Friday, June 25, 2010

Loud and Proud

Pride is this weekend!  Some friends and I are headed to Chicago's parade on Sunday, which should prove to be tons of fun.

And just today, a friend of mine sent me this article about the recent surge in YA fiction featuring LGBT characters.  Oddly enough, I was recently thinking about this myself.  Today's teens are really lucky to have authors and publishers who are putting out material featuring gay characters.  Just off the top of my head I can think of at least a dozen for tweens and teens that I've read in the past two years that feature homosexual characters.  From Steven Goldman's hilarious Two Parties, One Tux and a Very Short Film About the Grapes of Wrath to Kristin Cashore's Graceling to Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking Trilogy (the third of which is due out this fall!) to David Levithan's Love is the Higher Law, to Amy Ignatow's Popularity Papers, I'm seeing more and more LGBT characters in novels of all genres.  Sometimes it's a main character, sometimes it's a secondary character - a parent, for instance - but more and more, these characters are written as three-dimensional individuals who laugh and love while also dealing with ignorance.  It's so great to see.

And yet (did you sense there was going to be an "And yet?"), I find myself minorly perturbed that in all of the books that come to mind which feature LGBT characters, the characters are always male.  Maybe I'm being purely anecdotal and only reflecting on my personal reading, but where are the lesbians?  While it's true that Heather Has Two Mommies came first, the general sense I get is that male homosexuality is more accepted than female homosexuality.  Gay males are thought of as intelligent, witty, and well-groomed.  Every woman wants a "gay best friend."  But lesbians?  I don't even know, because I feel like they barely exist in literature.  I'd love to see some coming-of-age novels with lesbian characters.  Some edgy action/fantasy/science fiction with a spunky kick-butt lesbian.  Where can I find that?


  1. The main character in Fire by Kristin Cashore is (quietly) bisexual. (Kristin Cashore confirmed this when I wrote to her!)

    Sara Ryan's books (Empress of the World, The Rules for Hearts) feature bisexual and lesbian teen ladies (and a bi guy). Wolfcry and Wyvernhail by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes include a lesbian couple, as does The Will of the Empress (which also alludes back in time to a lesbian woman and her bisexual partner). A bunch of short stories by Francesca Lia Block and Emma Donoghue are lesbian-themed, as are about half the stories in Am I Blue?.

    Not contemporary, but Annie on My Mind is one of the best teen love stories out there, period, and it happens to be about two girls. (If you think you've heard that before, that's, er, because I've said it before...)

    That's what I can think of off the top of my head, among YA books with well-developed female gay characters. (I'm leaving out characters mentioned in passing, like the lesbian best friend who appears in about five pages of Valiant by Holly Black.)

  2. Also: Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters, and a bunch of other stuff by her, especially her short story collection grl2grl.

    As to lesbian action heroes, though...of the fantasy ones in my previous comment, only Fire could be considered fantasy action (the others are more fantasy-politics or fantasy-relationships focused). Jane Yolen's Books of Great Alta (starting with Sister Light, Sister Dark) are definitely fantasy-action, and in part because they take place in an all-female community, they *feel* lesbian-y...even though the only actual confirmed lesbian is a minor character in the third book. (Two others are heavily implied, though, especially the offshoot short story in Am I Blue?).

    Er...Xena has to be mentioned at some point I think...

  3. It's not sci-fi, but I love The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson, which has two good friends fall for each other and shows how their third friend deals with their new relationship. It's super sweet and snarky and the tiniest bit angsty. Good times!