Today, we have Brian Rowe talking about ho
w important it is to have LGBTQ characters in books where the focus is not sexuality.
As a reader of many gay young adult novels, both good and bad, I've made the distinct effort over the last year and a half to write YA novels with gay main characters that don't necessarily revolve around the characters' sexuality. Since March 2012 I have written three YA books with gay characters at the center (one is Over the
Rainbow, the other two are forthcoming), but none of the three books is what anyone would call an "issues" book, or a book that's specifically about how the character is dealing with his or her sexuality. Zippy's homosexuality plays a big role in Over the Rainbow, but from the get-go Zippy is comfortable with who she is, and doesn't set out on a journey to find herself, but to find the person she loves.
I want to write young adult novels where the main character just happens to be gay, not young adult novels that's all just about how the main character is gay. Why not allow the main character of a major fantasy franchise be gay? Andrew Garfield got a lot of heat when he suggested, "Why not have Spider-Man be gay, or at least be exploring his sexuality?" Why is it so automatic that the hero of a book that may be more geared toward teenage boys than, say, adults, have to be heterosexual? With each passing year, we as a nation are becoming more and more accepting of the LGBT community, and I love the idea of major books and films using gay characters not just as stock, as a friend or in the background, but as the core central character.
Over the Rainbow is at the heart a romance between two girls who never know if they will ever meet each other, but it's also a rip-roaring action adventure, the kind geared for boys, that just so happens to have a lesbian protagonist at the forefront. Should this element make the action scenes any less enjoyable for male teenage readers? There are car chases, sprints through the forest, a duel to the death with a velociraptor on the top of a moving vehicle. I want readers to see Zippy as a bad-ass, not as a gay bad-ass. And I especially want young lesbian readers to find a character on the page that they can truly call their own.
My next two books, still in the works, both tell of a gay male protagonists who are trying to make something of their lives, but neither one is simply about dealing with teenage life as a homosexual. I've always been gay, ever since I can remember, and I've never let it be the one thing that defines me. And I want the same to be true of my LGBT characters. The more gay YA novels written, the better, but the more that are written that aren't just about simply being gay, we're going to really start making progress.
Brian wrote Happy Birthday to Me, the Grisly High Trilogy and some other stuff.
His latest release is Over The Rainbow, a redo of The Wizard of Oz. You can find it on Amazon and Goodreads.
You can find Brian at his website and on twitter.
Also, giveaway! This is part of Brian’s tour, so there’s some epic prizes: a $25 Amazon gift card, 3x signed copies of Over The Rainbow (Guessing this is US only), and 10 e-copies of Over the Rainbow.
This ends in... 18 hours? Sorry about that. Get in there quick!
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