Editor’s note: the literary agency in question has responded in a blog post of their own. They say, “there is nothing in that article concerning our response to their manuscript that is true,” explain their editorial feedback, and call for more readers to purchase books that “depict characters of diverse race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and physical and/or mental disabilities.” Additionally, author Malinda Lo discusses statistics on the representation of LGBTQ characters in YA books on her blog.
Genreville, a blog hosted by Publisher’s Weekly, posted an online article yesterday called â€œAuthors Say Agents Try to ‘Straighten’ Gay Characters in YA.â€ If you read YA lit, go read this article. If you don’t read YA lit (why would you be here?), go read this article. Just read it… I’ll wait here.
Okay, you’re back. What did you think?
I am hopeful that the agents mentioned in the article are the exception, not the rule, when it comes to publishing YA lit with gay characters. It is so discouraging that publishers, editors, and agents feel that such books are not “sellable.” At least these two authors are speaking out about their experiences, and from the many blog comments, they are not the only authors struggling with this issue as they seek to publish their work.
There are successful, award-winning young adult books with LGBT characters out there. Some of my personal favorites:
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
- YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee, 2011
- Odyssey Award Honor Audiobook, 2011
- Stonewall Award Honor book, 2011
Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jilliam Tamaki
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
- Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award Winner, 2011
- Best Books for Young Adults, 2010
Hero by Perry Moore
Check out the Stonewall Book Awards (sponsored by the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table) and ALA’s Rainbow Books for more great teen reads with LGBT characters.
Whether or not LGBT people are marketable as YA characters, we’re everywhere, and we need our experiences represented in all types of YA lit. We at The Hub would love to hear your thoughts about this topic â€“ leave us a comment! And check out #YesGayYA and #yasaves on Twitter to speak out against â€œstraighteningâ€ YA characters (or changing anything about them!). Speak up for characters that speak to you!
– Casey O’Leary, who as a result of this post has requested Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee from the public library. It has (shhh!) LESBIANS in it!