Thursday 10 October 2013

Q&A-Queer Representation Over Time

Final discussion post! We're going to have a look at LGBTQIA representation in literature over time. With contributions from Zoe Marriott, Suzanne van Rooyen, Ria, LH, Alfie, Rie, Ashley Chunnell, Sean Cummings, Caitlin from The Cait Files, Megan aka The Book Addicted Girl, Charlie Morris, Illjolras, Harriet Flight, M from We Sat Down.

How do you LGBTQIA representation has changed in teen fiction over the years?

Suzanne: Tough question. I think it's moving away from LGBTQIA being a problem, a phase and something to fix towards sexual identity simply being a part of who the person is and something to celebrate. As legislation changes, I hope that teen LGBTQIA fiction evolves as well to show that teens do have a free and fair future to look forward to where they can marry whomever they choose and have the same rights and privileges as straight individuals.

Harriet: Undoubtedly. We learn that there are Absolute Truths and Evolving Truths. The representation of LGBTQIA is bound to change when the times change. In 19th century England, you will not see any books with LGBTQIA people in them, because of their beliefs about the subject. However, now that it's 2013, more appearances of LGBTQIA people have conjured. This is because what we believe to be right or wrong changes when the times change, when we get older, when we start to understand.
Any representation is and evolving truth, because it evolves with our understanding."

Charlie: I think there is slowly getting more of it, which is great, and they've become more sympathetic.

Charlie M: A lot more genre fiction is emerging outside of the contemporary Bildungsroman, so authors like David Levithan, Malinda Lo and James Dawson are getting more of a mass audience for their inclusive fiction.

Megan: It's more accepting now - more varied and less stereotypical.  Or so I think...

Caitlin: I'd like to think it's gotten bigger? But I read quite a few LGBT books when I was a teen myself (Boy Meets Boy, The Bermudez Triangle, Pretty Things) and I read them less so now. I couldn't tell you if that's because there are less of them, because I just read less of them somehow or what.

M: More prevalent and subsidiary characters moving into mainstream lit (e.g. David Levithan).

Alfie: It's improved to shift the balance slightly away from pure straight fiction, however there is still a lot to be written to realign the balance between sexualities in the fiction world and the real world.

LH: To generalise massively, I think it's maybe got more overt?

Ria: It exists now, for one thing. Problem is that the vast majority of LGBTQIA fiction focuses around a character coming to grips with their sexuality or gender identity as the main driving force in the plot, and while that in itself isn't a bad thing (teens need to know that they're not alone in what they go through and that there are people and characters who do experience that same struggle), it's a lot more rare to find a character who's out, okay with it, and who has been okay with it for a long time. This gives the impression that LGBTQIA folk pretty much live for that identity, and that identity completely defines them. It's a step up from what it used to be, but there's still some work to be done.

Is there any specific way you’d like to see LGBTQIA represented in the future?

Suzanne: Absolutely! I'd like to see them represented authentically - if the guy's a jerk, he's a jerk even if he's gay. Being LGBTQIA should feel as natural as hair colour and should not be forced into the story for the sake of it. Authors also need to step out of their hetero-normative moulds - two guys in a relationship are two guys, there is no husband role or wife role that one or the other fulfils.

I'd like to see more bisexual male heroes and more trans characters take leading, butt-kicking roles in genre fiction. I'd love to read a teen Supernatural type story where the Winchester roles are filled by an LGBTQIA sibling pair or romantic couple."

Harriet: For a more diverse range, yes. Let's mix up the relationships!

Illjolras: I'd like there to be more diversity, not just gay white cispeople.

Charlie : I'd love to see more LGBTQIA characters get their happy endings. Enough almosts, enough tragedy. Give me a sunset moment please. If heterosexual people are allowed to pin their hopes and dreams own something not entirely 'realistic' why can't I?

Megan: "Yes, I think so.  I think that there should be more paranormals where the lead character is a lesbian.  Don't ask why, I just really think there should be...
Also, less stereotypes - more varying characters.  More characters covering all the letters.  And overall just more LGBTQIA people in YA lit."

Caitlin: Yes yes yes. I quite like them to just be in there casually, like, that's just part of who they are? I'd like to see more main characters who are LGBTQIA

Leit: Yes and they shouldn't be treated just as “the gay best friend".

M: Just as an ordinary character.

Sean: Yes and as ass kicking evil slamming heroes with supernatural powers.

Alfie: Realistically.  'Nuff said.

Ria: Yes, absolutely. As to how I want them to be presented, well, I want them to be presented as real people, with all the strengths and weaknesses and good and bad moments that everyone has.

1 comment:

  1. They've made great points, and although I think we are making progress, it still is some slow progress! Hopefully we'll move forward faster and stop making an issue about the gender of those that other people and ourselves love!


Thanks for taking time to read this!
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Nina xxx

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