Coming-Out-Series (P4): Is LGBTQIA+ Rep In YA Books Varied Enough? Ft. Pride Month Screamings(!!)

beware, as usual, this “discussion” gets pretty ranty and shouty. you’re welcome.

IT‘S PRIDE MONTH!!

YASSSSSS! BUT. STILL. I HAVE A POINT TO MAKE!! AND, WHAT BETTER TIME???

I know, I think it’s been.. a literal AGE since the last part of this series came out, but HEY HO. It’s fine. The estimated release date of part 5: 2067. Not a long wait!!

Guys. Exams are so nearly over, and then you won’t be able to get rid of me, there will be posts flying all over the place. (saying this, the second exams finish, I’ll have no inspiration, I bet.)

The previous parts of this series:

  1. Coming-Out-Series (P1): 4 LGBT+ Things I Want To Be Represented In YA And General LGBT+ Rep Rant Ft. Internalised LGBTQ+phobia.
  2. Coming-Out-Series (P2): LGBT+ Themed Books of 2018 And Recent LBGT + Reads (I.E. I Flail And Break All Our TBRs)
  3. Coming-Out-Series (P3): An LGBT+ Review (AUTOBOYOGRAPHY) Internalised Homophobia, Self Acceptance, Love and Religion All In One.

So. This post. It has come to my attention, and by that I mean it has always been a huge thought in my mind, like others too I’m sure, there just isn’t enough variation in representation

I think that the increase of rep in YA books is amazing. I love the amount of #OwnVoices books that are out there, and authors being able to talk about their own experiences (link to May’s recent post because her thoughts on #OwnVoices pressure are great, go read it) and share stories from their own label/rep/minority.

I’m all for rep. Trust me. I love it. It’s just that I want MORE of it.Screenshot 2017-09-29 18.15.41

I admit the amount of rep is definitely increasing, and yes there are lots of books out there with representation in them but think back: when was the last time that you read a book with ace rep? How many books with ace rep have you read? Or how many lesbian MCs are there compared to the number of gay MCs (which is still underrepresented!!)? When was the last time you read a book with a trans character? What was the last book that you read that had a genderfluid character? Pansexual? Demi? (demi is under the asexual umbrella???) 

And these are just a FEW examples of many that need to be represented and that has been kind of ignored in YA books!! For example, the other terms under ‘Ace’, as well as Ace itself, and also genders, such as Nonbinary, Agender, and more!

[Also, here is an article that I found while reading up on things for this post about being Agender that is actually really interesting: What does “Agender” mean? read it ppl b/c it’s SO eye-opening]

I identify as queer, for now, not lesbian or bi, or pan, but I still want to see these represented!! I still want to see ace books. I want to read a book with a pan mc. I want all this rep, and I think that it’s important that books with rep aren’t always just about the rep, you know?Screenshot 2017-09-29 18.15.41

I really like how now there are books, and oh look the mc happens to be bi, oh look they’re coincidentally gay and the whole plot will NOT focus on the fact that they are LGBTQIA+ and the character goes on to have a plot like any other straight MC would have. I like that!! I want that!!

I still like books where the MC is starting to understand their sexuality etc, because, obviously, we need these books about acceptance and learning who you are, but it’s also good to have the rep of someone accepting themselves and being able to have a plot that isn’t centered around the fact that they’re not straight

You wouldn’t have a plot about someone being straight, or JUST their relationship (WHAT A DULL BUCKET OF PAGES THAT WOULD BE), they’d have a plot too!! There would be more to their character than being LGBTQIA+!! 

BUT does this magical plot-and-sexuality happen at the same time for demi or genderfluid, non-binary, ace or trans etc characters? Not really. Maybe not yet because people want to talk about what it means to identify as that?? Because discussion it is a good way to open up representation.

But shouldn’t we always be discussing the LGBTQIA+ community in YA books where readers can relate to the characters? What it means to be LGBTQIA+? How to accept yourself? Why can’t we just have a book with rep of the lesser represented LGBTQIA+ so that all LGBTQIA+ is represented without it coming across like “ohhh it’s soooooo unheard of to be [enter in orientation/sexuality] ohhh let’s make it the entire plottttttt!!” 

Because we’re not some kind of creature (ok we’re all unicorns, you caught us…) that has never been seen before. We’re humans. We’re not straight, but we have same lives as straight people. We’re not a different species. We just love different genders to the “norm”.

