SO! Yesterday I attended A PLACE AT THE TABLE, Inclusive Minds conference for diversity in books. Every delegate was to pledge to do ONE THING right away. This is my ONE THING. It’s only a small thing, but I hope it does its bit.
As you may have noticed, 2015 is a BUMPER year for YA titles featuring LGBT characters. This is unequivocally a GOOD THING. Some of these books are better than others, but that is, of course, subjective. Some of these books are ABOUT being LGBT, some of them are not and just happen to have LGBT characters. Both are good.
I’m a-gonna miss some titles here. I’m not an expert, I’m just very lucky to get sent some proof copies and stuff. Please add more in the comments box or tweet them at me and I’ll amend. Note – this is books released in the UK in 2015 to keep it nice and clear. Also let’s get me out the way first.
- ALL OF THE ABOVE – James Dawson
- THE ART OF BEING NORMAL – Lisa Williamson
- I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN – Jandy Nelson
- READ ME LIKE A BOOK – Liz Kessler
- THE ACCIDENT SEASON – Möira Fowley-Doyle
- SIMON VS THE HOMOSAPIENS AGENDA – Becky Albertalli
- LOVE HURTS – Various
- THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY – Keren David
- UNSPEAKABLE – Abbie Rushton
- THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST – Holly Black
- HONEY GIRL – Lisa Freeman
- HOLD ME CLOSER (THE TINY COOPER STORY) – David Levithan
- ANOTHER DAY – David Levithan
- THE DARK LIGHT – Julia Bell
- THE BIG LIE – Julie Mayhew
- WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND – Robin Talley
Now what’s the ONE THING that you can do? Well! If you’re a bookseller, STOCKING these titles is vital. I would be so saddened if I heard talk like ‘well we’ve already got enough LGBT titles’ or ‘LGBT titles don’t sell’. Stories sell, not sexualities. Each of those books tells a DIFFERENT and UNIQUE story. Can you imagine if we limited numbers of straight relationships in books? The shelves would be empty. That’s eleven titles. How many straight love stories are on the shelves? This said, do NOT segregate these books into a LGBT section. A nice display maybe, but they belong in the YA section.
If you’re a reader, you can BUY these titles with actual currency. I know! What’s the good in whingeing about the lack of diversity in YA books if we then only buy Divergent with four different cover variations? If people DON’T buy LGBT YA, bookshops will think there is no market for it. If bookshops won’t stock them, publishers will stop acquiring them.
Authors! Be bold! Tell stories about all different types of humans. I got a bit feisty yesterday. While there is ALWAYS a place for authentic voices from minority backgrounds, we must be mindful that people from minority backgrounds are not aliens. As humans from humanity we have more similarities than differences. I do not want to write white gay men forever and no one questioned how I fathomed straight characters. I’ve never been straight but it was EXPECTED that I would ‘get it’ because of ‘privilege’. Frankly, I expect a straight writer to ‘get’ being gay, and if you don’t, ask. This said, I think the publishing industry SHOULD and MUST seek out writers, editors and other staff from minority backgrounds. It’s very important, but ALL OF US should be doing our bit to portray the world as it actually is.
Lots of little things add up to change.