When Sam invited me to be a guest on her blog, she suggested that because my book is YA, I might like to write a post about the importance of LGBTQ YA fiction. And I leapt at the opportunity because this is something I feel very passionately about.
YA books about gay teens are without doubt crucial to young people who might be uncertain or frightened by the feelings they are experiencing. Not everyone comes from a home where homosexuality is considered okay, so many young people grow up denying who and what they are, or hiding their true feelings – even from themselves.
I can’t imagine how isolating that must be.
Providing strong gay role models in fiction or writing about characters experiencing similar dilemmas can help someone come to terms with themselves. There doesn’t even need to be a solution to whatever problem the character might be facing. Just knowing we’re not alone with these feelings and experiences can sometimes make all the difference.
But even straight readers can benefit greatly from reading good stories about LGBTQ characters. While we’d all like to believe that the world has changed and no one is discriminated against for religion, race or sexuality anymore, this is not the case. A good book can change people, erase long-held prejudices and give the reader a new empathy for people they may once have looked down on or ignored.
The world is a diverse place, yet YA fiction often ignores this fact, or pretends to recognize it through stereotypes. How often has the female MC in a YA novel had a funny gay friend? Yeah, lots. About the same number that cast Asian characters as over-achieving geeks.
Breaking these stereotypes and showing readers that gay characters can be and feel the same things we all do is something books have the power to do. And this is why LGTBQ YA books are so very important to have in libraries and schools where the readers who need them the most, will be able to access them.
I am a writer, cinema manager, film reviewer and mother to two boys. As you can imagine, with all that going on, I don't sleep much. My first book, AN UNSTILL LIFE is available now from Musa Publishing and all good e-book sellers