Screenshot 2017-09-29 18.15.41

ace books that I’ve found on goodreads/did you know that these had ace rep because I certainly didn’t before now: 

  1. Radio Silence by Alice Oseman.
  2. Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody.
  3. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee.
  4. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.
  5. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee.
  6. Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann.

[all of these I found on Goodreads, so if they’re not actually ace rep please tell me so that I can remove them from this list!!]

A series with a demisexual (under the umbrella term of asexual) character: All For The Game by Nora Sakavik. It also has several bi characters (implied) and also 2 gay guys!

Screenshot 2017-09-29 18.15.41

me: no.. I did not just spend 30 minutes looking at books… BUT GUESS WHICH BOOK I’M NEEDING NEXT? Ace of Shades. I’ve wanted to read it since smol child ilsa screamed about it but I just found out that there’s a bi character and a genderfluid character and I think my world is now complete. THIS IS THE REP IM LOOKING FOR HERE PEOPLE.

Can we just praise Amanda Foody for the amount of representation in her books?

There are so few HYPED/POPULAR m/m books out there, LET ALONE ace, f/f, trans, genderfluid, etc, books let alone having HEALTHY and have good representation.

AND WHY.

It shouldn’t have to take us 36291 hours to search for an f/f or ace, or trans, or genderfluid, or pan mc book!! It shouldn’t be a thing that we have to go out and ACTIVELY HUNT FOR.Screenshot 2017-09-29 18.15.41

amazing bi rep books that saved my soul/ones that i need to read asap: 

  1. Autoboyography by Christina Lauren [read]
  2. A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue [read]
  3. Leah on the Off Beat by Becky Albertalli [to read]
  4. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare [read] MARKKKKK + TMI (Magnus) [read]
  5. Opal by Maggie Stiefvater [read] ADAM. + The Raven Cycle [read]
  6. They Both Die At the End by Adam Silvera [read]
  7. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz [to read]
  8. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde [read yesterday!!]
  9. Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody [to read]

Screenshot 2017-09-29 18.15.41

DONT get me wrong, I ADORE M/M REP. It brings light into my cave of a soul and makes me feel all warm inside like a teddy bear. More accurately, they set my heart on fire and I just flail and die of happiness while reading them. I FREAKING LOVE M/M BOOKS. They’re great. We need more. But, we need more of EVERYTHING. 

We need the same amount of rep for other sexualities!! Is this even a lot to ask for?? I think that it is getting a lot better, for example with some rep from Leah on the Off Beat and A lady’s guide (I think???). But there’s not enough. It’s LGBTQIAP+. Not just the few that are represented at the moment.

I DEMAND THIS REP. WE DEMAND THIS REP. 

I want to read a book about an ace mc. A trans mc. A genderfluid mc. BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE EXIST IN REAL LIFE. WE EXIST. WE DESERVE REPRESENTATION.

We deserve to be the leading characters in books. We’re the leading people in our own lives. We can’t just be a side character.

But, I think that what’s worse than no rep, is BAD representation.

For example, stereotypical rep, or rep where if there’s a relationship, it’s toxic (e.g f/f relationships can often be represented as petty, catty or have girl/girl hate or something like that!) etc. Let me fling myself off of a cliff, or mountain or skyscraper. ANYTHING DANGEROUSLY HIGH.

Or, when the rep is so obviously forced, or GOD FORBID when the book is {lgbtq+}-phobic rngs.raw’p and it’s not actually challenged. Burn it. Burn it. While I think that yeah, fine, it’s good to show that these things are said, homophobia DOES happen, and I’m not invalidating any experiences, I’m just sick of seeing it unchallenged because no one deserves that. Ever. BUT at the same time, we need the rep. So it’s good. But it’s also terrible that they have to do this. I just think that it needs to be made explicitly clear that it is not okay. 

Ahhhh this is a hard topic to discuss. I want diversity/rep, but I don’t want the terrible rep that is or is borderline offensive. You may say that’s just me being too idealistic, but I still want it. And I don’t think that it’s an idealistic wish to have in 2018. 2 0 1 8. 

If I were to walk down a street in London I’d pass hundreds of people that all have different labels, so why shouldn’t it be the same with me walking past shelves of books that are representing these people?Screenshot 2017-09-29 18.15.41

It’s so so so SO important to have representation, especially for YA books/Teen Books that have young readers that may be questioning their sexuality because books can really open up discussion and make you think. You may not relate fully to a character, but you might relate to some degree, and then it can go on to help you understand yourself.

