Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Gay Best Friend: On Secondary Characters

Hi everyone! As I assemble and compile the exciting list of books still to come (the YA list of over 100 books with GLBTQ characters and themes to the right) the issue of "what qualifies" has come up again and again.

Suggestions from my friends Rita Crayon Huang (awesome writer!)

Deborah Davis (new book just out!)

Laini Taylor (fabulous author!)


Jim Di Bartolo (amazing artist!)

have brought up issues like:

what about picturebooks with gay uncles or themes? (there's a handful, including:

"And Tango Makes Three" by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole

"King and King" by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland, and the new

"Mini Mia and her Darling Uncle" by Pija Lindenbaum).

But no, despite how much I might love these, outside mentioning them here, I'm not planning to list GLBTQ themed picturebooks on this blogsite.

Well, what about books where the the sister of one of the characters is a lesbian? Or a surprise twist of a character's sexuality revealed - but it's an incidental character that doesn't really change much. The answer's no to including those here.


Allow me to delve into my thought process behind what I'm including here at "I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?"

Having a character with a gay best friend is great, and I’m all for it, but unless it’s an ensemble cast (like in Carrie Watson's "QUAD", where the gay characters are part of the main cast of characters and you think, "Hey! Maybe the queer kid did it!") the main character’s JUST having a gay best friend isn’t going to warrant inclusion on this site - unless the book is really about that relationship (so it has a GLBTQ theme that’s central.)

As Ellen Wittlinger said at this summer's SCBWI conference, GLBTQ teens are part of the fabric of the real world, so it’s important to include them in the world of your characters even when your book’s about something else. I agree with her completely, and my hope is that there will ultimately be soooooo many books with incidental gay characters, as part of the fabric of the teen characters' worlds, that such a list will be unnecessary.

Having said that, I want this blogsite to be a resource for those of us wanting to find out about great YA fiction that STARS a GLBTQ character or is ABOUT a GLBTQ theme.

Being included is great, but dammit, I want us to be CELEBRATED, too! And my intent is that this blogsite is a starting point for that celebration!

Now, one additional area where I think there's a need for a listing of titles (and I plan to include them on this blogsite) is books where there is a GLBTQ parent/caretaker. Interestingly, a lot of these are middle grade titles, with the main character being younger (9-12). Again, I'm including these really only if the book is substantially ABOUT the parent/caretaker being GLBTQ.

In the meantime, if there’s a great book out there with a GLBTQ best friend, or aunt, or subplot, that you think should be mentioned somewhere on this blogsite, please feel free to add it and your thoughts in the comments below!

Namaste (the light in me recognizes and acknowledges the light in you)



Anonymous said...

If you ever come across a book with gay uncles as primary characters (hopefully lovable, not psychos...), let us know--always looking for reference and rolemodels!

Anonymous said...

Some books I didn't see over there--Postcards From No Man's Land by Aidan Chambers, and California Diaries: Ducky (3 volumes) by Ann M. Martin. You said you'll be having reader reviews? I'd be interested in reviewing the Ducky books, however that works.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Thanks Wendy,
I've included Postcards From No Man's Land in the "Books still to come" list! Good call!
Not having read the California Diaries: Ducky books, I'm not sure what's GLBTQ about them - could you reply and let me know? Also, to review a book, you just add your thoughts as a comment to the book's post. (I know, I have a lot of posts still to do...please be patient with me.)
Thank you for participating and helping make this blogsite better!