Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Soapboxing About Gay YA

Since Allison has gone back to school I’ve been listening to the CBC a lot at home while hanging out with The Bean.  It’s Canada’s version of NPR.  

I do it for a few different reasons -- staying up on the news, company, background noise.  I must admit that I enjoy listening to it more than I thought it would and this story is a great example of why.  

Last week a show called Q featured an interview with two authors who were trying to sell a Young Adult novel that contained a gay character.  They were told by a big-deal agent to either “straighten-up” the character or cut him and she’d take the book.  This, along with other rejections they suspected to be linked to the character, prompted them to write an open letter calling the issue to light.  You can read their letter here.

I live in a country that respects my right to marry another woman.  Toronto is major metropolitan city where our lifestyle is not unusual. I work in a company that has embraced my sexuality -- my office threw a wonderful baby shower for Allison and me.  Not much happens in my daily life to remind me that tolerance is not so widespread.  

This story served as a reminder that such tolerance is not necessarily the norm.

It is is even more poignant given the rash of suicides last year that prompted the It Gets Better campaign. 

The need for an inclusive depiction of gay people in culture still exists.  For many teens, seeing people like themselves is important in helping them understand where they fit in. 

The Bean may or may not be gay.  Allison and I don’t care.  But, looking forward, I don’t want him to grow up thinking that our family is wrong or bad because we don’t look like the characters sees portrayed in books or on television.  I want him to see the same diversity he is surrounded with in his life to be reflected in the stories that he reads. 

Please take a few minutes to read the letter and pass it along to a friend. http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/genreville/?p=1519

Please try to embrace and encourage diversity in culture.

The life you save may be your kid's.


  1. what an important post! I think it's absolutely true that realistic, in-depth gay characters are invisible in mainstream media (movies, books, television shows) with few exceptions. It's like the characters are presumed straight unless otherwise mentioned.

    Why shouldn't YA readers have access to characters along the spectrum of sexuality? Even readers who identify as straight will know somebody who is not and wonder why that person is missing from literature.

  2. Thank you so very much for sharing this! I agree completely!

  3. really interesting letter, thanks for sharing!