You probably didn’t notice, but I tried to include an LGBTQIA book in all the blog posts so far. I think two didn’t. I feel very strongly about the need to include all sorts of inclusive texts on shelves in bookshops and libraries. You just don’t know who is perusing those shelves. It’s important that people of all orientations, of all cultures and creeds see themselves in books. It’s a way to affirm your identity, to know you matter, you aren’t alone. It also allows people who don’t identify with a minority group to walk a while in someone else’s shoes, and see life from a different perspective, hopefully making them more empathetic to their situation.
Diversity brings us all together.
Right, I am off my soap box. These three books I talk about here have quietly changed the direction of LGBTQIA fiction. Instead of hiding and denying stories, bullying stories, or someone-has-to-die-to-make-a-point stories, we have stories about teens coming out in supportive circumstances, falling in (& out) of love, figuring out who they are, and dealing with the same things as other teens, but they just happen to be gay (or bi, or you know, whatever).
Simon versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda made a huge impact when it was first published. As a narrator, Simon is authentic and likeable. Even thought he is still figuring things out, he is happy. He thinks about things. When we meet his family, we realise where all his goodness and generosity come from. His tentative emails with another boy called Blue are flirty and hopeful, and we want Simon to find him, and for them to be together. We celebrate their connection. Of course, there’s so much more to the story, and it’s all wonderful, and strong, and full of happy.
The Sidekicks (February 2016) by Will Kostakis is not all happy. But its grief is about the death of a good friend, not Ryan’s closeted life. Isaac’s death changes the momentum of not only Ryan’s life, but also Harley and Miles. One sudden and tragic event can create a whole cascade of new options and destroy the best-laid plans. The boys’ attempts to navigate these black holes of darkness make for powerful reading. Kostakis imbues his narrative voices with Aussie teen boy humour, lifting them from gloomy to bearable to accepting. As they learn to fill the gaps of Isaac’s space, they show resilience and the ability to adapt. It’s something teenagers need to learn how to do, but it’s all the better when surrounded by adults who support and champion for their rights. Ryan’s, Isaac’s, and Miles’s mothers, and Harley’s father prove themselves. Time and again.
You Know Me Well (June 2016), a collaboration between David Levithan and Nina LaCour is a party book. The kids represent every shade of rainbow, every gender expression possible, and every orientation. And it’s glorious. While individually, each character may be struggling, together they work through their woes by talking, and dancing, sharing, and recognising their time is now! This is a shout out to living in the present, loving the one you’re with, and of course, being kind and non-judgmental towards all the people who inhabit your spaces. There’s been nothing quite like it. I felt such optimism for queer youth while reading it, and I hope it brings that sort of expression to them too. Man, I just hope they get to read it.
As a librarian, I work to put these books in all kids’ hands, not just the queer ones. As I always tell people who come into my library, #nojudging.
This is the end of my #rainbowblogchallenge posting. It’s been a perfect way to start my blog. Thank you to the hosts, @ellebiblio @thereaderdragon @mylifeinbooks23 @rachael_reads @lebookchronicles @legenbooksdary