Reading books with representation helped me to understand that this is not something that is going to go away, this is not something that I have to repress, and it’s ok to feel what I feel and feel what I feel for who I feel it for, and no one should be able to tell me otherwise. And while I’m not 10000000% okay with it because of the society that we all live in, it has helped. And it will continue to help.  

Screenshot 2018-06-02 14.37.45

there is much more i’d like to say, but then this post would be about 3233532 words long and I’d just keep saying the same thing over and over! what do you think about this topic? do you think that representation is varied enough? what great rep have you read recently? what are some of your issues with rep you’ve recently read? have you read a book with ace/demi rep? have you read a book with a trans character? let me know! 

 

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22 thoughts on “Coming-Out-Series (P4): Is LGBTQIA+ Rep In YA Books Varied Enough? Ft. Pride Month Screamings(!!)”

  1. This post means everything to me and it is so so accurate. Representation is about representing all, not just a small subsection. People are complicated and varied and everyone deserves a story. I LOVE THIS. THANK YOU FOR THIS. Also ARISTOTLE AND DANTE JFIOSDJFIODSJFLJS IT IS AMAZINGGG also I can’t wait to read Ace of Shades and Queens of Geek!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a brilliant post Lu, and I love everything you said as well. 🙂 Diversity is so important and as great as it is we definitely need to see more on the shelves (I love what you said about how you can walk down a street in London and passing so many people with different labels, so why isn’t it the same on our bookshelves?!)
    Amanda Foody is great at including diversity in her books, and writing stories that don’t revolve around the characters sexuality, because as much as it’s important to see books exploring diversity and sexuality it’s better seeing these characters have stories that evolve beyond that part of who they are you know?
    I had no idea there was an ace character in The Ladies Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, I’m even more excited to read it now. So many of the books you featured I’ve either read and loved, or still have on my TBR list but have heard nothing but amazing things about (I’m hoping to get around to Queens of Geek and Autoboyography very soon actually!)
    Again great post. 😀 ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Beth!!
      and yess!! Seeing people evolve past their sexualities is SO great to see… yet hardly there!
      I didn’t know about A Lady’s Guide either! AND I RECOMMEND BOTH the books you mentioned, I read Queens of Geek this week and GKREHGKURNG BETHHHHH. It’s so cute and fluffy and basically everyone fangirling/fanboying. ITS AMAZING.

      Thank you ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS POST SO MUCH. Also so true how m/m is the primary representation, like ive only read ONE book where i felt represented and one where i felt minorly represented, and its even harder to search for these reps in books BECAUSE THEY ARE BARELY THERE like whenever someone recommends a LGBT book or if there is a hyped LGBT book its mostly m/m,, like where is my f/f, m/nb, f/nb, ace, aro, trans?? also i NEED to read a book where there is also a questioning character when they arent straight first, (if that makes sense)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
      Yess!! exactly!! and I do LOVE m/m rep, so much, and we still need it, BUT AS YOU SAID, YOU’RE BARELY REPRESENTED!! It’s not like the gay/bi label is all there is to lbgtq+!
      OMG yes i understand you, so maybe questioning your label, or maybe gender? or!! Questioning gender when they’re gay or ace or ANY number of combinations!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think Radio Silence actually has a demi character (not ace), plus a bi character and side gay characters! also Daughter of the Burning City does have an ace character, but he’s not only ace — he’s demiromantic as well 💖 (also a really good book that has some great ace-spec rep that’s not out yet is Summer Bird Blue! just read it and it does a FANTASTIC job of having a questioning MC but also not letting that questioning be the entire plot)

    and I 100% agree with more diverse rep! I’m bi, greyromantic, and demi, and while bi rep is getting so much better, I have never heard of a book with greyro rep and like one with demi rep. and I’m also genderqueer and have read… one book with gq rep

    I also think that another issue is that if a book DOES have queer rep that’s not usually seen in books — it’s usually unheard of and/or not pubbed by big publishers and/or not hyped by the book community. I mean I’m SURE I could find *some* rep of myself if I look really hard, but those books need to be easily accessible and hyped

    great discussion!!!! 💗

    Liked by 1 person

      1. OMG yes!! Just because they are LGBTQ doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same mental illnesses or even disabilities and I really think that it needs to be discussed because a lot of the time people can become mentally ill because of how people will see them / treat them once they come out and all the internalised lgbtq+phobia

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh yes!! I read about the bi and gay side characters and!! I need it even more!!! OH MY GOSH THAT BOOK SUNFS GREAT!! ESP bc you rec it and your recs always KILL ME.

