(This week’s post was inspired by YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday question: What’s your favorite LGBT novel?)
The YA world moves fast. Topics change. Trends evolve. Things that were considered crazy or taboo are now normal. And, honestly, that’s awesome.
I’ve always had friends who were gay. There was never a time when that was weird or different; it just was as normal as having a friend who was Asian. So while getting my MLIS, I did a rather extensive research paper on the trends in YA lit with homosexual lead characters. I looked at books from different countries, and saw how these main characters were portrayed, and if the overall story was a happy or sad one. (For a while, most books that had main gay characters ended tragically. It was nice when they started evolving into something more positive.)
After I completed the paper, I wanted to write a follow-up called Out of the Closet. The thing is, all of those books I studied (this was back in 2010) dealt with characters coming out to their peers and families, and the reactions they endured. In my follow-up I wanted to discuss books where these characters were already out, and living normal lives. It was rare at the time.
Now, three years later, it’s the norm. And I love it. I love that there are brilliant YA books where characters are just gay, and that’s it. There’s no drama, no bullying. And while those events still unfortunately happen in real life, it’s nice showing that there’s more. That there are complicated, gut-wrenching romances between two characters who happen to be gay. That there are characters who save the world and are also, hey, gay. And while, yes, I still want and appreciate the coming out stories, I want more books where it’s after the fact, too.
After the DOMA decision, I made a YA LGBT display at the library. We carry A LOT of YA books with LGBT characters (both main and secondary), and I was pleasantly surprised to find the majority of them checked out. Those pictured were left. And within the day, many were taken.
So, to answer the question – I’ve read a lot, so i’ll go with my favorites from just this year.
Every Day by David Levithan
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Winger by Andrew Smith (not the main character, but my favorite character)
All amazing books. All amazing characters.