Queer characters in young adult fiction are hardly ubiquitous; the majority of books still feature cisgender, heterosexual characters. But a growing number of young adult novels feature characters that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. They are moving beyond traditional coming out stories, and it’s becoming more common to see these characters in fantasy or sci-fi or for stories to feature characters with ambiguous identities.
Some of these novels are explicitly marketed as LGBTQ books, and it’s easy to tell from the synopsis or book jacket that a novel features queer characters, but other times you might never know without reading the book. While it’s important for readers who seek these types of stories to be able to discover them, it’s also valuable for readers to encounter them in stories with conflicts or plots that don’t revolve around the character’s identity. The following guide is intended to give an overview of the diversity within queer YA fiction for readers looking to explore these stories. It features well-known books as well as recently or soon-to-be published titles. A PDF copy of this graphic guide to LGBTQ YA literature is also available.
This guide is not meant to be comprehensive; rather, it’s a general overview of YA literature that features lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or genderqueer characters. The following resources offer additional titles:
- Trans* Titles for Young Adults, compiled by Talya Sokoll in the Summer 2013 edition of YALS
- ALA’s Stonewall Book Award, honoring the best in LGBTQ fiction
- The 1997 Popular Paperbacks list “Gay/Lesbian Tales”, for older titles
- The 2014 Popular Paperbacks Nominees for “GLBTQ: Books with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer-questioning, Intersexed, Asexual individuals, and Their Allies”
* The original post has been changed to correct an error. The graphic and post were updated 8/8/2013 to change “transgendered” to “transgender” which is the correct adjective form and preferred term. Thank you to those you pointed out this mistake.
— Molly Wetta, currently reading Unspoken by Sara Rees Brennan