      It’s so SAD to hear how underrepresented people are!! Like, books are not representing people AT ALL. And that’s just TERRIBLE.

      And yes!! gREAT POINT!! They’re not the ‘popular ya’ books that we see everywhere if they do exist. They’re shoved into the corner and ignored, just like those that are marginalised in society!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. omg lu this is such a completely fantastic post. such a wonderful discussion of why there needs to be more rep and good rep, without including the problematic rep or pushing away the rep that there is??? AH. you’re fantastic.

    i’m so glad that YA has been getting much better at including M/M storylines, but i have read comparatively so few books with gender nonbinary characters!! or ace/ace umbrella characters!! and as you point out even F/F storylines! i do love the M/M rep but i wish there was more of everything. (and less straight/white/cis b/c oh my god enough already)

    on the bright side, we have Jen Wilde and Amanda Foody and Seanan McGuire to write books with lots of representation for lots of different LGBTQ+ identities. i’ll just be, like……..waiting for everyone to take notes from them i guess???

    ahhh again fantastic post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU’RE AMAZING. MY HEART JUST. FRAYS.

      OMG yes this is exactly what I mean!! While it’s amazing,,, compared to other rep there is so much MORE m/m rep and rep for other lgbtq+ (and any rep really!!) needs to be at the same level!

      yaah… I’ll just shout onto the internet until people read these books ahahahahaesfhb

      THANK YOU YOU’RE AMAZING

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you so much for this post Lu!

    I’m currently trying to figure out what the heck I identify as, and I’m pretty sure I’m either ace or demi, but up until maybe nine or ten months ago, I’d never even HEARD those words. I literally didn’t even know they existed, and I just put it down to something I would grow out of.
    And even as of now, I’ve read exactly ONE book with an ace or demi character. ONE. And like, for me, all of my knowledge, everything I know, comes from reading. I NEED to read about something to properly understand it, and there’s just so few out there, and I know this would be so much easier for me if I could just be reading books about characters who identify as ace or demi. (and thanks for the recs, I’m going to go check those out now!)

    And like, M/M romances are great, and we still need more of them, but… they’re sort of the only ones that get represented, and I’m tired of it.

    And wow, um, I went really deep and personal there… I just… I’m not really ready to talk about it with people I know IRL yet, and my parents are following my blog and goodreads, so this is sort of the first time I’ve felt able to talk about it where they won’t be able to see it. So thanks for listening. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that it was useful and DO NOT apologise for talking about it!! Everyone should get the chance to and if you ever need someone to talk to about this stuff I’m here and you can talk to me at any time because I know from personal experience that while it may feel strange to at first, it actually really helps!

      I think that if you’re considering demi and want some rep I would consider maybe All For The Game, solely for the Demi rep that it has. It’s the first book that I read with demi rep and it actually helped me understand it because I’d never really understood what it was before(and hardly heard of it!)

      And I totally agree with the M/M romances!! I love them SO MUCH but I’m tired of them being the most represented, as I think that it needs to be way more balanced out / varied!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a great post, Lu!! I remember spending hours looking for ace rep books, because I just couldn’t recall ever hearing about a book that had one? And I really wanted to read a book that explored it!!

    And I feel like a lot of books “hide” the fact that they have a LGBTQIA+ rep, because publishers (or whoever) are afraid of it being a turn-off for a certain demographic, which is so sad.

    Also, I’m planning on reading Aristotle and Dante & Ace of Shades soon as well & if you need to rant I’m here!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!!!! I KNOW RIGHT WHERE ARE THE ACE BOOKS.

      Yeah, I wish that they would just say the rep that was in the book sometimes? But then again, you don’t want people reading the book ONLY for the rep, I guess! And yeah I think that only now are rep and OV novels really being publicised as having the rep/being OV and I think that it’s great, but there is also a lot of pressure on the writer!

      gnrsjgnrsgn OMG TELL me how you like them because I need these books in my lifeeeeeeee

      Like

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