I think I have a lesbian/bisexual women love triangle. Except there might be four people? I’m not sure whether to take out that fourth wheel or whatever you’d call her.
      Anyway. I’m rambling. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  16. I agree with this so, so much. I’ve been thinking about several of these points a lot lately and… wow. You really hit the nail on the head with this post.

    My own novels include several of the things you mentioned — more specifically LGBTQ+ friendships, one of which is the basis for my sci-fi TV series, a futuristic crime drama whose protagonists are a bisexual librarian-turned-detective and a semi-insane teenage computer hacker whose sexuality is still undetermined. (It sounds a little odd to switch from working in a library to working for the police force… but in this universe being a librarian is a pretty intrepid job, so much so that it’s usually spelled with a capital letter.)

    I spotted Tamora Pierce’s name a few comments up, and her novels probably have the highest percentage of LGBTQ+ characters in fantasy that I’ve found. A couple of recently published YA novels have LGBTQ+ couples, too: Love Letters to the Dead includes one between two girls, one queer and one (presumably) bisexual, and Lies My Girlfriend Told Me is, I think, about a lesbian couple. Supposedly, the book treats their relationship well, focusing on the plot of the book instead of the fact that they are LGBTQ+. Kristin Cashore’s novel Bitterblue has a gay couple, but they’re mentioned maybe once. Ash has been on my TBR list for ages, but I’ve never gotten around to reading it — guess I’ll have to do that now that you’ve mentioned it!

    Fabulous post!

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