A few months ago, I wrote a guide to finding YA with LGBTQ characters and themes. Today, I decided to put my own advice to work and create a list of graphic novels that feature gay, lesbian, or transgender characters.
The portrayal of potentially sensitive topics is made all the more sensitive by the visual nature of graphic novels. Because of this, I’ve divided the list up into two age groups. The books recommended for older teens feature more nudity, language, dark themes, and visual depictions of sexuality than the books suggested for the younger group–but, of course, every title is a little different and every reader has the right to decide what’s best for him or her.
Note: Manga has a rich and complicated history of putting out stories with queer characters. Because I’m not particularly familiar with manga, and because there are so many varieties of approaches to issues of gender and sexuality in the manga universe, I’ve left manga titles out of this list. The only exception is Wandering Son, which I included because it’s a 2012 Top Ten Great Graphic Novel!
For middle schoolers and younger teens
Wandering Son by Shimura Takako, translated by Matt Thorn (2012 Great Graphic Novels Top Ten)
Two students struggling with their gender identity become friends and confidantes in this manga series. The first volume is part of this year’s Best of the Best, so be sure to check it out if you’re doing the challenge!